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How Pornography Stole My Trust in Men and How I Stole It Back

Coping with the Way Porn Affects Those I Love

May  17th,  2020
Megan S.
By Megan S. read
Posted in Culture

Dear Sister,

The other day, I was on Google Hangouts with two of my guy friends (because #SocialDistancing) and the topic of how pornography negatively impacts dating relationships came up. One of them asked me how long I would want a man to be free from pornography before I would date them. Even though I speak about the harmful effects of pornography on a pretty regular basis, this question still took my by surprise. I only recently started thinking about what effects the culture of pornography has on me and my dating relationships.

I am eternally grateful to my parents for protecting me from pornography growing up. I wasn’t very appreciative of their safety measures when I was basically the only teenager in my high school without a smartphone. I didn’t love the fact that our home computer was in the kitchen and that my mom insisted on having all of my passwords for social media. However, at the ripe age of 23, I don’t carry the wounds of being exposed to pornographic content at a young age. 

Since I wasn’t exposed to pornography, my idea of who viewed pornography was extremely different than reality. I didn’t think I knew anyone who struggled with pornography. I was completely oblivious to how many people view pornography and I was even more oblivious to the reality that so many of my friends had been exposed to it. My good friends- of both genders- were having their idea of love horrifically distorted by stumbling across pornography. 

One in three men and one in five women will view pornography by the age of 12. When I finally learned just how widespread porn use is, I felt like my world was crashing down around me. I wondered how many people in my life struggled with pornography….and if it was as many as the research suggests, why the heck had I never heard anyone talking about it!? How many of my friends were struggling with porn, ashamed but too isolated to ask for help? Worse than that, how many people in my life had been exposed to pornography and didn’t think it was a problem? 

It stole my joy when I came to the heartbreaking conclusion that if I got married, my husband would more than likely have seen pornography.

How was I supposed to respond if my husband told me he struggled with pornography? How would the scars of his pornography exposure impact our marriage? As I learned more about the reality of the pornography industry, I wanted to curl up in a ball and never leave my house again. I didn’t want to be objectified by the men in my life, nevermind by some stranger walking down the street. I felt deeply hurt but powerless. I even found myself grappling with a profound distrust of men. I didn’t like how pessimistic I was becoming, but what was I supposed to do? I became angry when I realized how much pornography had taken from me even though I’d never been exposed to it directly. Pornography had stolen my peace of mind, my joy, and ultimately my trust in men.

No matter how you have been impacted by pornography, I want you to know that you are not alone in your experience and that your feelings are valid. When I first started learning about how entrenched pornography is in our culture, I didn’t feel like there was space for me or my experience. For people directly expose to porn, I saw amazing organizations like Fight the New Drug talking about the harmful effects of pornography. I saw filtering software like Covenant Eyes and even online communities like the Victory app to help men and women who struggle with pornography. Don’t get me wrong, they all do amazing work. But what about women like me who don’t feel like there is a seat at the table for them in the discussion? The women who feel powerless to help those fighting against pornography because it can be difficult to relate to? The women who feel silly bringing up their feelings of hurt and betrayal because it seems so insignificant in light of someone fighting an addiction they are not proud of? 

A few weeks later, a good man who I love and care for (completely unaware of my internal struggle) confided in me that he was making a conscious effort to kick his pornography habit once and for all. I had many feelings that day, but mostly I felt honored that he would confide in me. It didn’t change the way I saw him but it did make me realize something. I realized that day the one thing pornography could never steal from me: love. 

I want to share with you a few practicals that have helped me reclaim not only my seat at the table but to reclaim my trust in men:

  1. Invite God to heal the wounds that our pornagraphic culture has left on you heart: Sis, I don’t know the specifics of how you’ve been impacted by the pornographic culture but I do know you’ve been impacted. As women, we are impacted by the pornographic culture when we feel the need to send a sext to keep a guy’s attention, when we have unwelcome comments made about our bodies, and when we’re not taken seriously as a woman with real ideas. Maybe you, dear sister have been exposed to pornography and feel like you are in a pit of shame and despair. Maybe you’re reading this wondering, does my boyfriend watch porn? At the end of the day, we all bear the scars of a culture that has tried to sell us lust instead of love. Invite the Lord into the wounds of your heart so that He can heal them.
  1. You can’t be his savior: It can be so easy to feel like you have to fix someone when they disclose really personal information to you, but you have to remember that you can’t be anyone’s savior. His struggle is not your struggle. His struggle is not your fault. Odds are he has been struggling with this before he met you and this is his battle to fight. But this doesn’t mean we are powerless to help. The best way we can help is to approach him with a spirit of mercy and love. Your boyfriend is more than a pornography addiction and you can be there to help remind him of that…..but sis, you can’t save him. You can’t be his main accountability partner. He needs to be willing to fight and he needs good men in his life to support him through that. If he is consuming pornography, it does not make him a bad person- but it does make him a person who cannot fully give himself in a relationship right now. Addiction chains our freedom and leaves us incapable of authentically loving another. You may need to prayerfully consider what this means for your relationship. Love means willing the good of another. The most loving thing might be to break up.
  1. Educate yourself: Like I shared with you earlier, it was difficult for me to learn about the reality of pornography in our culture. It was painful. But it was important that I did it. Educating myself on this topic empowered me to have charitable conversations with friends about why I am uncomfortable with them viewing pornography and or why I believe sexting is wrong. It allows me to speak up when I see women being objectified. Most importantly, educating myself on this topic has made me compassionate towards those who are battling pornography. 

We are all so much more than our battles and scars. Those in my life who are struggling with pornography are so much more than their addiction. They are beautiful, interesting, dynamic people who I love. And yeah, I am still healing from the self-doubt and wounds of a pornographic culture. I’m still pissed that my future husband has probably been a victim to the pornographic culture we live in. Yes, I’m still figuring this out and, no, I don’t have all the answers. But I have faith in the men in my life. So sis, if you’re reading this and you’re in the trenches of self-doubt and distrust of men, I want you to know that I profoundly understand where you are because I was you. But please trust me when I say that I know there are good men. I have seen them with my own eyes. 

Put your faith in authentic love– because pornography will always be a cheap counterfeit that can’t measure up. No matter how much money the porn industry may pull in each year, it’s worthless in the face of true love. It can never replace authentic connection and community with others. But we have to fight for that love and believe in the men in our lives. To quote one of my all-time favorite heroines, Wonder Woman, “…only love can truly save the world. So, I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be.” 

Megan S.
Megan S.

About the Author

Megan is a 2019 graduate from Purdue University. She studied Speech Language Hearing Sciences. In high school and college, Megan was actively involved in the pro-life movement, music, and Best Buddies. While Megan calls Fishers, IN home, she loves to travel (she’s been to 20 states and 3 countries). Megan says she’s drawn to the Culture Project’s special approach to the brokenness of society. “What attracted me to the Culture Project was the unique integration of the messages of human dignity & sexual integrity. I believe when we look at the human experience in this context we see the bigger picture: our call to love.”


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