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 The more angry, withdrawn and unhappy I was, the more porn I'd want which made me more.... you guessed it - angry, withdrawn and unhappy.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.
There's some really interesting questions and points there. For me, a lot of it stems from what is your own personal definition of acceptable sexuality and sexual behaviour. Some people and couples obviously do use pornography and most people obviously encounter it at some point in their lives. It's something that can be seen as exciting or taboo and people can be drawn to out of natural curiosity too. For me, it started when I was young (a teenage) as I didn't have any sexual experience and it is a way of "learning" of a sort. For me, the real problems came with it when I realised that it had actually turned from something that it was a "dirty little secret" that I couldn't or wouldn't discuss with my partners. And then further on, when really I became fully addicted to it and "needed" it regularly, often easily spending an hour or two every couple of days for many years on end. It became something that I felt I wasn't in control of and was very ashamed about. It helped drive a wedge between me and my wife as well. Particularly, I felt that whenever she was withdrawn or not wanting sex, I could instead go and masturbate to pornography to "make myself feel better" - it was a crutch and meant I didn't have to work harder at improving the relationship or really discussing our sexual needs fully. In turn over time, real sex with her became dull and monotonous because I couldn't spend hours with her edging to the multitude of wild crazy content and unlimited variety of online porn. Why try harder to enjoy sex with the same woman you've been with for 17 years, when instead you can have a unlimited supply of novelty - different women every night, limited only by your imagination? For me, this is the real problem at the root of online porn - it sets up extremely unrealistic expectations of what sex is and should be that no partner or human being can ever compete with. At the same time, I would also be secretly disgusted with myself at some of the content I was looking at and needing to view more and more extreme material to keep that hit going over the years. Then asking partners to do these acts that I wouldn't otherwise in a million years thought up myself. I felt really ashamed of that. It is a myth and fantasy world that I would run to whenever real life was a bit too tough or things didn't go my way. This created greater emotional distance between me and my wife and also a much bigger disconnect with the world in general. Nothing (except maybe serious drugs) competes with sex in the human brain reward system. So, when you have unlimited sex on tap 24 hours a day with unlimited fantasy, what happens? Well, I withdrew from the real world. Why bother going out to meet people and talk about real problems? Why bother having real hobbies or going out an doing things? Why bother sorting myself out and actually achieving my life goals? Instead, porn would always be there for that instant hit. But it's not real. Although I knew for a long time deep down things were badly wrong that I "needed" porn so much, I thought I was the only person in the world like it and was in deep denial about quite bad the effects of it were in my life. It's taken quite a bit of clean time and lot of help to really understand the depth and the impact my issue with porn actually was causing in my life. The good news is, now I am straightening things out and enjoy a lot more from life - my time goes elsewhere but mostly into myself in other ways. I do still masturbate but much less frequently and only in ways that I am comfortable with are a completely physical experience for me. That means staying away from any form of sexual contact having any form of computer or phone screen involved in any way. That's what's good and what works for me but it's taken me time to figure that out and everyone is different. Maybe things aren't like this for you with porn and you don't have the problems I have with it. I really deeply hope not. Maybe you use porn responsibly or it doesn't affect you like it affects me. Only you can answer that because our sexuality is deeply personal thing and everyone has different needs and boundaries. My belief is that the only person who can define those is you. Clearly there are plenty of people who do look at and masturbate to pornography but don't feel it's a problem or impacts their lives. For those people, great. I'm not one of those people. The really interesting thing with a lot of those people who insist they can easily put it down is that when you ask them to stop to prove it, they come up with many excuses why they can't or won't. They enjoy it, so why stop something you enjoy? Why deny yourself? If these people feel so OK about it, why don't they go and tell their wives and friends and mothers all about what porn they watched last night? Probably because deep down they feel ashamed at some level of what they are doing and especially if they are doing it regularly. All these creeping rationalisations can often be because secretly they are hooked and cannot or do not want