Codependency and PA; gaslighting vs controlling

Discussion in 'Partner Support' started by need4realchg, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. Messymasterpiece

    Messymasterpiece Fapstronaut

    Circles are fun to draw. Big words & distractions are seen as gaslighting by the keen eye. You might fool your wife but there are others that see right through you.
  2. Queen_Of_Hearts_13

    Queen_Of_Hearts_13 Fapstronaut

    Addicts who are honest, when I say honest from the get go I mean honest within the first month of knowing each other before any type of official bf/gf commitment is made.... if you had known her for years and were about to get married and said so right before marriage then you were honest before you legally were bound to her... which is better than other addicts have done....

    But for me and many SOs we talk about choice and being trapped.... so again honest from get go =before exclusivity (to me at least... not sure how other SOs feel about that) ... because if you tell her before she agrees to being a girlfriend then she knows all your cards and is freely, voluntarily, knowingly entering a relationship with an addict.... otherwise she had no idea what she was getting into as there are people out there who just simply dont want to ever have a relationship with an addict of any kind (for their own valid personal reasons... I know kids of addicts really dont want addiction in their adult life as they are trying to be healthy and not repeat their childhood traumas)

    But when exactly were you honest about your porn use in your timeline of knowing her?
    EyesWideOpen, need4realchg and Numb like this.
  3. In my case, I thought it was important to share all my baggage before getting married yes. In my case, PMO was a part of my life after I was sexually active at 10, as I have discussed/journaled elsewhere. So yes, I told my wife/fiancee everything up front, honestly it was not a casual conversation, people deserve to know who they are marrying. I am surprised you even were not told about it prior to marriage? I guess it's possible PMO does not manifest until one is married, but that's likely the exception and not the rule. Perhaps you are or didn't do any pre-marital counseling, because quite frankly things of this nature should be shared. I married at 22, which in our denomination this decision brings lots of pre-marital couseling.

    In my case, there was no way I or anyone could explain the depth of my PMO. I wish to reiterate, that I am not here to judge you/anyone else needing healing; i simply know that the condescending tone does little in our political discourse, in a broken marriage, or in NoFap's forum; as i don't know anyone I intend to respect everyone. I appreciate your question; while we usually give benefit of the doubt, a pattern of pain annd broken trust makes that hard for many of us to do, even in an anonymous forum.

    I am separated because I wanted to figure myself out; I had/have contradictions that began as religious doubts along with unexpressed emotions due to what I learned was codependency and I add to the list PMO and SA. I am taking a deep look at myself doing introspection and wanted to open myself up to this concept and learn what it offered. In my personal case, it was not simply because of PMO.

    Actually, after a few weeks here at NoFap, I have not met anyone whose PMO got them divorced--I assume that exists? I see women and men are hurt, broken, hiding from our realities, I see people have threatened or have been threatened by divorce if PMO continues, but I haven't yet heard the testimony of anyone who gives up or quits marriage because their partner has a severe addiction or sexual dysfunction.

    I know health issues can disproportionately show men leave women (instead of the other way around), but i suppose there is hope we have so many people hurting, but trying to work through this and any other problems.

    I am looking to learn and hear more people's experience or exposure to the phenomenon (how to identify gas-lighting or other manifestations) that we are discussing here, I don't mind your questions, but I'm not trying to make this thread about the particular experiences of the author. It helps that we contribute in an empirical way to the forum, less passion, more facts. I don't mind a civilized discussion as long as it helps us to heal. Misidentifying, misdiagnosing, or taking a group-think approach with the "halo effect" does not expand the conversation, but contorts it unnecessarily.

    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  4. ??

    @Messymasterpiece I've tried numerous times to be introspective and respectful to everyone here; You appear to be goading me, (sigh), and this is not why I'm here. I am asking for feedback.

    So based on your insight, you appear to be saying that to talk about gaslighting means I'm gaslighting? Are you sure?
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  5. EyesWideOpen

    EyesWideOpen Fapstronaut

    I'm trying to understand everything you said here, because it isnt clear in how you wrote it. Please know there is not judgement in my questions, I'm just looking for clarification.

