Porn Addiction and ED
June 24, 2013 6:38 PM   Subscribe

I just found out that my boyfriend's erectile dysfunction stems from an addiction to porn. What now?

My boyfriend (38) and I (34) have been together for six months. Both of our previous marriages ended about two years ago - I was married for eight years, he was married for one year. While neither of us would say we are "soulmates" and our relationship isn't a whirlwind of sizzling, over-the-top romance, we love one another, we've had good chemistry from the start, are very physically and verbally affectionate with each other, have compatible values and life goals, and just enjoy each other's company. We have fun and inspire each other and bring out the best in each other. Both of us want to remarry and have a family in the near future, and he is someone I can see myself doing that with. He says that he feels the same. He's definitely a "catch" in many ways, while I'm not so much (divorced mom with a young child, just finishing a degree, very little money, nearing the end of my child-bearing years, etc.)

It became apparent early on in our relationship that he had some type of ED - he can only get and maintain an erection when I go down on him, and then he comes pretty quickly (in about 30 seconds to a minute). We can't have PIV sex at all; even if I get him hard using my mouth, he immediately loses his erection if we attempt intercourse. We haven't actually had PIV sex yet, just oral. He won't (or can't) tell me any of his preferences or turn-ons, so I feel a bit like I've been flailing about trying to turn him on - trying to initiate, suggesting different positions, wearing lingerie and heels, and so on. He initially told me that his ED was anxiety-related and that it was something that had been an ongoing issue for him. He told me that he had seen a sex therapist and that as he became more comfortable with me, the issue would subside. I have been patient with him and haven't pushed the issue, thinking it would work itself out.

Well, obviously it hasn't. This weekend, after getting into bed together and having him roll over and start to fall asleep, I asked him point-blank if he was attracted to me and what we could do together to work toward a more mutually satisfying sex life. I felt guilty, but I was honestly very frustrated from the lack of sex and from his lack of effort. I have a fairly high sex drive and am definitely sexually adventurous and somewhat kinky. Ideally, I would like to have sex once a day (or as close to it as possible.) And yes, I've shared all of this with him. I just didn't feel that we were moving forward as a couple and that things were in danger of completely fizzling out.

He then confessed to me that he is completely dependent on pornography and has been unable (with a few exceptions) to ever have intercourse with a partner. He started using porn at a very young age and has been masturbating to it daily for most of his life. Many of his relationships, including his marriage, deteriorated in large part because of this fact. (I don't know if it's relevant, but he's only had one long-term relationship - his marriage, which lasted just over a year from the time they met until the time they separated.) He told me that the few times he has been able to have PIV sex with a woman, it was "like masturbating using a person instead of my hand", which really upset me. However, he said that he has been doing a lot of reading about his issue and is attempting to "reboot" himself sexually by abstaining from porn and masturbating. He said that this should "rewire" his brain so that he can be turned on by a real woman and not just by porn.

After learning this, I now feel very hurt and insecure because I don't know how I can ever compete with porn stars in the bedroom. I struggled with body image issues when I was younger and have worked very hard for years, both in and out of therapy, to overcome them; I can feel those thoughts rearing their ugly heads once again. (FWIW, even though I'm certainly no 20-year old hottie anymore, I look good for my age - I work hard to stay in great shape and am conventionally attractive, tall, thin, and blonde.) I know he frequents strip clubs and makes comments about hot younger women a lot. He even lies to people about my age, telling them I'm in my twenties, which I find hurtful (that might just be me being thin-skinned and uptight, though). After this most recent revelation, the thought of being intimate with him fills me with dread and shame about my body and appearance. I also dread the thought of a sexless or sexually-unfulfilling relationship. A lot of the advice out there for partners of men who have ED is to focus more on orgasming from oral sex or sex toys, but neither of those things really does a lot for me.

I'm very overwhelmed by all of this. I guess my questions are: if you ever been with a partner who was recovering from this level of porn dependence/addiction, is it really as simple as "rebooting" one's libido, or will this always be a struggle for him, like a drug or alcohol addiction? Is this just the new normal now, especially for women my age and older who aren't considered as attractive by most of society? Given how compatible we are in very other way, should I try to just get over this or work around it somehow? And finally, how do I not let my body image issues get the best of me?
posted by BecquerelReindeer to Human Relations (55 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
He's definitely a "catch" in many ways, while I'm not so much (divorced mom with a young child, just finishing a degree, very little money, nearing the end of my child-bearing years, etc.)

Don't settle. You deserve so much better than this. You deserve a man who tells you the truth about himself, who tells others the truth about you, who lives in the real world. Don't make this guy your project and don't let his issues color your view of yourself.

