❮    BACK TO INSIGHTS

Porn-induced Erectile Dysfunction: How to tell your girlfriend

Porn-induced Erectile Dysfunction: How to tell your girlfriend

The truth is: it really isn’t your fault
Michael Prewett on Unsplash

The prospect of telling anyone about your porn habit - especially your girlfriend* - is a daunting one. But if you're struggling with porn-induced ED and on a path to reboot, it's a conversation you're gonna have to have.

A lot of guys feel shame around their porn habit, but the truth is: it really isn’t your fault. Not only is porn everywhere and easy to access, it's also a slippery slope into compulsive use …and we’d bet you had no idea about it’s negative effects before you walked right into the porn trap. So there’s no need to feel shame.

When it comes to telling your girlfriend, that conversation could be one you feel like you want to avoid at all costs. Maybe she doesn't even know you watch porn, let alone that it's turned into a compulsive habit.

Not telling your partner can lead to more problems. You can end up lying, avoiding sex (and avoiding her), and unintentionally creating distance between you. So it's time to face it: having PIED is affecting your relationship already, so it's better she hears the truth.

To motivate you, here’s a glimpse at how rebooting is actually going to save your relationship:

  • Being honest as you reboot is big: it takes courage to be that vulnerable. In the long run, she's going to respect and trust you more because you came clean.
  • Your sex life will get better. As you reboot, your ED will improve, and physical sensations will start kicking in again, meaning you'll feel and enjoy sex more.
  • More emotional intimacy with your girlfriend as you get more comfortable in your own skin.
  • Less performance anxiety. When she knows what’s up, you don’t have to worry about “failing.” Just relax and enjoy.
  • You'll be more present and engaged with day to day life, so you'll start having more fun as a couple.

Why it’s important to have the chat

You're probably going to have some ups and downs during your reboot, as withdrawal is common initially. So your girlfriend needs to know what she's in for. Plus, you don't want her to start thinking she's to blame if you get moody or your libido flatlines.

Then there's the practical reality. If you’re going for a 'hard mode' reboot (no porn, no fap, no sex) that’s going to affect her directly, so she deserves a heads up.

Your PIED is affecting your partner no matter how long you've been together. If you've been an item for a while, she's probably already noticed changes in you (and not just the ED). Or, if you’re just getting serious with someone, she's going to be wondering what's up in the bedroom (or down, to be precise), and you don't want her coming to any wrong conclusions.

If you’re honest with her, your girlfriend can support you and provide you with the patience and understanding that'll help you get through this.

With good communication, your relationship will not only survive this rough patch but actually get stronger as a result. You'll be grateful for her support, she'll be grateful for your honesty, and your bond will deepen. What's not to like there?

Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash


‘If you’re in a relationship, tell her! I cannot stress this enough. Do NOT keep this from your partner; she isn’t stupid and will either figure it out on her own and resent you for not trusting her, or she will sooner or later recognize something is wrong and will leave you eventually because you won’t share with her.

Yes, she may run for the door if you tell her, but she will definitely do that if you don’t. (my girl confessed to me that if I hadn’t opened up or hadn’t involved her she would probably have been on her way out in a couple of weeks – which would have been devastating to me. I really believe she and I click on so many levels, I truly believe she’s the one for me – something I haven’t felt before with anyone. - YourBrainOnPorn.com


What do you tell her?

If you’re struggling with how to go about this conversation, try putting yourself in her shoes: what she needs to hear is...

  • That you know your porn watching hasn't been good for you or for your relationship
  • That you're taking action and doing something to fix your problem
  • That you want and need her support and patience

Most people don’t fully realise the impact porn can have. For your girlfriend to properly show support and empathy, she'll need some facts. This article is a good place to start, plus this video.

Once she gets up to speed on what's been happening to you, both mentally and physiologically, she'll be better equipped to understand what's involved as you reboot. You're gonna be rewiring your brain, and that's no small feat.

‘Last night my girl came over. It’s been 40 days no PM with 2 O’s, and last night it was tempting to try sex. I did feel really aroused mentally a few times, but downstairs it was the same old weak erection, about 75% or something. I’m just glad I resisted the sex.

I did pleasure her a few times cuz hey, she shouldn’t suffer because I’m the idiot who wacked it to porn every day. All in all it was a good time. We snuggled a lot and she spent the night. Woke up the next morning with the same lackluster arousal, but at least I didn’t have to force the erection manually. The strength will come with time.’ - reuniting.info


What to expect and how to work through it

Just a little warning: when your girlfriend finds out that you've been compulsively using porn she might not take it very well. But don't let that put you off and make you jump ship.

It's possible she's going to feel a combination of...

  • Disappointed or angry. Coming from a woman’s perspective, she might feel really let down that you engaged with porn, considering how badly women are treated in the industry.
  • Betrayed: the fact that she never knew you watched porn (or maybe you lied about it in the past) might make her feel like you've betrayed her trust.
  • Insecure - she might think it's because she's not sexy enough.