    You told your fiancee that you looked at porn before you were married, but you didn't, couldn't share the full extent of your addiction at that time. Now you are separated, for a few reasons, one of which was escalating PA/SA, which she did not know about until you told her. Is this correct?
  6. MadWoman

    MadWoman Fapstronaut

    That was very creative messymasterpiece. I don't have multiple accounts. What purpose would that serve? Do you? You have had four messages all occurring in this thread. Tell me who we should believe has multiple accounts to make themselves feel better again? When did you create yours? I'm not judging people. I made an observation. You just don't like the observation I made. What's the matter? Hit a little too close to home? I empathize with other women. I just don't empathize with women who vilify their husbands. How can we expect our husbands to have empathy for us when we exhibit none for them? I'll advocate for whoever I want. I wasn't the only one who advocated for need4realchg. Just because we have been betrayed doesn't give us the right to respond in this manner. I support most women's positions here. Your message was gaslighting to me. If we want and expect our husbands to stop gaslighting us, maybe we should start by living by example. Two wrongs don't make a right. I put up with years of gaslighting by my husband. Not anymore. I certainly won't put up with it from you or any of your other friends because you don't believe the same way that I do.
  7. Thanks for asking, that’s not what I was explaining, I shared the full extent of what I knew (at22) of my addiction to pornography; however I never called it an addiction nor did I recognize it as one.

    I, like many religiously oriented (at that time in life) found it difficult to express my relationship to porn as an addiction—inasmuch as it was something I both hated but made time for.

    When I lived alone I had periods of solitude that included binging of all kinds . Video games, sweet snacks, salty chips, alcohol, clubbing , porn as well. I personally didn’t do drugs but I can see how pmo is just one of the vices you can latch on to.

    I did not call my self an addict to that or anything else until this year. I did not identify my dependence on it as an addiction either. This is why I say, shared my battle with pornography I did not describe it as an addiction previously.

    In hindsight, use of porn versus porn addiction probably entails the user to cross a line somewhere. For me I cannot even tell when it became “an addiction.”

    Btw..i asked in a separate thread the poll question: “when Did you determine you were an addict?” If you read the answers they vary greatly. Those who started in the early stages of dial up internet like me had gradual growth versus teenagers if 12-16 today who recognize they are addicted within a very short amount of time.

    As far as separating , for me pmo is just a slice of a pizza from other issues. It’s not even the most painful in our marriage, but agreeably one that I have stubbornly tried to fix by myself and with counseling but only failed —-until finding the nofap community which for the most part is filled with helpful pilgrims in the same journey.

    Thanks for sharing your story too, porn so efficiently destroys our ability to relate to others, to feel, and empathize it’s only by the sharing that helps us rebuild this missing part of our soul.
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  8. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    We're drifting off-topic now but I just wanted to agree with this. We only discover we are addicted when we decide to give up, really give up, and find we cannot. All those years I used porn I may have been addicted and I may not. I will never know. I do know that when I started trying to quit (2010) I realised I had a big problem
  9. I apologize I have tried to not drift —- my personal details are not the reason for my thread.

    Your point is perfectly made. I discovered it coming here and hearing other people’s stories. I was giving up and then decided i must try again.
    kropo82 likes this.
  10. Thanks for the explanation @need4realchg -- your description of your porn use and how you internally felt about sounds similar to me:
    * I am Christian .. and I always looked at my porn as a "bad habit"
    * I never, ever would have used to word "addiction" .. until after my final DDay (June 1, 2017) .. and after reading about PA (for the first time)
    * Unlike you, I NEVER told my fiance-then-wife about my PA. I also habitually masturbated EVERY morning in the shower .. it was as normal as washing my hair -- again, something I NEVER told my fiance-then-wife, until the Full Disclosure we walked through with my CSAT (July 1, 2018)


    You said:
    There are DEFINITELY cases where marriages are broken, shattered, destroyed because of porn. I know of two couples in my church alone where the husband and wife were having problems / the husband had a "porn problem" (I doubt he would recognize or acknowledge that he was an 'addict') / the husband choose porn .. instead of fighting it, he concluded it was normal; it was okay; and his wife had to accept that flaw in him.....both marriages ended up divorce. (Now, I don't know all the other gory details .. nor do I want to .. but, Yes, porn can end marriages.)

