I’ll preface this by saying that I have nothing against gay people, and this post isn’t intended to slight anyone on the spectrum of different sexual preferences.
I dated “Sarah” for roughly 1.5 years, and we broke up over a year ago. Coming into the relationship, I was a pretty consistent porn user. I watched it probably 3-7 days a week for the last 11 or so years. At the time I hadn’t ever had a problem with PIED (porn-induced erectile dysfunction) though I had had sex with only two other girls, less than 10 times total.
Initially, my sexual relationship with Sarah was great, but that period probably only lasted a month or so. I don’t know exactly how much porn I consumed during this time, but I certainly wasn’t abstaining from it. At some point I began to suffer instances of PIED, and I blamed it on nerves. After it happened once, I figured each subsequent instance was due to my nervousness that it would happen – basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sarah was understanding initially, but I could tell it made her very self-conscious, as she thought it was her fault.
Roughly 6 months into the relationship, Sarah had to move about ten hours away from me, but we made it a point to still see each-other 1-2 times a month. Around this time I was still regularly watching porn. I knew/thought that abstaining from porn and masturbation in the days leading up to our dates would right the problem, just because I would be hornier. As you can imagine, it did not.
With time my PIED got worse, and Sarah started to take it really hard. She would ask me if I was attracted to her (I was), if I was cheating on her (I wasn’t), if I was watching porn (I lied), and finally, if I was gay. Throughout this time I would always mentally frame myself as the victim. I knew that I wasn’t gay, that I was attracted to her and all that, and that porn couldn’t have been the issue, as we still on rare occasions had good sex. I still believed that it was just nerves that led to my problem. In time we mutually decided to end the relationship. In part because of the distance, and in part (unspoken) because of the problems I’ve described. I had partially convinced myself that maybe we just weren’t sexually compatible, for reasons unknown.
I now know my PIED for what it is, and I realize that I ended a good relationship purely because of porn. I also realize how emotionally damaging this whole ordeal must have been to Sarah, and I deeply regret that. To honestly question if her boyfriend of over a year was gay, as I couldn’t even get hard or maintain an erection with a beautiful naked woman in my bed, and I had no good excuse aside from nervousness. I have contemplated coming clean to Sarah, and admitting that I lied about my porn usage, and that it was most likely the cause of my dysfunction. I decided against that, however, as while it may clear my conscious, it may only reinforce Sarah’s presumption that she wasn’t attractive enough for me, and she doesn’t deserve any more mental anguish.
I wanted to write this post because I think many people focus on the effects of porn on their own sexual performance/mindset, but don’t consider its effects on their partner. Even if you aren’t currently in a relationship, quit it. Even if you are in a relationship and aren’t having problems with sex, quit it. You don’t know when PIED might sneak up on you. And if you are currently suffering from PIED and it is causing tensions in your relationship, for god’s sake, quit porn. Your partner doesn’t deserve anxiety and self-doubt as a by-product of your addiction.
During the last year of being single, I have tried and failed to quit porn many times. Two months ago I decided to give quitting another shot, as I was learning more about the negative societal and individual effects of porn, and getting into more niche (and gross) genres. About a month into this attempt, I actually started dating a really cool, beautiful mutual friend of mine that I had previously considered way out of my league. We haven’t escalated things past kissing yet, and I know two months may not be enough time to “re-wire” my brain, but I’m not really worried about failing to perform this time around. If it happens, I’ll get past it and accept that its the residual affects of my past addiction. I’m no longer going to lie to myself or others when it comes to porn. I’m not going to let anyone else become a victim of my bad habits.