Relationship

I split with my partner after he lied about using porn – have I overreacted?


During lockdown last May, I split from my partner of 13 years. We had been planning to get married and live together. He took me house-hunting, then moved into the place we found, while I stayed where I was with my daughter, who has disabilities. We worked on the house and garden together and he kept telling me it was our home. He then retired and we carried on our weekend, distanced relationship. But his behaviour changed, and I discovered that he had been indulging in a lot of porn since long before I met him. He had always claimed not to be interested in it.

I was not concerned about the porn, but about the deceit. He had looked me in the eye and lied when I confronted him. Trust became a major issue. I suggested we went to counselling but he refused. I miss the friendship – I thought we were soulmates – but don’t think I could put up with the idea that he is always looking elsewhere. We are still in touch by phone. Was I overreacting or should I cut all ties and move on?

An interest in pornography by adult men or women is common and reasonable. Problems arise when a person uses it so compulsively that it negatively affects their life, work or relationship, or if the person focuses on images of non-consensual sex that inspire them to act this out. Some people think masturbation detracts from a couple’s sex life – but this is not necessarily true. In my view it is hard to fault a person on a controlled use of pornography that is not overly driven by compulsion.

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The most relevant issue is trust. It is very understandable that you should not wish to move forward into a live-in situation with someone untrustworthy – especially since you would have to care for your daughter in the same household.

  • 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). 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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