    And then, there is the issue of the larger Sexual Addiction .. PA is just one manifestation of SA. Many who struggle with the broader Sexual Addiction include activities such as visiting massage parlors, prostitutes, anonymous sex, etc. (thank God, I never feel into any of that)

    Anyway, porn can destroy marriages -- it certainly negatively affects the changes them and affects how they relate to and interact with their wife, whether they realize it or not. Should PA always lead to divorce? Certainly not...but if a PA refuses to change / refuses to try to change -- and the wife has had enough, it can and does end in divorce.
  11. Beautifully said.

    Only part I see as unrealistic is that the threat of divorce is force. As it relates to human behavior, force is grossly inefficient in changing a person’s perspective. While clitched, an understanding or loving attitude goes much farther in undressing a problem and reviving a dead or dying soul.

    As the legal maxim goes : “He is not deceived who knows him self to be deceived.”

    Sadly Your friend does not know he’s deceived.
    TryingHard2Change likes this.
  12. Queen_Of_Hearts_13

    Queen_Of_Hearts_13 Fapstronaut

    It's not about force per se. I know my husband and I came damn close to divorce because he refused to get healthy which meant that I had to choose between staying healthy myself and divorcing or drowning in unhealthy and misery with him. The thing is unless the addict said prior to exclusivity and emotional attachment that they had an issue/problem/addiction/used tooo much with porn.... then the woman had no idea what she was getting into. And the time that she didn't know... it was based on a lie... and now that she knows the truth and is hurt, especially when the addict doesn't and won't change.... there is a time where she will have to leave to Protect Herself from the Abuse.

    I think a better thing for an SO to say is that a physical separation is needed not necessarily a divorce. Physical separation can do wonders for both parties as they gain clarity, can grow, learn, and heal and come back together. I don't advocate for separation but do think it can be helpful to certain couples looking to come back together and rebuild
  13. Yep. I agree completely. Correctly done, separating when done to help, (instead of isolate) is a healthy tool. My brothers ex wife was a SA but she never knew it. Once he started traveling for work she got going. One day he came home to find flowers and realized it was a pattern. Divorcing or threatening to divorce her did not get her to change her perspective. Instead it was separation and support. He wrote a book about his experiences as a young pastor. I can share privately if needed.

    My point is that many of us retire to our corners because of hurt; but the positive steps to restore or redeem ourselves are sometimes much harder.

    Separation AND Support for new habits and patterns can be life changing.

    I still think you can’t force a man or woman to change their perspective through force or threat of force. In any other context we would view that as hostility. And for some PAs that would be a trigger for sure.
  14. While I don't disagree with your sentiment here .. sometimes / many times, it takes the threat of divorce -- or the threat of "I'm leaving you if you don't _____".

    Should that be deployed the first or second or even third time...No. But in my situation with my wife -- we were married for over 20 years when we hit our Final DDay (June 1, 2017). We had about 3 others throughout the decades...the previous one before Final DDay was August 2016 ... and my wife said very plainly and very clearly, "Fix your porn problem or I am leaving you." (that is a direct quote)

    Here's the thing...I DID change -- or at least I thought I did...but I really didn't.
    I "changed" because I _did_ stop PM'ing for about 4 months! I thought I was healed/cleansed/fixed. Nope. I white-knuckled it for that many months.

    Here's what I DIDN'T do => I never sought help; I never talked to a friend, counselor, pastor; I never acknowledged that I was a porn addict; sure, I never even knew PA was a thing..but ignorance is not bliss .. it's pure selfish arrogance.

