Love Letters: ‘He’s Spent Over $10,000 on Porn’

I want to run some updates soon. Former letter writers: Send me an update from your original email address (or tell me what the address was) and let us know how you're doing.
And -- we chat today at 1 p.m.

Hi Meredith,

I've been dating my boyfriend "Chris" for 4.5 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 over $10,000 on porn in the past 2.5 yrs. 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'd 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. No, 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.

Now that it's all out in the open, he's a mess because I told him we needed a break. This all came out 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 stopped this past May after he punched out his laptop because he couldn't stop. But then 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 and has told everyone but me over the past couple of years. How I'm the one, how we're a great team, etc. He always neglected to tell me these things. 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 how 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. Wrong that he never told me how he really felt. 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 apt is month to month. I don't know if I should stay with him in the apt and help him through this or move out into my own apt 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.

Please help!

– Hurt, Angry and Confused

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 for 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.

Readers? What can be saved here? Is it worth sticking around? What does Chris want? Should she get her own place?

– Meredith