An MP, a tractor, online porn and the impact on relationship breakdown

Published on 19.08.22
Published on 19.08.22

In this article, Head of Family Teena Dhanota-Jones examines the increasing influence of pornography addiction on relationship breakdown.

Former MP Neil Parish was seen watching porn on his mobile telephone in the House of Commons and at a Select Committee earlier this year. Apparently, the first time he was looking for tractors and fell upon a porn website, but on a second occasion, he deliberately visited the site. Unsurprisingly, he resigned.

Neil is 65 and was watching porn online; when he was a teenager, porn was not available online. Possibly, The Sun newspaper, which showed topless models for 44 years until 2015, was all that was readily available.

I have been instructed on cases where the female partner has learnt of their male partner’s porn habit, which has led to the breakdown of the marriage. And don’t think this is all one way. I have also seen a female partner’s porn habit destroy their relationship with their male partner. This does seem to be far less common, though.

Usually, someone will see their partner’s online search history or catch them in the act. It’s a deal breaker for them. They describe how they feel betrayed, cheated on, disregarded and belittled, as well as deep sadness. In contrast, Sue (the wife of Neil Parish) was quoted as saying:

“If you were mad with every man who looked at pornography, you would not have many wives in the world.”

She also said it was “embarrassing” and “boys will be boys”. She continued: “It’s degrading. It’s demeaning. But on the other hand, it takes two to tango. There must be women posing for all this.”

Her response has been in stark contrast to what I hear from aggrieved parties. No doubt, time will tell how this will play out for Neil and Sue.

Nevertheless, the impact of watching online porn can have a devasting impact on relationships. An article in the Saturday Times Magazine triggered by Neil Parish’s indiscretion about online porn included the following quotes from people interviewed for the piece:

  • Female: “I love younger men, their porn habits not so much… It was off-putting and aggressive.”
  • Female: “It affects his ability to enjoy real-life sex.”
  • Female: “My fiancé’s porn addiction left him unable to have sex”. (The parties ended their relationship.)
  • Male: “I watched so much porn as a teenage it ended my sex drive.”
  • Male: “I want to feel physically close, but my body is numb.”
  • Male: “I am completely desensitised.”

Statistics from a BBC report in 2019 reveal:

  • 55% of men have said their first source of sex education was online porn.
  • 50,000 people a month download Remojo, which is an app to help “users quit porn”.

In conclusion, some relationships will endure despite a partner being discovered having an online porn habit or addiction, and some will not. The positive take home is that those with a habit or addiction can get help and go on to form healthy, long-lasting relationships. In other words, thankfully, divorce is not the only answer.

If you require any further information, please contact Teena Dhanota-Jones at [email protected].

Disclaimer: The above is merely general guidance and should not be relied on as formal advice. We suggest you take professional advice before taking any action in relation to the issues discussed above.