How to Handle/Support Boyfriend Battling Porn/Masturbation Addiction?
July 25, 2013 6:49 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend of 5 months has recently confessed that the sexual problems we'd been having are largely due to his addiction to masturbating/porn. He has decided that he needs to quit and "reboot" his brain-- he's joined "nofap" on reddit, and seems very committed to making this change. It's been about two weeks since he took on the "challenge." It's a bit hard for me because a) I want to support him in any way I can while taking care of myself and b) I feel a overwhelmed by the extent of his problem and how it interrelates with our relationship. Help!

The main things I'm concerned about are:

1. Since abstinence from masturbating/porn is his goal, that means his only sexual outlet is with me. This feels like a lot of pressure, as we have a long-distance relationship and only see each other about once a month. He feels a lot of sexual agitation now, and I don't want to feel like I'm somehow "on the hook" for de-escalating that. (We had an issue recently in which he wanted me to come over, and I couldn't, and he was disappointed-- partially because of sexual frustration. He apologized a lot the next day for pressuring me, but it made me feel weird at the time.) Knowing that our sexual relationship plays a role in him dealing with his addiction is an extra layer that feels very heavy to me. (I don't feel like I'm explaining this very well. Basically, our sex life isn't just about our sex life/love life-- it's also about his addiction.) How do I handle this?

2. I want to help and support him in this goal, and I also feel like I can't be the only one to do so. Right now, I'm the only person in his life he talks about this with, and since I'm also the one dealing with the consequences of it, this makes it feel very claustrophobic, and a little scared, and a little overwhelmed. How do I support him and also take care of myself?

3. I just feel kind of overwhelmed with the way things are adding up in my mind (things he's asked for, positions he's wanted, some of the way he had been directive in ways I hadn't experienced with other boyfriends). He realizes that many of his behaviors were heavily influenced by masturbation/porn and is quite committed to changing (all on his own initiative, by the way) and has expressed that this relationship is worth making serious change for, and that he now understands what a relationship can be. I trust his ability to change-- but I guess I never thought I'd be in this situation, or dating someone with this issue. It cuts to the core of my feelings about being a woman, feminism, and though I know MeFites are often very pro-porn, I do feel worried about how it may have affected him in deep, unhealthy ways. How do I get over this?

Thanks much. I've never dated someone overcoming an addiction before, esp. one that is closely intertwined with the relationship. He is a good man, and I believe in the human capacity to change, and I don't want my fear to get in the way of this working. Especially hoping to hear from people or partners of people who have triumphed in this situation.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

His problems aren't your responsibility.

Supporting him is fine but don't make it your responsibility for him to deal with his addiction.

Seek counseling for your own issues as well.
posted by dfriedman at 6:59 AM on July 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

You have a long distance boyfriend of five months that you see about once a month?

I would have a long, hard think about whether or not all of these problems, the pressuring you, the needing to offer constant support for his addiction, having sexual problems in general--are too much to deal with SO SOON for someone that (frankly) it doesn't sound that you really have an in-person relationship with.

You hardly get to see each other, and then suddenly it's on you to make up for the last, what, 28 days since you last had sex? That's a lot to deal with. If I were in your shoes I would be thinking about walking away.
posted by phunniemee at 7:18 AM on July 25, 2013 [34 favorites]

If he's got an addiction he needs therapy. No solitary online pursuit is going to cure him of an addiction to something that is also a solitary online pursuit. And if his only real-world connection is a LDR ... which is often solitary and online ... then this is about more than porn. It's been 5 months, this is supposed to be the good/easy part.

I don't want my fear to get in the way of this working.

In a million years it wouldn't. You're facing someone else's addiction. There is no possible way to make it your fault. That you are even considering that possibility, especially this early on, is troubling. You are not and never will be responsible for your short-term LD boyfriend's addiction.
posted by headnsouth at 7:19 AM on July 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

If he actually has a sexual addiction, he needs proper psychological support. Joining a subreddit and expecting you to be his concubine isn't dealing with the problem, it's just shifting it.
posted by gjc at 7:19 AM on July 25, 2013 [25 favorites]

Here's the deal. The fact that your boyfriend's attitude towards sex 'scares' you, you feel overwhelmed and isolated by this, you feel a lot of pressure to have sex/the kind of sex you don't want - that all, frankly, scares me.

