Should You Date a Man Who Struggles with Porn?

This is a great question and our author Kristen Clark does an excellent job answering it in an articled that appeared on the Covenant Eyes website. Pornography addiction is the result of deeply-rooted emotion issue(s) and/or trauma that have not been resolved. Entering into a relationship with a man that you know struggles with pornography is setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartache until the day comes when he elects to get help (if that day comes).    

Jessica met Brad through a young professionals group at her church and had been going out with him for several weeks. One evening while having coffee with Brad, he confessed to her that he currently struggles with pornography and is trying really hard to stop.

Jessica wasn’t sure how to process this shocking information and went home with a conflicted heart. She hated the thought of Brad viewing pornography, but didn’t know if it was a big enough deal to end the relationship.

When Your Boyfriend Struggles with Porn

What would you do if you were Jessica? How harmful is pornography to a developing relationship? Is it wise for a single woman to date or court a guy who has a habit of viewing porn?

A recent survey found that 75% of young Christian men (18-30 years old) view porn at least “several times a month,” and 61% say at least “several times a week.” Sadly, what those statistics tell single women is that 3 out of the 4 Christian guys they meet struggle with porn on a regular basis.

How un-dealt-with porn problems can harm one’s future marriage.

Although some single women take the boys-will-be-boys approach to porn, modern statistics show us that it’s not that simple. In 2002, at a meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the divorce attorneys present said over half (56%) of their cases involved one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.” Porn is destroying thousands of marriages because it’s the type if sin that always promises satisfaction with “just one more look.” It creates an ever-growing wedge between the physical and emotional intimacy of the husband and wife.

As Luke Gilkerson points out, “Pornography doesn’t teach men to serve, honor, and cherish their wives in a way that fosters romance. Pornography trains men to be consumers, to treat sex as a commodity, to think about sex as something on-tap and made-to-order.” Dr. Mary Anne Layden agrees: porn is “toxic miseducation about sex and relationships.”

Porn destroys relationships because it replaces real-life intimacy with a selfish, lust-saturated version of sex. It replaces real life relationships with a one-way, pleasure-on-demand, non-committal act that treats women as lust satisfying objects.

Why getting married doesn’t “make it go away.”

Some unmarried women think their boyfriend’s porn struggle will simply go away once they have access to sexual intimacy in marriage. However, this has proven to be false by countless marriage testimonies. If a man or woman views marriage as a porn-replacement they will be very disappointed. Why? Because marriage satisfies a sex drive, not a porn drive. Porn is lust-driven and getting married doesn’t automatically make the lust-filled heart go away. It might appear to help the problem at first, but before long, it will come back.

Porn is an addictive sin that will not be satisfied long term with any alternatives, including marriage. Unless this sin is repented of and dealt with from the root up, it will always come back.

While your man may be honest about his struggle, he may not have disclosed the depth or extent of the problem.

Although Brad appeared to be open and honest about his porn struggle to Jessica, objects in mirror are often larger than they appear. So often a porn addiction is just the tip of the iceberg. There may be many deep rooted issues and a convoluted view of love and sex.

If your boyfriend admits to having a problem with porn, I would encourage you to find out more. Ask him good questions to understand more fully the extent of his struggle. When did you first view porn? How often have you viewed porn since then? Did you grow up in a home with porn? What kind of porn do you currently view? How harmful do you think porn is to a marriage? What are you doing, if anything, to find freedom from porn?

Understanding the depth and extent of his porn struggle is very important in helping you know how to handle the situation.

So should a woman date a guy who struggles with porn?

I have only scratched the surface on the extreme problems and issues that arise from messing with porn. My advice to women like Jessica would be tailored for her specific situation, but would ultimately have the same conclusion: I do not think it is wise to enter into or remain in a dating or courtship relationship with a guy who is currently struggling with porn. It’s one thing if it is far in his past, but it’s a completely different ball game if he is currently struggling with it.

Before you call me harsh, I encourage you to read some of the other blog posts on Covenant Eyes and you will quickly see the devastating effects porn has on relationships. I think it is wise to end the relationship until he is able to find victory and freedom from his porn habits.

Think about it this way. Why would you want to move down a road towards marriage with a man who is already struggling to be faithful to you? Why would you want to enter into a union to become “one” with a man who is committing virtual adultery on a regular basis? I know what I’m saying isn’t easy and will require a lot of prayer, wisdom, and grace…but in the end it does not seem wise or healthy for you to stay in a relationship with a guy who currently struggles with porn.

I encourage you to get wise counsel from your pastor or a godly older woman on how to handle your specific situation best.

Signs a woman can look for to know he is repenting.

Just because is it wise to end the relationship right now doesn’t mean it has to end forever. Maybe you ending the relationship will be a wake up call to him and will encourage him to seek help. Watch him once things are over to see if he has a sincere heart of repentance and a desire to honor God.

Signs of repentance will look like him taking drastic safety measures to make sure his porn is hard to access (i.e. getting rid of his computer, only using the Internet in public places, etc.). It will look like him seeking accountability from godly men and programs like Covenant Eyes. It will look like him having a clean track record for quite a while once your relationship ends. It will look like him doing whatever it takes to find freedom and victory from the enslaving sin of porn, no matter how hard it is.

Where does forgiveness fit into the picture?

Forgiveness might be hard for you to give at first, but in order to keep your heart from harboring bitterness, you will need to extend grace and forgiveness to him at some point. After all, porn is one form of sin and not one of us are sin-free. We must extend forgiveness to others as Christ has extended forgiveness to us. This doesn’t mean you accept, tolerate, or put up with his porn habits, it simply means you are choosing to forgive him and show him Christ-like love.

You should also pray fervently for him during your time of separation that God would help him find lasting victory. If he does find lasting victory over porn and has a clean track record for a while, then I encourage you to seek God in prayer and pursue further wise counsel before getting back together.

Have good conversations early on.

Is porn a major problem today? Yes. Does porn have to infect every family, every relationship and every marriage? No! Having a plan of action as early on as possible will help you and your man in this fight. Having a good heart-to-heart talk early on in the relationship about this issue will help you and your significant other get on the same page. Discussing both of your expectations, beliefs about porn, plan for purity, etc. will help you know where the other person stands. It will also show the value and importance you both place on cultivating a porn-free relationship.

Don’t wait until you’re five years into marriage to have these invaluable conversations—have them now.

Whether you’re in a relationship yet or not, you can help your future husband fight the battle against porn right now by praying for victory, wisdom, and purity in his life today.

 

Kristen Clark is married to her high school sweetheart, Zack, and has a background in Biblical counseling, young women’s ministry, teen mentoring, online blogging, and is the co-founder of GirlDefined Ministries. She and her sister, Bethany, are passionate about fighting feminism, embracing gender distinctions, and empowering young women to live out their God defined purpose. You can read her weekly blog posts at girldefined.com or follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/girldefined.

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