to let go of their "crutch." Again for me, the real reasons came down to wanted to escape and actually needing to radically change my life because my previous life sucked a lot. Sometimes people who use porn heavily can think that porn and masturbation causes all the problems in their life. I have found that what's really going on is that I had a lot of nasty problems already in my life, porn was just one more of those that was pretending to "make it better" or comfort me but actually just burying it all and making even more mess to sort out. Weirdly, although I have never been a religious person, since starting my journey I have started to see more of its merits in attitudes towards sex. Previously, I would regard most religions as prudish and discouraging of enjoyment or pleasure in their attitude towards sex, porn and masturbation. But I can now appreciate more keenly some of the moderating views they cultivate because of the damage I feel using porn has done to me. Because sex is such a powerful and potentially destructive (as well as creative) thing, the message to treat it with more care and respect is something I had not fully given it credit for. Western society also has specific social attitudes and perhaps a more relaxed approach which makes this harder still for people to figure out for themselves. Yet at the same time, putting in hard boundaries that people don't fully understand or make porn and masturbation taboo also can cause a lot of harm and push people away from trying to work out their own ideas - it can easily feed shame and the feeling you are bad for having sexual desire and that it must be repressed at all costs. It can easily blanket all forms of sexual activity as destructive, apart from procreation, if taken to the extreme. Personally, I find this attitude too restrictive but again, different things work for different people. One last thing also I have found is that while it mostly men who have serious issues with porn addiction (in its many different forms, images, "soft" sites, chat/sexting etc.) or even escalation to sex workers, sex addition, serial affairs etc. this problem most definitely can and does affect women too - the forum at rebootnation.org has a specific women's section, for example. There are a lot of links here if you want to explore and understand further: http://paulahall.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/505-online-resources-for-addicts-wanting-help/ Most notably if you only have 5 minutes: http://paulahall.co.uk/resources/am-i-an-addict/ Thanks for taking the time to read my very long reply here. I hope it's helped in some way and if you want to discuss further, it would be great to hear your thoughts back. Peace.
Here is a list of various links and websites I've collected over the past year or so as I've been tackling my problem with porn. I hope they're useful for other guys who come here maybe not knowing very much about porn and sex addiction so you can understand: You're not the only person with this problem at allThere is help out there and it's never too late to changeWebsite Resources Am I an addict? - A quick test if you're not sure. What is Porn Addiction? - A breakdown if you're just getting started learning about this problem. Emergency NoFap - A useful quick inspirational site when you're feeling triggered or tempted to remind you why you're becoming a better man. Homepage for me. Your Brain On Porn - Huge website containing many resources to educate yourself about the effect of porn on the brain and to get help. Reboot Nation - Gabe Deem's website containing another great set of resources and a forum. Recovery Nation - Free self-help website for sex addicts, love addicts and porn addicts. Fight the New Drug - Buy a t-shirt. Great set of educational material and an eye-opener. Porn Addiction is the Best Thing That Happened To Me - Great end-to-end set of resources from a guy who's done it. My Thoughts On Rebooting - Very long and detailed set of notes and crucial advice from another guy who's been there and mastered himself. Great stuff. If you've got an hour to look at porn, you've got an hour to read all this. 50 Reasons to Quit Porn For Good - So many benefits to be gained from shifting this addiction out of your life.
YouTube Videos The Great Porn Experiment - Arguably the most revolutionary and revealing TEDx talk about the real nature of pornography and it's impact from Gary Wilson. A must watch if you see nothing else! Terry Crews Dirty Little Secret: Part 1 - Hugely inspirational and brutal self-honesty from Mr Crews, much love and respect to him. A great man who's been making real change. Follow the YouTube links to part 2 onwards. Why I Stopped Watching Porn - Another brilliant TEDx talk to help you see how things really are. Huge respect to Mr Gavrieli to deliver such a worldclass talk on such a personal topic to so many people. We Need to Talk About Sex Addiction - Paula's fantastic TEDx talk, honestly and compassionately understanding sex addiction.
Other Online Forums Your Brain Rebalanced - Huge community of other guys struggling to get their lives back after porn and sexual addiction problems. Reboot Nation Forum - Many people here to connect with, mostly addicts but also a small and growing partner's section.