If he weren't framing this in terms of an "addiction," -i.e., something he can't help - I think you might be quicker to see the selfishness of this behavior. You are an equal partner in this relationship, and the sex life you share with your boyfriend ought to be mutually fulfilling. Your boyfriend isn't quitting masturbation for you; he's doing it for himself. If he truly believes that he has an addiction that makes him unable to make you and your needs a top priority, then he should be committed to getting outside help. Right now, he is either in the grip of a wholly untreated addiction, or else he's using addiction language to mask a different problem. Either way, that is unacceptable.

The truth is that your boyfriend's attitude towards sex doesn't sound like it was healthy before he started this 'challenge,' and it doesn't seem healthy now. If he wants to detach himself from the 'porn' mentality, one of his top priorities should be to stop thinking about you as a means an end, and to prioritize your pleasure, your happiness, your needs. Quitting masturbation isn't going to accomplish this; in fact, it sounds like it's made his behavior worse. You are not a crutch for him to lean on. Unless he commits to a.) getting help and b.) changing his mentality so that your sex life stops being all about him, I think you need to get out of this relationship ASAP.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:25 AM on July 25, 2013 [17 favorites]

I think its really brave of you to decide to help him through this. I also believe people can change, if they want to, and it seems like he does. The main thing is for you to remember that you cannot cure him, only walk beside him while he cures himself, so you are right to think of ways to support yourself. This is a link to a porn addiction support site for friends/family. It may not be right for you, but it shows that there is help out there for you, not just him, so you may be able to find something suitable.

Do you have a support network of your own to rely on? I understand you might not want to share specific details, but if you have a few people you can say 'SO is having issues at the minute and I'm trying to help him through them, but it's difficult' then at least you've opened the door to calling them and saying 'I'm having it tough right now, can we go and see a movie?' or whatever you need to give yourself some breathing space.

In terms of how it is affecting your sexual relationship, as with any other addiction you need to have clear boundaries in place. Sit down with him and let him know what behaviours are acceptable/unacceptable and - most importantly - what the consequences are of these being broken. So, for example, 'If I feel you are pressuring me for sex because you're frustrated, rather than wanting to be intimate with me, then I will end the conversation. If you persist I will leave/hang up.' or whatever feels appropriate to you. Try and think of different scenarios in which the addiction might cross over into your sex life, and come up with a suitable boundary for as many as you can. It will also help him to know where he stands, and not have to second guess what you'll be ok with and what you will consider out of line.

A final thing to consider is 'what's your bottom line?' which is a really useful tip I learned from reading Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay. The author makes the point that many of us, even in perfectly healthy relationships, think that the other people will know 'if I do X, that's it over', without ever articulating it. So if there is something that you know would signal a point of no return for you, let him know this clearly so that he can make an informed choice about whether to cross it or not.

At all times remember you do not have to sacrifice yourself for him, put up with any behaviour that makes you uncomfortable, or feel responsible for his recovery. Good luck and I hope that you both get to a place where you are happy and healthy.
posted by billiebee at 7:26 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cindy Gallop has some excellent advice related to just these kinds of problems.
She has a website called "makelovenotporn" I think.... she was also a guest on Dan Savage's podcast fairly recently and spoke for a solid hour on JUST the kinds of issues you are describing.
If you're feeling alone and overwhelmed, that would be the first place I would look.

Good luck!
posted by JenThePro at 7:30 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

If he was putting you on the hook for dealing with his drug addiction, that wouldn't be cool. Why is it different with this type of addiction?

He needs professional help if this is something that's interfering with his life as much as he's reporting. Doing this through online channels and pressuring you is not going to do much except hurt you both further.
posted by xingcat at 7:33 AM on July 25, 2013

I couldn't agree more with phunniemee and pretentious illiterate. The plaintive tone of your question breaks my heart. Ask yourself, honestly, whether you are sure this relationship is worth hanging onto. There are some serious red flags here.

I literally cringed in my chair when I got to your phrase "he's joined 'nofap' on reddit." Yikes. If he really has an addiction to porn, this is in no way a serious, committed way of getting help. In fact, it makes all of my alarm bells start clanging. Of course you feel overwhelmed, because you are still the only in-the-flesh outlet he has for unloading his issues. That is not okay, and it needs to change if he is serious about getting help and making your relationship work. You cannot, and should not, try to be his therapist; that is not the same thing as offering support, and it's not healthy for either of you.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 7:34 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

So, I'm not a professional in this area, but I am a dude. He might be right about the combo causing performance problems, but my opinion would be that he is trading one extreme for another, and I think the reddit forum reinforces that. In other words, he may have traded one unhealthy and unhelpful state for another, ie, the agitation.

