Can You have Your Porn and a Relationship Too?

Can You have Your Porn and a Relationship Too?

That question was inspired by another question I saw on the Instagram story of Fight Against Porn, and here it is:

How long does someone need to be porn-free before a relationship?

“Great query,” I thought. And apparently I wasn’t the only one, because many weighed in with answers.

Here they are (in italics) along with my thoughts:

#1: “Do they need to be porn-free?”

Does someone need to be porn-free before entering a romantic relationship?

Well, no. I guess not.

I don’t suppose one needs to be free from drug or alcohol addiction either. Or free from eating disorders or clinical depression.

Indeed, many wind up married to such a partner. But more often than not, that addiction/disorder plagues the relationship, if it doesn’t destroy it entirely.

A more helpful question is this one: can anyone be in the midst of such addictions or disorders and be in a healthy romantic relationship?

ANSWER: No, they can’t.

It’s not that struggling with an addiction or disorder makes you unlovable. Far from it!

Every image-bearer of God is worthy of love and needs to be loved. Even when we’re struggling. Especially when we’re struggling.

However, when you’re caught in an addictive behavior like porn, it will render you ill-equipped to sustain a healthy romantic relationship. That is to say, that though you may be worthy of love, you will be unable to love your partner like they are worthy of being loved.

#2: “They don’t.”

Someone doesn’t have to be porn-free to be in a dating relationship with you?

Your standards are quite accommodating, but what would you honestly prefer in a dating partner:

  1. Someone who found you attractive, but would also regularly engage in sexual relationships with others. Even if only in their imagination, and then would have those sexual experiences shape the kind of relationship they want to share with you.
  2. Someone who not only found you attractive, but would devote all their romantic and physical attention to you alone. Even if that meant saving sexual intimacy for marriage.

#3: “Three months.”

#4: “Six months.”

#5: “Six months at least.”

How many months do you plan on being married? And if you plan on measuring your married life in years (or, better yet, in a lifetime) why only wait a few months to see if the person you might wind up marrying can kick porn for good?

Yes, I’m aware that 90 days is sort of the magic number for resetting the brain from a drug addiction, but many addicts go in and out of recovery their entire lives.

Is that what you want for your future marriage? A partner who may relapse every three to six months?

And consider how much easier it is to acquire the drug of pornography verses acquiring pot or meth. And how much easier it is to hide it. If pornography wasn’t so easy to find and so easy to hide it wouldn’t be as much of danger.

#6: “A year seems good.”

#7: “A year is good.”

#8: “At least a year.”

I don’t propose that there’s anything magic about waiting a year, but I do think that’s a good minimum.

If you’re able to break up with porn for a month, that’s huge! That should be celebrated, but it doesn’t make you ready for a serious relationship.

If you’re able to go three months, that’s wonderful! You ought to tell people, but it doesn’t make you ready for a serious relationship.

If you’re able to resist the temptation of porn for six months, I hope you are beginning to feel a freedom you enjoy more than porn. But it doesn’t make you ready for a serious relationship.

However, if you’re able to go porn free for an entire year, you have done far more than reset your brain. You’ve gone a long way toward resetting habits, thought patterns, beliefs, priorities, and affections. You’re essentially resetting your life.

Could you still fall back into porn?

Of course!

I’ve been free from porn for almost 20 years and I could still fall back into it.

But why would I want to?

And even if I did, I would know that prior to that slip-up I had been able to go 19+ years free of porn, so it would make it all the easier to confess, repent, and walk forward in freedom from shame and fear.

#9: “Wait? Who’s gonna wait a year for someone? Stupid!”


If someone isn’t willing to wait a year for you, they aren’t the one for you.


On the other hand, if you meet someone who is interested in a relationship with you, but wants to see you beat this habit before giving you access to their heart, you know two things about them:

  1. They have a healthy view of their personal worth, knowing they shouldn’t have to share their partner’s romantic/sexual interests with porn.
  2. They have a high view of you, not only believing you can slay the beast of porn, but believing you’re worth waiting a year to see it happen.

That said, I would recommend that person wait from a distance. Your love interest can’t be your accountability partner. That doesn’t even work in marriage, so it certainly won’t in dating.

#10: “A year is a long time and asking too much.”

Actually, here’s what’s asking too much: asking a significant other to tolerate your porn habit.

No one should be expected to share their dating partner with porn. Not even every few months or so.

#11: “A looong time.”

I’m not sure how long you consider to be a “looong time,” but if you want to live a “lifetime” in a happy marriage than waiting for the “right time” (no matter how long it takes) should be worth it. Both for the person who wants to defeat their porn habit and for the person who’s waiting for them to do so.

#12: “Long enough to rewire the brain. It totally messes with the way we view women.”

That last sentence is as true for those seeking male nudity as it is of those looking for female nudity.

Porn doesn’t just mess with the way men view women. It messes with the way women view themselves. And the way women view men. And the way men view themselves.

Though I’ve been porn-free since 2001, it took years – perhaps five to ten years – before I could forget all those captivating and abhorrent images and stop habitually fantasizing.

#13: “For me, forever.”

Well, then you’ll likely remain single forever. Since porn is so pervasive and porn purveyors so pernicious, you’re unlikely to meet someone untouched by it.

I understand the point though. You never want porn to be a thing in your relationship. I don’t want that for you either.

Maybe you should wait longer than a year, but forever is a long time.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with remaining single. Celibacy is as holy and honorable a calling as marriage, but you shouldn’t choose it out of an mistrusting and unforgiving heart.

