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feeling guilt and shame about a past mistake online

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sorry for the length of this

I am in a loving relationship and because of this I have started to examine some of my past behaviour. When I look back at the way I acted before I met this person and fell in love, I believe I was displaying signs of sexual addiction. I would use mobile chatting programs, dating apps and spend all of my free time on them. This has a hugely negative impact on my social life and wellbeing in general (in hindsight) I would arrange dates which freqently ended in no strings attached sex. Sometimes I would see someone more than once but often not. I would engage in cyber sex and sexual conversations, often with several women at the same time...It was complusive behaviour. I only realised how messed up I was after I was caught by my girlfriend having a sexual conversation with a girl (who sent her screenshots)

I justified this behaviour to myself by saying that it wasnt really cheating - it was just online. I really was using the women just like pornography - completely dehumanising them. I do not watch porn so this was like pornography to me I guess...after I was caught I realised how wrong I was and since then I have been undergoing a painful process of self realization. I am no longer engaging in that kind of behaviour, and I am serious about making this relationship work.

Unfortunately one incident has come to the surface which I am having a hard time processing. 4 years ago I was online looking to chat to people locally. I was hungover and feeling really lonely and desperate. I started talking to a woman and we exhanged pictures. She said I looked sexy. Then when we exchanged ages she said she was 15. This had happened in the past and I had always exited the chat immediately. I am not interested in chatting to kids, have never sought that out or looked at any images nor had any fantasies related to kids. But this time I did not exit the chat. I have no idea why - I guess I just didnt care, or thought there were no consequences. I suppose it is self destructive behaviour.

We chatted about nothing much for a while but the conversation did end up discussing sex. I cant remember the exact details as it was long ago and I have probably had thousands of chats since but I do know now that it was wrong to even be in this conversation at all regardless of content. After making that wrong and terrible decision to continue the conversation, I remember it quickly felt normal. I didnt feel like I was chatting to a kid. No pictures were exchanged but we did continue talking over the space of a few days. Then her account dissapeared, I remember thinking...that was stupid...a bit like waking up from a dream. Then I carried on with my life and forgot all about it. Until now.

I cannot remember any details about her at all, and I hope that I had no impact on her life or her development as a young person. I am now shocked that I would have done such a thing, so dissapointed in myself for so many reasons, and unsure if I should tell my girlfriend this. It was a long time ago and nothing like that has ever happened to me again, nor do I have any desire for it to. I realize that people make mistakes and I am looking into sex addiction counselling as a way of dealing with my past issues. I am scared that if I hadnt fallen in love then maybe I would have never looked properly at this part of my life. I want to live a happy positve life and leave negativity in the past but I am not sure how to atone for my mistakes.


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The first part of this post sounds so so similar to my boyfriend/ex/mess situation, it’s almost exact beside the part about not watching porn and the incident with a minor. Please please do get specialist counselling, having gone through discovering my partners secret sexual life (I was also sent screenshots) he then was remorseful and full of shame, for a while, then the cycle of addiction rolled on and he did more, worse things ( if you google the cycle of sex addiction it will help understand where your at) Its only once he was ready to admit that he was sexually compulsive and was using female attention as a buzz and online and offline plus ever wilder stimuli needing more and more (even though we never stopped in terms of sex and were very active) that he began to be able to take steps to admit it was an addiction,  it was out of control...  and frightening once I found out where this was taking him. I hope sharing this is helpful, your best avenue IMHO is to go to a counsellor and tell them exactly what you have said here, they are trained to understand and help, the damage this does to your girlfriend is awful (not to mention the very worrying incident you speak about, which is extremely serious) and you are right to want to address this. It won’t go away just because you feel sorry, as you have realised, it’s a compulsion.

 Unless you start to work on yourself it will return and even if you do start therapy it takes a lot of fight and help to change the brains habits for the long term. 

Edited by Rosie

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Hello jjj030303

What a brave step to come here and share your story.  Sharing and being honest, even to people on a forum who you don't know from jack takes a lot of strength.

The behaviours and compulsions you talked about really resonate with me.  How are you, where are you at with your journey?

I don't think anyone can tell whether or not to tell your other half about every little thing, but whatever you do to talk about I think most people will recommend truth and honesty.

I can heartily recommend talking with a therapist.  Perhaps a good start for your particular scenario would be to talk in confidence to a charity.  If you are in UK (and perhaps even if not) call Lucy Faithfull Foundation via their 'stop it now' helpline.  See here - https://www.stopitnow.org.uk/

Do come back and chat and seek support from us all here.  I personally am finding these forums very useful in retaining any sort of sanity in a world which crumbled apart just 6 weeks ago.

All the best, hope to hear soon.




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