Six months is not a long time, you don't really know that you're otherwise compatible, you're still getting to know each other. This issue and all of its fallout will be the primary focus of your relationship. Is that how you want to live?
posted by headnsouth at 6:47 PM on June 24, 2013 [56 favorites]


Walk away, sweetie. This isn't going to end well and I really think you know this.
posted by crw at 6:49 PM on June 24, 2013 [34 favorites]


This isn't the first time he's tried to change. If he really went cold turkey on the porn, masturbating, strip clubs, other women, etc., he would be a different person in a month. You won't see that and if you did, he'd still have a long road of habit-building to walk and it would be filled with missteps on his part and disappointments on your part.

I can't say whether it's something you want to walk with him but be realistic about it.

As far as body issues go, try to see your reaction as normal. Any woman would be doubting herself because of this.
posted by michaelh at 6:50 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


He should see a doctor. Amateur psychoanalysis on one's self almost always leads to wrong results.

Let me know how that "reboot" goes...
posted by jrockway at 6:50 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm 40, undereducated, under-employed and a full time single mother of three kids. I have yet to go on a date with a man who didn't pop a tent somewhere along the way (first date). I'm kind of average looking. My ex-husband is the only man who has ever had ED with me and I am so happy, every day, that I am no longer with him. Run, run fast, you can do better. The porn bit is just an excuse, he has something seriously wrong with him. Get out of there while you still have a shred of self esteem left.
posted by myselfasme at 6:51 PM on June 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


If he's truly serious about working on his ED, he should see a doctor. Viagra and/or other ED medications should be able to help him over this. See if he's willing to go that route. If he's not, then I'm afraid it might not be worth dealing with his self-diagnosis and self-imposed remedy.
posted by xingcat at 6:54 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


He even lies to people about my age, telling them I'm in my twenties, which I find hurtful (that might just be me being thin-skinned and uptight, though).
No.
posted by Flunkie at 6:54 PM on June 24, 2013 [123 favorites]


I don't know about the penis issues -- that sounds like a lot of work that will need to be undertaken by him, and unfortunately one has to think that if he wanted to get off with a human instead of porn, he would have done that, years ago.

But it seems like a secondary issue compared to all the self-loathing here.

He's definitely a "catch" in many ways, while I'm not so much (divorced mom with a young child, just finishing a degree, very little money, nearing the end of my child-bearing years, etc.)
...Is this just the new normal now, especially for women my age and older who aren't considered as attractive by most of society?


Hey! This is me (except for the currently-in-school part) and I'm a fabulous "catch." Who on earth is considering me 'not as attractive'? This seems bizarre and terribly unfortunate to go around thinking of oneself as undesirable to this extent. These aren't 'body image issues' but a full-on undervaluation of the entirety of you.

Which...which leaves you with a lot of work to undertake, too, yes. With a therapist, perhaps?

Which brings another unfortunate conclusion, which is that: if you did not think so little of yourself, you would not be with somebody who could not make an effort to curl your toes. It is telling that this is not just a physical problem that your wonderfully generous and sweet lover happens to suffer from -- you're dissatisfied with the whole picture, which is totally understandable given the lack of effort you mention. He's a dirtball -- a putative adult, who lies about your age! I wouldn't be able to get it up either if I was him; I'd be too ashamed of myself. Get right with you, and then date.
posted by kmennie at 6:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


Is this just the new normal now, especially for women my age and older who aren't considered as attractive by most of society?

No. Good Lord, no.

This a problem your boyfriend has as an individual. This is NOT something you will just have to accept no matter who you date.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:56 PM on June 24, 2013 [25 favorites]


He even lies to people about my age, telling them I'm in my twenties, which I find hurtful (that might just be me being thin-skinned and uptight, though).

Gross.

This sounds like a project and a half, with very little chance of success. (It's the lying-about-age thing that makes me think that the project is doomed to failure, because reality is apparently not so much his thing.)

I'm sorry, this sounds incredibly frustrating, like "so close and yet so far." But it really is very far from a good situation.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:56 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


He even lies to people about my age, telling them I'm in my twenties,

This would be a deal breaker for me. The guy is making things up about you as though the truth is something to be ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with you. Don't let anyone ever treat you like there is.
posted by marimeko at 6:58 PM on June 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


Women just start to be sexy at age 30, so there's something strange about him lying about your age. Sex seems to be something you need (and there is nothing sexier than 30-something-women who know what they want), so probably best to break off with this fellow.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:07 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Christ, the lying about your age thing is awful. At least find a porn-addled sleazeball who browses outside of the barely legal categories. There's plenty of us around.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 7:08 PM on June 24, 2013 [24 favorites]


You say you go down on him, you wear lingerie, initiate, etc. Does he reciprocate? Is he going down on you or at least making an attempt to do something you might enjoy? Does he seem concerned that you are unsatisfied?

Or does he accept your attentions without returning the favor?

