After finally learning that her husband, Bob, had been secretly using porn for most of their twenty-year marriage, Sue said the worst shock now is that she has realized that, in spite of her objections to it, Bob has no intention of giving up porn. She feels unimportant, discounted, and powerless. The experience is leading her to question her beliefs about her husband, herself, and their marriage. “I told Bob over and over again that his using porn really bothers me. It makes me feel disrespected. I don’t want it in our home and I don’t want him to look at it anywhere else either. He says I’m being uptight and overreacting. I can tell he’s still lying to me and doing it. I don’t know how we will be able to make this work. He’s more faithful to his porn than he is to me. I thought I was supposed to be his priority. There are no words to describe the pain of knowing he is going to use it no matter how bad it makes me feel.”

Although Megan hasn’t been married long, she experienced similar feelings of being unloved and unimportant. After she caught her husband looking at porn, it upset her that her husband concentrated on defend­ing himself and justifying his porn use instead of being really concerned about her pain and concerns. She had to threaten him with divorce just to get his attention. “He seems intent on continuing his porn use in spite of how bad it makes me feel,” she said. “It feels like Jesse is picking porn over me. Were all those vows he made about promising to love and honor me just words? If he truly loves me, he wouldn’t want to keep doing something that hurts me so much.”

Like many intimate partners, Sue and Megan believe that both people in the relationship should sincerely care about each other’s feelings. They expected that their husbands would listen to them and take their feelings and concerns about porn seriously. They believed that once they had clearly expressed their objections to porn and communicated how badly hurt they felt, their partners would, without hesitation, agree to give up porn and never use it again. When their husbands were not eager to quit using and seemed instead to ignore the pain that they each felt, the emo­tional pain was exacerbated.

When a woman fails to get a comforting and caring response from her partner when she is distressed, she often feels alone in the relation­ship. Fran told us that on top of the betrayal of trust and the sexual insult she experienced, she was hurt most by her boyfriend David’s fail­ure to immediately make a full commitment to changing his behavior. “I couldn’t believe David continued using porn after the night I discovered his online stash,” she said. “He thinks he may be addicted to it. He says when things get shitty between us, he stops caring and figures I won’t know. While I appreciate his honesty, I feel repeatedly abandoned—what I need most emotionally is not important to him. The fact that he would keep doing porn even though he is aware of how bad I feel about it is so devastating. Now David tells me he’s giving porn up for good. But I feel like it’s too late. If he had been serious about us, and really loved me, wouldn’t he have gotten help for himself a long time ago?”