Addiction Disclosure

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by Meshuga, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    This is for the porn addict in a marriage or established relationship, who has successfully hidden their addiction from their Significant Other (SO). Now you want to end the addiction. Should you tell them?

    I know why you don’t want to tell. It might threaten the relationship. They might blame themselves. It will destroy the image they had of you. It will mean admitting you lied. They might equate porn with cheating. They will feel betrayed. They will feel replaced. They may not support you. They may not understand that you still love them, that you never intended for it to get this far, that you are trying to protect them from yourself. And what if you fail? What if you can’t break the addiction and have to confess again?

    You make your own choices. It is my goal to ensure that you make informed choices. These are some things to consider as you move to reboot your brain and repair your relationship.

    #1. Your SO already knows there is a problem.
    If your addiction has progressed to the point where you, the addict, have decided that porn is no longer worth it, you can be assured that your SO knows there is a problem with your shared relationship. The typical effects of porn use that motivates addicts to seek help are Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED), Delayed Ejaculation, reduced physical sensitivity, and lack of interest in real sex, escalation in risky behavior, and/or crossing some moral line previously found abhorrent. However, porn addiction carries many other symptoms that are not as obvious to the addict, but apparent to the SO. They include emotional withdrawal and insensitivity, depression, anxiety, and irritability, among others. Even if your addiction predates your relationship, it is likely to the point of near certainty that your anti-social behaviour has increased with the addiction. You are not acting like the same person your SO committed to initially, and they have noticed.

    #2. Your SO might think the problem is their fault.
    If you have kept your porn use hidden, your SO has not found a discernible cause for your anti-social behaviour, and probably blames themselves. Thinking they aren’t sexually attractive, available or adventurous enough, and/or emotionally accommodating, or nebulously “good” enough, many SOs unwittingly enable their addicts and engage in self damaging behaviour as well. Predictably, none of these attempts end in favorable results, which causes stress and depression in the SO. Once the addiction is revealed, along with the expected anger and sense of betrayal, there is typically a corresponding sense of relief.

    #3. Your SO has a right to know.
    And from the same source, but deserving of its own quote box,
    Your addiction has damaged your relationship, which means it has damaged your SO. Not informing them of the origins of that damage, or pretending it doesn’t exist, does not mitigate it. Rather, deception, active or passive, amplifies the damage dealt to your SO.

    #4. Addiction wants to stay hidden to survive.
    When your SO does not know the cause, there remains a dangerous rationale for “one more time.” When your SO does not know, fear is a powerful motivator to continue sneaking around. Once they know, you are free to pursue recovery strategies in the open, and fear becomes an equally powerful motivator to remain abstinent. Furthermore, the act of informing your SO creates an atmosphere of honesty and is a tacit declaration that the relationship has become more valued than the addiction.

    #5. Personal repair vs. relationship repair.
    You can conceivably reboot your own brain by yourself, though experience has proven this is more difficult to accomplish than a reboot supported by your SO. You cannot, however, reboot your relationship by yourself. You might think that you brought both of you into this hole by yourself, and it is your responsibility to pull both of you out of it again. Whether for good or bad, this is not how relationships work. In order for both of you to properly heal from this addiction, as individuals and as a unit, both of you must be aware of the nature of the damage.

    #6. Some SOs regard deception to be worse than the infraction.
    Pornography is detrimental to relationships, but so are lies. Both issues need to be addressed for the relationship to heal.

    Informing your SO is not a choice to be made lightly. It could mean the difference between reboot and relapse, recovery and divorce, maybe even life and death. Further discussion is valued.

    For all of these quotes in full context, visit this thread.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
  2. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    This is awesome! Thank you for taking the time to compile this. I plan to do what you did and add a link with this in my signature so I can point people to this when I come across addicts reluctant to tell their SOs. I hope others will do the same.

    One clarification. The quoted material below point #4, with my name: that was something I quoted in a post and is taken from this article, first published in 2015, "The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think."
     
  3. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    I know, but you were the one who shared it. I modified it.

    No one else said anything about it, but I think it also bears mentioning that some withdrawal symptoms make a recovering addict difficult to be and to live with. When the SO is informed of the cause of these symptoms, they can provide encouragement and support. Without knowing, all they see is behavior even more caustic than has become typical and can react with further negativity. This, in turn, both creates more triggering encounters and gives your addiction grounds to reassert itself saying, "you see how this really isn't helping." By informing your SO, you ease the symptoms and make progress in eliminating the root cause.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
  4. MsPants

    MsPants Guest

    This is an amazing post. Thank you for your time and effort to create this. I have no doubt it will help so many understand that the secrecy of this addiction is a vicious cycle and detrimental to recovery within the relationship
     
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  5. RogerThat

    RogerThat Guest

    This should be a pinned post. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
     
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  6. Northernlight

    Northernlight Fapstronaut

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    Now that is something. It seems perfectly spoken and also makes perfect understanding.
     