There are nice guys who have ED but will put some alternatives on the table and try to meet their partners halfway. If I've understood you correctly, he sounds rather selfish. Not to mention the issues that others have mentioned.
posted by bunderful at 7:12 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would find the lies about the cause of his ED, how he made it sound like it had to do with his relationship with you (when he's more comfortable with you, he'll get over it?), and his inability/unwillingness to communicate with you about your shared sex life really hard to recover from. AND he lies about your age? Ew.

Please stop thinking that you're not a good catch. You are not approaching the end of your childbearing years, most likely. You sound patient, kind and communicative. Those are not unimportant traits. You don't have to put up with this if you don't want to.
posted by Aquifer at 7:14 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Walk away. He is only going to destroy your confidence and peace of mind. He has some deep psychological problems, and they will not be solved by "rebooting." A healthy sexual relationship is really important, and this kind of thing can really wear away your confidence. And it has nothing to do with you. It's his issue, and probably a sign that he has unrealistic expectations for relationships in general. Get away now before you get any more attached. You can definitely do better! You sound like you have MUCH more to offer than him!
posted by catatethebird at 7:15 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


He even lies to people about my age, telling them I'm in my twenties

He's morally flaccid too.

He's a loser. Please move on.
posted by Unified Theory at 7:18 PM on June 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


It'd be one thing if he was addicted to porn and could only come through masturbation if he also made an effort to satisfy you in other, non PIV ways - but it doesn't sound like he even does that. And throw in the lying about your age (REALLY? nuh-uh. No.)... I don't know. I think you're vastly, wildly undervaluing yourself and thinking he's your last chance. he's NOT. You can, and will do better. This is just a road to heartbreak, and I think the wisest, most self-affirming choice would be to let this go.
posted by lemniskate at 7:20 PM on June 24, 2013


(I don't know if it's relevant, but he's only had one long-term relationship - his marriage, which lasted just over a year from the time they met until the time they separated.)

He is 38 years old and this is the extent of his ability to have a successful long-term relationship. Yes, this is very, very relevant. It's not you, it's him. You can take that to the bank. And the fact that the statement quoted above is in parentheses while many of your own self-doubts are not is kind of telling. Please try to see yourself in a different light.
posted by fikri at 7:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [28 favorites]


I don't know how I can ever compete with porn stars in the bedroom. I struggled with body image issues when I was younger and have worked very hard for years, both in and out of therapy, to overcome them; I can feel those thoughts rearing their ugly heads once again.

Just so you know, this sounds to me like a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. If the only porn available to him was of women less attractive to you, I would bet that that porn would still be able to activate his turn-on buttons more easily that an actual partner. This isn't about you, it's about him being used to being turned on by a different kind of sex that stimulates different senses in different patterns.
posted by anonymisc at 7:23 PM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Walk away and laugh about the wonderful vagaries of human nature.

Oh, I guarantee that you will one day laugh about the guy that said he was addicted to porn and lied about your age. You will laugh and laugh, and your new boyfriend will find it endearing and he'll share a story with you about his own experience of romance gone wrong, and you will find his story endearing, too.

But the important part is that you walk away now.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:26 PM on June 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


This guy is not a catch. You have low self esteem, and you need to work on that.

Walk away. This guy can only help himself, and he's not a catch at all. He lies, he can't keep an erection w/a human woman, he hasn't tried to work on it, and he tells ppl you're in your 20s? That's weird.
posted by discopolo at 7:26 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I really am disturbed by this guy. There's something really "off" about a fellow who comes quickly (30 seconds?!?!) when receiving oral sex, but cannot do intercourse at all?!? This doesn't really compute for me. We read lots about the death grip of compulsive madturbators but oral sex is not a death grip. This makes me think that he's got weird, deep, dark psycho-sexual dysfunction where he can only get off as long as he's sort of divorced from any real, breathing human being with sexual needs of her own. There is something SERIOUSLY WRONG with this guy and it's not something you can fix, it's probably not something he can fix in a timeframe that would be fair to you, so you need to get out.
posted by Unified Theory at 7:26 PM on June 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


I think maybe it would be good to back off the amateur psychoanalysis of something SERIOUSLY WRONG and deep, dark dysfunction? That's really reading an awful lot that isn't present into question and pathologizing in a probably irresponsible way.

OP, the whole thing with the ED is probably a red herring. Just the fact that he lies to people about your age is a huge problem. If he were great in every way I'd say work with him on the ED. ED is not a moral failing like some people are making it out to be. But you kinda buried the lede and his real problem is dishonesty.
posted by Justinian at 7:31 PM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


What what what????

This guy is SOOOO far from being a catch, I cannot begin to tell you.

I started all 'Aww, poor dude...he let himself go too far with porn and now he's making a genuine effort to fix it', to 'EW, Jeebus NO!!'

The issue is not the porn addiction, it's that he's a liar who has a borked capacity for intimacy with another human. The thing about lying about your age (particularly when you're 4 years YOUNGER than him) is revolting.