Having sexual needs and desires is a totally natural thing, so this type of abstinence isn't really going to provide any type of "cure." But it does seem like he needs to change his habits to promote better sexual health & perspective. Re-boot is indeed a good way of looking at it.

The porn habit can be quit, but he will fail from time to time. Those failures are mainly due to the sad fact of natural desirability to look at nakedness and unnatural availability of anonymous nakedness. He shouldn't be to hard on himself, he just lost a good balance.

My advice, lay off the self pleasure as a daily escape or habit. When the need arises and he's ready to burst, feel free, strictly without any porn or visuals... males have been doing it since we have had opposable thumbs. There are probably some ways masturbating that will help avoid performance problems... ie death grip etc. Look into that. Good luck. Don't obsess, find a good balance.
posted by shimmer at 7:44 AM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's tough to say what you can do to support him -- I mean, the usual... be caring, be kind, be understanding.

I can tell you what you absolutely don't have to do to support him: be his surrogate masturbatory aid. It's totally unacceptable for him to put this pressure on you, even if it's indirect.

I kind of get the feeling you're indirectly asking "so does this mean I have to step up to alleviate his sexual needs because I'm his sole reason of getting off?" No. I mean, you're not responsible for him. Look at it a different way. If he had decided to follow a gluten-free diet, would it be on you to bake him gluten free foods every time he got hungry?

I'm not going to say DTMFA, but, I am picking up on the vibes you're exuding and they don't really bode well for you if your doubts are so strong, this early. Definitely proceed with caution.

However, if you love him (and he loves you) and he's truly committed to change I think it can work out.

But if it's truly in him to change, he should go to therapy -- he should want to go. And he must -- It will give him the tools to successfully beat the addiction, since he has the ingredients and the desire there to make a change already. Porn addiction (especially to the level you describe) is serious and won't be beaten with pure abstinence. If he balks at the idea of therapy, then you should rethink this relationship.
posted by Dimes at 7:48 AM on July 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have a fundamental problem with this approach. I am a firm believer that each person's primary sexual relationship is with themselves, and not masturbating does not seem like a productive way to get back in touch with healthy sexuality. Is his masturbation issue that's spilling over into your joint sex life a basic death grip problem? Because there is a lot of advice on that which doesn't include swearing off wanking until your long distance girlfriend can get you off. Which, frankly, I can see how that would make you feel gross. You are not a Fleshlight replacement.

In terms of the porn thing, if the spillover problem is porn modelling (ie he doesn't know what sex is like when there's no director or Kleig lights) then maybe find some better models. Miller's Work used to make actual real videos of not-porn-people getting it on but I think they've disappeared (which is tragic). Lover's Guide videos maybe?
posted by DarlingBri at 7:48 AM on July 25, 2013 [8 favorites]

Here's my take: in a long-distance, relatively new relationship (especially one with in-person-sexy-time-visits once a month), masturbation is positively healthy. Otherwise, there are month-long frustrations to be spent during your time together instead of bonding in non-sexy-time ways. And yes, it does put a lot of pressure on you -- as a girlfriend, you're not just a witty fleshlight. Where do your sexual needs and desires fit into this?

He's probably conflated masturbation very closely with porn. Maybe point out to him that it's really porn that's the "problem" (unrealistic expectations or whatever) rather than masturbating while you're apart. From there, encourage a discussion about exactly how porn is impacting your current relationship. It doesn't have to be a conversation about porn in general -- obviously, he feels it is affecting his relationship with you right now. Talk about the expectations he has, the expectations you have, and how sex is for both of you. Frankly, I find sex that is obviously influenced by lots of porn-watching to be just awful, boring and a little bit silly.

Be sure to balance your needs (not being pressured, scared, or stuck with lame sex) with his laudable desire to overcome what he feels is a negative compulsion in his life. Remember you can't fix other people's problems. If he starts putting that responsibility on you, it's OK to walk.
posted by mibo at 7:51 AM on July 25, 2013

I'm not a therapist and I'm not a dude.

