Can a porn addict have legitimate sexual desires?

I had an amazing conversation with a very close friend of mine today. She is the only non-family member who knows about my addiction, and she has been incredible supportive. Not only that, but she’s been able to provide some really insightful thoughts, as she has had friends who have suffered from addiction, she too also struggles with an addiction, and some of the areas of her life that she has spent time considering overlap with those relevant to my recovery.

The thing we talked about today was sexuality. We somehow ended up on this topic, and we talked about the importance of acknowledging one’s own sexual desires, and ensuring one (and one’s partner) has a satisfying and fulfilling sex life.

This was a can of worms for me. Of all the investigation I’ve done into myself as part of recovery, I’ve never actually thought about my own sexual desires and my sex life, but upon speaking about it, I instantly realised this may be a very important area for me to consider.

It comes down to this: can a porn (or sex) addict like me have legitimate sexual desires? In other words, how do I know which of my sexual desires are created by my addiction to porn, and which are ‘genuine’ and should be acknowledged and, hopefully, fulfilled. I genuinely have no idea how to answer that question. Every time I think of something I might like to do in bed with my wife, I just put the idea to the back of my mind because I think obviously I only want to do that because I saw it in porn and therefore I have no right to want to do that in reality.

This ties in with the other theme of self-esteem and self-worth. A classic ingredient of addiction is low self-worth. I often don’t think I am worthy of friendship/affection etc, and I can see how this could be applied to my sexual desires. I find it easy to dismiss my own desires and simply tell myself that they don’t have value and just to be happy with what I’ve got.

I suppose if I was wanting my wife to get fake boobs and act like a porn star, that might be an obvious example of where my desires have been negatively influenced by porn, but that’s not the case for me. I just like the idea of relatively simple things in the bedroom, which I happen to have also seen in porn (I’m not sure which came first)… so should I acknowledge these?

While the overall objective is to have a fulfilling sex life, this must be true for my partner also. So, if I was to explore this part of me, I’d need to involve my wife too; understand what she wants and how I can make her sexual experience better. I definitely have felt a lacking in our connection in the bedroom. Don’t get me wrong – we have good sex, but we don’t have great sex, and sometimes it can be quite stale. In fact, very often I act out after sex because it didn’t provide the fulfilment I hoped it would, and so I suppose I turn to porn to try and fill the gap.

And here’s where I got blindsided in this conversation… if I’m using porn to compensate for a lack of fulfilment in the bedroom, I HAVE to explore and understand that, AND rectify it in order to get sober and recover. That would mean involving my wife, so my recovery no longer is just about me doing it and her supporting me, but her actively being a part of it, which isn’t a responsibility she has had to have so far.

It is quite a daunting prospect… what if she doesn’t want to explore her sexuality? What if she is happy with the way things are and doesn’t want to try new things, for either of our sakes? I’d be asking her to prioritise something higher in her life than she currently wants to, and so that’s something I would need to be very respectful and sure about.

I’m sure that sexual fulfilment isn’t the only reason why I watch porn. However, I have generally been confused recently, because I’ve made a lot of changes in my life for the better, yet I still watch porn. I am generally extremely happy now, with low stress levels, wonderful relationship with my family, living once again in my home town which I love… everything is great, and yet I am still acting out, and I am surprised at this. I really did think that by improving so many aspects of my life, my acting out would reduce. Because it hasn’t, it has been making me ask myself “have I missed something?”. Is there something else I haven’t thought of that remains an area of dissatisfaction that could be continuing to fuel the addiction, and then I had this conversation about sex and sexuality, and it seemed to fit perfectly.

So I will spend more time thinking and reading about this. I don’t want to involve my wife in this without knowing it is the right thing to do, but if it is necessary, so be it. Who knows, it could (should) have some benefits for us both!

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