Oh, and I'm 40 and don't consider myself anywhere near being over-the-hill enough to settle for this. (Okay, I wouldn't if I was 80, to be honest.)

Please, be kind to yourself and run far far away. You'll look back in a few years and laugh at the idea that you had to settle for this bullshit at 34.
posted by Salamander at 7:36 PM on June 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


This doesn't have anything to do with you as far as I can tell. In fact, this guy sounds all kinds of off to me. The strip clubs, the comments about younger "hotter" women, and the lying about your age all point to a level of immaturity that he should have grown out of soon after college, let alone 15 years, several relationships, and one marriage later. The ED, premature ejaculation (let's call it what it is here), and porn addiction/hang-ups point to something else, but I can't really say what that is. Yes, there are many valid issues around porn and idealized and/or sexualized perceptions of women, but it's clear that the porn isn't the issue here, he is. Wanting sex once a day (more or less) is not an unheard-of sex drive for either a man or woman in their thirties. This nonsense about "rebooting" himself sounds like something he read on an advice site like Savage Love rather than an actual solution, and I guarantee that it's not working for him. And the fact that this has been a major factor in all of his relationship to date is a HUGE red flag about his motivation and how he perceives the women he is intimate with.

This guy has, at the least, some issues surrounding women, relationships, sex, and the various combinations thereof. I'd say dealing with one of them is a worthwhile project, but all three simultaneously? No. Break it off, let him know that at a minimum he needs either a medical or psychological consult, and find a guy who actually respects you for who you are.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:43 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Honestly, I think you have things backwards - you sound like a catch, and he sounds like a giant loser. His issues with sex are not going to be solved by abstaining from porn for a while, and going through the mental gymnastics of making this situation acceptable would be crazy making. The bottom line is that this guy does a lot of things that make you legitimately feel awful about yourself, and even if he was truly willing to do the work it would take to conquer his issues it probably wouldn't be worth sticking around.
posted by fox problems at 7:44 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, jumping off of Justinian's post, I think there are guys who have ED and even porn addictions who could be great partners despite those obstacles. (I feel like some of the comments here sort of imply that this isn't true.)

But I don't see that this guy is one of those guys. First, because it doesn't sounds like he's willing to put in the effort to tackle this obstacle for the benefit of you and your relationship. And then, there's the lying to people about your age issue, which is just weird and I think would be a dealbreaker all by itself.
posted by Asparagus at 7:50 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's only had one long-term relationship - his marriage, which lasted just over a year from the time they met until the time they separated.

Holy shit, and he's 38? This BY ITSELF is a huge red flag, man. Apparently almost no one else in the past 38 years has considered him to be as much of a 'catch' as you seem to. And anyone who would meet someone, get married, and then get divorced all within a year has some serious, serious damage.

Also, yeah it kinda seems like you hate yourself and think you don't deserve better. Allow me to be yet another voice expressing the opinion that you deserve SO SO MUCH better.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:54 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


You think it's bad now? It's going to be hell a couple years down the road. You deserve better. Intercourse is an important need for you and most people. This guy cannot fulfill your very important need.

When our needs are not met, we become be miserable. We can even hate our partners who fail to meet our needs. Do you want to be miserable? Things are rosy right now because you've just met and you're still in the phase where you're trying to make one another happy. You're still in a courtship so to speak. Do not be fooled. You will both probably repeat the mistakes you made in your first marriages unless you make an effort to do better.

Maybe he has what it takes to "get better". Life is short and sex is important in romantic relationships. Vital I would say. I wouldn't wait forever. Don't feel guilty about it. Good luck to you.
posted by Fairchild at 7:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually, even if there was no ED issue at all, look at all this shit:

He won't (or can't) tell me any of his preferences or turn-ons

He told me that he had seen a sex therapist and that as he became more comfortable with me, the issue would subside/he told me he has been unable (with a few exceptions) to ever have intercourse with a partner
(so, he lied to you)

He's only had one long-term relationship - his marriage, which lasted just over a year from the time they met until the time they separated.

He even lies to people about my age, telling them I'm in my twenties, which I find hurtful


ALL of this is very troubling, totally apart from the ED.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:59 PM on June 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


Your most important question is your last one - how do you not let your body image get the best of you? By ridding yourself of things that don't help. Like this guy.
posted by bleep at 8:03 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


The end of your fertility is a decade away!
posted by jbenben at 8:06 PM on June 24, 2013


Also, he is a horrible person on the inside, where it counts. RUN.
posted by jbenben at 8:08 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's hard to feel attractive when you have a young kid. You feel like you have a lot of baggage so you'll have to compromise on some things to find a relationship. The thing is though that if you do compromise it should be so you can be happy & enjoy romance & sex. Like maybe you meet someone who doesn't want to give up his weird stamp collection and you let it go because doing it and hugging and feeling loved are so great. But compromising on feeling loved and having good sex isn't necessary; it just gets you a relationship that's worse than being alone.

