I’m Married, I'm A Woman, & I'm Addicted To Porn

By Erica Garza

It’s past two a.m., and my husband’s breathing has become long and even. I slip my right hand down my pajama pants and move slowly, careful not to bump my elbow into his rib. Too much movement or sound will wake him, and to be found out for something like this is not just embarrassing but potentially destructive. He’ll think he doesn't satisfy me — or, maybe he’ll feel sorry for me. And, who wants to fuck someone they pity?

Or, even worse, maybe he’ll finally say the words I’ve been waiting for him to say since I first told him that I am a sex addict: He's bored. He’s disgusted. He’s had enough.

I lift my wrist away from my body. I’m careful to keep my breath from becoming a pant, even as my pulse quickens, but this takes much concentration. There is no letting go here, though. This orgasm is a controlled, measured, calculated experience.

I have masturbated in this way next to the sleeping bodies of all my serious, committed partners. In some cases, as expected, it was because I wanted more sex than they could give me. I’ve been called “insatiable” and “demanding” one too many times. But, this has not always been the story. Yes, I have an incredibly high sex drive, but even in relationships where I have great sex multiple times a week, my stealthy nighttime self-pleasure has persisted.

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My college boyfriend, burgundy-haired and tattooed, had the high sex drive typical of most nineteen-year-old males. We fucked all the time, but even still, I wanted more — something only I could give me. One afternoon, after my boyfriend had fallen into a deep, post-sex slumber, I serviced myself with my second, third, and fourth orgasm beside him. That was the first time I’d experienced such a level of both secrecy and shame.

I made a promise to my husband and to myself, long before we were even wed, to be austerely honest. He knows I’ve been a compulsive masturbator since I was 12 years old. He knows about my extensive fluency in the hardcore categories of various porn sites. He knows about the bad habit I used to have of hooking up with not-so-nice men because they were available and I was bored — and that I rarely used protection with any of them. And, he knows that I believed, for a really long time, that my addiction made me a broken person — a disgusting person, a person unworthy of love. I told him these things from the start because I met him at a time in my life when I was ready for change. Because I liked him so much that I wanted to love him. Because I knew that the only way to love him, and be loved by him, was to be myself.
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“What’s your favorite porn scene?”

The man who will become my husband in less than a year asks me this question as he lies naked and vulnerable beside me. We’ve just had sex, and although I am naked too, it isn’t until this moment that I feel just as vulnerable as him. While it might seem absurd to some, I know immediately that this is a moment of great significance for us. It is an opportunity to finally do things differently.

The possibilities run through my head.

I can describe something vanilla: This one where a busty blonde gets banged by her personal trainer. Or, perhaps something a little more racy: These two hot teens swap their math teacher’s cum after he made them stay late in the classroom. Chances are, my husband-to-be will get hard again, and we’ll end up abandoning the conversation for a second round. These are harmless answers. Expected answers.

They’re also lies.

The possibility of revealing the actual truth not only makes me nervous, but also physically sick. I feel a constriction in the back of my throat, a flutter in my belly, a tremble in my extremities. After all, we’ve only been dating a couple of months, and he doesn’t love me yet. If I tell him, will he ever?

“Why do you ask?” I reach for the sheet, damp with sweat, a tangle of 300-thread-count cotton across our limbs, and yank it up to cover my breasts.

“I don’t know,” he says. “Curiosity?” He turns over on his side and props his head up on his left hand. His green eyes are wide with wonder.

“Seems like a weird question.” I tuck the sheet into my armpits and scoot my body a little to the left, so we’re no longer touching. The tone of my voice has become defensive, and he can tell.

“It’s just that I usually pick the porn,” he explains. “Do you like what I choose?”

I see what he’s doing. He’s trying to be considerate since we just had sex while staring at the laptop screen after searching terms of his choosing: Latina, real tits, blow job, threesome.

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Maybe he feels guilty for getting off to them instead of me, even though I’m the one who suggested we watch porn in the first place. Even though I’m always the one who suggests we watch porn while we have sex.

“Yeah, sure.” I look up at the ceiling. “They’re fine.”

“Are you sure?”

I wish he’d stop prying, but I realize something else is happening here. Not only is he trying to be considerate; he’s also trying to get to know me. The past couple of months have allowed us to cover most of the basics — what ended each of our most recent relationships, what our parents are like, what we hope to do with our lives in the next few years — but there’s still a longing for something deeper, and I can’t think of anything deeper than knowing a person’s favorite porn scene.

It can speak volumes. For one scene to stand out among the rest, when so many others are available, there has to be something below the surface. What maintains its appeal? What keeps a person returning in the deep, dark recesses of a lonely night? Perhaps the answers to these questions are a great source of shame. I never thought of revealing such answers to anybody, and especially not somebody like this man — somebody I could really like. It seemed far too risky, preposterous even.

It also seems necessary. Too many of my past relationships were doomed by my inability to tell the whole truth — to fully be myself. Now, I have the opportunity to go there, and to say to a person, “This is who I am. Do you accept me?”

“Well, there’s this one gang bang,” I start, looking over at his face to see a reaction of surprise and interest register at once.

“Go on.”

I take a deep breath and proceed to tell him, first slowly, then progressively faster, about the scene. Like a busted dam, I can hardly hold back the rush of descriptors fumbling from my mouth: “Two women in a warehouse. One dangling from a harness. The other just below her. Both are waiting to take on 50 horny men…” and on and on.

I watch his face the whole time, not pausing when his smile becomes a frown and his eyes squint as if it hurts to look at me.

“Afterward, the women exit the warehouse through a back door while the men applaud.”

