Disclosing to people close to you is a very difficult thing to do. There are therapeutic approaches too which can help a lot. I think a good question to ask yourself is why you want to tell her? I think being honest with yourself about that can help guide you. I am 40 so don't feel accountable to my parents in that way. But I did disclose to my wife for a lot of reasons: I thought she was leaving me and wanted to be honest hoping it would bring us closer (my own insecurity), I also felt very guilty and wanted to come clean (unburdening myself onto her) and I suppose I wanted her to change and fix the problem for me (not taking responsibility). So my motivations were mostly selfish at the time and I wasn't really thinking about the true long term effects on her. It hasn't all been negative (we're still together 2 years later and working at it) but probably the only legitimate reason I think now is the honesty. Unfortunately it's not possible to disentangle that from all the other baggage. Hence why I think talking it through with a professional can be very useful. You can never "untell" people afterwards either so I think it makes sense to think it through a lot and really scrutinise your motives before you do so. Sometimes the other person can also be holding in their own issues that you don't know about either which can make it harder still. I think it's very positive that you want to be honest and open having carried this around for so long, that is a good thing I believe. But I would advise being cautious is how exactly you go about doing it and getting enough support for yourself before doing so. It is great to want to be honest though. I also disclosed to my sister and a couple of close friends. I think the motivation I had there was generally more positive and I feel these are people more able to closely support me without me hurting them through my behaviours (unlike my wife). It was still scary but everyone I have disclosed to has been supportive. The first time I disclosed was to Paula (before my wife) and then afterwards I went on to get help in group sessions. I got a lot of the sense of unburdening and support from those sessions - basically what I was trying to seek from my wife but it was very unrealistic and unreasonable if me to expect from her (it's not her job).
Hello, It's great to start over with a new chance and do things differently. I wish you every success. I think understanding when and how you get into such a "bad frame of mind" is really important to stopping yourself going back down the old paths of coping by acting out. That's tricky to do sometimes but if you can spot that ahead of time and realise you are getting in a vulnerable place then you can do something about it before it gets too bad. You also list a lot of healthy habits there but sometimes I think it's necessary to give yourself permission to be less restrictive at times and have fun when it is nothing to do with sex. Finding hobbies and activities can be a lot of fun in itself. For me, I found I need something and I'd I try to be "good" all the time or be needless then it just gets bottled up more and is a trigger to acting out. So I definitely need things that are mine. As long as those hobbies are safe, without shame and in the open then all is well. I would really like to encourage you strongly to stay away from places and areas where you used to go and act out. Because I know from experience that going back there becomes a big trigger in itself, even if you're otherwise feeling fine. It can easily destroy hard work especially at the beginning where things are so fragile in recovery. Further, for me, a critical part of recovery has been keeping away from any and all sexual fantasy and thoughts as much as possible and avoiding masturbation. Different people are different here but I found me always gently guiding my thoughts away from any sexual fantasy helps tremendously. Just being aware of that made me realise actually that I used to think about such things a lot but not really acknowledge how much time and distraction it was. It continues the porn fantasy in the mind, even when you are not acting out. So, if I let the fantasy thrive, it will keep the battle in my mind going on and on. I am fighting myself. Peace
Hey, It's good you recognise this problem and want to change. Things can be different and you can sort this out. Here are some online resources:
But mostly I would like to encourage you to reach out and find some people in the real world you can connect with and help. You are not alone in this and there are many guys like us who struggle and we can help each other. I did Paula's course and met other guys through that but there are other ways too, e.g. SAA or SLAA. I think it's great you can come on here and ask for help and be honest. That is a big step and it took unfortunately a lot of things going wrong in my life before I could admit that. I also wasted a lot more of my time on it than you did. You still have so much life ahead. I'm really excited for you! Please keep learning and growing. Finding out what things truly make you happy and trying that out is a great way to learn about yourself, it's something I think everyone struggles with to some extent but sadly we don't talk much about it. And then for some guys like you and me, when we feel down or directionless in life, we want the "comfort blanket" of porn or sex. But it's only temporary and doesn't solve the real problems and even creates more because we then feel ashamed and isolated. There's a whole world out there for you. Although it's something you have to gift to yourself, you're not alone and others are here to help. Peace
