It is not unusual for a woman to take her partner’s sexual interest in porn as a personal criticism of her own looks and sexual attributes. After seeing what types of women her boyfriend, Tony, had been looking at and lusting over on his computer, Lucy started doubting her ability to be found sexually desirable. She laments, “All of a sudden I felt like my boobs aren’t big enough. I’ve never had feelings like that before. Now I look at my relatively flat chest and feel like I have an appendage missing. The porn images feel like poison in my brain.”

Like many intimate partners who find out about their partner’s porn use, Lucy plunged into a sea of self-doubt fueled by feelings of being unattractive and sexually inadequate. The experience shifted how she thought about her body and sexual worth. “I’ve always had a healthy image of myself sexually,” Lucy added. “When I found out he was using porn and got off on those women, for the first time in my life I ques­tioned it. I really miss how I used to feel about myself.”

It’s very common for women to feel physically and sexually infe­rior to the women in porn. “I feel ugly and fat and inadequate next to all those young, slim, overtly sexual women and girls,” says Debbie. “I worry that my husband is constantly comparing me to them and that I don’t measure up to the porn-queen standard. Those women don’t re­quire any emotional involvement or communication or anything. They look perfect and they’ll do anything he wants. I feel like I’m not enough, my body’s not enough, and I will never be enough.”

Knowing that her boyfriend, David, used porn created deep feelings of sexual anxiety for Fran as well. “I can never match the young sexy bodies of the porn images,” she said. “I feel bad about my sexuality, be­cause I know that unlike porn stars, there are some sexual things I could never do.”