… for Partners/Spouses


Often porn use or other out of control sexual behaviors are hidden from the partner. In many cases it can continue, undiscovered, for years. Many people are not sure what signs to look for. Here are some of the most common:

Your partner:

• Spends increasing amounts of time online and becomes preoccupied with it

• Regularly makes plausible excuses for needing to work online

• Becomes secretive about online activity, shutting the door of the room where using the computer and changing the screen if someone enters the room

• Needs to be online so frequently that it starts to impact on family and/or work life

• Regularly goes online late at night

• Is buying more devices with Internet access

• Hides traces of online activity and storage of files

• Moves the computer to a more isolated area like an office, den or basement and positioning it so the screen faces away from anyone walking into the room

• Makes promises not to go online, then breaks them

• Becomes emotionally distant and less available

• Withdraws from usual family and social activities

• Changes sexual attitudes, behaviors, and preferences

• Seems distracted during sex

• Has an insatiable sexual appetite

• Demonstrates sexual behavior that feels rushed, detached, rigid or passionless.

• Shows preference for masturbation over sexual relations with you

• Shows detectable increase in happiness or even giddiness when you announce you are going out, as a new opportunity to go online now exists

• Shows a general increase in attention toward attractive females; staring and “scoping”

• Has unexplained absences

• Shows diminished intimacy in any realm: emotional, physical, spiritual, social, intellectual

• Neglects responsibilities

• Is easily irritated; has irregular mood swings or depression or bouts of anger

• Shows a loss of interest in sexual relations with you, as well as your inability to get him aroused in a reasonable amount of time

• Introduces unusual sexual practices which may be perceived by the partner as “insensitive” (examples: asking you to engage in anal sex, wanting to ejaculate on your face/body, suggesting multiple-partner scenarios, asking you to watch hardcore pornographic movies together, trying to photograph or film you or sexual acts, using uncharacteristically rough language in bed, giving instructions or orders in an insensitive way in the bedroom; anything far out of line with what you as a couple did ordinarily.)

• Has unexpected or discreetly marked packages arriving in the mail (these may be pornographic DVDs or similar items)

• Has discreetly named charges on a credit card or phone bill

If your partner is demonstrating ANY of these behaviors it may be time for a honest and frank discussion about his behavior. If he seems vague, evasive, defensive, or has a lot of excuses, he is most likely hiding something from you.


• Pain and confusion about being asked to participate in sexual acts seen in pornography

• Intrusive thoughts during sex about how you look, rather than how you feel

• Guilt-ridden compliance to act more like the women in porn—to shave your genitals, to strip, to have anal sex or threesomes, to be tied up or spanked, to be filmed having sex and, in general, to act in ways that feel inauthentic, foreign, or uncomfortable

• Loss of interest in sexual relations

• Takes a lot more time than usual to get your partner/spouse aroused

• Distractibility during sex

• Frustration that your partner no longer seeks you out for lovemaking and instead prefers to masturbate to pornography


After watching just 6 hours of nonviolent pornography, research subjects in one study were much less likely to desire sexual intimacy with their real partners, or to be interested in marriage or children (Zillmann and Bryant)

About 15% of people using Internet pornography develop a compulsive habit that disrupts their lives (Paul, 2004)

Two-thirds of divorce lawyers say that the Internet has played a significant role in divorces within the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases. According to Richard Berry, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, “Pornography had an almost nonexistent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago”; its significant role now is “clearly due to the Internet.”

How porn is wrecking relationships (2007, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

“Is Pornography Destroying 500,000 Marriages Annually?” (December 2011, Psychology Today)

“Porn hurts women, so say the partners of users” (May 2012, Arena magazine) by Petra Bueskens

“The Porn Myth: In the end, porn doesn’t whet men’s appetites–it turns them off the real thing” (Oct. 20, 2003, New York magazine) by Naomi Wolf

“Why Does Porn Seem Hotter than My Partner?” (January 2012, The Good Men Project)

More Attorneys Say Internet Pornography a Factor in Divorce


• Your Sexually Addicted Spouse (2009) by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means

This book moves away from the “Codependent Model” for partners and instead uses the “trauma” model to help partners understand and deal with the fallout of living with a sex addict.

• The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography (2010, Harper) by Wendy Maltz and Larry Maltz

A comprehensive and compassionate resource. The Porn Trap is the first book to address the full range of pornography-related problems, which have skyrocketed since the explosion of the Internet in recent years. Based on interviews and dramatic true stories, this book provides help for everyone from the recreational “dabbler” to the compulsive addict, as well as partners of porn addicts.

Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (2001, Hazelden) by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.
Facing Heartbreak by Stephanie Carnes – workbook style format for partners
Partners: Healing From His Addiction by Dr. Doug Weiss

Dr. Weiss has many resources for both addicts and their partners and is the Executive Director of Heart to Heart Counselling Centre in Colorado Springs where people can attend his 3 and 5 day intensives.

His website can be found at http://www.drdougweiss.com/product-category/partners-recovery/

Partners Recovery Guide by Doug Weiss – a workbook style manual for partners.

Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn & Fantasy Obsession in the Internet Age (2006, Alyson Books) by Robert Weiss, LCSW, CAS and Jennifer Schneider, M.D., Ph.D.

Sorting out your feelings about your partner’s use of pornography

Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center in New York City

No Porn Pledge singles and couples pledging to eliminate porn from their personal lives.