You're definitely not crazy nor are you being unreasonable. But you're trying to argue with someone who is not thinking straight. He's addicted and is going to try any rationalisation or excuse to keep it going. He needs to learn to set appropriate boundaries for himself. He is responsible for his actions and the consequences. I sense you care a lot and really want to help him but ultimately it's down to him and not you to police it. He sounds like he really needs a lot of external help. It's not really possible I think for you to do that or even have a full and fulfilling relationship even while he keeps up clinging onto his destructive behaviours. Because there is always something else "better" drawing his attention away. Who is he being accountable too exactly? I think he needs to talk about this a lot more with his accountability partner who should be able to help him with those boundaries. I'm not sure but if he's trying to use you as that person, but if he is then I think that places even more burden on you and isn't very fair. I'm very sorry and saddened to hear you're going through all this - it really is horrible and I can only imagine what it can be like. I hope you can most of all find support for yourself because it sounds difficult and draining on you to be trying to help so much but him fighting you instead. Peace
I'd second Christine's suggestions. Here too are some online resources to help get you started:
Personally I found my porn use was correlated with how happy I was with myself and my life. The more angry, withdrawn and unhappy I was, the more porn I'd want which made me more.... you guessed it - angry, withdrawn and unhappy. Like you, I used to think that I "needed" porn in order to perform well at work or, to a lesser extent, with studies. I found in reality, I was using porn to cope with the stress and mask anxiety and insecurity. What you describe about your porn viewing and past sexual experience is a brave and honest thing to admit. I think your experience of going off into realms that don't hold any real life attraction is a common experience for guys who've used porn a lot - it's part of the escalation behaviour that the addiction wants to drive. I appreciate that can be difficult to reconcile too. A common one I see a lot is straight guys who find themselves compelled to look at gay porn, for example. It doesn't make immediate sense with respect to their sexuality and getting to the bottom of why is going to be a personal journey, perhaps with a therapist, to really get the bottom of why you feel drawn to certain types of porn. Again personally I found that being free of porn (I make a clear distinction here with "giving up") didn't make all my anxieties and problems go away. In fact, it did the opposite in many ways - it brought to the surface things I had been using porn to avoid and bury. But I don't want to put you off at all - it forced me to learn better ways of addressing or letting go of those issues which are part of everyone's life experience really but critically without continuing a destructive sexual relationship with myself. The hard part for me personally is that it took my wife having an affair for me to wake up and realise the destruction I'd been creating. I've never been to a 12 step group but I have had a lot of support from group work in general. I'm convinced that was pivotal for me to change. I think finding similar guys in the real world is so very important. I'm also an atheist but would hope that I could put that aside and gloss over the "God parts" of 12 step to get what I need from it. I believe there are more "religion optional" 12 step groups around. Maybe I am being naïve about myself, I don't know but I'd hope that it would help me get clean without ending up in church every week... I guess what I mean most of all is that I wouldn't want it to hold me back from change. Peace.
I felt the same also and very isolated. But it doesn't have to be that way. Further on, I started to realise that actually my isolated and feeling like I was disgusting and a weirdo helped keep me trapped in the cycle of acting out. The two feed into each other. You're definitely not alone and there are others like you and me out there who share this problem. I think also knowing that fighting on your own doesn't work means you then have to take steps to do something different. Otherwise again you are just repeating the same actions and lifestyle and then getting the same result each time (acting out). This is not what any of us want.
Yiksob, I think you are courageous to come back here and openly talk about your fears and problems. It may feel like weakness to you but actually you are facing up to those fears. Real weakness is running away and pretending it's not really a problem. You're also young and have so much of your life ahead. I wish that I'd have had the sense to quit at your age instead of waiting another 20 years and all the harm that goes with it. I would like to encourage you to please also read the links thread here too. It's great that meditation works well for you, keep it up. A lot of trouble is simply finding things that are positive and help you cope. I strongly agree with PJ that you cannot fight this alone. In fact for me, being alone is part of the addictive cycle. I used to seriously think I was the only guy in the world who had a problem with porn and was a real weirdo for it. That doesn't help. When you find other people who share these problems, you find people who understand the feelings and difficulties and can support you in helping to find your way out of this lifestyle. You are much stronger than you think but to be successful, it is important I think to use your strength wisely and in the right direction. All of us try to use out strength at one point or another as willpower to ride out our urges. It is a very natural thing to do. But yet incredibly tough and never really works. Even if it does work once, it never feels safe or comfortable. What we all really want is not to have those urges and compulsions. Instead I believe that our strength is more productively redirected into pushing your life forward in whatever way - connecting with people, getting out, hobbies, work and of course pursuing your life dreams (or at least starting to find out what they are if you don't know). If you don't know where to start then going towards something that's achievable but you're afraid of I think is a good start. Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone, my friend. Keep it up. Peace.