If your girlfriend is struggling to cope, there are support groups for partners which might be helpful.

What happens next? Here are three less-than-ideal scenarios to look out for (and what's going to resolve them) :

  1. After you've come clean your girlfriend starts checking up on you, a lot, to see if you’re on track or have relapsed. This can put a lot of pressure on your progress. If you relapse (which is common and totally ok), you might find yourself lying to not disappoint her.
  2. She starts putting all her energy into being compassionate and supportive. If she thinks her support is going to get you off porn, she'll feel extra upset if you relapse. In this case, she needs to know your addiction is not something she can fix.
  3. You're doing a hard mode reboot, and your girlfriend's putting pressure on you for sex when you're not recovered or feeling ready. It's understandable - she has needs too.

If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, consistent and open communication throughout your reboot is key. Regularly talk about where you're at and how you're feeling, and also give her the airtime to express her emotions and frustration.

We're just getting you prepped for any potential outcome. It's also very possible that she's going to take this a lot better than you expect.

"I gave a brief explanation of PIED, repeatedly underlining that (1) this was NOT her fault in any way, and (2) it is temporary and I am going to fix it. I also told her I stopped looking at porn when I first met her more than a month earlier, that I just needed to cut out all artificial stimulation and rewire my brain for real sex again.

She took this INCREDIBLY well. She smiled (almost laughed a little), saying she was worried it might be her fault and thanked me for opening up to her. She said she was a bit nervous too (about her own inexperience) and from now on, my orgasms would be reserved for her alone. We both agreed to be patient, knowing things would get better with time." - Reddit user

How to reboot as a couple


Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

If you're able to be open and honest with each other, you'll be leveling up on trust, communication, affection and intimacy in your relationship. And you might not realize it, but it's important she's a part of the process because she'll need to recover too.

Your girlfriend might need some time to heal, and to let go of whatever story she used to have around your PIED (it was her fault, she wasn't good enough...) and the emotions the experience has brought up for her.

A few tips from us for rebooting with your girlfriend:

  • With REMOJO, you can nominate an accountability partner via the app. This way she'll understand your process better, and will be there to spur you on when you need the motivation.

  • Whether you're flatlining or going for a hard mode reboot, sex without climax could be the ticket to maintaining intimacy – and actually deepening it too. As difficult as this might sound, once you start enjoying non goal-orientated pleasure, you'll discover that there's a lot more to sexuality than just reaching the finish line.

  • Bonus point: bonding behaviors trigger a release of oxytocin making you feel relaxed and less likely to relapse to porn when you're feeling stressed.

  • Romance is the secret sauce for making this process a whole lot more enjoyable, for both of you. This healing journey could actually rekindle the spark between you. Make an extra effort to spend quality time together, go on dates and to connect on a deeper level.
  • The process of rebooting itself can really reignite your passion too. If you can resist the urge to PMO, you'll be holding on to that desire for longer, and you'll find yourself more attracted to your girlfriend than ever.

I ended up telling my girlfriend about the whole thing and she’s being awesome and supportive. Telling her about this was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. I felt so vulnerable and uncomfortable [...] But it really brought us that much closer. - YourBrainOnPorn.com

Setting Boundaries

For you to succeed, and for your relationship to not only survive but to thrive after this, you'll want the right boundaries in place based on what your needs are. Set these clearly from the start to avoid any unwanted tension, and give your girlfriend a good idea of how she can support you best.

For starters, she doesn't need to know what types of porn you got into. That could just be more hurtful, which isn't helpful for anyone. Plus, as it's common for porn tastes to escalate. What you've been watching isn't a true representation of who you are.

She doesn't need to know the nitty gritty of things either. That means, you don't have to tell her how often you wanked, how much porn you were watching, or when, or any of the other unsavory details. On that note, you can say when you think it would be unhelpful to answer any particular questions. .

It's up to you to decide how much of her involvement is helpful in your recovery without it adding pressure to your plate. However, she is going to have her own needs and boundaries as well. As with anything in a relationship, this is about the both of you. She may draw her own boundary of wanting to know if you relapse – or not wanting to know. Be clear and set boundaries together. 

In a rare circumstance your girlfriend may not get on board with undertaking this journey together – even after you’ve done your best to be open and help her understand.If this remains the case over time, then maybe it's time to take a step back and ask yourself whether this relationship is really right for you and helpful for your growth.

Everyone's rebooting journey is different. In order to manage your expectations and hers, communication really is the key.

Keep your head up and remember: this is an amazing opportunity to reboot your relationship too. And one thing is for sure, when you come out on the other side of this, you'll see how good life and relationships can really be.


Find out how to add your girlfriend as your accountability partner on the REMOJO app and get started today.


Hannah Busing on Unsplash


* We realise how hetero-normative this blog post is, and we don’t want to offend or exclude anyone. All of the advice in this article can apply to your relationship, regardless of gender or sexuality.



Contents:
New Insights