    So in my case -- my wife's ultimatum actually DIDN'T in that sense, maybe you're right that the threat of divorce wasn't helpful. But fast forward to June 1, 2017 .. our Final DDay .. where we started our effective separation (and still are separated..and it's even more separated now--but that is because on my road to recovery, I messed up..worse than ever) -- it took THAT REAL, "effective separation" to jolt me into taking it seriously...I called a pastor on June 2, 2017 -- told someone else about my porn problem for the first time in my life .. and that started me towards my real recovery. (I found NoFap in November 2017...and that really was enlightening and helpful.)


    Anyway, don't mistake a 20-year, emotionally-battered, emotionally-isolated/abandoned, hurting SO's cry for help in "FIX YOUR PORN PROBLEM OR I'M LEAVING YOU" as hostility/aggression against the's simply survival for them. AND, in many cases--like myself--it IS the catalyst that wakes up the porn addict.
  15. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    Me too. She was broken. It wasn't a threat but an act of self-preservation on her part. That's what made it so shocking for me: I could see clearly that she expected me to chose porn over her, she was resigned to having to go it alone. Not aggressive at all.
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  16. Again guys, perfectly said. I love how both of you @kropo82 and @TryingHard2Change cite that the catalyst is not the cause for your successful interruption of your destructive patterns.

    Instead you seem to both identify you had success was because your SO defined her boundary. The catalyst pushed you to honor it. We could say clearly defined boundaries was the first step in real , actual healing. I forgot which user told us this is a critical step. But when done in anger, haste, or spite, it simply doesn’t work.

    If a SO misunderstands how their actions prompt positive change then more aggression is the result instead of more boundaries.

    Ironically it’s why I feel this a good reason to explore the gaslighting vs codependency concept. Just asking the question has caused some to bristle at the mere inquiry; I see that a misreading on either side can increase hostility which leads to less communication.
  17. EyesWideOpen

    EyesWideOpen Fapstronaut

    Yes, this is what it came down to. We were married for 19 years at the biggest Dday of all. Eventually it came to the threat of leaving. I had to kick him out for a short time. The very real possibility that our marriage could end because he refused to give up PMO scared the shit out of him and it woke him up. The thought of losing me and our children was the catalyst that brought about change for him. It definitely wasn't overnight but slowly, he is healing. It's been 3 years and we are miles away from where we started, in a good way, but there was time I didnt think we would begin to be close ever again.
  18. EyesWideOpen

    EyesWideOpen Fapstronaut

    I'm pretty sure you were the one on another post that suggested that you would humiliate your husband at the gym if he was ogling another woman in front of you.
    kropo82 and hope4healing like this.
  19. EyesWideOpen

    EyesWideOpen Fapstronaut

    I think it's common to not recognize the problem as an addiction until one begins the journey to stop. I missed the post you mentioned, but my husband and I did not recognize it as an addiction until 2 years ago, almost 1 full year after the last Dday, 19 years into our marriage where PMO would rear its ugly head every few years. I found out on disclosure day that it was there behind the scenes our entire marriage and before. But addiction was never a thought until he said enough is enough and then we learned what it truly was.
  20. Thank you for these articles.
    I actually found one by Dr. Sarkis written by Dr. Seth Gilihan and pasted it below. I am actually impressed, because some of what is discussed also show in our thread. Primarily-- intent is key in determining whether a person is a gaslighter or not. Also says be cautious seeing gaslighters everywhere, manipulative tactics does not mean a person is gaslighting...


    If you've read anything about gaslighting, chances are you've come across the work of Dr. Stephanie Sarkis. She wrote a post on the topic that went viral in 2017 ("11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting"), and now she's written a book on the topic entitled Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People — and Break Free.

    Gaslighting Versus Manipulation

    Manipulation is a key part of gaslighting, but there are many more manipulators than there are gaslighters; after all, we're all capable of manipulation, and thankfully most of us aren't gaslighters.

