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Monday, September 27, 2021

I’m worried my husband’s porn use has ruined his sex drive

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When I married my husband, one of the conditions was: no pornography. We have been married 25 years. In 2018, I discovered my husband had been watching porn regularly for six years. I found out because it gave him erectile dysfunction. He said he would give it up, which he did for 18 months. Then he started again. I was furious. We went to counselling. My husband only wants to have what I consider lazy sex. He wants sex only when he wakes up with an erection. I have told him that it is important to me to make love and have sex at night, too. I am concerned the past long-term regular porn use has affected his desire for intimacy and lovemaking, since he wants sex only when he has already got a hard on. It makes me feel like I don’t turn him on.

This is not necessarily about you – or your husband’s desire, or lack of it, for you – and his pornography use may not be related to his needs regarding the timing of sex with you. Many men are so afraid of not being able to achieve an erection that they approach their partners for sex only when they are already aroused – and for him that may be mornings only.

Pornography use can certainly affect a person’s ability to be truly intimate in a relationship, but your husband’s pornography use may rather be related to a struggle with feelings of performance pressure. Unfortunately, you may be aggravating that pressure. Try to be more gentle with him. Pornography use is extremely common and, unless it is compulsive to a degree where it seriously interferes with a person’s life, it will probably not detract from his ability to maintain a sexual relationship with someone.

I hear that you are craving true intimacy, but this will not happen without a better relationship connection generally. Find a way to listen to his struggles and resolve your anger – and break the impasse of fury and withholding that is the true barrier to intimacy here.

  • Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

  • If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

  • Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

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