Wives' Experience of Husbands' Pornography Use and Concomitant Deception as an Attachment Threat in the Adult Pair-Bond Relationship (2009)

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DOI: 10.1080/10720160903202679

Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention

Volume 16, Issue 3, 2009

Spencer T. Zitzmana & Mark H. Butlerb

pages 210-240


Evidence is growing that pornography use can negatively impact attachment trust in the adult pair-bond relationship. We employed a qualitative methodology to understand attachment implications of a partner's pornography use and concomitant deception. A qualitative analytic team analyzed interviews of 14 women in attachment-idealizing pair-bond relationships in couple therapy for their partner's pornography use. Analyses uncovered three attachment-related impacts from husbands' pornography use and deception: (1) the development of an attachment fault line in the relationship, stemming from perceived attachment infidelity; (2) followed by a widening attachment rift arising from wives' sense of distance and disconnection from their husbands; (3) culminating in attachment estrangement from a sense of being emotionally and psychologically unsafe in the relationship. Overall, wives reported global mistrust indicative of attachment breakdown. Building on this data, we build an attachment-informed model of effects of pornography use and concomitant deception in the pair-bond relationship.