::Question:** Should I continue a relationship with a man who seems to have a real problem with obscene and sexually explicit material? I’ve been dating him for some time now, and recently we’ve begun talking about engagement and marriage. On the whole he’s a fantastic person, but I’m wondering whether his porn addiction is a red flag. Do you think we should move forward in our relationship?


Not unless your boyfriend is ready to get serious about dealing with his problem. Both of you need to understand that pornography is as physically addictive as any drug. The addiction is based on neurochemical changes that occur in the brain as a result of prolonged exposure to stimulating sexual imagery. Because of its neuron-chemical basis, it’s tenacious, progressive and destructive in nature.

If you decide to marry this man, don’t expect his addiction to go away on its own once you’ve said your wedding vows. To be more specific, don’t assume that normal marital sexual relations will take the place of porn in his life. No living, breathing, thinking woman can possibly fill that role without doing untold damage to herself as a person. That’s because pornography addiction is not about sex. It’s a symptom of an intimacy disorder – a comprehensive psychological illness that compels an individual to avoid deep, meaningful interaction with a real human being and to replace it with impersonal sensual imagery. Unless this disorder is addressed and resolved, your relationship cannot move forward on a healthy footing. Marriage will not fix the problem. It will only complicate matters and increase your pain.

What can you do about this? We recommend that the two of you get professional counselling, and we urge you to do this together. It’s essential that the porn problem be dealt with before there is any further talk of marriage, and this is the perfect time to do it. At this point in your relationship – before you’ve made a formal commitment to each other by buying rings and reserving the church – you’re in a much better position to take an in-depth, candid look at the issues with which you’re struggling as a couple. If your boyfriend really cares about you and sincerely wants to spend his life with you, he has a powerful motivation to make the necessary changes at this stage of the game. Once you’ve tied the knot, that motivation will no longer exist in quite the same way.

An intensive counselling model, consisting of a limited and concentrated series of sessions focusing specifically on the addiction problem, is the best way to address this issue. Focus on the Family’s staff can provide you with referrals to programs of this nature.

In the meantime, we recommend that your boyfriend consider installing some accountability software on his computer. Software programs of this nature are not the ultimate answer to the serious and complex problems like those your boyfriend is facing, but we feel strongly that they can play an important role in helping to keep tabs on his online activities.

Focus On The Family

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