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 returns again and again to explicit sexual images or videos for sexual arousal, usually leading to orgasm–thus from a physiological standpoint the body is having sex. But the source of that sexual arousal is the porn images and NOT the addict’s partner. So, with each viewing, arousal, and orgasm, the partner feels that the addict is choosing to have sex, albeit fantasy sex, with someone other than her. 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.
This causes the partner to question her own attractiveness, her own sexuality. She can’t understand why he would want to have sexual experiences via pornography rather than with her. Feeling replaced by sexual images that arouse him, her insecurity and self-doubt increase. She wonders why she is not enough for him, especially if his porn-viewing has diminished his sexual interest in her. This is the emotional burden the partner carries.
Understanding the partner’s viewpoint and feelings can open the door to compassion for her and can help the addict see that porn-viewing wounds her deeply. Compassion and understanding, together, can help heal the relationship and restore emotional connection and wholeness.