    Seth J. Gillihan: So what would you say is the difference between gaslighting and what we might call more run-of-the-mill manipulation?

    Stephanie Sarkis: I think that's a great question, because there is a fine line. Influence or manipulation is used in various fields, particularly marketing and advertising, to get us to buy things. And you can say that kids learn manipulation at an early age — how to get something from one parent if the other one says "no" — so it's something that's not always bad. It's just how we learn to work the system. But when it becomes a series of behaviors where the sole intent is to gain control of someone else, then you're getting into gaslighting behaviors. It's a form of abuse, and usually the person displays a pattern of these manipulation tactics throughout several relationships.

    As Stephanie suggests, a major component of gaslighting is the intent. More common forms of manipulation are about getting our own way — "gaming the system" — whereas gaslighting is about controlling another person. And it's a consistent pattern of behavior, both within a single relationship and across multiple relationships.

    Gaslighting Versus Narcissism (or Just Being a Jerk)

    I continued to try to clarify the concept of gaslighting with Stephanie by comparing it to other types of difficult personalities.

    SJG: A related question: How is a gaslighter different from a narcissist, or just a jerk?

    SS: Gaslighting can be part of a narcissistic personality, but there are other pieces to narcissistic personality disorder. And it's more sociopathic behavior than just being a jerk. We can usually say, "That person is a jerk — whatever." But the gaslighter really gets under your skin and starts making you question your self-value.

    SJG: It seems like a jerk just repels you — pushes you away — but the awful thing about a gaslighter is you're both repelled and hooked at the same time.

    SS: Right, and when you try to leave a gaslighter, they do this thing called "hoovering," just like the Hoover vacuum. They will tell you all the things they love about you, and how things are going to be different this time, and as soon as you get back into the relationship, the gaslighter knows you're in their clutches. And things go right back to where they were, and then start getting worse and worse.

    SJG: So they're only better for as long as it takes the person to come back and lose momentum to leave.

    SS: Exactly, because when you're a gaslighter, and you lose that person's attention, it triggers your narcissistic injury — your bottomless pit of need. So you'll try to get that person to come back to fill that void that can never truly be filled. And if that doesn't work, then you'll try to find that next person. Gaslighters will either try to hoover you back into the relationship, or they'll have someone waiting in the wings, and they'll drop you like a hot potato and move on to the next person. They don't realize that no one will ever fill that void for them, so they just keep hopping from person to person.

    Gaslighting Versus Healthy Romantic Attachment

    Stephanie describes in her book the ways a gaslighter can attract an unsuspecting person, which unfortunately can look a lot like the positive signs of a strong romantic attachment. She offers guidelines for how to tell the difference. [Truncated]

    Gaslighting Versus Occasional Bad Behavior

    SJG: There are a lot of horror stories about gaslighting in your book — a lot of cautionary tales. Might there be a risk of priming people to see gaslighters everywhere and having a lot of false positives? What are some behaviors that could look like gaslighting, but actually aren't?

    SS: Well, first I'll say that if you've been in a relationship with a gaslighter, it's very common to be hyperaware of those behaviors. And that's because you've been traumatized. You have your feelers out looking for that right away. But sometimes people are just jerks, like we talked about before. Or someone could just be having a bad day. Again, this is a pattern of behavior. When you have a number of these behaviors that come together, that's when you have a gaslighter. It's not just someone lying once in a while, or saying, "I don't like what you're wearing" once in a while. It's an amalgam of behaviors that together are very indicative of abusive behavior.

    This distinction clarifies that gaslighting is not the same as occasional instances of difficult behavior, or having someone disagree with us, or even see the world very differently from how we see it.

    Seth J. Gillihan, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor of psychology in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Pennsylvania. His publications include journal articles, book chapters, and self-guided books on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety, depression, and related concerns. Dr. Gillihan hosts the weekly Think Act Be podcast.
    kropo82 likes this.

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