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Coping With The Shock Of Your Partner’s Pornography Addiction

By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate


It can be paralyzing when you first learn that your partner is addicted to pornography (or other sexual behaviors).  Some partners find the disclosure not only shocking, but also traumatizing.  Common emotions of partners include disbelief, hurt, sadness, loss, grief, fear, betrayal, rage, hatred, desire for revenge, mistrust, worthlessness, embarrassment, insecurity, confusion, beguiled, self-doubt, denial, avoidance, and dissociation.

When the problem is more severe, “Most people can’t wrap their heads around everything that has happened.  It can be overwhelming.”[1]  So what do you do with all this energy?  How do you cope with the shock?  Start by learning to put a voice to your experience.

In the beginning it might be easier to do this with a clinician.  Make an appointment with someone who understands partner dynamics of sexual addiction and begin sharing.  Later, you can find support programs or group therapy programs that can help you.  Also, some family members or friends may be good sources of love and compassion.  Your ability to give a voice to your story will be important for your healing.  It helps to clarify the issues and get you grounded so you can move forward.  You need to talk about it.

Additionally, you will need to develop a support network that can serve as cheerleaders in your healing.  Sometimes family members or friends want to become your counselor or give advice.  There may be times it’s helpful, but generally you need people to listen and support.  So when you consider developing your cheerleader group, choose individuals who can listen well without passing judgment, giving advice, or criticizing.

Make sure that you consider your physical needs when experiencing the shock.  Are you getting adequate sleep?  Are you eating healthy and nutritiously?  Do you have a chance to exercise?  Are you drinking enough water every day?  Are you regularly taking medications you need?  If you get run down as a result of the stress, it will be more difficult to think clearly and make decisions.

One last suggestion I would make is to consider personal needs as you recover from the shock.  Do you need time to think?  This may require getting a babysitter or asking family for help.  Do you need to reconnect with old friends?  You may have to set aside time to call them.  Do you need personal time to be alone or connect with God?  You may need to find a secluded spot to meditate and pray without disruptions.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing you are crazy.  In actuality it’s the situation that is crazy!  Hang in there.  The shock can be overwhelming.  If you need professional help to sort through the shock please call us.  We specialize in working with pornography and sexual addiction in Mesa Arizona: (480) 668-8301.

[1] “Facing Heartbreak,” by Carnes, Lee & Rodriguez, p. 60.