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Love Letters

He spent more than $10,000 on porn

Q. I’ve been dating my boyfriend “Chris” for 4½ years. He’s 34, I’m 27. A couple of days ago I discovered that not only does he have a serious porn addiction (Internet, cable, phone) but it’s also put him $6,000 in debt. He’s spent more than $10,000 on porn in the past 2½ years. I told him that I needed a break to think, and I’m horribly hurt and confused about what to do. Prior to this, marriage had been discussed, but sometimes I wondered about it because of how he’s changed.

Our first year together was wonderful. Then I went abroad for a year, which is apparently when the porn issue started. When I returned, I moved in with him and things just never seemed quite the same as they did before I lived abroad. He was very pessimistic, more unsure of himself than before, and we’d regularly (sometimes daily) get into fights over dumb things. His initial reaction to most things became raising his voice. We kind of worked through this, still having fun together, though our sex life was never the same (and now I know why). For example, I would try to get him to talk dirty, but he said he felt weird. Then I’d try to pounce on him when he came home from work. Nope. It turned into once every three weeks . . . while the entire time he was enjoying himself and talking dirty when I wasn’t home.

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Now that it’s all out in the open, he’s a mess because I told him we needed a break. This happened because we were looking to sign a lease for a new apartment and a credit report was needed. Slowly, over a day, it all came out. He kept lying, not laying all of it out there at once. He said he was embarrassed and ashamed, which is why he never asked for help before (understandable). Last summer I’d caught him using the “livesex” Internet porn and he promised to stop, but apparently he continued. He kept using phones to talk dirty and cable movies you pay for.

He says he’s going to go to therapy. I believe him. He says he can’t imagine life without me. He always neglected to tell me these things before. When we’d talk about it, he was adverse or anxious about marriage or kids or even a house. Now he’s being very open with me and telling me he was wrong. Wrong to hurt me. Wrong to lie to me for two years since I’d bring up the lack of sex and he’d just say that’s how he was. He says he knows I’m very upset and that he’s going to try to prove to me that he can fix himself and then try to get me back.

I don’t know what to do. We’re not signing the lease for the new apartment. Our current apartment is month to month. I don’t know if I should stay with him in the apartment and help him through this, move out and help him through this, or just move out and cut all ties. I’m very hurt and angry, but I do care deeply about him. I fell in love with the Chris I met before I went abroad and was left with just snippets of him when I came back. I want the original back, the one I always trusted with all my heart, but I don’t know if I’m being delusional. I went home for a bit and I’m staying at my friends while in the Boston area.

Hurt, Angry, and Confused

A. If you’re staying in this relationship because you were in love with the original Chris, you have to let go. Original Chris is long gone. He existed for a year almost a half a decade ago, and you, my friend, have no time machine.

What you have now is present-day Chris, a guy who is dealing with a pretty serious addiction to Internet pornography. He’s a guy who lost your trust and was more interested in live sex chats than the real live sex he could have been having in your bed.

The best case scenario here is that he gets the help he needs and gives up the porn. But even if that happens, the addiction and the aftermath will still be a part of your history.

Couples can get through this, and it’s possible he’ll find the control he needs and evolve into someone who can be a wonderful partner. But you need to consider what you really want. You were happy with him for a year, and then it was a struggle. Knowing that you’ll never go back to the honeymoon phase of this relationship, what are you trying to save? That’s what you should be thinking about while you’re staying with friends, whether the best case scenario with Chris is something you desire. Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

Save yourself. He’s sick and you can’t help him. Plenty more fish in the sea and they aren’t full of toxic waste, which is what porn is to the soul. IHAVEMYHATS

Personally, I’d rather be single forever than share my life with someone who wracks up thousands in debt having online sex with strangers and lies about it for years. DORA79

You loved the person he was, and not the person he is. Isn’t that your answer? HIDE THE SILVER

Sounds like Chris is a MESS. He probably needs time alone to get a grip (on something other than his wang). And I agree with Meredith. . . this is not the same guy that you fell in love with. Of course you care about him, but he has made it really difficult to have a relationship with him. So I think what you need to do is take time apart, so that he can get his life back in order. Because he is the only one that can do that. ALYSSAJONES

Move out. It’s not working financially or sexually. You don’t trust him. What would it take to make you break up with this guy? ZEPTEMBER

I can’t tell you whether you should stay with Chris. I can tell you that for this to work out it’ll take understanding (without judgment) and patience on your part. It’ll take honesty and hard work on his. Even then, there are no guarantees you’ll get past this. You have to do what you feel is right. No guilt, whatever you choose. TWO-SHEDS

Who doesn’t get their porn for free??? ASTRO-NOT

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Letters can be sent to Meredith.Goldstein@globe.com.
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