I know being alone and being on the market with a child are both really scary and lonely. Realistically though, being with this guy seems lonely too.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:13 PM on June 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


He's only had one long-term relationship - his marriage, which lasted just over a year from the time they met until the time they separated.

I just wanted to give you some perspective here. I'm in my 20s, was homeschooled except for a year and a half of highschool, and was diagnosed with aspergers when I was younger.

I've had four serious relationships, two of which lasted longer than his.

Many other people have noticed something is wrong with this guy.

You know that egg scale in willy wonka? From this scene? Everyone placed this guy on their scale and it went HONK HONK! And dumped him into the furnace.

There's a reason for that, and the problem has nothing to do with you.
posted by emptythought at 8:22 PM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


He told me that the few times he has been able to have PIV sex with a woman, it was "like masturbating using a person instead of my hand", which really upset me.

And it will continue to upset you because now it is in your brain. Even if he gets the PIV thing sorted, you will still have this in your brain. And it will fester. Your self-esteem will deteriorate. You will spend time, money, energy and psychological capital trying to become something more than a masturbatory tool, until you leave him finally. It will then take you years to recover. Please cut your loses and leave now.
posted by Kerasia at 8:23 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you marry this man, you'll not be getting a husband - you'll be getting a leech who just wants to be taken care of. He has no respect for you and if you stay around him, you'll soon find your own self-respect going down the drain - every day will get harder to break it off.

Good men are hard to find, that's true, but losers are a dime a dozen. Your post shows excellent writing skills - you're no dummy, and you don't need a loser. Get him out of your life ASAP, though you might find that hard to do - he's going to have a whole variety of techniques to keep you thinking he needs you. He doesn't - he needs to grow up and take care of himself.
posted by aryma at 8:30 PM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


The dude is not a catch. Your sex life sucks and isn't likely to improve any time soon. No matter how desperate you are, this guy isn't worth the effort.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:36 PM on June 24, 2013


I'm trying to play devil's advocate, here. I'm trying to 'assume positive intent' as I am so often wont to do. As the guy who tries to see the shred of good in everything, I am trying here. So, here's what I think:

- Yes, this sad fellow does have some problems. Whether the problem, at its root, is an addiction to porn or something more troubling, I am not sure. The fact that he said he's trying to 'reset' is a good indicator, and the fact that he was very open with you about his admittedly embarassing end to his previous marriage is also a good thing.

- Really reaching here, but do you think that maybe he has some very skewed perception of 'what women want' and is lying about your age because he thinks that that's what you would want him to do? Again, huge reach, but someone has to do it to keep this place considering all angles.

- The whole 'jerking off with a human' thing makes little to no sense to me, and this is where I begin to fall off of the rails in terms of trying to look at the positive in this. That's a very strange perception of intercourse, and not common, particularly amongst someone so sexually inexperienced. In my mind, porn addiction is problematic because it wires the brain to be excited about new partners all the time. Porn feeds this because, especially now, you can get new HOT YOUNG BABES all the time without the work of actually talking to other women. Given that, in my mind he would've still been able to have sex with you, AT LEAST a few times, before losing interest.

It isn't looking good, friend. If I were you, I'd set up a plan with him. Either he really does this thing, cold turkey, or checks himself into therapy, or you're walking. I recommend walking as soon as you lose patience with it. That may be right now.
posted by summerteeth at 8:52 PM on June 24, 2013


6 months is not enough of a history to stick with this. He has major dysfunction in many areas of his life and hasn't made much headway in fixing them. This partnership will not yield what you are looking for.

Your time would be better spent examining why you think that this relationship is the best you can do. In your question, you repeatedly try to put the responsibility for his dysfunction on your own shoulders. His manner of relating to you has resulted in a plummet in your self esteem and you now are filled with dread and shame when you think of being intimate with him. Every red flag is waving. Let him resolve this on his own and please find someone who treasures you.
posted by quince at 9:14 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


- Both of us want to remarry and have a family in the near future, and he is someone I can see myself doing that with.
- He told me that he had seen a sex therapist and that as he became more comfortable with me, the issue would subside
- very frustrated from the lack of sex and from his lack of effort.
- he is completely dependent on pornography and has been unable (with a few exceptions) to ever have intercourse with a partner.
- After this most recent revelation, the thought of being intimate with him fills me with dread and shame about my body and appearance. I also dread the thought of a sexless or sexually-unfulfilling relationship.
- he frequents strip clubs and makes comments about hot younger women a lot. He even lies to people about my age, telling them I'm in my twenties,


Oh dear, where to begin? He doesn't have sex with you and is unlikely to be starting a family any time soon. The sex therapist sounds bogus as all get out. I think he's lying about an awful lot, and telling you what he thinks you want to hear. It's possible that he could have a more typical sex life with you, if he saw a good sex therapist, and really wanted to change the situation. He's getting a lot of satisfactory oral sex. It sounds like he is not reciprocating in any way, or is at all worried about your sexual pleasure and satisfaction.

my questions are: if you ever been with a partner who was recovering from this level of porn dependence/addiction, is it really as simple as "rebooting" one's libido, or will this always be a struggle for him, like a drug or alcohol addiction? Is this just the new normal now, especially for women my age and older who aren't considered as attractive by most of society? Given how compatible we are in very other way, should I try to just get over this or work around it somehow? And finally, how do I not let my body image issues get the best of me?

