How to respond...

I have a friend who was engaged to a man who happens to be in the military who was in the process in becoming a Catholic.She discussed her deal breakers in a relationship, one of them being porn. This morning she called me to let me know she caught him watching porn and called off their engagement. She told me she gave him a chance to be honest, to repent and apologize. His response to her was " I am human." Before he left to the field they discussed temptation and if ever at any point he felt tempted to watch porn, to talk to her about it. I gave her my response, however I would like to hear what others have to say.

If porn is something she simply cannot tolerate, she should stick with her sense of that. It is an extremely common vice, but it is also a very difficult one to eradicate, even for those who want to give up this awful habit. If her fiancé does not see both the infidelity and disrespect in thought that porn use represents, not to mention the duplicity in looking at it secretly when she had made her feelings about it clear, then I think she would be wise to call off the engagement. I say this because he sounds very likely to continue to betray her by indulging in this vice secretly. If that is something she can’t live with, she shouldn’t marry this fellow, because he has essentially told her that this is part of the package if she takes this particular human as a spouse.

IOW, it is not that she caught him doing it, but that he did not say, as he would if he had violated some other moral law that he considered part of his own moral code, “I am sorry. I should never have done that” rather than “I am human.” Every thing a soldier must be requires mastery of his lowest human inclinations, which surely would tell him to flee from harm, including the natural consequences of his actions, to work when he felt inclined to work and rest when he felt inclined to rest, and to indulge in whatever pleasures he felt inclined to indulge in when the opportunity presented itself. A soldier who abandons the battle field, when confronted by his fellow soldier about it later, does not say, “I am human.” He says, “I failed you in your hour of need, brother, and I make no excuse for myself.” Even then, he knows he deserves less trust than he did before, that he will have to earn his way back into the esteem of his comrades. This fellow does not seem to have that attitude about porn.

His response seems to indicate that he doesn’t see anything wrong with what he is doing. So, if she has a problem with this, maybe he isn’t the best choice for her.

Perfectly stated. Thank you very much. I believe she made the right decision.

I think people are being too hard on the guy–we don’t really know what his attitude was, apart from third-hand information given on here, which came from a friend of someone who was already trying to make sure their decision was justified. Perhaps the woman acted too hastily, no? If you really love someone, are there really any “deal-breakers?” That sounds to me like conditional love. I’m not justifying what the man did, as it is really and truly is a very difficult struggle many people have. But if that’s how they’re treated in the face of it, do you honestly think they’ll ever try to get over it? Most people turn to pornography because they don’t know better, or because it helps to give them feelings of love and acceptance that they oftentimes find lacking elsewhere. Having an engagement called off just like that might be a shock and a wake-up call for this man. But it might also cause him to retreat further into self-pleasure. I’d say that, again, given the information we have here, the woman caught this man doing something of which she didn’t approve on one occasion, and instantly called off the engagement. If he were actively having an affair, that is one thing–I’d say pornography is a different kind of struggle that requires a different kind of response. I will pray for all involved.


I will skirt around the question of whether she should call off the engagement, but I would say that the above-quoted remark deeply underestimates human nature. Humans, even male humans, can get along fine without porn. If he does not understand this, or if he simply rejects it, she cannot expect to be able to change his habits and attitudes about porn.

Before marriage? Absolutely. You can love someone with your whole being and still find them to be unsuited for marriage. I would argue that you could legitimately hold even things less serious than porn as deal breakers.

Good for her! It must have been a very difficult decision, but the right one. Porn is evil and our national shame that it is so tolerated in our culture; we see it everywhere. The fact that he was looking at it AND LYING ABOUT IT, proves that he is not good husband material and the marriage would be in trouble before it ever got a chance to start.

That is the thing. If she saw it more like he did, or if he saw it as she does, that would be something different. On this struggle, a couple must have the same mind, or it will be a very great difficulty for them, but particularly when the one with this fault has the more generous view of it. How often that works out miserably!! :frowning:

It is like the couple where one has a good credit rating and frugal spending habits, while the other claims to be merely “human” in running up debts greater than he or she can pay. It also happens when one keeps sober hours and the other wants to go out and party all of the time. When the habit and attitudes don’t come together before marriage, how often does that work out well? Not very often.

Yes, yes, and three times YES, there are deal-breakers! Heaven help the person who pursues a spouse with the vain thought that he or she has no deal-breakers!!

Do you think that any two decent people can make a good marriage together? It does not work like that. You can have charity and forbearance with anyone, but you cannot make one life with just anyone. If that were true, then every marriage that comes to ruin is a fault.