For a long moment, after I’ve finished talking, there is silence between us, but there is also a sense of relief on my part. I have revealed something so dark, so upsetting, so impacted in shame, and he hasn’t immediately disappeared. He is still here beside me, propped up on his left hand, naked and vulnerable, and so am I. He sees me, and I see him seeing me, and we are in new territory.

But, then he says, “I kind of wish I hadn’t asked.” It’s all I need to hear to send me into tears. Not just tiny, embarrassed sobs — humiliated wails. I have myself a tantrum. My partner is confused now, and he pulls me close to him, laughing nervously at my abrupt shift in disposition. I try to pull the sheet completely over my head, but he pulls it back down and covers my face with apologetic kisses. He can’t possibly understand why I’m crying. He can’t possibly know what I’ve just revealed to him. “What’s going on? Baby, what’s wrong?”

So, I tell him.
Addiction to porn and masturbation is often grouped under general sex addiction, because they all have to do with escape via titillation, sexual pursuit, and orgasm. But, I've always felt more pathetic about my predilections. Going out and fucking — even someone you don’t really like — is wild, dangerous, but essentially social and shared. Though I had periods of promiscuity throughout my 20s, my biggest issue has always been what I do alone.

There’s something so sad and humiliating in imagining a person locked away in a dark room, a hot laptop balanced on her chest, turning the volume down low, scrolling, scrolling, choosing, watching, escaping, coming.

And then realizing that person is me.

But, my proclivity for solo pleasure has strong, stubborn roots. I lost my virginity to a water faucet when I was 12 years old. I have Adam Corolla and Dr. Drew to thank for this life-shaking experience; it was their late-night radio show, Loveline, on L.A.’s KROQ that served as my primary source of sex ed during my pre-teen years. The faucet technique was just one of the many things I learned. Meanwhile, I was also receiving a whole other kind of sex ed — one that said sex is something that happens between a married man and woman, and that masturbation is a sin. You know, your typical, run-of-the-mill, Catholic-guilt stuff.

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Just as oppressive as the Catholic guilt was my femininity. Girls I knew weren’t talking about masturbation and sex. I had no company with whom to share my new activities and interests. And so, the silence morphed into shame. I became a pervert, a loser, and a sinner.

I tried to stop myself from taking long baths, from late-night under-the-covers activities, and from being alone too long, but the more I obsessed about stopping, the more I could not. I joined shame, secrecy, and pleasure in a daily orgy — whether I was tired, bored, angry or sad. Whether I was single or coupled, it didn’t matter. Getting off required all of these components, and I needed new, more extreme methods to stay engaged — more hours sucked away watching progressively more hardcore porn (like the warehouse video), complemented by dabbles in strip clubs, peep shows, and shady massage parlors. It became impossible to get off during sex without fantasy; my body was over-stimulated to numbness. I was irritable unless I was fucking or masturbating or planning to do either of those things. Life revolved around orgasm, to the detriment of any kind of real progress in my professional or social existence.

I was out of control.
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Little did I know that describing my favorite porn scene would be the first of many future admissions that would help peel back, layer by layer, a long and exhausting history of self loathing. My future husband and I quickly learned that watching porn during sex wasn't a harmless kink for us; it was a method I’d long used to remain disconnected from my partners. It took much discipline and patience for us to expel it from our relationship altogether, though every now and then we slip up.

Talking about my habits led me to examine them, which ultimately led to my desire for change. Holding a secret for too long is like being unable to take a full breath. I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. I needed to share — often and fully — what had for too long been silenced in order to reclaim who I was underneath my addiction. I needed to breathe again.

I found relief in Sex And Love Addicts Anonymous meetings, seeing a therapist I trusted, attending personal development courses like the Hoffman Process, and writing about my journey. I’ve managed to move away from porn for the most part, but when it comes to this addiction — to something I don’t have to seek out or purchase — control is like a wayward horse, and my ass is always slipping off the saddle.

Related: One Man's Search For Love In The World Of Gay Online Hookups


I constantly struggle with whether or not I should give up porn completely, but until I find a way to have some moderation with it, I avoid it as much as I can. I wish I could just watch it occasionally, as some sort of supplement to my active sex life, but the whole ritual of watching porn is tangled up in too many other negative emotions for me. Watching porn takes me back to being that little girl, alone in her bedroom, feeling ashamed and helpless. I can’t just watch one clip without needing to watch another after that, and another — until hours have passed or I’m back to bingeing every night.

If my husband leaves me alone all day and idleness leads me to watch porn, it’s the first thing I confess upon his return. Sometimes, I don’t even have to say it. He can tell by my downturned eyes and my noticeable exhaustion. He shakes his head and takes me in his arms as I make another promise to try to leave it alone. When I visited a peep show on a recent work trip out of town, he seemed more amused than upset about the whole thing.

Unfortunately, I have yet to be as generous. If I find my husband has been watching porn without me, when I’ve struggled to abstain for a stretch of time, I react with what might seem like unjustified rage. This frustration is only rooted in envy.

* * *

Masturbating beside my husband while he sleeps is the last secret I’ve kept from him — although I’m beginning to fear that it’s actually just the latest secret. My resistance to tell him only proves how fragile recovery is. This week, it’s masturbation. Next week, will I be back to porn bingeing? Or obsessive scrolling through Craigslist personal ads? Or lying about my whereabouts? Abstaining from these habits, when they're so readily available, without abstaining from sexual pleasure completely, is a challenge I face daily.

That’s why I need to tell my husband.

Not because I need his permission, his forgiveness, or to offer him some act of contrition. But, because I need him to see me. To witness. The act of telling the truth, especially about something that makes us ache, is often the only absolution we need.

Narratively is an online publication devoted to untold human stories. For more of their work visit narrative.ly
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