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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:37 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
Internet pornography has been a very toxic influence in my relationship. I accept the research that demonstrates that it can change the structure and function of the brain, especially when the behaviour has become ingrained over a long period of time. (The same process applies to going to strip clubs or massage parlours or whatever.) That internet pornography can lead to a decrease in relationship satisfaction and perception of partners as less sexually desirable comes as no surprise. I knew it. I felt it. I witnessed it.. The recovery community would have us believe that these effects are reversible, and I think there is some validity in that, but for some addicts I don’t think these brain changes can be reversed. Especially if it’s a behaviour that’s continued unabated for maybe 20 years.

I just have to look back at my own history to see this. After nearly 4 years of ‘recovery’, my partner seems incapable of empathy and has a significant degree of difficulty with emotional and physical intimacy. He has failed to understand my experience of his addiction — he knows his behaviour hurt me but he has no real understanding. He seems to believe that throwing out the odd compliment can reverse the years of feeling invisible and asexual. He objectifies my body, but he never says I’m pretty — which makes me feel like a receptacle and not much like a human being. I am continually dumbstruck by his inability to relate to me as a sentient being. He never asks me anything about how I have experienced all of this, how I feel about it, how I’m managing and getting through all of this. I have had to do some serious heavy lifting for him and the relationship, as well as for myself. It’s all so one-sided.

I put up with his behaviour for years, that is, the stuff I knew about. I ended up with depression, an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. Then I had to put up with all his lying and trickle truth, and then there was the trauma of having to learn more about him. I bought the books, downloaded the podcasts and organised couples therapy. He has been able to look at his own issues, his childhood etc, and I’ve listened and saw his behaviour in that context. I was right there for him when he relapsed. Me? I’m on my own with whatever drags me down at any given moment.

What I now believe is that his behaviour, as well as strengthening the reward circuits in his brain and maintaining the hypersensitivity to specific cues, has affected the part of the brain responsible for relationship skills, empathy, understanding, etc. That this repeated behaviour has shrunken those ‘relational’ pathways or the pathways have died or whatever. Because after all this time he just doesn’t get it. It’s always all about him. If I feel uneasy about something and I express it, he switches the conversation to being all about him. He’s either defending himself or says I’m accusing him of something (when I’m not). It’s so tiresome. I can be feeling utterly wretched and in need of reassurance or comfort and it’s just not there. It’s never there. Suddenly it’s all about him, and I’m somehow “wrong” for feeling as I do, or I’m stirring up trouble. It’s always turned around to be all about him. It never occurs to him to ask me about how I’m feeling, or why do I feel as I do, or ask me what I need. Never. It’s like that crucial part of being a sentient human is missing. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve been waiting for that part of him to come back. I believe (perhaps wrongly) that he used to have these qualities. That’s why I’m wondering if it really is a case of “the brain that changes itself” and that perhaps this is as good as it can ever get. That it’s gone. Forever. Permanently.

It still leaves me feeling very sad, very isolated, very lonely. I like to think that I’ve done my share but I’m beginning to feel that this is how it is and this is all it can ever be. I feel like it’s another time to “draw a line under it”, that I should stop waiting for the empathy and understanding I once believed would re emerge as his recovery progressed. Just as I had to draw a line under the expectation of full disclosure. It’s not going to happen. I’m not even sure it CAN happen. It’s really tough. Even though this is “recovery” it feels more like grieving. The irony is, I feel every bit as lonely as I did when he was in his addiction.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:08 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:22 am
Posts: 164
I have the same experience, though my husband does not discuss anything emotional, he doesn't connect at all.
Has never talked about all this, his responses told me that he doesn't empathise or want to u destand, he never spoke to me as an equal about any of this. It was those responses that alerted me to the fact that instead of his addiction stunting his brain's maturity.. Perhaps his character caused the addiction, he has never admitted it is an addiction to this day, and his whole attitude has been dismissive, to the point I believe narcism may be the root of the issues, I find it hard to put other actions, words, behaviours down to a brain affected by porn addiction..
I have given up on any communication with my husband on any deep issues. I no longer want to be intimate with him, no just physically, I feel worse after intimacy Tbh, as it has no connection,and I realise that was what I was seeking,
It's been a long journey, but I let go of needing disclosure or change from my husband. What he does, he does.. I have firmed up my boundaries now I am confronting my abandonment issues and realising the feelings of deep love I had were something different. I only regress into feeling invisible when I tried to connect with him, or was needing my feelings, or what he did validated, now I know it isn't down to him, and that he is incapable of giving me what I thought I needed, I feel a relief Tbh.
What I do now I have no idea, we plod along, I spend les time with him and am concentrating on me, I don't react or take in any thing he says, good or bad.
I have back up plan and know the line I have drawn. I no longer care if he dresses up at work etc.. It's no longer the issue, as I now know he isn't capable of giving me what I want, whether he acts out or not,, I gave it everything so I feel at ease now, yes, there is anger and grieving for what I never had, but that has gone on for so long, I feel as if it is washing away and I am getting clarity on the reality.

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