Q&A Time: Even if Porn Addict Husband Doesn’t Go To Therapy, Should I?

QUESTION: My husband has told me that he looks at pornography, and he will stop. I’ve suggested couple’s counseling or even individual sessions and he has said no. I read an online board that says I should still go by myself. Can that really help anything?

ANSWER: I don’t think it will come as any shock to you that I answer this with a resounding “Yes!” It may not directly help with his pornography addiction since it sounds like he hasn’t actually accepted it as a problem. That may just take some time.

Get a therapist…and be honest with your therapist.

I believe that even though I wasn’t 100% honest with my therapists through my 20s and early 30s, they were still instrumental in helping me get through some of the challenges I faced that had nothing to do with my addictions. There is something powerful about somebody who is there to advocate for you, is rooting for you, but isn’t emotionally involved, nor plays an active role in your everyday real life.

The relationship between a therapist and patient is unique and unlike any other. I think most people fear going to a therapist because they think it will be a complete bearing of their deepest secrets and simply by the act of seeing a therapist, it must mean there is something wrong.

I wish that I could go back to the beginning when I was 20 years old when the therapist inevitably asked me if there was any sexual dysfunction, I could say, “I have been renting porno movies or buying Playboy every month since I was 14 years old.” I don’t know what I thought the blowback would be. They weren’t going to kick me out of their office.

But, like so many guys who believed porn was something to be ashamed of and that I was just walking around with this invisible black cloud of perversion over my head, I kept my mouth quiet when it came to the pornography. I didn’t talk about any of my sexual hang-ups, either. I just said everything was fine and complained about work or my parents.

Would I have ended up behind bars if I had been honest with my therapist in my 20s? Honestly, I don’t think so. Part of the reason my addiction festered into a nasty wound was because I never had the salve of a professional’s ear. That’s on me, not them.

A therapist is a great sounding board and somebody who isn’t going to take it personally when you get mad or start crying or blurting things that you can’t believe are coming out of your mouth because you’ve tried to suppress them for so long. A therapist is going to know the next thing to say to keep things moving in the right direction.

I will mention that not counting the pair of couple’s counselors that my wife and I saw, I’ve seen five therapists, but I say I’ve only had two. I probably saw the other three a combined eight times.

If you’re not clicking with a therapist, find someone else. In your case, it would help if you could talk to someone who has experience working with relationships and hopefully has some experience in dealing with addiction, even if it is drugs and alcohol. Your personalities must mesh and there needs to be the opportunity for a level of trust to develop. You’re wasting your time if you don’t have a bond, or at least I was.

Ironically, the therapist I have now who has seen me through all of my recovery is the first woman I’ve seen. I never would have guessed it, but it isn’t an older man who I clicked with, but a woman only a couple years older than me.

You’re going to learn a lot about yourself in therapy you never otherwise would have. I wholeheartedly endorse therapy for anyone with a pulse.


If you’d like to check out recent Q&A articles, there is a link to the last batch on the HOME page.

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

DISCLAIMER: While many call me a pornography addiction expert, I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Latest Q&A: What does ‘Gaslighting’ mean?

QUESTION: My husband is a porn addict. I’ve heard the term “gaslighting” used in this situation. What does it mean?

ANSWER: I know there are more technical definitions for gaslighting, so I’ll just handle the been-there, done-that side. Essentially, it’s the pure form of manipulation where I deflect, accuse and confuse.

Gaslighting is me making you think that you’re crazy for asking me questions about being a porn addict. Gaslighting is me manipulating you into doubting your own good sense of what is happening in front of your eyes.

It’s me telling you that I’m getting better and taking care of my problems so you live on the fumes of false hope. It’s about saying what I need to say and doing what I need to do in any given situation so I can continue to be an addict and take the spotlight off of myself.

Gaslighting is the control I have over you. I know you don’t want to leave this relationship or marriage. I know you love me and my knowledge of that is a chip in the game. I know you worry about how you’d deal with finances on your own or what would happen to the kids if you took some kind of stand about my condition. More chips for me. I know all of these things and I will use all of them to my advantage like a grand champion poker player trying to push a weaker player around.