#14: “When they seem sincere about stopping.”

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: sincerity isn’t worth much.

You need to see that sincerity backed by action.

Repeated action.

Repeated action.

Repeated action.

Got it?

Do you want to wind up married to someone who “seems sincere,” but who’s behavior lets you down regularly?

Now you may be thinking you’re open to dating someone who’s struggling with porn, but not marrying them until they’re porn-free.

Admittedly, giving your heart to someone in a dating relationship isn’t the same as giving your heart in marriage, but the reality is this:


When you give your heart to someone you never really know if you’re going to get it back.


In other words, it’s easy to think, “I’ll date them and we’ll see how things go,” but then once in a relationship you could grow so fond of them, you find it difficult (perhaps impossible) to let them go. Even if they keep falling back into porn.

Or worse, you could easily get physically involved with them, and then the neurochemistry which keeps them attracted to porn becomes the same sort of neurochemistry which keeps you attracted to them.

#15: “Only if he has stopped with the intention of never watching again. I hate porn!”

Again, many many many an addict has promised to stop with the intention of never indulging again. And their intentions may be as true as the sun is hot, but better to actually see them stop and never watch again. For at least a year.

But then the question we haven’t addressed yet: how do you know if they really have stopped watching?

That leads us to something else you want to look for in someone you date. You want to find someone who is already known by those they are closest too, flaws and all. A person like that is less likely to hide their failures.

So look for someone with close friends and mentors who “know their junk” (whether it’s porn or abuse or drugs or whatever) and are helping them deal with it, instead of excusing it, looking the other way, or even enabling them to continue it it.

#16: “When they get help and are in a good recovery program.”

This response hits on something else important.

This reality: we all have issues. Even those who have never intentionally indulged in pornography ever in their lives.

So when you’re looking for a dating partner, don’t look for someone who doesn’t have issues, because they don’t exist. Instead, you want to look for someone who has developed the habit of “getting help” when they need it.

That said, if the person you’re thinking about dating doesn’t seem to have any flaws, it’s because you don’t know them well enough yet.

#17: “Never again. I will never be in a relationship with someone who is involved with porn.”

Good. Because you are worthy of someone who can say “no” to pornography. And not for your sake, but for their own sake.

However, you said “never again.” So, flowing from the logic that we all have issues, what is it about you that has drawn you into relationships with dating partners who wanted to have their porn and you too?

What lies have you been believing in the past that held you in those unhealthy relationships? And do you still believe any of those lies?

I’d encourage you to assess with someone older and wiser than you, who knows and loves you well.

#18: “Too much hurt. I can’t do it anymore.”

My heart goes out to you. Again, I hope you will get the help you need to make sure you know your worth in Christ. He died for the sin that has broken your heart, just as assuredly as He died for the sin inside your heart.

And even better, he rose again, so He can heal you from all of it!

#19: “My boyfriend can’t be intimate with me.”

I’m assuming you mean your partner can’t be sexually intimate with you when you catch them with porn.

If I’m understanding you clearly, I want to make sure you understand something clearly: you and your significant other are both in sexual sin.

Yes, sex outside of marriage is sin. They’ve re-translated the Bible about a billion times so far, but they haven’t changed Jesus’ words about lust being as big a sin as adultery. Doesn’t matter if that lust is inspired by pornography or a real person. Doesn’t matter if you act on those lustful thoughts or not. Just simply entertaining lust is sin. At least according to Jesus.


Fortunately for all of us, Jesus’ death and resurrection are as true as his words.


And through His death and resurrection He’s made a way for us not only to be forgiven our sin, but to be set free from it. But that all begins with confessing our sin, and then, in His power, turning away from it.

I’m praying for you right now, that you will do this. And then that you will commit to knowing His word, seeking His presence in prayer, and pursuing community with His people who will support your spiritual growth and freedom in Christ.

#20: “My boyfriend expects me to role-play porn. 😭😭”

Sex was never intended to be a performance. And you are not a free prostitute.

If you have a significant other who wants to use you like their personal porn star to live out their fantasies, RUN!

Get.

Out.

Of.

That.

Relationship.

Now.

#21: My husband doesn’t desire me anymore. All he wants is porn.”

And this is the reality many dating folks don’t realize. They may see porn as problematic, or they may see it as harmless fun, but the reality is this: no one real life human being can compete with the sheer quantity, variety, and novelty of porn.

In fact, not only can long-time users of porn lose interest in real life partners, it’s common for them to lose the ability to even get aroused by real life partners. In men the diagnosis is PIED (Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction).

And this isn’t some propaganda of the extreme right, there are millions in the no-fap movement who want to quit porn, not out of any moral or religious motivation, but simply so they can enjoy sex the way it was meant to be enjoyed: with a real life human being.

And that’s precisely the way God designed sex to be enjoyed: a man and a woman, committed to each other alone, for a lifetime. And I wish this for you too, so make sure you have porn a year or more in your past before dating, and insist on the same from anyone you would consider pursuing a serious dating relationship with.

For more perspective and encouragement in fighting for freedom from porn, check out our free resource page created to help you STOP PORN.

Want to know how porn can keep you single? Check out the LoveEd series of that same name on our FMU YouTube channel.





DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

Dug this weekend’s DNA? Be a good friend and share with your friends on the social media platform of choice: Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.

The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE you fall in love!

It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.

Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.

 

Categories: PORN