Hi Grace, I'm so deeply sorry and saddened to hear about your husband's behaviour and all the distressing rationalisations that go along with it. It's a heartbreaking story to read. It sounds like he has a lot of issues to deal with and needs serious help. Your intuition around him having no grasp of the real world and people around him, I can certainly relate directly too a lot - it's a very sad truth and I did the same isolating myself from people, the world and ignoring the damage and harm I was doing - particularly to my marriage and personal life. It is a very difficult thing to have put upon you and I can only imagine the really tough struggles you have with all the strong mixed feelings that go along with having your world turn upside down and this put upon you. Honestly, I believe he has to want to change and realise that his is risking losing everything unless his behaviour stops and he gets help and turns things around. There's a lot of damage he needs to take responsibility for but that can't happen until he first stops the destructive behaviour. He needs help for him. But equally, you cannot do that for him - it's something he has to face, as tough as that is and as much as you do want him to be alright. A big change in him is needed and that takes time even with commitment. I'm really sorry to hear that you feel so frightened and alone - that's horrible. Is there is anyone you can talk to or reach out to? My wife felt very much the same way as you and that she was ashamed of telling her close friends about my behaviour and problems because that obviously creates other issues too. So the shame creates more damage. I try to reassure her that like your husband, my issues predate our relationship and that my behaviour was not in any way a reflection on her but on me. While that's a rational thing to say, it doesn't help emotionally because all those very real feelings and isolation are still there are present and you have to deal with them. It's not dealing with it. I really hope that perhaps you can find some ways to reach out to other partners, friends, family or anyone to talk - someway you can deal with it. Sharing feelings and being vulnerable is often such a hard thing to do though, especially about sex which has its own stigma anyway. Finding someone you're comfortable with can be a real challenge in itself but there are potential benefits if you can. Most of all, please be kind to yourself no matter what and take good care. I don't want to sound too much like a plug for this website, but I think Paula does run a partner's course. There are also other forums out there on the Internet too and material, as well as perhaps individual therapy if that appeals to you. This is not a small thing - it's a really tough, perhaps life-changing, event in your relationship and life that's going on. I think any ways you can find to help and care for yourself is really important for you. Peace and best wishes.
Hello Rena, Your experience sounds really shocking and devastating with a huge amount of damage done. It sounds like your world has been completely turned upside down and the man you thought you knew is actually somebody else entirely. My wife has expressed very similar feels of questioning her own judgement over my complete denial and covering up of my porn problem for pretty much 20 years. I think the fact that she had no clue whatsoever and all other parts of our relationship were apparently "good" caused a huge amount of damage. That you can recognise the very bad treatment you've had from him is really important although terribly painful too. How long it takes for an addict to recover I don't know for sure. I can tell you that personally I am 18 months in and still find days and behaviours difficult and challenging. I think I have changed significantly but it's not something I feel has completely vanished from my life. It is something I could easily fall back into and recovery is still a fragile and precious thing for me personally. People can change but I think it's important to be realistic about the time frames involved - I don't think it's something that anyone can get over in a few weeks or months. It really takes years because you are reversing patterns of behaviour that have often gone on for years or even decades. The shattering of trust is a huge issue and again that takes a lot of time to very slowly rebuild and is not a linear path. My wife had an affair shortly before I confronted my problems with porn and (for various personal reasons) we are only recently starting to tackle some of the root issues. There is a lot of brutal honesty needed on both sides and often the answers are painful and difficult to hear. Deciding to stay or go has been very hard for both of us and the emotional ground can shift day to day. I think the painful truth is that it's not really all over because it's out in the open - quite the opposite actually. That is now the starting point for the real work to begin and things to change. I am learning to accept that it will never really be "all over" or done with - rather instead it has become part of my life experience and learning about myself and my wife and how relationships really do (or do not) work. For me, it's critical that I owned my porn problem and stay on top of it. That's something that's totally on me to do and that I am responsible for. I can't expect my wife or anyone else to do that for me. I didn't always have that level of emotional maturity and