When I’m deep in my addiction, I want you to stop asking questions and telling me what to do and I want to be left alone to engage in my unhealthy behavior. I’ll do what it takes to make that happen because I’m an addict. Porn, sex, gambling, drugs, alcohol, food – it doesn’t matter the addiction. As long as you’re standing in the way of me doing this thing, I’ll do what I need to do to move you out of the way, even if it’s hold you mentally and emotionally hostage. That because I’m an addict.

I read all this and think, “What an evil person” but I’ve described just about every addict I’ve ever met. We could teach a masterclass in manipulation. We’d even have the students believing “masterclass” means something other than “class”.

I don’t know where the term comes from, but gaslighting is absolutely the No. 1 illusion in any addict’s box of magic tricks.

We all learn how to lie and manipulate in life. When you’re a baby you figure out that crying gets you fed and changed. We all learn to do it early on, it’s just that the addict, by sheer means of practice, gets really good at it. Most adults tone it down, especially with loved ones, as they get older. I didn’t. Maybe that’s why I did well in business and politics.

There were times when I would lie about something and think to myself, “Holy crap. That sounded legit! I could be an actor!”

I look back now and realize it wasn’t a compliment.

Q&As are posted every other week. If you’d like to read the other Q&As to this point, click HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE

DISCLAIMER: While many call me a pornography addiction expert, I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q&A Time: Reader Wonders About PMO and NoFap as Porn Addiction Cures

QUESTION: What do you think of these PMO/NoFap sites out there for porn addiction? Do they actually work?

ANSWER: I guess it’s one of those “Results May Vary” situations and if they are able to stop the addiction and send you into recovery, then it’s a success. I’ve always said whether it’s rehab, 12-step groups, therapy or cold turkey, as long as you take care of the addiction, it probably isn’t as important the path. That said, I have reservations about these kinds of sites.

For the unaware, PMO stands for “Pornography, Masturbation, Orgasm” and NoFap is a slang term for abstaining from masturbation. This PMO/NoFap movement, from what I’ve researched, came out of the site Reddit, with men challenging each other to abstain from these activities.

Some men came to find that when they abstained, their lives became better, so they became devoted to this concept, singing its praises almost like a religion. They usually don’t mention that this all came to pass because of a popular Seinfeld episode, “The Contest” where the main characters try not to masturbate to win a bet. These might also be the people who celebrate Festivus.

I post on several message boards in the pornography addiction community, more as a porn addiction expert than as a person in recovery because I’m looking down the road at 5 years coming up. I’ll never be recovered, but at some point, you make way for the new guys who need the attention.

I sometimes get a little bit of flack on these boards because I’m a big believer of a medicinal/therapeutic approach to addiction vs. a holistic/DIY-style approach. I’ve never done a study nor read one about it, but I can’t help but believe based on what I’ve witnessed that science has it all over basic willpower and other guys cheering you on. Willpower and cheers are what push fat guys to succeed in softball leagues.

I think these boards can be an important part of recovery, but the number of guys who relapse and who don’t want to face the real core issues of their addiction – and many don’t want to call it an addition, period – is much greater than the people like me who ventured down a more traditional healthcare path.

Also, there are a lot of sites out there that have done little more than commoditize porn addiction recovery. Most of these sites will have very simple programs to follow (for a low fee) and like to sell T-shirts to college kids with slogans like “Porn Kills Love”. It’s catchy, but that shirt won’t resolve your childhood trauma.

Despite many PMO/NoFap devotees not wanting to admit they are addicts because that creates a different set of issues to contend with, I truly believe addiction is just a symptom of a larger issue. You can white-knuckle it for a month and not look at porn or masturbate, but have you really dealt with the core issues?

This has been part of my reservation to endorse 12-step programs on their own. I know they help. Heck, they helped me, but they really don’t deal with the scientific concept of addiction. I’ve met many people in AA who are still hardcore drunks despite the fact they haven’t had a drink in two decades. It’s because they haven’t dealt with the problem that caused their alcoholism.

If PMO or NoFap works for you and that’s all you need, fantastic. If it’s part of a larger program of recovery, great. I have no qualms with anybody mixing and matching recovery techniques in designing their own program. My problem arises when men fixate on this as the ONLY solution and stick with it despite relapsing again and again and again. That’s not recovery. That’s failure.

Q&As are posted every other week. If you’d like to read the other Q&As to this point, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q&A Time: Reader with Porn Addiction Wonders What To Do Next

QUESTION Hi. I really like your site and I promise I’m going to buy your book when I get enough money. I think that I am a porn addict. Or maybe I should say I know I’m a porn addict, but it’s not that bad yet, but I want to stop before it is. Do you know what I mean? So if someone like me wants to stop, what do I do? I don’t think I need to see anyone.

