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Pornography Counseling: Unmet Needs
Pornography Counseling: Understanding Unmet Needs
If you or your partner believe you have a pornography addiction and seek pornography counseling, it might seem like it is an impossible problem to fix. Maybe you make progress and then suddenly you or your partner slips up, and now you are frustrated and hurt.(Related article: Creating Emotional Safety Through Fixing Marriage Problems). And the cycle continues. Is there a way out of the rotation of progress and disappointment when it comes to unwanted pornography use?
Healing is not linear, and it is normal for you to experience ups and down as you navigate any issue, including pornography use. (Related Article: Four Reasons Why People Relapse). But, one thing that might surprise you is that your pornography use probably isn’t about pornography. In fact, it might not even be about your sex life at all. Understanding the true cause issues with pornography use can help you understand how to fix the real problem and create a lasting change.
Today, you will learn about what causes unwanted behaviors. We will also talk about what that means for you and your journey of healing from pornography use.
We all have needs.. A need is a lack of something that is necessary for you to live a happy, productive life. Your needs will be unique to you. When talking about your needs, that could mean physical needs, like the need for shelter, food, and safety. Your needs will also include emotional needs. (Related article: Emotional Health). For instance, you may have the need for connection, acceptance, or intimacy. Your needs are personal, and are based on your preferences, personality, and experiences. Your needs will be met in a variety of ways. As long as your needs are reasonably met, you will find that you feel content and comfortable with the current state of your life. It is normal to have emotional needs.
So, what happens if your needs are not met? Typically, you will find alternative ways to fulfill your needs. Humans are pretty good at that! And, for the most part, you will find alternative ways to resolve your unmet needs that are harmless and productive.
For instance, maybe you are struggling with a lack of social support on a hard day. Your spouse will be working all day and you won’t be able to talk until much later. What can you do? Calling a friend or family member to talk to fulfill your need for social support is a healthy, reasonable alternative, since your spouse is unavailable. (Related article: Coping or Avoiding- And Why Knowing the Difference Matters)
Addressing Unmet Needs
So, what happens to you if your needs remain unmet for a long time? Or what if you find that you are unable to find some of the reasonable alternatives we talked about earlier? For better or for worse, the same principle applies as before. You will still find a way to meet your own needs. However, in these cases of unmet (or unnoticed) needs, some decisions may have negative consequences.That brings us to pornography use. If pornography use is hurting your self confidence, your sex life, or your trust in your partner, then the solution will lie in identifying and addressing the unmet needs that led you here. If you only address the pornography, then you will find that it returns again and again. (Related Articles: Emotions 101: How To Be Healthy and 3 Principles Of Emotional Health). Think of it like weeds in your yard. If you just cut the weeds down, that doesn’t take care of the roots.
So, what can this look like in practice? And how do you know what to do about the unmet needs? That will vary a lot based on your unmet needs and your relationship. I’ll refer back to the example I mentioned in the beginning of this article. Let’s say that your spouse has a recurring issue with viewing pornography. This behavior causes some negative side effects for your relationship. A boundary has been broken, trust between you and your spouse is strained, and you are hurting about the recurring nature of your problem.
To tackle this issue, you and your spouse decide to double down on your previous efforts. You put filters on your internet so that it’s harder to access and your spouse disables their internet browser on their cell phone. Logically, it seems like that might fix your problem. Unfortunately, this approach might be like trimming the weeds in your yard. You’ve cut down your weeds, but the roots still exist. Your spouse’s motivation for viewing pornography still exist. And, until those needs are addressed, the weeds persist.(Related article: Holding Emotional Space for Your Spouse).
Getting Down to the Root Through Couples Counseling
So, how do you address the root of this problem? Let’s say you decide to take a different approach this time. You might still put the filters on the internet and get rid of the internet browser. But this time, you find a couples therapist and make an appointment. As you work with your therapist, you discover that there are unmet needs in your marriage that have caused a lack of emotional intimacy in your relationship. (Related Article: What is Emotional Intimacy and How to Get It). Not only has this unmet need led to your spouse’s pornography use, but it has also left you feeling more and more withdrawn and lonely.
Thankfully, if this scenario sounds familiar to you and your relationship, pornography counseling can help. (Related article: What Happens in Counseling?). Your therapist receives specialized training and education that helps them identify unmet needs in your relationship. And, once these needs are discovered, pornography counseling can help you and your partner understand how your strengths can help improve your relationship in couples counseling.
Change and hope are possible. Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment with one of our therapists today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.
Written by Lauren Adkins