The comment about nofap rings every warning bell I've got. Granted, I've got strong feelings about that place—I basically think of it as sexuality-based brainwashing—but still...

Look, if he really has an addiction to masturbating—and I'm not saying he does or doesn't—a reddit forum is not the right place to deal with it. From casual forays into nofap, it's mostly filled with people who've decided to demonize a perfectly-normal aspect of human sexuality, and place all of the responsibility for improving the rest of their life on that. Hell, half of them say they're just doing it to test their self-control and because they think they'll suddenly start having amazing sex when they stop masturbating. Not because they have an actual issue—which means that everyone with actual issues related to sex addiction could get easily confused, associating it with a power/self-esteem thing when it's an addiction. And honestly, considering you say he describes it as a "challenge" I'd say it's not based in an actual concern about how much he masturbates, but rather he just wants to see if he can do it.

NOT SAYING that addiction to masturbation isn't a thing. NOT SAYING deciding not to masturbate to improve one's sex life isn't a thing or a good idea.

BUT, if he thinks he's addicted to masturbation, that's something he needs to work out with a therapist, not a reddit forum. That's what will help him deal with it in a healthy way, not by forcing his girlfriend to serve as his masturbation surrogate.

Honestly, I'd dump him unless he's willing to actually talk this through with a therapist. None of this sounds healthy.
posted by good day merlock at 7:55 AM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Echoing what others have already stated. He needs professional help, NOT REDDIT.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:07 AM on July 25, 2013

i've spent a lot of time reading nofap. i think a lot of the guys there are really trying to better themselves - i think a lot of them are really hurting - but due to age and demographics, they're looking for a cure that they can grind like a video game. i find it to be really the wrong approach for most of what i read over there. it reminds me of the extreme weight loss/muscle building/p90x/gym rat/pro-ana stuff - like, the focus is off for a real addiction support community and it's too intense for a casual "here's an idea to better yourself." i was raised in a religion/family where masturbation and porn were sins right up there with pre-marital sex and infidelity. some of the methods no-fap uses reminds me the manipulative shaming i received. to me, it seems like some real self esteem damage is going on over there and that they're trading one extreme for another.

one of the reasons that i'm a pro-masturbation/pro-porn feminist is because i feel like it's not ok for anyone to be the sole sexual outlet for their partner. the pressure is too great, (especially in a situation where maybe libidos are mismatched and you only see each other once a month). it's not fair to you to worry about his agitation.

a lot of people think that they can do the hard work of being really relationship ready months into a relationship that works. every once in a great while there are two people who can really make this work and can grow up independently and together. he doesn't seem up to the task and it's not your job to become his therapist while he figures it out. i think he has a lot of growing up to do and he's unlikely to be successful at that in a relationship.
posted by nadawi at 8:15 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

It cuts to the core of my feelings about being a woman, feminism, and though I know MeFites are often very pro-porn, I do feel worried about how it may have affected him in deep, unhealthy ways. How do I get over this?

MeFites are also often very pro-drinking, but no one's pretending alchoholism doesn't exist. Sometimes, a person is just of a particular temperament or mental configuration that, for whatever reason, they have an unhealthy relationship with a substance or an activity or whatever. And no one's pretending that a person should try to overcome alcoholism with no help (or with only the help of Reddit).

It's good that he's trying to make changes, but the issues in play here are deep and far-reaching and he really needs counseling if there's a problem.

For your part: Of what you wrote in this question - your concerns, your uncertainties - how much have you told him directly?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:24 AM on July 25, 2013

Depending on his problem, porn may not be it, or may be a symptom. If it is non-ejaculation, then it is most likely psychological.

Second, if that is his problem, it is no more of a problem than a woman who doesn't orgasm often or at all has a problem.

And pressure is the worst thing for these sorts of problems. Where you can help is not to put pressure on him to solve his "problem," or to have an orgasm.

If there is some other kind of problem, he needs to see a health provider first. Don't take advice from Dan Savage (a magazine writer) and get real advice from a medical professional. His "decision" that the source of his problem is "porn" or masturbation can often be just another way to avoid the real psychological or physiological problems at the core of this.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 AM on July 25, 2013

I posted a similar question a couple of weeks back. I don't really have anything to add, but I can certainly relate to most of what you wrote here. Feel free to Memail me if you'd like to talk to someone who's going through the same thing or if you just need some support. Good luck to you; I know just how difficult and agonizing this situation is.
posted by BecquerelReindeer at 9:02 AM on July 25, 2013

Coincidentally, I just read this article at Slate, where the asker is having a similar problem (and proposed reddit solution) to your boyfriend.