You're 34, great-looking, in good shape, and you're sexually generous. You aren't very old at all. You are a fantastic person, and this guy is making you feel like crap. We can't tell everything about him based on your ask.me question, but it gives me the creeps, he gives me the creeps. I'm so sorry, but I think he is not only not going to get better, I think things will get worse. If he wants to keep you, he needs to show you that he cares, stop making you feel miserable, start caring about you in bed, stop lying, etc. I think that's not going to happen. You deserve so, so much more than this.
posted by theora55 at 9:27 PM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Honestly, something about this porn thing really doesn't make sense to me. I mean, your description ("He started using porn at a very young age and has been masturbating to it daily for most of his life") matches a lot of men I know, people who have absolutely no problems being with an actual partner -- especially an attractive partner who enjoys and wants sex.

Combined with the caginess about what gets him going, the porn reliance makes me think there's something else going on. My guess is that he may have some very specific and limited repertoire of turn-ons that he is completely embarrassed about, either because of anxiety, or because his turn-ons are very extreme, or both. But of course that's just speculation; my main point is that the story as he's presented it to you just seems off.

Ultimately, I think the main thing is that it doesn't sound like he is being particularly above board with you or anyone else about his sex life. Initially, he misled you or maybe even lied to you about the cause of his ED. Resorting to advice he gleaned from his own reading (and from reading what exactly? r/nofap?) when he is alleged to have been to an actual sex therapist also does not compute - did he never bring this major issue up with the therapist before? If he did, what advice did the therapist offer and why is he ignoring it in favor of doing his own research? The lying about your age to his friends is the icing on the big triangular yellow warning cake to me.

When it comes to sex, he sounds at a minimum very confused and at worst actively manipulative. I think you're setting yourself up to feel bad for no good reason if you stay with him. The good news is that this situation has absolutely nothing to do with you. I would second myselfasme's advice.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:43 PM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I know I've said something about this kind of reboot before, and like I said, it worked for me in that I have reconditioned my arousal response away from the stimuli I preferred. BUT

I never told my partner that any difficulties were due to their actions in any way.
I never lied about their age to make them conform to a porn ideal of who to fuck (since over 30 = MILF)
I never went to strip joints, or ogled other men
I never reduced our sex life to one act that made me come.

Those are the key issues. Yes, you can decouple yourself from porn in order to make for a healthier relationship but you aren't in anything remotely like a healthy relationship here. I sometimes feel like a giant prude in sex threads because I'm a big fan of taking breaks from sex, abstaining, and I don't think your partner has an obligation to fill your kinks, but seriously there is something wrong here and it isn't just porn, or ED.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:59 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


...will this always be a struggle for him, like a drug or alcohol addiction?
I don't know if it will or not. Based on what you wrote the ED isn't the only issue, he has problems with interpersonal relationships - communicating, maintaining connections, etc. Even if he works hard, meaning lots of individual therapy starting now, it may take him a few years to sort all of this out.

Is this just the new normal now, especially for women my age and older who aren't considered as attractive by most of society?
No, this is not the new normal for you. This is more of a detour or a rough patch. No one who takes good care of herself and uses the word Becquerel should settle for less than she needs (I'm sure society agrees with me on this).

Given how compatible we are in very other way, should I try to just get over this or work around it somehow?
No.

And finally, how do I not let my body image issues get the best of me?
There's no quick fix, but start by hanging around with people who think you're a great catch. Don't worry, you have more time to figure this out than you think.
posted by balacat at 10:59 PM on June 24, 2013


This is not how someone who is trying to resolve sexual dysfunction behaves. This is how a creep behaves. DTMFA.
posted by peacrow at 4:11 AM on June 25, 2013


I haven't got anything to say about your relationship, I'd like to comment on a couple of things you say about yourself.

"I don't know how I can ever compete with porn stars in the bedroom." Nobody has to compete with porn stars in the bedroom. Relationship sex is a different thing from porn sex and comparing the two isn't productive. It's like comparing eating a sandwich to putting on lipstick.

