A Pornography Addiction Doesn’t Kill Love, Fear Does

This is a response to a post on a little Mormon blog which details one writer’s assertion that her boyfriend’s pornography addiction is what ruined their relationship.


Dear Anonymous,

I read your story and couldn’t help but be a little saddened by your circumstances. I’m not a woman, but I can imagine that a man disclosing an addiction to pornography to you might have been a worst nightmare come true. However, may I ask was it trust or an addiction to pornography that killed the love in your relationship? Additionally, I may not know the details behind how your trust in this young man was damaged, but I can’t help but think you may have not seen how trustworthy he was!

Not all pornography addicts are created equal. I fear many people view that any addict will become a jobless, apathetic, lazy husband and father who could care less about honoring his priesthood. The statistic that 80% of men at BYU-Idaho are or have been addicted to porn was a result of a survey they sent out some years ago and is legitimate. The good news from this statistic is that 80% of men at BYU-Idaho are not current or future failures of society. In fact, the majority of these men are doing much to be worthy of marrying a woman like you. Overcoming and managing this addiction is at the forefront of all of their thoughts because they want to be a man you would be proud to stand next to. I know because I’m one of them.

I didn’t date or kiss any girls in high school because I wanted to save that part of me for a girl I was head over heels for – I’m very much a hopeless romantic. Four years ago I began dating the girl I would dream about as a youth. She indeed was my first girlfriend, my first kiss, and to this day, the only girl I’ve said “I love you” to. She was the most hardworking, talented, intelligent woman I had ever met – not to mention she was beautiful. It wasn’t uncommon for this girl to get asked out on a date every day, yet I was the one that got to walk her home at night. Life. Was. Beautiful.

Except for one thing.

I distinctly remember canceling plans that I had with her one evening because of a “family emergency” that despite her persistent attempts for information, I chose not to disclose to her. Indeed, I had relapsed earlier that day and felt unworthy to be by her side. I did not, I repeat, I did not prefer pornography to her. I just wanted to be confident when I was with her. That night I felt broken and miserable and didn’t want her to see me like that knowing I couldn’t explain to her why. Well… I could have explained to her why. And eventually I did.[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#1e73be” txt_color=”#ffffff”]As a recovering addict, I’m pleading with the women of the world to give us a chance.[/mks_pullquote]

Shocked doesn’t begin to describe how she felt. I was currently serving as the Elder’s Quorum President so you can imagine how unexpected this news was to her. It killed me to see her devastation, but I knew she deserved better. After sobbing for a few hours, she ended our relationship.

I won’t go into detail about my road to recovery, but I did every single thing possible to ensure that pornography would not determine my future. I have since been clean for two years and am living the life I had always hoped to be living. I’ve served in every position in a college ward council, I graduated debt-free with a 3.7 GPA, I have a wonderful job making a great income, and peace has infused my life knowing I’m finally on the path I know I should be on. Despite my past, I haven’t become that man I was so scared of becoming. Once again, life. Is. Beautiful.

So what am I getting at here?

Hopefully my life is an example of how not all pornography addicts will end up as failures. As a recovering addict, I’m pleading with the women of the world to give us a chance. We’re not horrible people. I’m not sure how you felt your trust was broken when this young man disclosed his addiction to you, but know, if anything, this is a huge manifestation of how trustworthy he is! I have conducted many focus groups, talked with 100’s of youth, and watched many relationships like ours unfold and I’ve learned I believe the young man you were dating was doing everything right!

Men that choose to lie to you about their addiction, choose not to not see their bishops or go to support groups. They choose pornography over you, their job, and their family. They are men that let porn kill love. I may be missing details of the entire story behind your relationship with this young man, but I didn’t read anything about him making any of the above decisions. Rather, he was doing everything in his power to overcome his addiction. His actions, in my experience, are all great signs of a man’s ability to manage his addiction and become exactly who you need him to be.

Therefore, I would plead that we seek to understand what the difference is between how porn kills love and how the fear of a pornography addiction kills love.

I do not blame you or my girlfriend for ending the relationship. Who you choose to be with needs to be a selfish decision. If you felt that you couldn’t achieve a happy life within the new and everlasting covenant with him, there is nothing wrong with discontinuing the relationship. However, please do your best to not let a former or current addiction to pornography skew your vision of who this man is capable of becoming. Let what he’s doing to address and maintain sobriety weigh more in your decision making.

The atonement indeed has a real and tangible ability to turn even the most vile men and women’s hearts – if they have a broken heart and contrite spirit. The stories of Paul and Alma the younger are ones I read often to increase my hope in a brighter future during my road to recovery. I thought that if a man who once killed the people of Christ’s church could become a prophet, then surely I could become a worthy husband and father. Surely this young man can as well.

Photo via BYU Universe. Illustration by Chris Bunker

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