Relationship Rescue for Wives and Girlfriends of Internet Pornography Addicts

Your Perception Is Your Reality

If you think it is a pickpocket, you are in the majority. Could it be a son/husband/boyfriend putting his wallet
into the mother/wife/girlfriend's handbag for safe keeping? Of course that is a possibility but it is not what you
perceived initially. What other ways could your mind be interpreting, or misinterpreting, what you see around

There are women on the PAH site that have been married to porn addicts for 20+ years. Over time, they may
have been told that all men look at porn and they are just being oversensitive.  They have lived in this dead  
end reality for decades.  When they land on the PAH site and hear the voices of other women struggling with
porn addiction, what changes for them? Everything. Absolutely everything. They receive affirmation of their
pain. They find companionship and empathy. They discover they have choices and options even when facing a
partner resisting addiction therapy. 
Their reality changes because their perception of themselves and the
problem they are facing has changed in their minds.

You are in a tough spot. Communication on the topic of your loved one's porn addiction may be non-existent
or strained at best. Our minds are designed to try to make sense of the world around us. If there is a gap in data, our minds tend to fill in the blank spots until we have a reasonable explanation for why something is occurring. We get into trouble when do not stop to question these blank areas that we have filled in for ourselves, our perceptions. More often than not, they are wrong.

Let's look at one example how a girlfriend or wife can perceive her partner's porn use:

SEE - There is he, again.
FEEL - Rejected and unloved. Your feelings are never wrong, they are just and valid.
PERCEIVE - You rationalize that you must be unattractive and boring to your partner, otherwise he wouldn't be tempted to look.
SPIRAL - These thoughts over time cement themselves in your head as factual. You begin to believe that you are broken and undesirable.
ACT OUT - Because you are taking the weight of his issue on your shoulders, you may begin cope in inappropriate ways, in this case emotionally withdrawing.

This is her PERCEPTION, which then becomes her REALITY. When she chooses not to dig into the problem in their relationship, she does nothing. 
When you do nothing, you play the victim. And the painful cycle continues.

How could her partner be perceiving his porn use?:

SEE - There she is again. She won't talk to me. She seems so cold.
FEEL - Anxiety and loneliness. I don't know what is happening in our relationship. It seems we
are co-existing more than anything and it makes me nervous. When is the other shoe going to
PERCEPTION - She never says anything to me. Maybe she is OK with me using porn. Maybe she
doesn't care about me or love me anymore. I wish I had someone that cared.
SPIRAL - These thoughts over time cement themselves in his head as factual. At least the porn
ladies won't reject me.
ACT OUT - He logs on to get a brief adrenaline rush and ego boost.

And the cycle continues.....

PAH challenges you to wear a perception filter for a week or so. Question everything that you
normally take for granted.
 I mean everything. When you see the computer in front of you, ask
yourself if it is really a computer. Some of your perceptions will be true. Yes it is a computer.
Other perceptions will be false. If they are false, or if you are uncertain, then you need to ask
for your partner's input. If you would like, share some of your epiphany moments under
the Change Your Perception and Change Your Reality thread in the What's Helping You Heal
forum on the PAH Discussion Board.

In the above example the woman perceives her beauty, or lack thereof, to be the catalyst for
her partner's porn use. In reality, it is the man's feelings of loneliness and uncertainty about
the relationship that cause him to act out. If they were able to openly communicate their
feelings and triggers to each other, they could be one step closer to stopping this cycle of
miscommunication mixed in with porn use.

As you begin this process of questioning perceptions in your outer world, please keep an open mind. You may have asked your partner before and dismissed his explanations. Be open to his answers. If he tells you his porn use has nothing to do with you or your relationship, then perhaps it doesn't. Maybe he is trying to fill an open, hurting space inside of him. There are many, many reasons why someone turns to porn. It could be stress 
reduction. It could be modeling behavior of co-workers or looking into sites that are spoken of around the water cooler. It could be boredom. It could be a long-standing habit that started in his early teens. None of these explanations excuse his poor choices. What you need to take away from this exercise is an understanding that his past actions and the rationale for them may be very, very different from your perceptions.

If you don't actively work on identifying and correcting faulty perceptions, you may be letting others create perceptions (and by default your reality) for you. That is a very lonely place to be.

Perception vs. Reality Page 3

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