In short, the advice columnist suggests that the guy need not stop all 'fapping', but rather that he try to tone down the fapping material to "old school style" (e.g., 80s Playboy-type stuff). I don't know, really, how useful/effective/achievable this advice is for someone who goes in for the hard-core stuff and does it ALL. THE. TIME., but maybe it is a more do-able compromise than the cold-turkey approach (which seems to be putting undue pressure on you).

So perhaps share that column with your guy?
posted by Halo in reverse at 9:14 AM on July 25, 2013

I have been in your shoes, more or less.

When I was dating a porn addict, part of the addiction seemed to be not just the masturbation but the shame and "redemption" afterward. So he always needlessly involved me, like your boyfriend is doing to you, and like Anthony Weiner is doing to the whole country. It's not just the porn that they crave -- it's the whole temptation/shame/redemption cycle. Needless to say, nofap provides more of the same, the purge to his binge.

That relationship did a number on my self-esteem. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. If you are going to stay with him, the best approach is to insist that he get professional help and then stay out of it as much as you can. If he can't function in bed because of this, then it's only polite to make sure you have a good time. The end. That's as involved as you need to be.
posted by gentian at 9:15 AM on July 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

When I was dating a porn addict, part of the addiction seemed to be not just the masturbation but the shame and "redemption" afterward. So he always needlessly involved me, like your boyfriend is doing to you, and like Anthony Weiner is doing to the whole country. It's not just the porn that they crave -- it's the whole temptation/shame/redemption cycle. Needless to say, nofap provides more of the same, the purge to his binge.

YES!! i used to think i had a problem with boyfriends and porn because of times my partners made me into a weird mother/shaming figure. it wasn't that i didn't want them to look at porn, but the way they "hid" it (always setting themselves up to be "caught") and the way they suddenly got a fetish for something they didn't care about until i said "that makes me a little uncomfortable," and the way the apologies and crying and promises poured out of their mouths (and the way i did things i didn't want to do so that i could satisfy the thing they said they were missing) - it all felt really icky.

now i have a husband who loves me, and having sex with me, and watching porn, and masturbating, and i never, ever feel gross or pushed aside or like a masturbatory aid. it's awesome and i encourage you to find that for yourself.
posted by nadawi at 9:31 AM on July 25, 2013 [10 favorites]

I think you're right to feel pressured and his plan sounds doomed. Basically he's promising to quit, cold turkey and then expecting you to step in, once a month to provide release and reward. It's a very 2 dimensional approach and being in a LDR, it's likely that even if he manages to (mostly) abstain, he'll just be going down another internet rabbit hole. I don't see you getting a lot out of it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:24 AM on July 25, 2013

This is what Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous is for (at least part of SLAA- it seems to have specific meetings geared towards porn addicts). You might check out some of their literature to see if it applies.

If you and he both see it as an addiction, you might look into Al-anon, too. It's for people affected by someone else's alcohol addiction, but I think it's very valuable for people dealing with loved ones' addictions to anything.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:00 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sorry to be insensitive, but unless someone is getting caught masturbating in public, or misses work all the time because he can't turn off the porn..I don't see how this is an addiction. People do sometimes use the term 'addiction' to manipulate others into feeling bad for them.
If masturbation really has had serious consequences for him, then I agree with others that reddit is not the answer, therapy is.
nthing he is trading one extreme for the other, and neither is healthy. Also nthing that its not fair to you to be his only sexual outlet ESPECIALLY since you barely see each other.
I'm curious if you had a friendship or some other type of close relationship with each other before 5 months ago? Because it seems odd to me to sacrifice your sexual needs and pleasure for someone you've only been with a handful of times.
posted by hellameangirl at 12:31 PM on July 25, 2013

I don't see how this is an addiction.

I don't know about this particular situation, obviously, but porn is a known addiction. It pretty much just has to wreck your life in any way for it to be so.