  7. StepsReborn

    StepsReborn Guest

    This is so incredible. Seriously. I hate to see so many people saying they won't tell their SO. As someone who has seen both sides -- as an addict and a wife of an addict -- I can see absolutely no good reason to not be open and honest. Not a single one. All of the seemingly good reasons are just bad reasons in disguise, and they will eventually blow up.
     
  8. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    The article? Yes, I thought it was really interesting! And, in my view, a really good argument for telling people in real life, especially a SO, to get support in beating the addiction.
     
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  9. Dendrite

    Dendrite Fapstronaut

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    I like it, but I also disagree with some things, and I think there could be more nuance here.

    Porn use typically predates a relationship, often by many years, and this is becoming more and more common with access to high-speed internet pornography being more widely available and accessible to much younger audiences. The second-most-common lie in the world is "Yes, I Am Over 18", isn't it? Ranks just below first-most-common, which is "Yes, I Have Read The Agreement". Some people are attracted to "damaged" people - very moody, withdrawn, loner kind of people - for different reasons. That's the kind of person that porn ... and other addictions like drugs or alcohol or gambling ... turns you into. Freeing yourself from porn can make you less like the person that your SO committed to initially, but at the same time it will make you feel like more of the person that you have the potential to become. Depending on your SO, maybe this will make him/her like you less. Weigh that risk. But it will definitely make you like yourself more.

    I have personally never seen one of these "damaged" relationships work out well. But that is free choice and I have of course not seen every relationship in the world!!

    No, your SO does not. The generation of today does not have the same ideas of privacy that my generation does. And in some cultures you get married after just a few days of meeting each other, and yes, I have seen some of those marriages be very successful, so anyone who wants to pile on with "those poor people and their barbaric customs" can take a hike - go and walk a mile in those shoes before you preach. So it is not common that your SO has a "right to know", and frankly we all keep secrets from our SOs. Some are silly secrets like "I scratch my balls and sniff my hand". I've seen that one on these forums, it was funny. And some are deeper secrets like "I had an abortion". But there is no "right to know" here that means you must tell any of that stuff. Every relationship is different and a relationship is not a market economy where you need to prioritize "efficiency" based on correct information.

    The secrets that your SO has a right to know are the dangerous ones. Yes, porn is one of these. But the nature of addiction makes it seem like it's not so bad ... we all know about addicts and denial, right? And how many of us get married and think "FINALLY I can put that porn behind me! It's gone now!" only to be horribly wrong later on? I will raise my hand, I thought this. And then what? Do you get a time machine and go back and tell them what they had a "right to know"? Or should you get a divorce now, a few weeks into the marriage?

    This is a very sharp sword that cuts both ways!! Yes, I agree with everything here. Now here is the other edge of the blade.

    When your SO does know the cause, there is now a dangerous rationale for guilty hiding if there is a relapse. When your SO does know, fear is a powerful motivator to continue sneaking around instead of admitting to relapses. Once they know, you may not be able to pursue certain recovery strategies (such as very forthright journaling) in the open, and fear becomes an equally powerful motivator to keep deeper causes repressed. Furthermore, the act of informing your SO creates an atmosphere of betrayal and hurt which, on top of dealing with your own personal demons, you must simultaneously address.

    I also want to say that isn't this the point of a community like NoFap? We can bring it out into the light, be accountable, learn from each other? But without hurting that loved one.

    Yes, in fact I think that it is most SOs who regard it as worse. BUT. Do those same SOs regard past deceptions as being worse than present, repeated infractions, which is what a relapse is? That is an important question to answer.

    The "recovery mindset" is in your own head where it must deal with your demons and find a way to the light. There are many stumbling blocks on the path, and sometimes many infractions. I was reading a journal of someone who had gone on a week-long "binge" - and then got to an 18-day clean streak just after. How many SOs have just "gotten sick" of dealing with all of it, or lost confidence that their loved one can do it, or have started to believe that their loved one doesn't "really" want to recover because of this? Some of those SOs may be right. Some may be wrong. I say nothing about this because every situation is different.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  10. Northernlight

    Northernlight Fapstronaut

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    Very well put and correct in many ways, not everyones spouse would react the same way. I told mine about 3 weeks ago as a means to be honest and open. I felt the double life was pushing me further into escalation, that by not being open hid the problem, and the more I hid it, the more risks I took and the darker the cloud came over me. I felt that by casting light on it would push the clouds away. But, there is much more needed in order for this to come to fruition, as I have learned. That is only a small step, but a step nonetheless.