Once you have married, then yes, you take what comes. Before marriage, though, consider carefully who you choose. You will not find any of the saints giving different counsel than that.

Woe, too, to the person who makes a spouse out of a reclamation project. A wife is not a pastor, and should not marry with the idea of saving “a lost soul.” She and her husband need to be helps to each other, not one saving and the other being saved. That latter works badly for everyone.

I understand this is a touchy subject but I didn’t know I was going to get the response that I did, and I apologize for anyone who took offense. But what I was getting at is that, given the information we have, this one incident itself became a deal-breaker. If this was a repeated thing and actually causing demonstrable strain on the relationship, that’s one thing. But she catches him watching pornography once and calls off the engagement? That sounds hasty to me.

I understand there can be “deal-breakers,” sure. Sometimes two people who date and even get to the point of engagement find that they are not called to marry one another. But there’s a difference between discerning that properly and setting certain conditions that become a “one-and-done” sort of thing, as is given in this situation. I’m not taking sides, of course, I just think that too often these sorts of situations become one-sided and that both deserve a fair hearing.


Well, think about what advice you would give her if she went forward with the marriage and a year from now was complaining her husband was viewing porn? After finding out about it beforehand? Too late.

Each of us is different and have the ability to tolerate, and the inability to tolerate certain things. She’s been upfront with her fiancee about key things to her for a marriage, I don’t think she should compromise her position because I do believe she will regret it in the future.

I’m wondering if he said anything else at any point afterwards (such as being sorry for hurting her, etc.) besides “I’m human…” If not, yes, to me it would be a deal breaker. As a few others above have stated, she should follow her gut feelings as she apparently did. If he isn’t remorseful now about porn watching, I highly doubt he would change after marriage. Speaking from experience, my husband still has very little remorse about it after many years. The entire porn epidemic is a horrible scourge on our current society, and just because it’s so common doesn’t make it at all morally right in any way whatsoever. It definitely can hurt a woman to the core to know her partner uses it. That hurt only increases as the years go by - it doesn’t decrease at all.
Prayers for her and any couple going through this.

The point here is not, “Well let’s hear the guy’s side of the story and then decide”.

The point is that porn is a deal breaker for this woman and she is wise enough to realize it and break the engagement. Others might say their porn related deal breaker status is repeated viewing; others may say we will fight this together. That’s their decision, wisely this woman recognizes her tolerance level for this particular deal breaker and is acting on it now rather than deeply regretting not following her definition of at what point this is a deal breaker after marrying the fellow.

We should all know what our deal breakers are and do our utmost during courtship and engagement to discern that none of our deal breakers are in the other person. If they are we have to decide how we act, what we tolerate and what we rather walk away from, before solemnly committing ourselves to this person.

This woman should be congratulated for her honesty and supported in her decision.

Yes. It is her “deal”, when she marries she will throw her entire life and the life of her progeny into it, and she gets to decide the terms in whichever way seem to her to be the most wise. She may not violate moral law, but otherwise she may decide on whichever terms she likes.

There is a saying: If you have seen one rat, there are dozens more that have been better at hiding themselves. The chances that this deceit was a one-time thing are not high–and this fellow was not in the dark concerning how she felt about porn–particularly considering his reaction to having been caught in the act.

The time for him to have said, “I am only human” was back when they were discussing her boundaries. When the time came when he was offered a chance to repent and apologize, the thing to do was to repent and apologize, unless he was explaining why he was unrepentant.

If you tell someone “I will not tolerate this,” and he does it and you ask for an apology and he says, “I’m only human,” instead of “I am sorry, I will not do it again,” you have your answer. He intends to do it again. Whatever her decision is, she ought to base it on that.

I am sure they both have other faults, but these are faults that they are each willing to tolerate until they are controlled. For her, porn is not that kind of fault. Fair enough; she did try to warn him, after all.

She told me he never apologized when she confronted him about it.

This is the second time she has caught him with porn.

In the beginning of their relationship he told her he watched a lot of porn, however when they decided to be together, date, become boyfriend and girlfriend, he threw all of his porn away, and promised her he would never look at porn again. This is after she told him her deal breakers and how she felt about porn.

So it sounds like she was honest, and told him what was important to her.

Then when she caught him she gave him yet a second chance, and then when she caught him a second time he was not apologetic? I think she made the right decision, however I am very sad for this young man. How unfortunate to throw a relationship away because of an attachment to images. Porn is poison for our society, what a sad thing for this couple. I will pray for both of them. God bless.

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