"Is this just the new normal now, especially for women my age and older who aren't considered as attractive by most of society?" Huh? You know I've read some bloke claim that all women have to do to be sexy is show up. You like sex, you want sex frequently, you're a little bit kinky and you like to play. There are perfectly ordinary nice blokes out there who would think they'd died and gone to heaven if they met a woman like you. Particularly a woman in her thirties who knows what she's doing.

Carry on in therapy for your self-esteem and your body issues and maybe sex issues as well. Then deal with your relationship as you see fit; you're the one that knows all the details. But you wrote in because you're unhappy. Being unhappy in a relationship isn't something you have to do in order to be a good person. Adult relationships don't depend on one person 'fixing' all of another person's stuff. I mean, there's give and take: each partner brings something for both partners, and they share. What sex are you getting a share of?
posted by glasseyes at 5:17 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just adding my opinion to those of others. Get out now.

Unless he's horrified at the fact that he has a problem and running to get help so that you and he can have all kinds of fun in bed, this is going nowhere.

He's found someone who's willing to blow him and who won't complain when he rolls over when he's done.

In what world is it okay to lie about your age to his friends? That there is enough for "Splitsville, population...him."

This guy is NOT a catch, he's a selfish jerk, and you can do so much better. Consider this your starter guy. The one that got you back in the game. Now here's how you dump him:

Sweetie, we've had some laughs here, but I think this relationship has run its course. I have a high sex drive and I love it when someone really devotes himself to me in bed. While I appreciate that you have issues with sex, frankly, you don't seem to be working on them very hard. You're not in therapy and you're not forthcoming with me about what we can do together to overcome your issues. I'm too old to spend any more time with someone who clearly is acting selfishly. I'm not even going to get into how weird and hurtful it is that you lie to your friends about my age. I wish you well.

Then block his number, defriend him in social media and go on a girls weekend where you hang out somewhere drinking umbrella drinks by the pool. You'll be AMAZED at how quickly you get over this yutz.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:02 AM on June 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


He won't (or can't) tell me any of his preferences or turn-ons,

It may be that he's into something fairly harmless-- like maybe a fetish that wouldn't bother you at all if you knew what it was-- but he has too much shame to tell anyone. I've known people that were into different kinds of kink that had this kind of experience. Or it could just be the porn or the "death grip" effect. And for what it's worth I think you might very well be able to get past this and have a good sex life. But first it would be something to discuss in depth. And he won't tell you what it is. Really? Not ever? Are you expected to just go on like that for years, maybe while having kids?

Even aside from the fact that he lies about your age and is generally disrespectful, he sounds like he is too wrapped up in his various hang-ups to really share with you. (And by hang-up, I don't mean any specific kink or sexual preference but rather that he is held back from connecting with you because of this stuff he would rather keep to himself than discuss with you.)
posted by BibiRose at 7:10 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I felt guilty, but I was honestly very frustrated from the lack of sex and from his lack of effort.

The only problem with this sentence is the first 3 words.

I now feel very hurt and insecure because I don't know how I can ever compete with porn stars in the bedroom

If there was a pornstar in his bed his problems would be 100% the same.

He is a lying lair who tells lies.

Walk. The Fuck. Away.
posted by French Fry at 8:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Consider the facts that he has never been able to have real sex with a real woman, that he lies about your age, that he never had the consideration to proactively tell you about his problem, that he never seemed concerned about your sexual satisfaction, and that he can't maintain an erection to be a huge sign saying RUN AWAY NOW...unless for some reason you are interested in making your life extra challenging and unfulfilled.
posted by Dansaman at 10:20 AM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Real quick - not having had more than one serious relationship by the age of 38 isn't a crazy red flag. There are all sorts of late bloomers and many people who figure out they need to put in some hard work in therapy or otherwise before getting into their first serious relationship. But there are so many other relationship red flags here that I have to add my voice to the chorus of "get out now!"

Is this just the new normal now, especially for women my age and older who aren't considered as attractive by most of society? Given how compatible we are in [e]very other way, should I try to just get over this or work around it somehow? And finally, how do I not let my body image issues get the best of me?

I'm a year older than you. Even as someone with late onset body image issues, I can swear to you with the power of a hundred thousand anecdata, that this is not the new normal.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:28 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your boyfriend sounds a lot like an advanced version of the guy I used to be. The ghost of that guy cringes at the vitriol and declarations of "Ew, Creep!" in the comments above. They bring back the memories of shame and inadequacy that came along with my prior sexual (mis)behavior. I know I hurt my prior partners, I know that I parlayed my selfish desires into feelings of rejection and confusion. I was a selfish, porn-dwelling drunk, who somehow grew to revile physical intercourse with another human.

There are differences, to be sure. My sexual attraction to a new partner would exist at first, but quickly fade after a few days/weeks. Thereafter sex would become an unpleasant chore, but a chore I could manage. Within six months, it was nonexistent. So, perhaps I am just projecting back a bit here, but with the glaring exception (and this is really piss poor behavior) of your b/f referring to you as 20, your description of him as "...we enjoy each other's company. We have fun and inspire each other and bring out the best in each other." does remind me of descriptives of prior "early stage" relationships I had.

