Many sex addicts reason that viewing pornography is not infidelity (cheating) because they are not engaging in actual sexual contact with another person. Looking at pictures or videos seems fairly minor when compared to being with escorts or frequenting sexual massage parlors. Thus, they are often at odds with their partners who react so negatively to their porn-viewing.
It becomes evident to the addict that his partner’s perspective on viewing pornography is totally different than his own. He may respond defensively by minimizing his actions or blaming his partner for being hyper-sensitive, but this only serves to increase her emotional pain and distress.
The addict needs to come along side his partner emotionally, working to understand why she is feeling so distraught. Examining some of the particulars of porn-viewing can go a long way toward increasing that understanding.
The pornography addict, by definition, views porn compulsively. He returns again and again to explicit sexual images or videos for sexual arousal and gratification. But the source of that arousal is the porn images and NOT the addict’s partner. So, with each viewing (which usually includes masturbation), the addict is basically making a statement to his partner: “I prefer these sexual images to you.”
This causes the partner to question her own attractiveness, her own sexuality. She wonders,”Why am I not enough for him?” Feeling replaced by sexual images each time he does this, her insecurity and self-doubt increase. These feelings are no different to her than if the addict had actually been with another woman. This is why she sees it as infidelity.
Understanding the partner’s viewpoint and feelings can help the addict in his battle to overcome this addiction. It can also open the door to compassion for her and for her wounded heart. Compassion, in turn, can help heal the relationship and restore emotional connection and wholeness.