Hello John, I really appreciate your courage and honesty in laying everything out bare like this. It takes real strength face your past actions honestly. That's a tough thing to do. It's also really positive that you've been able to stop. I am curious though what has changed recently for you to want to stop? Motivation is so critical because it's incredibly easy to slip back otherwise, as you've found out in the past. And also speaking from experience, slipping back is very common. While you're turning over a new leaf, I'd like to encourage you to seek help outside and from other people to find something that works. Whether it's Paula's course, SLAA, books, groups, whatever helps. I do think finding and connecting with real people is key from my personal experience. Trying to fight this yourself can feel like trying to fight an 800 pound gorilla that's 20% smarter than you. Trying a different approach and getting help can make a lot of difference but it's not always easy or comfortable, which sex/porn addiction always is. Life begins on the edge of your comfort zone. I posted a separate thread on here with online links that you might find useful. The feelings of shame and guilt can and will pass and heal over time as you stay clean and build a better life. But it does take time and requires perseverance. I believe personally it is many months and years of effort. There are no quick fixes but that's actually a very good thing because spending the time rebuilding yourself into someone who doesn't need to lie or hide part of himself is a great reward for self respect in itself. And you are at the start of an amazing journey where you can realise that. Disclosing to your wife is an extremely difficult topic. There is no right answer. Therepuetic disclosure is one option and preparation is critical if you choose to do it. I think the most important thing is to heal yourself and get help for you. Once you are in a better place then perhaps you might change your mind about disclosure. But is will always be a difficult thing for your wife and she will need support too. Peace
Hello Rosie, That sounds really horrible and I'm sorry you're having to deal with your husband not facing up to his problems fully. It sounds like a real rollercoaster where you feel hope at times with him getting help but then he slides back to destructive behaviours, anger, blame etc. It's very sad to hear about all that hurt. I did attend Relate with my wife after finishing Paula's recovery course (which isn't cheap, I grant you). I found it really useful to get us to talk about problems in our relationship and her affair but in my mind it was somewhat separate from my recovery, which is something I needed to do regardless really. I think even now, often the best thing I can do for my relationship has been to get better myself and be well. Because then I'm in a much better place to actually deal with things clearly and be engaged without being withdrawn and angry that comes with acting out. It sounds like you worry hugely about him and want him to be well. But ultimately he has to do the work to make that happen. Perhaps in a space by himself more? I don't know. Paula's course and all the help out there in the world only gives the understanding and tools needed. That's really important but it's up to the person recovering to put them into practice and change. That is the real hard work. For me, it was hitting rock bottom when I found out my wife was having an affair and that ultimately she was very unhappy in our marriage and wanted out because of the person I'd become. That was very difficult to accept and hugely upsetting but it gave me the motivation to realise that I needed to make real change or I'd lose the woman I love. This has to come from him to want that though and accept at an important level the hurt he has caused you. I can appreciate some of the feelings about being overwhelmed and very upset or emotional. I think you're dealing with a huge heart-wrenching problem and those kinds of feelings are unfortunately part of it. Most of all, I hope that you can find the support you need either through your friends and support groups to take very good care of yourself at such a difficult time. He needs to worry about his recovery and stopping his behaviour as his number one priority and similarly I hope you can take good care to feel better in yourself, healing and making you a stronger person while he does that. Peace
Hello Hanna, Sorry to hear about all your difficulties with your husband's addiction and problems. It's very sad to hear all that you've been through and are still trying hard to cope with. I think your husband needs to hot rock bottom to want help and really make serious change. Finding the right people to work with and a place he feels both supported yet challenged to change I think is key. But this motivation must come from inside himself ultimately. It's not helpful when your GP tells him to just "grow up" either. I think from what you describe, the impact of your husband's addictions are similar to alcoholism in their impact on your relationship and his behaviour. Addicts don't want to take responsibility for themselves or their actions. I did Paula's recovery course about 18 months ago and it has helped me tremendously both in terms of giving a practical path to follow and better understanding myself and why I ended up where I did and how not to go back. Most importantly, it's given me a group of guys in a similar position I can contact regularly for support. I think recovery is a process really rather than something you "do" and it takes time. Finding other people and getting out of the isolation is critical. There are also groups like SLAA who provide face-to-face support with regular meetings. I think the key is that he makes it his number one priority to find help and not give up. Here are also some other online resources:
I can appreciate that spending time apart is difficult but concentrating on yourself and your own healing is really important so you can take care of yourself as best as possible. Ultimately his recovery is down to him. You're right that you cannot control him getting better or not but i found it very helpful with my wife to talk about boundaries and the effect my porn problem had on her. That's a tough conversation but I realised I was becoming so distant that I was going to lose her forever. It sadly took me a long time and a lot of hurt to wake up to that. Addicts I think have a hard time with consequences. Peace
Hi Darren, Well done for having the courage to stand up and be open and honest about your struggles. It is a very tough thing to face. I can connect a lot with the feelings you describe - the "Jekyll and Hyde" split, the shame and feeling out of control of your behaviours. These are sadly common things a lot of addicts share. Feelings of depression and worthlessness are also something I can identify with and I know from experience are very real. I'm sorry to hear you're going through all this. Here are some links to help you get more information on how to tackle this problem: http://paulahall.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/505-online-resources-for-addicts-wanting-help I hope these are useful to you to better understand that you are certainly not alone in this and to understand things so you can stop your behaviours and change things for the better. Personally, I've found real-life support groups invaluable to meet real men who also struggle with this problem and how we can help each other work through it. Peace.