ANSWER It’s good to hear you think you’re not an addict and maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re is just in more of a compulsive use phase or maybe you’re in the early stages. As you’ve probably seen me write, these are labels. You believe you have a problem with porn. Instead of worrying where it is on a scale of 1-to-100, it’s more important you recognize the problem and want to deal with it.

Maybe you don’t need to see anyone. For now, it’s more important you try on your own than don’t try at all, but I hope you’ll stay open to the idea of professional help if the need arises. You don’t go to the hospital for a scrape, but you go for a big gash. If your unhealthy use of porn is now just a scrape, maybe you can tend to it by yourself.

You didn’t say much about how you use (or even if you’re a man — I really have to stop assuming) but I’ll assume it’s video clips online since that’s the vast majority. We both know that there is no filter that is foolproof, but we also know that having that one extra second to stop yourself can make the difference. I would urge you to put on the parental filters on Google or whatever search engine you use, and find a free piece of software online or app for your phone that can block certain sites. If you’re a fan of a certain site, not having access disrupts your routine, even if you find another site. Part of breaking habits is breaking routines. Being forced to adapt to something new may give you the moment of clarity you need to stop.

After this, I’d say look at your other routines and patterns. Are you only looking on your phone? Or at night? Is it always the same place? If your addiction isn’t “that bad” there are probably very obvious similarities in the circumstances of your use. You have to figure out a way to avoid them. I’d also suggest taking a step or two back in your routines and find out what you’re doing before you use the porn. Do you always take a shower first? Is it always immediately after you come home from work? Is it after a certain TV show? You’ll probably see patterns there. You need to disrupt those patterns.

I’d also suggest thinking about what you’re getting out of it. What itch does it scratch? Is it relaxing? Relieve tension or stress? Does it make you forget your life for a little bit? If you can find out what needs the pornography is meeting, you can also start to address how to better meet those needs in healthier ways. You may feel like you don’t need professional help for the porn addiction, but maybe you do for the grief over a lost relationship you’re running from by using porn. Maybe this is the way to fill a certain hole in your life and numb a raw nerve ending.

I can speak from experience. Take care of the core issues and dealing with the addiction actually gets so much easier. If you’re hungry, you eat. If you’re tired, you sleep. If you’re (what?), you use porn. Fill in the blank, my friend. If the answer is simply “horny” you may need to dig deeper.

I can’t really speak to the spiritual or religious side of things, but if you’re someone who has a relationship with and draws strength from God, use that, too. It seems to work for a lot of people.

I would have claimed to be in your position for many years, although I don’t think I’d be brave enough to use the term “addict” back then. I didn’t try to address things and I didn’t seek help and it blew up in my face quickly. It’s admirable you want to challenge your budding addiction. If you find that a few tweaks to your lifestyle and willpower alone aren’t enough, please seek real help.

 

Q&As are posted every other week. If you’d like to read the other Q&As to this point, click HERE

If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. While many have labeled me as a pornography addiction expert, take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q&A Time: Does Hiding a Porn Addiction Mean He Hid Affairs?

QUESTION: I know my boyfriend is addicted to pornography. That’s obvious. He’s a very sexual personal overall, making comments and jokes about never being satisfied. Of course, he won’t admit he’s an addict, but I wouldn’t expect him to. Since he’s addicted to pornography, does this mean he cheated on me?

ANSWER: I think this is one of those individual situation scenarios. I can tell you that in the first 11 years of my marriage, all while addicted to pornography, I didn’t once cheat on my wife in the traditional sense. We can debate if talking to women in chat rooms is cheating, but in the case of a traditional affair, I never went down that road.

This is one of the reasons I don’t like being labeled as having a “sex addiction.” I think when people think of the word “sex” they immediately jump to intercourse. I had no interest in pursuing women outside of the pages of a magazine or on a computer screen. Frankly, I think that if I had ended up in a situation where it was possible, I would have fled out of fear.

In talking with male and female porn addicts, it’s clear to me that men use pornography as a coping and soothing mechanism. They are not using it as a substitute for intimacy. I never saw it as a replacement for real intimacy. The only thing that sex with my wife and masturbating with pornography had in common was the physical end result.