Think of alcohol. If someone's drinking is making them miserable and their relationships are crashing and burning, they can still be considered alcoholic even if they've managed to keep a steady job. (Usually these things are self-defined, in my experience. )
posted by small_ruminant at 12:54 PM on July 25, 2013

I am generally really really leery of DTMF answers, and I won't even go that far here. BUT (always a but somewhere) I do think the relationship you are in is really young (and sporadic) for you to be involved with helping your partner deal with addiction issues. I honestly would advise dialing the relationship seriously back until he gets a handle on his issues. To the point where you are not a couple. Be sympathetic, if you want, but not the go-to person to help resolve this. Remove yourself from the dynamic, I don't think it is doing either any good. Perhaps down the line when things are better sorted a relationship will work out, and if he manages to come through this a better person you will know he is possible of self-reflection and able to effect personal change, which is a huge thing for anyone.

But yeah, professional help over some random redit thread is going to be key. cold turkey rarely works for anyone with any addiction (yes sometimes rarely but that is, well, rare)

be well

good luck
posted by edgeways at 1:45 PM on July 25, 2013

But a healthy human being does not NEED alcohol. A healthy human being does need sexual release. And I'm not saying watching porn can't be an addiction, it can be, but so can participating in Reddit trends and 'challenges'.
So trading one for the other does not sound like the solution.
posted by hellameangirl at 2:15 PM on July 25, 2013

A person who uses porn a lot and masturbates a lot might be using those things to cope with/escape anxiety or other problems. Worrying and feelings of pressure may be what's interfering in his sexual relationship with you.

How is he at managing difficulties in his life? Does he feel overwhelmed? If so, he'll need to find constructive ways of coping.

If you want to support him, encourage him to find solutions instead of just quitting a symptom.
posted by wryly at 5:12 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I dated someone who had a porn addiction that developed within a few months of our relationship. As far as I know, it eventually ended, but in hindsight, someone struggling with an addiction of that kind within the first few months of the relationship is not a situation I'd ever put myself in again. His "problem" pre-dated me and I ended up feeling responsible for fixing it, which put a lot of pressure on the relationship and my own emotional state. It was also a symptom of things that were going on internally with him that had very little to do with sex or our relationship.

I wrote all this to say: Unpacking all of that is not something I'd do without a support system that includes a counselor.
posted by sm1tten at 5:17 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

there are several questions that would help me answer your questions, like: does he consider touching himself while watching you on skype sex or masturbating? exactly how bad was it when he was using porn? do you have plans to not be long distance in the next, say, three to six months? a few comments have been about how he's not considerate of your needs, but what about making your boy friend happy do you object to? is there no way you can find a middle ground?

so, my advice to you about how to deal with these things is to ask your self, and talk to your boy friend, about these issues.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:14 PM on July 25, 2013

Suggestion from my earlier comment on if he only has porn on which to model sex: [NSFW, obviously]
posted by DarlingBri at 4:27 AM on July 26, 2013

Hey Anon,

It sounds like your bf is using "porn/masturbation addiction" as a more forgivable name for immaturity.

First of all, what makes him think he has an addiction? Was he formally diagnosed? Some porn/masturbation should NOT be a big deal..but if he does not like it, he needs to change this behavior by taking responsibility of his own actions, not joining a Reddit community, for fuck's sake.

Second, his being addicted (or not) is something he has to deal with on his own. Having an understanding partner helps, but it is not a) a requirement to get better or b) a tool to get better.

Third, it really sounds like he is using this reasoning to explain lack of self restraint in general. Many people in a LDR use porn often. Many people have high libidos, which they live with by finding healthy outlets and keeping respectful to their partners (i.e. not stopping porn to start using you as a sex toy).

If he is concerned about his approach to sex because it's disordered or excessive, why would using you instead of his usual outlets change anything? The whole thing where he makes sexual demands from you (positions, encounters) shows that his problem is a giant case of IMMATURITY.

Having a mental illness (addiction, if this is really his issue) does not magically give you a crown and a right not to be judged. People who suffer from mental illness have a daily struggle to do the right thing and to work hard to get better. They don't get a free pass to torture the people who love them. If anything, having a mental illness gives them a whole new load of responsibilities. It doesn't take responsibility away.

Ask this guy to get formally diagnosed and to work on it, and make it really clear that while you are willing to support him (in healthy ways), this is not your burden to carry and you will quit the situation if it becomes toxic to you (which it kinda has already, but he gets one warning).
posted by Tarumba at 4:55 AM on July 29, 2013

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