    Her reaction was severe and took many aspects of what you said. She took it as an attack on her, and what else was I being dishonest about. One of my wife's exact words were, she didn't get it. I had hinted earlier in our relationship about my problem with it, but I wasn't 100% open with its history, perhaps deceiving her and myself. Either way, she came at me crying and thought there was more to it, that I might have been cheating, (which i never did). She knew I had actually gone to a 12 step sex addict meeting a few times, but it never worked, as no one there had porn issues and I really felt out of place - that no one got me. I did some counselling as well, as there were issues that predated my addiction to my childhood - all which I've accepted. But, my overall feeling after telling her was that it made the dark clouds into storm clouds. She made it about her, which I said is partially true, because she is my partner, but that the issue far predates her (we're married 3 years, together 7 or 8). It really made me feel more alone after. It brought up more guilt and shame - which in my mind fuels the addiction. And it did...

    So, after i believe 10 days I relapsed. And true to what you said, FEAR kept me from telling her, because it raises the stakes of letting her down - and me. Fear lends me to think that she will have the same response, or worse. Thats alot more to carry than necessary, first its my issues, than add on her feelings. The funny thing is that I believe she too must be fearful, as she hasn't brought it up since either. I'm tired of the irritability, anger, loneliness that it brings to our relationship, but it's me causing it - not her. Its something I need to deal with. Its my happiness that isn't being fulfilled. What I don't need to heal - is to have someone policing me with specifics to use against me, to make me feel worse. That will lead to more depression. I had brief suicidal thoughts leading up to telling her and I refuse to let those in.

    So, I rebooted, on day 4 now. I'm using this forum now. Finding people who are facing the same issue, with the same open minded approach to it. I find much more relief knowing that there are others that I can discuss it with. I've found a few videos that I think she needs to see and perhaps she needs to go into the forum for spouses, so she can better understand it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  11. Ted Martin

    Ted Martin Fapstronaut

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    You might want to share this link with her. http://www.mymensgroup.net/addiction-recovery-resources.html There are some really helpful videos and resources on PMO addiction that she may find useful. Just to highlight a few: Foundations of Sex Addiction (video), Sex and the Brain (video) and Porn and Your Husband: A Recovery Guide for Wives (e-Book)

    I wish you both the best as you each seek to recover!
     
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  12. i_wanna_get_better1

    i_wanna_get_better1 Fapstronaut

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    @Northernlight, thank you for sharing that story. I don't think any of us have a good 'coming out' story. I think your story adds another dimension to the issue. For some, the actual act of revealing our secret is too scary to contemplate. In your case it's the aftermath that is more difficult than the confession.

    Do you regret telling her or do you regret the way that you told her? Do you think it would have gone better in a controlled environment... like with a counselor? Or do you think it was destined to harmful no matter what? Was she aware there was a problem or was she blindsided? Was the bigger problem the lies and deceit or the addiction itself... or does she not see a distinction? Do you think she would have reacted differently if you had a longer streak and framed it as a problem that was in your past? Or do you think she reacted poorly because she thinks it's still going strong?

    I think the 'to tell or not to tell' debate is only the first step. Maybe the WAY we disclose the secret is MORE important. There is no perfect, painfree way to disclose, but could there be ways to make it not as traumatic? Could the difference between a good revelation and a bad revelation determine the success or failure of the relationship going forward? Maybe those are the questions we need to explore next.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  13. Northernlight

    Northernlight Fapstronaut

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  14. Northernlight

    Northernlight Fapstronaut

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    I think its just the nature of her. She suffers from anxiety and had past body image issues, so I believe it brings up her own issues and creates feelings of doubt. I believe everyone is an individual and will act individually. I don't regret telling her, because I get where she is coming from and I know her well enough. And, selfishly I wanted to let it out, I needed that weight off. I really don't feel it would have gone any other way with a counsellor or such. She calls it a lie, but its not a lie. Its a deceit, a secret. She missed the distinctions because of her emotions, she is a very emotional person, and once that wears off she comes around. It becomes easier after the initial shock. She wasn't completely blindsided, as I had mentioned things earlier in our relationship. However, I believe she spent time looking up resources and came up with pretty much the worse case scenario stuff. Her research basically said it was just the tip of the iceberg, and that there was most likely others things happening, like chat lines, cheating, etc. But for me, it was porn and only porn. Sure I had thoughts of cheating, because that what it escalates too, but acting on it, is a whole other ballgame.