That said (and this may be a stereotype) but I believe that women are seeking romance and value a deeper bond with their partner than a man generally does. If all women needed to be satisfied was a naked body on a screen, wouldn’t the pornography industry have been catering more to women long ago? The economics proves that women don’t use pornography in the same way men do.

I’ve only known a handful of female pornography addicts and almost all of them acted out beyond their relationship because they were seeking a connection pornography alone couldn’t provide. It’s not just my anecdotal observations either. Statistics prove that women take their porn addiction to a different level far more than men. If you’re asking yourself this question about his fidelity, it could be that you are a woman and like most women, the wiring in your brain is different than a man.

Yes, some men start with pornography and move on to having affairs and develop intercourse addictions, but there are also plenty of men with intercourse addictions who have no interest in pornography. And as we all know, there are plenty of men with no addictions whatsoever who still cheat on their partner.

It’s impossible to say for sure if he cheated on you, but I don’t think it’s a conclusion that should be reached or an assumption that should be made. This speaks directly to the issue of how much you really want to know.  Please, used a trained facilitator if you think this is a conversation you should have with your partner. A random Tuesday night on your couch after a long day will not have positive results, regardless of his answer.

 

Q&As are posted every other week. If you’d like to read the other Q&As to this point, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years.While many have labeled me as a pornography addiction expert, please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q&A Time: Reader wonders if he is really a pornography addict

QUESTION: I like to look at a lot of porn on the Internet, but I’m not quite sure I’m addicted. How do I really know?

ANSWER: Well, you’ve come to a porn addiction site to ask a question about something that sounds like you think may be a problem. That’s red flag territory to me. Does it really matter if we call it a bad habit, negative hobby or addiction? “Addict” and “Addiction” are really just labels. There is no blood test to take that comes up “Addict” or “Non-Addict.”

There are variations on what being an addict means to people. I came to the realization I was an addict when I checked off these boxes:

  • A desire to cease my behavior, but an almost unconscious inability to do so.
  • Negative effects of the behavior started having an effect on my regular life, but again, I couldn’t stop.
  • Promising myself to stop the behavior despite seeing the negative effects, and still being unable.
  • The behavior escalated in duration, frequency, and extremeness to meet the needs it once did.
  • Eventual financial, personal, or legal issues arose as a result of my addiction.

You may be in the early stages of addiction, where nobody can see what’s going on except you. You may be in the ongoing stages, where it’s starting to have an effect and people are wondering what’s wrong with you or you could be in the critical phase where things are close to going very bad for you. I was in the last stage and didn’t realize it. I didn’t call myself a true porn addict until more than a year after I was arrested and had stopped using it. For a more in-depth understanding of the phases, click HERE.

If what you need is that label of “Addict” to get some further help and look into it deeper, then by all means, you’re an addict.

If you feel like you can’t stop, or at least limit your behavior and it’s having negative effects, you need to stop this as soon as possible because you can find yourself heading down roads you never thought you would. I ended up engaging a teenage girl in a chatroom. That’s still crazy for me to write. Maybe you don’t get in legal trouble, but what if you reached a point where you couldn’t “finish” with your partner unless you were looking at porn? That’s becoming a bigger problem than ever. What if you lost your job because you were just trying to sneak a peek at work? More than a quarter of people say they have viewed porn at work…a potential addict seems like they’d be in that group.

We haven’t even talked about what the REAL problem is. Porn addiction, like all addiction, is almost always a symptom of something else. It’s a coping mechanism, a masking agent and a survival instinct rolled into one. You may not think there is a deeper problem, but I bet with a handful of therapy sessions, you might start to understand there’s some other stuff going on there.

So…yes, you’re an addict. Go get help. You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start. Click HERE

Q&As are posted every other week. If you’d like to read the other Q&As to this point, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Ask Me Anything… And They Are

So Monday is my usual day for an entry on my site but I have been absolutely slammed with questions for the Ask Me Anything I’m doing over at AMAHost.com  I didn’t know anything about this site until I was asked to do it last week, but I’ve now got over 30 questions answered and have actually tackled a bunch of topics that I’ve never talked about on this site beyond my porn addiction, in more depth, like my alcoholism and process for writing my book. If you have enjoyed my writing in the past, I hope you’ll click over to this site and check it out.

Click Here for my Ask Me Anything event