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 liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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

 

If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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

 

If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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

 

If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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

Q&A Time: Reader wonders about her husband’s lies around porn usage

QUESTION: I *KNOW* my husband is a pornography addict. He’s a landscaper and watches it on his phone at work. That browser history is full of dirty movies. At home, he likes to watch porn at night after I go to bed, but he says he doesn’t watch it every night because he also watches a lot of sports. I don’t know if I should be worried and I don’t think he’s telling me the truth about his use. Should I assume he’s lying to me about it?

ANSWER: Like every question about pornography use people seem to be sending me lately, there are multiple issues working at one time here. I think the most important thing to take a look at here is if he is an actual addict.

You say that you “KNOW” he’s an addict, but aside from a lot of watching, you don’t say specifically why you think he is. When he watches at work, is it on his lunch break in the truck, getting a laugh with his buddies, or is he neglecting his duties? When he’s watching at night, is that taking time away from something the two of you would be doing? I’m not going to disagree with you that he’s an addict, but I’m not going to agree with you either. This kind of plays to the point that at the end of the day, “Addict” is more a title than anything else.

You probably are safe to assume that he’s lying to you about it, but again, that doesn’t mean he’s a full-blown addict. Pornography is one of those things that I think 99% of people lie about. If you look at the studies that are coming out almost weekly now, porn consumption is at an all-time high. A recent study by a few Canadian researchers found that 98% of married men 18-35 years old looked at porn in the last 6 months. I would say that unless you have that seriously rare snowflake, any married woman reading this with a guy in that age group should assume he’s looking at porn. The number for women was 73%. Young married people are looking at porn. I don’t know if you’re young or not, and that’s really not the point. I think that almost everyone lies about their porn consumption and it’s a trickier red flag to spot than many other addictions since the majority who view it are not addicted.

I’m a little troubled by the fact you’re looking at his browser history on his phone. Are you looking only for porn are you going through his texts and his other personal information? If you are, that’s a serious trust issue that you have. Maybe your lack of trust is warranted, but invading his privacy should be an alert that something unhealthy is happening here. Whatever is causing you to snoop needs to be addressed. It may be his problem, it may be yours, or it may belong to both of you.

My advice to you would be to book a few marriage counseling sessions. You may just be at a bump in the road and in need of a little tune-up or you could have some serious issues. It’s hard to tell based on what you wrote. Getting the help of a professional is never a bad thing and they will probably help you be able to put your problems in perspective and help define what they really are in the first place.

 

If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. 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, 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 asks question about husband’s pornography addiction

Note: I was asked to post about this question based on something else I wrote. If you’d like to have a question answered, contact information is at the end of the answer.

QUESTION: Could you please post about how a wife should focus and respond when her husband is addicted to pornography and will not admit it is an issue at all but blames her? I would love to know what to do. He apparently has been addicted since a quite young age but now prefers that to me. I fight to keep forgiving but do because God forgives me for things I do wrong. This just affects us and I want to hear your thoughts and maybe advice. His long-held denial is way too deep to see a counselor.

ANSWER: First, the sad fact about addiction you need to internalize is that it’s totally up to him at the end of the day if recovery is possible. You can threaten to leave, and you can even go ahead and leave, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s up to him, and I know what a powerless feeling that can be. The power you have in this situation is the ability to gather knowledge and the ability to understand he can’t MAKE you feel any certain way. You choose to feel that way.

You’ve got a lot going on here, so let’s break it down:

His addiction is NOT YOUR FAULT! In fact, IT HAS NOTHING DO WITH YOU. You could invite two sexy cheerleaders into the bedroom with you and it’s not going to cure him. He has the brain disease of addiction and it’s simply manifesting itself with pornography instead of alcohol, gambling, food, etc. You did not create his addiction, you’re not the reason he continues to be addicted, but you’re also not going to be able to do anything but be supportive if he tries to tame the beast. His addiction is a medical condition.

There may be other marital issues at play here that you didn’t delve into. It sounds like he’s blaming you for something he says he doesn’t have. It’s important for you to be able to put your marital issues into one column and his addiction issues into another. Some may indeed overlap, but these are two different problems.

Your husband may claim to prefer pornography to you, but what he prefers is having a proven no-maintenance outlet for stress and anxiety release. It’s easy to confuse the no-strings-attached release one gets when utilizing pornography as a surrogate for the intimacy one has with a partner. They are actually very different things that meet very different needs and I think both the addict and the partner confuse them because both scenarios usually end in orgasm. The porn doesn’t nag, the porn doesn’t say no, the porn doesn’t judge. Real-life partners do all of those things. Real life partners cause stress. His coping mechanism to deal with stress is porn, but that’s only one of the surface reasons he uses. His real issues probably run deeper than he even he can understand at this point. I made some of my biggest breakthroughs years into counseling, so if he says that there’s nothing wrong or thinks he understands why he’s addicted, he probably doesn’t have anything close to the full story.

You say that his denial is too deep to see a counselor. It sounds like he’d refuse, and you can’t legally make him go, but I caution you of jumping to that conclusion. Unless you’ve been to medical school or have been in counseling your entire life, you’ve reached a conclusion here that I don’t think you’re qualified to reach. How did you reach this conclusion? That may reveal a lot about how you view this situation, and perhaps life…but that’s another discussion for another time.

What can you do? First, take care of yourself. If that means church, great. But you need to release guilt and a sense that you have anything to do with his addiction. You don’t. You could be a horrible wife or a great wife…but the addiction isn’t your fault or responsibility.

Second, figure out your limits. How much are you willing to live with, really? I’m guessing you’ll fall back on the God thing as to why you should stay with him, and that’s fine, and a point I can’t argue, because debating God or religion is pointless since real debate comes from a point of logic and God/religion doesn’t. If you HAVE to stay because of your beliefs, try to take care of yourself and find a comfortable chair because you’re in for a bumpy ride. He will do what he wants because there will be no consequences coming from you. There’s not much more to say.

Third, if you’re not 100% tied to staying, it gives you a little leverage. You need to create some non-negotiables and boundaries…inform him about them and then follow them. If you say “I will X if you Y” but then you don’t Y, you’ve just lost all of your control. He will do what he wants because again, no consequences. Are you willing to leave if he doesn’t go to counseling or rehab? Are you ready to give some ultimatums? It doesn’t have to be that severe. Can you refuse to participate in any more fights about whose fault the porn is? Tell him you will walk away the next time he wants to engage in an argument about it. This may also be the opportunity to work on your other marriage issues.

*** Is couples therapy something that you and your spouse would benefit from? Click HERE to learn more about the process of couples therapy. ***

It’s hard to tell you what the boundaries and ultimatums or the consequences should be in your case because I’m not living it, but you must be willing to follow through. Don’t make idle threats. Make promises.

The best thing you can do is to live the healthy, fulfilling life you deserve. He is not preventing you from doing that. YOU are preventing YOU from doing that. He is just causing a problem. You need to try to solve the problem, and if it’s unsolvable, you need to know you gave it your best shot and move forward. That could mean going. That could mean staying. You need to mentally move forward either way.

I would urge you to also talk to other women in your position and get support from them. If you go to the Resources site on this page, check out the two discussion forums that are mentioned along with the link to the Betrayal Trauma Recovery site. You’ll find women in all stages of the situation you find yourself in and I’m sure they can offer perspective I don’t have.

 

If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE

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