    I'm not a good liar, never have been, perhaps because I carry enough already that I really can't burden myself with extra. The whole streak thing, why wait. To me its just extra weight to carry. She knows now. If she asks, I'll tell. I'm also going to try to educate her on some things. I do worry about what will become of our relationship, as I plan on changing myself inside out, which means living differently - I believe that is the only way to success. Perhaps I will change to much, become more the person I want to be, than the person who I've been. But, one can't worry about the trivial things in life, because whatever will be will be. Happiness in everyday life is worth any sacrifice.
     
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  15. StepsReborn

    StepsReborn Guest

    I'd just like to politely point out to anyone arguing that honesty makes things worse... the honesty isn't the problem. The problem was lying in the first place. Honesty is a step toward fixing that problem, but it doesn't magically make everything better. If you tell your wife you've been hiding a secret life from her for years and she decides not to be with you, the problem wasn't the fact that you told the truth. The problem was that you didn't do it soon enough.

    Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I'm really sick of hearing all the "cons" of being honest. Sometimes the right thing isn't easy. But if you truly think that lying and keeping secrets is better for a relationship than telling the truth, you're lying to yourself.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2016
  16. Dendrite

    Dendrite Fapstronaut

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    The problem is the addiction. The lying exists to cover that up.

    How many of us aren't exercising enough, or drinking enough water, or eating healthy, even when we know we should be? If we all did what we should be doing, there would be no wars and everyone would get along. But the status quo is seductive. As your signature points out very well, "nothing changes if nothing changes" ... but that also has a hidden meaning. If nothing changes, isn't that "good"? As an addict, would you rather have a slow spiral into despair, or accept change and honesty and take all of the pain right now? Addiction is a selfish thing. You choose what's easy for "you", not for "us". Part of the recovery mindset is coming to terms with that and understanding part of the pain that the selfishness has inflicted on the relationship.

    If you have a great recovery mindset, you tell the truth and accept the consequences. If you don't have a recovery mindset, you hide as deep underground as you can. But if you are still developing a recovery mindset, it's not easy because you might have difficulty with handling many problems at once, and this is where the problem comes in. This is why NoFap is so wonderful. You can recover a bit, take some strength, and keep going until you are ready to come clean.

    Maybe in the "challenges" forum, there should be a 70-day "come clean" challenge? Steps 8, 9, and 10 of the Alcoholics Anonymous program are about dealing with the impact on others. Not steps 1, 2, and 3. "It must be done" does not mean "it must be done now".

    I'm not disagreeing with you at all. And I also think that honesty is the "right thing". That doesn't mean that the right thing doesn't have "cons" - ask Daniel Ellsberg about that. Or if you are too young to know about Daniel Ellsberg, ask Edward Snowden.
     
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  17. StepsReborn

    StepsReborn Guest

    Well to be clear, I never said honesty didn't have cons. In fact I'm pretty sure I said that it's not easy. I agree with most of what you've said, but I believe dishonesty is a million times more destructive to a relationship than addiction. I can have a great marriage with a recovering addict, but I can't have a great marriage with a liar or someone who is keeping secrets from me. It might look good, but it's just an illusion.

    I do understand the difficulty, trust me. It's not like I've never had to tell someone something that was tough. But I'll never be able to agree that postponing the truth is a good option. It's an easy option, sure, but so is binging on porn. You don't have to agree with me, but personally, as I've said before, I don't see any reason at all that would lead me to believe that postponing truth is better than getting it all out there right away. One of the main reasons being... its all going to come out some day. So one has to ask themselves "would my wife be more forgiving to know that I've lied for the past six months, or for the past six years?" Not to mention the fact that if you have a good partner, their support and help can actually be immensely useful for you once they reach a place of understanding.

    Anyway again, you don't have to agree, but that's my take. Porn and addiction don't have to destroy a partnership, but secrets and deception almost always will do just that.
     
  18. Northernlight

    Northernlight Fapstronaut

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    Honesty is the best course, if not now, then when? And carry that as well as the addiction? No thanks. I don't regret telling her, it needed to happen one way or the other. That's the easy thing in hindsight. The tough thing is carrying on, moving to the next step, accepting you can't control how someone reacts and moving forward with your progress because that's what matters in order for things to get better. Face your fear or continue to be consumed by it.
     
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  19. ILoathePwife

    ILoathePwife Fapstronaut

    You know, I was debating how to respond here and I'm glad now that I hadn't done it yet. This is perfect. Thank you.

    The addiction is a huge problem, yes. But, to the SO, the lies are a huge and painful breach of trust. Any addict still in the midst of lying has not yet fully recognized the impacts of his addiction, beyond himself (or herself), and is obviously not ready to do what it takes to regain the trust of the SO.
     
  20. StepsReborn

    StepsReborn Guest

    Aw thanks :p lol I try

    Agreed! Also well said.
     
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