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My girlfriend and I have discussed the possibility of myself having a problem, and it seems quite likely to me.

The effects of it were first discovered during sex when I had problems with maintaining an erection and reaching climax. However, I have also been on the maximum dose for my antidepressants, a side effect of which is the problems I've encountered.

My girlfriend and I have been going out for 4 months now, and this is the first intimate relationship I've ever been in.

My friend told me he was struggling with porn addiction and I wondered if I had it as well, so I brought it up with my girlfriend. She got quite upset since she has been in a relationship with an addict before and it put a terrible mental strain on her and made her very depressed.

I said I thought I had a habit or some kind of problem, so I decided to cut down on doing things on my own. I failed to do this, as I stopped for a couple of days, but more or less, just continued on as normal. I have watched porn and done sexual things on my own almost every day since I was 12, I'm now 23 and these problems are only just catching up to me. Naturally, after doing that for so long, I'm finding it difficult to stop.

My girlfriend and I went about it in the worst possible way first of all. She was very upset about it becoming more and more apparent that I had a problem, so I decided to promise her that I wouldn't do it again. I consider myself a loyal person, so I I told her I wanted it to be a special intimate bond between us, and I meant every word that I said. The way we went about it meant that we placed an emphasis on trust and if I broke that promise it meant I was an untrustworthy boyfriend. This was not the original problem and just made the issue into a bigger one. I would talk to her about how I found it difficult and she would get very upset, so I felt I had nowhere to turn. I discovered this forum through some resources that my GP sent my way after I voiced my concerns to him.

I broke my promise, and still feel guilty about it. It was if I had no choice in the matter, I didn't mean for it to lead to what it did, but I couldn't stop. My body just did its own thing. Naturally, this led to a big argument. I have cut social media sites out of my life, I used to listen to ASMR videos, but I've cut those out since I said they would sometimes lead me to watch more provocative ones, I've given my girlfriend access to my internet history. She would get very upset if I even brought up how difficult it is to stop this, so I became afraid of talking to her about it.

It got to the point where my girlfriend hurt herself because I listened to a sexual video while I was at my desk at work. Then she got angry at me because I looked at a perfectly normal safe-for-work ASMR YouTube channel. At this point, I decided to take away the promises because they were causing more harm than the original issue was in the first place.

Recently, I did something on my own, without any external stimuli, so not watching, looking, or listening to anything. I told her about it and she was upset, which I can understand. It felt as if I had no control over it. I felt sad in the act, knowing this would hurt her, I literally told myself to stop, but I kept going. That is definitely a problem and I want help for it.

How can I help myself and how can my girlfriend support me without putting a mental strain on herself?

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Hello,

It sounds as though your girlfriend needs her own support and is finding this very difficult to deal with, which is very understandable and particularly as she's been in a relationship with an addict before. I think while you're trying to get help yourself and sort out your own issues, it's very difficult for you to be able to give that support to her, as much as you both might want that.

If your girlfriend is self harming then that's something very serious and I think she needs to find some help for that for her own sake. It must be horrible to experience and you mention the guilt this creates for you too. It's a complicated thing. Ultimately though you are not responsible for her behaviour any moreso than she is responsible for yours and your problems. The only thing you can control is yourself and how you handle yourself.

I think it's positive that you've been able to be honest and open about the issues and questions in your mind. That's so important because often the lying and hiding will cause serious damage to relationships over time. Equally disclosing everything can be very shocking and difficult for a partner to hear even when prepared for it. Finding the line between being honest about what's going on for you without causing more harm and finding people you can safely explore these issues can be a minefield in personal relationships but there are professionals out there who can help.

Recognising also that you're not in control I think is a powerful insight on your behalf. That's an uncomfortable feeling and not pleasant, I know from first hand experience. It's good you're able to be honest with yourself about that and not get drawn into denial. You're still a young man and have a lot of time ahead of you to change your life and understand this problem and tackle it. Getting to the bottom of why you feel compelled to do it and what you get out of it can give important insight into tackling it. There are resources online to help you do this (e.g. the sticky help links thread) which can be very useful. Often by the time you're feeling out of control it's too late, so this is about better understanding the path you go down before you start going into the porn bubble, recognising the early warning signs and heading the problems of early before they become bigger and you lose control.

I hope this should help better educate you about what's going on and help learn to take better care of yourself. Alongside that, I firmly believe there's no substitute for connecting with people who understand in the real world too.

I'm really excited for you in a lot of ways because you're tackling this early on in your adult life, unlike myself and many others. So you have even more time to enjoy all the great benefits of living clean and growing as a person.

Keep at it, you're doing a great thing for yourself even though it may not feel like that sometimes in the short term, you will never regret any time you spend learning more about this and tackling it.

Peace.

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One of the those things you hear a lot when you're in recovery is that it's not just the addict who is sick, it's everyone who is around them. I could stand there and lecture to my wife all day about what I learned, but that was never going to be the means for her to "get it." She had to do the research herself. Once she started learning about my addictions, she was able to understand that she too needed a little work. 

Your girlfriend may have issues that make the things you do 100 times worse in her eyes than a different women. It could have also been part of the formula that drew you together. Ultimately, it's for you to figure out as a team. It was a bigger push to get my wife into therapy than me, but today, almost four years later, she's shed 50% of her excess body weight and we're both happier than we ever have been.

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