I'm glad that the links were useful for you - there is a lot of content out there and growing and many good sites with a lot of educational material. All of those links I have found personally useful. I can related to being introduced to porn at quite an early age through a friend and I think it's quite common that this thing goes on as teenagers grow up and become curious about sex. Unlike you, my experience with my parents wasn't one of hypocrisy - although my mother was (and is) an ardent feminist which meant that porn particularly was something quite taboo, being abusive and exploitative particularly towards women. So for me, it was also partly perhaps rebellion too. I think it's very interesting though that you could talk about it with your cousins at the time because I couldn't and I think for me particularly, the secrecy (and feeling the behaviour must stay hidden or made me a bad person to have such thoughts) meant I suppressed it and tried to bottle things up, which you didn't. It seems like you had a more positive experience in being able to talk about and it and share that regard overall. For me, keeping it all hidden contributed to a sense of shame - that I couldn't or shouldn't have sexual feelings (they were "bad" or it was "wrong" to lust after women) and therefore needed to be shut down at all costs within myself. One very interesting thing you touch on is one of your (male) cousins feeling that sex is "a right he deserves" in a relationship. Personally, I find that to be quite an entitled attitude and I found within myself that I would get much more entitled like that when I was a heavy porn user. It was part of the path of objectification of women. A woman is there to serve my sexual needs as and when I want, on tap. That's nasty and quite messed up really but would be the n'th degree ending of that thought process for me when it went too far. The flip side is of course that for people in a monogamous relationship, their partner is the only person who can meet their sexual needs. And most people have/want such a relationship. That is what makes that relationship special above all things. As soon as one partner starts getting their needs met outside (in whatever form, porn, masturbation, affairs etc.) then big problems are occurring. I find a sense of entitlement dangerous in this regard because it can easily become "I am going to get my sex whatever way I want" i.e. is selfish and selfishness kills kindness in a relationship and leads to such behaviours as porn/affairs etc. if unchecked. Now, I want sex at different times when I feel physically and emotionally present as a means primarily of connection and acceptance above all. It's difficult because while I don't feel entitled to it, I do feel that my wife is the only person who can meet that and I do feel rejected when I don't get what I want. But that is part of life and doesn't give me the right to then go and get my needs met elsewhere with something else (a computer screen) instead. Personally, I feel a lot more grown up and happier in myself with that attitude but it's taken me a long long long time to get there and isn't always nice. Regarding your parents - I appreciate there is likely a cultural aspect involved too - perhaps they don't expect you to do anything before getting married to someone (that they approve of). It sounds like you think your parents are in denial of the realities of what their children get up to. But above all, I would ask then why you would want to tell them or what you would expect to gain from telling them? It seems like your biggest fear is they will try and shame you into thinking you have done something wrong or a bad person but actually you seem OK with your past/present sex life/boyfriends in yourself. Again, personally I've found that the it's my own opinion and judgement of my actions that matters - that's not to say other people are not important to me, far from it, but that ultimately if I am satisfied with how I've conducted myself then at the end of the day that is what counts. You cannot control other people nor their feelings. I presume you're an adult and even if you still live with them, you are old enough to make your own mind up and live your own life in whatever way you see fit and take responsibility for yourself accordingly. If you change your mind and conclude you're not happy with having sex outside marriage anymore and want to now wait, you're perfectly entitled to do so and that's up to you and you alone. But you can't change the past either, whether other people like it or not. Ultimately, it would be your parents having a problem with it, not you. Yet at the same time, they are obviously trying to raise you up in the best way they know how. It is a difficult situation. If you're not happy being caught with porn (which I think is common for a lot of people who use it) then I also think that indicates some shame about it too - that maybe you are not entirely comfortable within yourself, particularly if you are using it regularly or find it hard to stop. If this is the case, then having a clean period and stopping using it entirely and being free of it in your life would be one way of solving that problem and is entirely independent of what physical sex life you have with your boyfriend or a partner. Peace.
FWIW In my relationship, I felt this was more a function of the (dis)honesty going on rather than an ego or insecurity. I think I got so used to always hiding part of myself (and my behaviours) that when my wife would actually be open and vulnerable I would find that very hard to accept at face value and instead put my own spin on it. I see it as a function of broken communication more than anything. I couldn't be honest with myself, my own thoughts and feelings nor be vulnerable about it. So when my wife could be so with me, it was puzzling and wouldn't make sense. I would find alternative explanations to rationalise my acting out - she must be lying about enjoying it or being satisfied, therefore she's rejecting me, therefore I am justified in running off to my fantasy world porn harem. This is the kind of messed up thought process that goes on inside an addict's mind. I would project my inner anger gets outwards at my partner, sadly.