sometimes I still find it hard to stay in that place but I feel it's part of shaping a different future and changing my behaviour. Sometimes accepting responsibility for all the hurt I've caused and the undermining of trust, hidden behaviour, anger etc. is very hard to do. This has been my experience. Some of these online links may help: http://recoverynation.com/partners/ http://www.rebootnation.org/forum/index.php?board=7.0 All the phases of grief you describe - the anger, depression, anxiety, shame are very difficult to tackle and take a lot of time. These things in many ways have been thrust upon you by your fiance's actions. It might feel very unfair and frustrating and it is. The most important thing I think is to take all the time you need and find more help and outlets to help you process the huge range of strong and painful emotions that this situation creates. Above all be kind to yourself because this isn't anything that you've done in any way and is no reflection on you but instead on him. It many ways, the relationship that you thought you had and the man you thought you knew is gone - that's a extremely tough thing to have forced upon you and I can definitely connect a lot with those feelings of grief. It has got better for me over time as I slowly accept my wife's affair and working at my issues but that doesn't make it easy and there are no quick fixes sadly. It is a truly awful situation as you say. Peace.
Hello Ali, I'm very sorry to hear the great shock you've had to learn of your boyfriend's problem and the effect on your confidence. I can only imagine how difficult it is to try and come to terms with it, especially if it's come as a surprise. It's so sad to hear. I think the most important thing is for you to take care of yourself and get help wherever you can to just try and get by and process things, which takes time. Whatever help and care you can take of yourself is what really matters. I'm not an expert on partner's help but there are support groups out there and other women who've sadly had to go through similar problems with their husbands and partner's who can offer a lot better help. Saying "no" to porn in your relationship is a perfectly reasonable thing to want and need - there's nothing in the slightest wrong with you in any way whatsoever for asking that. Maybe it is a deal-breaker for you if your boyfriend ultimately can't stick to it. That's a very tough place to be. Your boyfriend sounds like a man who's very unhappy with himself and unable to cope without porn. I think he needs to get help for his problems and sort that out himself. 4 years is a long time of misery. Really there is nobody that can do that for him apart from himself and he has to want to do it and acknowledge the damaging effect it's had. That's a really difficult thing to do though and takes time but it's on him and not you. He has to want to change and seek out sites like this and others for himself. It may help in time to recognise that his problems predate your relationship and are therefore nothing really to do with you - logically and rationally that may make sense but emotionally I appreciate it's very different. If you want to understand more about his problem and where it came from, that's something to explore but right now please take good care of yourself as number one priority. Maybe finding some trusted close friend (your friend who had a similar problem with her husband) or professional help could give you a one possible outlet. Also one more thing, I'd like to say, please don't feel guilty or beat yourself up about "snooping" or let him use that against you - yes, it's obviously not a great to do in a relationship but clearly you suspected things were being hidden from you and there are much bigger problems to tackle. He is the one who has been hiding this from you. Peace.
Hello, It takes a lot of courage to write so honestly about your life and the difficulties you've faced. I can't really connect with all the terrible things that happened to you in your early childhood and am very saddened to read that. I can connect a lot though with some of your other feelings and thoughts there, such as the isolation and disconnection. For me, it's also been a depressing time too. I have attended Paula's course last year and found it beneficial in a number of ways. Content-wise, I think it adds a lot of structure and depth to material presented in her book. Most of all, I found though that meeting the other guys on the course and us bonding as a group (we still stay in regular contact well over a year now after the course ended) has been the biggest benefit. We all have a lot we can connect with across a whole range of life experience and all know what it's like to face this problem and feel the shame and difficulties. ways forward, the whole spectrum. Forming close relationships with men in a safe environment has been a key part of the healing and recovery experience for me and I wouldn't have been able to do that without Paula's course. Personally, I think the 4 day intensive is way too much in one go. I did weekly sessions over a few months and even that felt like it went very fast because I was learning so much about this problem and myself in the meantime. But that's just me and the kind of analytical person I am. I hadn't had any experience with SLAA or other groups before, unlike yourself. You're right that nobody can do this for you but equally that doesn't mean you have to do it alone. Peace.
Mr Schrodinger is still going. He's not given up the change completely but has suffered some setbacks as we all do. I hope very much he will come back here and post some more because his energy and persistence is admirable. Your point about making things into a fight is very relevant and something I think a lot of us addicts struggle with - fighting ourselves. I've found moving forward requires me to make peace with myself but that's not a simple thing, it's a process. I don't know any guys personally who've decided to quit and then just stayed clean from there on after. Instead, it takes some slips and a lot of learning about yourself, what works and what doesn't along with what you really need and how your life may not be giving that to you, then how I could change that and so on.
Hello, I can connect with a lot of what you write about the enabling part and self-doubting aspects. A lot of what you write I've had similar feelings about regarding my wife's affair and like you write, I struggle with going down questioning a lot about myself and exactly why certain aspects of our relationship were like they were. I think those are really important questions to ask yourself but at the same time, it's very easy to find answers that turn back in on yourself and lead to serious problems with your self-esteem or feeling that there is something wrong or bad about you because of what's gone on. There isn't. You've done the best you could at the time and being able to look back and reflect with compassion for me is the only way I can let go of the anger and hurt but still learn and not forget. But this is a really slow and precarious path. It is hard. Personally, for me and my relationship it was about me not actually wanting to take responsibility for myself and my own life and standing up for what I really felt and wanted - apart from the "usual" stuff like fearing being alone, the loss etc. There is a lot comfortable and familiar with how things were and the patterns - we'd both created a relationship where real intimacy was not really possible because we were both afraid of it deep down - a lot of fear over many things actually. The porn for me was the tool I used to help keep things at arm's length, not lose the good things we had and help keep my head buried in the sand not knowing what to do or how to cope (and making things much worse in doing so, a vicious circle). This I am still learning intellectually but coping emotionally is different level. It sounds like your husband still needs a lot of help and isn't really recovering at all if he's still using porn and has gone back to the same old behaviours of lying about it and covering it up. He needs more help and until he stops completely and starts honestly being able to work at things then I can appreciate that you must feel horribly stuck and unable to move forward. That's on him though, not you. I've felt at points with my wife's affair denial that the only way I can get her to confront it would be to leave her but then that means losing a precious person I love from my life, so becomes self-defeating and completely stuck. Having the other person really empathise somehow is key for me but so very hard and you cannot force or control other people into doing it. Regarding the enabling part, I don't know what to say really - again, please just have compassion with yourself. Yes, it takes two of you to make a relationship and you might identify certain things that you can do differently - this is true of everyone and all relationships - but ultimately I think he has to own his problems and stop. The old patterns and behaviours you both use don't work and need to change. The reasons why you tolerated it etc. are more about you and understanding yourself better but please do not blame yourself for his actions at all - he must take responsibility for those. It sounds really hard for you and I hope you can get the help you need - best wishes and peace.
Hello and apologies for having taken some time to write back. No you're not wrong or crazy by any means. It sounds like your husband is in denial about how seriously his behaviour is hurting you and impacting your relationship. I'm very sorry to hear that and how hard it is for you to cope with along with trying to raise the kids. If he respects you and values your marriage then he should stop those behaviours that are so hurtful to you irrespective of whether he thinks they are harmless or not. It should be enough for you to say you don't want it in the relationship I think. I think it's courageous of you to be able to stand up to him and say these things, even though that confrontation is difficult. Ultimately he needs to own his behaviour. A common rationalisation from porn addicts is that it's meaningless along with a minimisation of exactly how much time is being spent doing it. One way of challenging this is to ask him to honestly keep track of how much time he spends doing it and how often. Also then if it is meaningless he should be able to stop easily for a few weeks or months. It should be nothing, right? Also encourage him to go through Paula's checklist here to see whether he's addicted. He's not answering to you here but to himself, so there's no reason to lie or minimise. For me, a lot of the anger I had was actually inward anger at myself that I would project our onto others and my unfortunate wife. You're only asking for him to control himself. Why would he keep doing something that apparently means nothing to him even though it hurts you and damages your relationship so much? Well, because it's a lot more serious than he wants to admit or take responsibility for. And why does he want to keep on hurting you so much? You are not enemies but partners. He probably sees you from the warped perspective of you trying to take away his "toys" but he should be a lot more worried about himself and how porn is melting his brain and sense of rationality and driving a wedge between him and the mother of his children. Above all I think he needs to stop and get help. Then over the next few months, if he puts in the works, things can and change. But that won't be a quick or comfortable ride in my experience although it will be very humbling and there is a different perspective on life down that path. If you (reasonably IMHO) won't tolerate porn in your relationship then he needs to shape up or realise he is putting his family in serious jeopardy. I continued for a very long time because I was excellent at lying about it (particularly to myself) and there were no apparent consequences to my life (actually later I started realising there were lots but again I was very good at lying to myself about it). He can get help in a number of ways. Through online material (yourbrainonporn, reboot nation etc), books etc. But for me personally what's worked the best is connecting face to face with other guys in a similar position and working through Paula's group course but this does cost money. There are other groups too like SLAA but personally I've had no experience with them. This at least gives guidance to understand how and why the addiction works and how to fight it and recover to build a better life. When I tried to fight alone, invariably you're doomed to failure and this is very common. Most of all, he can connect with other guys. Ultimately though, he must put in the work to make that happen as the most important thing in his life. That also means finding compassion for himself and you. Honestly, I think being very clear you won't tolerate his behaviour but that you do still love or care for him is the best way you can approach that (having been on the other side of it). I still have bad times too but I'm a lot more able to recognise them and be honest when I messed up, learn and reach out. It's always a risk I am wary of in slipping back though and it sounds like your husband has become complacent in that leading back into a big fall. It's sadly common. It's also incredibly draining and frustrating for you to try and help in that way too. I strongly believe that you need time out and to take good care of yourself too as he goes through recovery. After all, it's a huge emotional shock to handle along with all the breakdown of the trust, the lies and half truths. Again, Paula does run partners groups for women in a similar position to yourself. There's also the option of marriage/relationship counselling e.g. Relate too. That may or may not help depending on whether his baseline behaviours continue or not.
Hello, That sounds totally heartbreaking and is very sad to hear. Your boyfriend I think needs to take a long hard look at his actions and what he is prepared to do to clean up his act. This could be a real rock bottom for him that will promote him to change or he could just keep on doing it. He had to be prepared to change. You can point him at the resources here and other sex addiction sites but he needs to find help for himself and do the work which is hard and takes a lot of effort. Having an affair with another person is a whole additional layer of hurt and damage. Honestly, I think the best thing you can do is to explain to him that you won't tolerate that behaviour in your relationship and be prepared to back that up if he doesn't shape up. It's not good for you either. You also have the option of walking away too but that's obviously not a quick or easy decision to make. Ultimately it's up to you to decide though. The denial is very common in us addicts who will try to minimise and sweep it under the carpet. He has to want to talk about things willingly through recovery but for me personally that has taken a long time and there are still uncomfortable areas. One warning sign from what you wrote that jumped out at me was him asking to trust him and that this would make everything alright. This is a part of the fog of denial and addiction. Firstly, trust is not bestowed but earned. Secondly his actions have been highly undermining of the trust between you two. You being suspicious of his online activities is perfectly reasonable and it's on him to demonstrate he is trustworthy, not vice versa. For me, that shows some very faulty thinking that he needs to get to grips with. Perhaps you might even think that you can't trust him again - that I believe is a better place to start from. He has a LOT of work to do. You sound rightly very angry too at being treated so badly. You don't deserve that at all and it's very important that you look after yourself and do whatever you need to do to healthily cope and be well in yourself. I believe this should be your priority until things become clearer but I don't know all your personal circumstances and the firm of that, how practical etc. Is something you can work out. But above all, please realise his problems are his and nothing to do with you. You will have contributed to the dynamic in the relationship, everybody does - that's normal. But his choice to get hooked on porn and carry on such damaging behaviour and particularly to have an affair is his responsibility entirely and he needs to own it. His feeling low and down at what he has done should motivate him to change because he's done some very hurtful things - but you cannot control how others feel, only yourself. Feeling a lot of strong things all together I think is quite common and normal, though unpleasant or even contradictory. It can be overwhelming perhaps. It's all part of you trying to process what's going on. For me, it has got better with time but it can be a slow process. I would like to encourage you to please not judge yourself over your feelings, particularly those you might feel are negative or negative to yourself. But to try and accept them all for what they are and allow them to be part of it, for better or worse. They don't define you in any way and you still have total choice and control over how you act on them, in whatever manner or direction that is. Finally, I also would say that while I used to continue to have a sexual relationship with my wife I thought everything was fine between us (or rather it aided my denial) . Once that stopped then I truly wasn't getting a key part of the relationship and that helped me realise there were major problems. And in fact, now my attitudes have changed and I don't want a sexual relationship while there are relationship threatening issues abound. For me, it became about my own self respect also. That's just me though. Peace and kindness to you at such a difficult time.
Hello, You should know you're not alone in struggling with this problem and it is very difficult. I found it easy to get stuck in a vicious cycle where I'd act out, get angry and ashamed of myself and then so act out more to try and hide. Obviously this is a self destructive pattern. The key is finding ways to break it and so things differently. I'd recommend most of all that each time you slip up, you learn and understand why and then what things you can do differently in future. Otherwise the pattern keeps going. You have to find things that work for you. I think for partners, it's very tough on them. My wife feels isolated and rejected. So if I told her when I slipped or was tempted then I think that would be hurtful. I find it's easier for me to be accountable to guys in my group instead. It's very good you're being honest though - I had a big tendency to hide my behaviour. So being open is a good first step. Sorting this out and growing from it requires a lot of learning and self exploration which is a process. There's a lot of material out there both on the Internet and in books that has helped me a lot but required a lot from me to actively work on. The urges don't go away by themselves but can be managed and controlled over time while you build a better life. For me, a real life support group has been essential - I tried to stop on my own before without success and really need the help and insight of others.
Hello, Getting the tools in theory through counselling is one thing. But putting them into practice and making them effective habits and a part of your life is definitely something else. I can really connect with it. I would encourage you to keep persevering with it and revisit the techniques as well often. That helps me make things stick more but real change does take time. One thing I struggle(d) with which I think is common for us addicts is wanting a "quick fix" to the problems but there isn't one really - it takes continual effort over time which is why it's so important to keep at it over the days, weeks and months ahead. It is worth it though and I really hope you find the many rewards it brings along the way. I'm glad the counselling helped you. Like you, I also struggled with having no outlet so it's good you feel that helped - it's something that is a positive coping mechanism I think. Looking back on past actions and behaviours is very difficult to reconcile. Because on the one hand, it's really important to peel back the layers of denial, rationalisation and minimalisation etc. that have gone on for many years - these things are particularly difficult for partners I feel. Yet at the same time, it's really easy to slip into running yourself down or beating yourself up over it. Keeping a compassionate perspective has been key for me to find the right middle ground - where I can dwell in the reality of what went on but without wanting to punish myself for it. It's very difficult though and there are a lot of strong feelings. I do struggle as well with those feelings of inadequacy you refer to or feeling like you're not good enough for another relationship. It might not feel like it but that's simply not true and you are starting to take charge of your problems now. I would like to encourage you to learn more about the problems with porn addiction and the details around it to improve your understanding at least. I think you might find some connection there or things will strike you about your own behaviours or thoughts that maybe you hadn't considered before. It can be a good way to grow and decide how and where you get more help in future. For me, it helped open my eyes about the effects of my behaviours that I hadn't considered before - I thought it was "harmless" or "just" a secret from my wife but actually it leaked it out in much broader ways through my whole life, my attitudes to people, priorities in life etc. https://yourbrainonporn.com/ Peace and best wishes to you.