As to the reasoning of being "addicted to porn," while this may be a factor or even the cause, the actual reason behind my preference for porn/masturbation to intercourse was a catastrophically self-centered, distorted view on sex.

I started looking at pornography at a "normal" enough age, the internet wasn't around back then. (I'm 37 now). But my first sexual experience was as small child with a neighbor boy. We were caught several times by my parents, and between the normal shame I felt, the severe punishments, followed by immediate refusal to discuss this, I kind of just begun to equate physical intimacy with being bad. Still, I was able to be attracted to my first two girlfriends (at 17 and 18). I have memories of the standards: playing grab-ass and having wild sex at whim. Right after that, however, the internet came into my life. It was a blind downhill run into a sexual abyss for me, which took me a decade to realize I was in, and another to get out of.

The progression of a porn addiction follows the same path of any other. For me, taboo was the name of that drug. Thankfully, I never got involved in any of the illegal pornography that exists, but my viewing ranged from relatively "white bread" at the beginning, progressed to threesomes, then gangbangs, and at the end... it was all over the place, SSBBW, transexual, gay, old, BSDM, animals, golden showers, you name it. The act didn't matter, it was how "wrong" it was according to what I believed society would think of me "if they only knew!"

It was a dirty, awful demon living inside of me. When it awoke, it needed what it needed, things I wasn't comfortable sharing with myself, let alone another person. I didn't have to worry about someone else's feelings, comfort level, deal with an emotional aftermath, and the small guilt I felt about the things I watched, well, I tried to push them away as if they never happened, as I was the only witness, and I wasn't going to say anything.

I was self indulgence, pure and simple. Narcissism, ego, and self-centered fear.

Thankfully for me, the same lifestyle I adopted to get over my alcoholism has greatly reduced my issues as described above. I have a relatively normal sex life with my wife, and it was all about ego-deflation, thinking of others, and finding a direction to walk in.

Your boyfriend knows he has a problem. You know he has a problem. Immaturity and questionable ethics aside, he cannot have a successful relationship with you (and your child) as he is currently. That said, if he is honestly willing to change, he can. The question you should really ask yourself at six months in, is, "Is this really worth it?" There are plenty of fish out there. I met my now wife as a single mom.

There are plenty of non-fucked up guys out there who will love you and your child as you both are, who don't need serious self-work and therapy to be capable of loving you the way you deserve to be loved. But, I know sometimes the heart wants what it wants... just tread carefully.

If you choose to stay, and it ever gets to the point where you are more comfortable speaking with him about this, you can cut and paste this post and say you got it as an e-mail from a concerned acquaintance and I would be glad to communicate with him about how I resolved my issue or me-mail me, and as someone who has been down this road I can let you know my experiences.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:46 PM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was a selfish, porn-dwelling drunk, who somehow grew to revile physical intercourse with another human.

I have a feeling there are a lot of reasons that people either disengage from sexual interest in other people or never find it in the first place. Deep-seated (cross-) cultural beliefs about the centrality of shared sex to the human experience aside, this isn't always pathological in nature. I, for one, have come to associate sex with failure, loss of agency, disappointment, and gut-wrenching loneliness. If I ever had a fetish (in the sense of being habituated by an experience or set of experiences to get off) for having sex with someone I like, it's been gone for years. I can say with some certainty that I'm happier now that I've avoided situations where I'd have to feign interest in sex -- especially, God forbid, with someone I care about -- than I ever was while trying to be sexually active.

Is this a form of self-medication? Maybe. I mean, if I think about it, I have a host of unmet emotional interests/needs that are traditionally met in long-term sexual relationships, but if cutting sex out of my life means I won't have to subject someone to my baggage and the whole tangled mess of emotions that sex brings up, I'll take those side effects with a smile.

My point being that while this dude has thrown up way more red flags than simple disinterest in sex, there's something to be said for working towards an "adaptive asexuality" instead of pushing through a thicket of emotional knots that might never work themselves out.

I figure if you know what you want and what you don't want, and you have the self-respect and courtesy to be up front about it when the issue arises, negotiating a relationship with a minimal sexual element isn't all that different from puzzling through any other kind of relationship. Behaviors that would be unspeakably frustrating in a more sexually straightforward relationship can conceivably be par for the course, if the increased visibility of asexuals on the interwebs is any indication.
posted by a series of tube socks at 10:19 AM on June 26, 2013


[Reminder: Please address the OP and offer advice about the questions they have asked rather than discussing generally with other commenters. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 4:54 AM on June 28, 2013


« Older I read a method for making ice...   |  My 15 year-old daughter get's ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments