Those of you who regularly follow my blog (Hi, Mom and like two other people!) might think this is a strange shift in topics for me, but not really. I’ve blogged in the past about my own struggles with pornography addiction and my desire to help others with it.
But more than that, I’m a Christian who believes in grace, which means finding people with a problem and reaching out a hand. Because I’ve been there, and I’m still edging my way out.
So I’m not here to shame you, tell you to just try harder, or guilt you into celibacy. If you don’t even have the smallest sense that you need help, this post may not be for you. But if you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why did I do that?” or “Why can’t I stop?” then these five tips are for you.
1. Admit It
First off, you’re not an addict if you like sex (that means you’re normal), if you have a lot of it (that means you’re married or lucky), or think about it a lot (that means you’re awake).
Addiction is deleting your history for the fifth time this week (or day). Addiction is calling that old disaster you used to date because you need a fix. Addiction is checking over your shoulder to make sure you won’t get arrested, but also loving the thrill of danger. Addiction is a habit you can’t stop.
Addiction is anything you regularly do without your own consent. It’s when you know what’s right and you do the opposite thing time after time after time. Addiction has patterns and actions, not just desires. And addiction causes problems. Lack of intimacy, ruined relationships, legal trouble, compulsion, humiliation, the list goes on.
If this describes you, then pretending otherwise won’t help you. I’m not saying scream it through a megaphone in the middle of a city, but start by admitting it to yourself. “I’m an addict.”
It’s actually kind of freeing. It means you’re not a monster, not a terrible human being, just sick.
But if you have cancer, you don’t get better by pretending you’re fine. Same with sex addiction.
Oh, and one more thing. If you say, “I’m a sex addict and I’m cool with it,” you’re either not an addict or not realizing the gravity of your situation. Sex is fun. Sex addiction is terrifying.
2. Tell Someone Close To You
I know you don’t want to. It’s embarrassing, and probably frightening. And yes, there may be consequences.
However, shame is addiction’s favorite tool. If it can keep you in the dark, it can keep you in a cage. Shame suppresses, suppression intensifies, and an intensified addiction is the LAST thing anybody wants.
Because addictions don’t just hurt you, not in the long run.
This goes double for married couples. Yeah, they’ll be uncomfortable, maybe even angry when you tell them. But how will that change from when they just find out on their own? And they will find out.
And if you can hide it, congratulations, you just lied through an entire relationship.
Surely you want more. An open, honest relationship full of grace and respect? That comes through admitting your addiction to them.
If you don’t have a significant other, a close friend or family member can help. And the more people you can trust with your secret, the more allies you have in the battle.
But if you feel like you have absolutely no one in the world you can trust, my contact info is at the top of this web page. Hit me up. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like, and I don’t think you’re disgusting or twisted at all.
3. Get Help
You can’t do this on your own. Period.
That’s why you’re an addict, because you can’t stop. You need something greater than yourself.
There are sex-addict-anonymous groups all over the place (at least here in the States). There are recovery programs galore. I personally use and endorse Pure Desire, though this is a faith-based program, and if religion makes your blood boil, it may not be for you (though I’d encourage you to seek God as a way out).
Whatever means you choose is up to you, your budget, and your comfort level, but if you truly want out, you must get help. There is ZERO shame in getting help. Rather, I’d say there’s only shame if you know you have a problem but absolutely refuse to do anything about it.
4. Study Yourself
I can’t go to certain websites anymore. And no, they aren’t porn sites. They’re film and geek culture sites. Which sucks because I love both of those things! Check my “Art and Entertainment” category, I can geek out about movies with the best of them!
However, these two sites regularly featured articles like “10 Hottest Nude Scenes in Movies,” and “8 Movies That Are Totally Just Porn,” and “An Actress’s Tits Through Her Movies.”
Starting to see the problem?
While those sites have a host of other, more benign articles, and while there was no actual nudity on either one, they were gateway drugs. Articles like that got my mind spinning. Curiosity needed to be sated and soon I was patrolling a totally different corner of the internet.
Now most of you may not need to cut things like that out of your life, but I did. Sexual addictions play out in different ways and every addict has different triggers and weaknesses.
What are yours?
The more you know yourself, the more you can fight those habits by developing new ones. Maybe you don’t go to certain websites, maybe you hang out with certain people less, maybe you avoid certain locations.
Only you know yourself, so take a good look. Think of your last few relapses. Do you see any patterns?
5. Have Hope
Addiction isn’t the end. Healing is possible. If you’re tired of doing whatever it is you’re doing, don’t despair and spiral down patterns of shame and diminishing returns. You can get out.
You needn’t be a slave to habits. You can change. Not change into a sexless prude who shames people into celibacy, but into a human with a healthy sexuality, a good grasp on a good thing.
See, that’s the thing: you don’t have to cut sex out of your life like a bad appendix. You can actually enjoy the benefits of sex without succumbing to the slavery it can incur.
To that end, I always recommend Jesus.
I know, I know, most people think “God” and “sex” are mutually exclusive, but those people haven’t read the Song of Solomon. There’s a striptease in there. No, seriously. The Dance of Mahanaim. Look it up.
God doesn’t heal people into dryness, but full, good sexuality. He designed us that way. Sin is what gets people like me hooked on fantasy, risk, and comfort. God untangles those intricate webs and brings us to a place where we can quit when we want to.
This can stop. This must stop. If you’ve gotten this far, it probably means you’re tired of the cycle and you want out.
I’m no sexuality professional, I’m no counselor, I’m just a guy who’s wrestled with the dark depths of sex addiction and is finally coming out of it all because I followed the advice I listed above.
Admit the problem, tell someone close to you, know your weaknesses, have hope that it ends, and above all else, get help.
Also, know that you’re not alone. Again, my contact info is at the top. Say hi, say “Help!” say whatever you need to. My door is open, and so is God’s, and so are many more than you might think.
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