Hello, It takes bravery and courage to open up about these things and our difficulties. Well done for that. I know first hand it isn't easy. Personally, I lived in total isolation and denial of my problems for many many years. I shut myself away and thought that I must be the only person with this problem and somehow it made me defective and broken. Slowly as I've recovered, I've been able to see myself with more compassion over time and realise that my past behaviours were me just trying to cope the best I could with what I knew then. As my horizons have expanded that need diminished and I've been learning about different ways which don't require me doing such self-destructive behaviour. A key part for me was seeing how I am not alone. You are not alone. There are many other guys like you and me out there whose issues and relationship with sex in whatever way have damaged their lives or themselves. So I'd like you to please understand you are definitely not alone in that. There are people out there who struggle with similar things and are all at different points in recovering their lives back. Reaching them can be in a number of ways. Like on here or real life support groups (Paula's course) or other organisations like SLAA. Or online at sites like rebootnation.org or yourbrainonporn.com (ybop). The forums here are not well frequented but other sites do have more regular activity and resources to help you learn about this addiction and tools for breaking it down. Your background sounds tough and distressing. Even to think about some of the things you've gone through is difficult. I wish you every success in your counselling and hope you can use it to make some positive change in your life that you want and can keep learning more about yourself and growing.
Hello, First of all I'm glad you found this place to reach out. There is a partners section too where you might be able to connect with other women in a similar situation. I'd also encourage you to look at the partners section over at rebootnation.org which has more visitors. I felt a lot of sadness and even bewilderment from you in what your husband's been doing. It's very important that you are OK first of all and can get the help and support you need. It sounds like you have had to deal with a lot of acting out behaviour from him which is damaging. I'm very sorry to hear all that. Your husband sounds to me like he is caught strongly within the grip of this addiction and gets drawn back in whenever he tries to stop. Barring sheer willpower or "white-knuckling it" what other methods has he tried to stop? Those approaches didn't really work at all for me. Instead, it has been a long process of education and learning about this addiction along with how it works so I can change myself. Also reaching out to people in real life reduces the feelings of isolation and shame that keeps people trapped. The roots of the problem tend to run quite deep. What most addicts actually want is not so much to stop but actually not to feel like they want or need it anymore. That is a deeper thing that needs hard work, as you say. Us addicts are also great at procrastination and avoiding dealing with ourselves unless we really have to. This feeds into the issue of motivation. For me personally, it took the sudden breakdown of my marriage and living apart for a considerable time to motivate change. As long as the status quo continues, the addict is not incentivised. So a key question is asking why he wants to stop? Hopefully to get his life back at some level. I think if your husband is serious about stopping then he can aim to put aside time regularly to work at it, improve his education about the damaging effects of porn and his behaviour and most of all understanding why - and also find people in real life for support. E.g. one of Paula's groups or a sex addiction group like SLAA. He has to be motivated to do that. Some guys are smart and nip it in the bud sooner. Others sadly wait too long for their partner to leave, move out, have an affair, divorce etc. Or generally make an even bigger mess. He needs to understand what's at stake really. Part of the problem with that is that when an addict is in the bubble, they are there because they are hiding from reality and don't want to confront these things. It's not a nice place to be. But he can deal with it and he can handle it. I don't think it should be up to you to police your husband's internet use - he's an adult. I can very much see how you would question his motivation to change. Ultimately, that has to come from him and you have to decide exactly what you can and cannot tolerate in the relationship. You sound like you do love him and care deeply for him very much. I do sense that you really want to find some way to help him and want him to be better. I really hope he can appreciate that and how lucky he is to have such support - there are a lot of strong feelings involved which aren't easy for everyone to deal with and other partners in your position I know from experience often will feel a lot of strong feelings like being very angry, hurt, betrayed, mistrustful etc. all for very valid reasons and they are tough things to deal with. Please take good care of yourself.