Hope in recovery while seeking out relationships

Fight the Good Fight

  1. Phantom Avalanche

    Phantom Avalanche Fapstronaut

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    Here's the cycle I'm in:
    a. I try to date or just meet new people. After a while, I end up not dating and such because my past/present makes me feel like I'm not worth dating or knowing.
    b. In response, I self-isolate. I give up on the notion of eternal marriage as I don't feel like I'll ever be worthy enough, "good enough" for someone else or that "I'll make it" in the Gospel.
    c. In that Isolation, end up relapsing again, confirming my fears. I try to tell myself that I need to not isolate myself, to try again. I feel lonely and desire to reach out to people. I pick myself up, really strive for sobriety [again], and I venture out to meet people [again]. The cycle repeats.

    As this repeats, I wonder if I'll ever get married in the temple, have a family, go to the celestial kingdom, or really ever be a part of the Gospel again. Each iteration makes me feel like this is less likely going to happen.

    So, my questions are as follows: Who else has experienced this? How do I break this cycle- How do I break the lie that "I won't be loved because of my past (and present) sins?" How are people in relationships figuring this part out?

    My thoughts so far are this:
    1. Break the addiction/sin first. Get enough real, long term sobriety to feel confident again. Worry about dating then, not now. Pro: lose the sin, be ready later. Con: Feel like I'm in a loop where I'll never get there, which just feeds the problem now. Doesn't solve the isolation problem.

    2. Be willing to be hurt now. Again and again. Be reviled by the people around you, find new people, get reviled again until you find a group that doesn't hate you. Pro: Find people that love you; you get awesome support to change along the way. Con: Confirm your fears that people will reject you as they find out your flaws, i.e. pornography. Again feeds the addiction/habit to dull pain as long as you don't have that support group.

    TL;DR: Porn and its guilt/shame makes a vicious cycle of isolation and relapse, which drains hope from Gospel blessings and developing relationships. I want to know the community's thoughts are about how they deal with this in the context of dating, friendships and relationships.
     
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  2. vxlccm

    vxlccm Fapstronaut

    What is said here is said to all who may read, not just targeting our brave Mr. @Phantom Avalanche. This was a great post, and I do think LDS investigators or members that run into NoFap will benefit hugely from having some instant reading that they feel is more "safe" than some of the other areas due to contributors being aligned in some basic faith precepts and life goals such as those clearly valued by the OP here.

    From experience, relationship isn't a fix. That's a response by inference. Not sure you're saying that or implying it. I can promise you that you are correct that a temple marriage and pornography are utterly incompatible in your life. So, to achieve one and bring a sweetheart with you to the temple, and remain temple worthy and raise children in righteousness, abandoning that sin and healing the addict are huge priorities. Maybe think of it a little like your wife can help you stay healed, but only you can choose the right by yourself.

    I don't think this means isolation, exactly. That's not an answer. Personal answers are available with inspiration from the Spirit, though. Let us consider the example of how the Church never kicks someone out of meetings, though -- all are welcome, no matter their sinful state. So, participation alone is never denied and I don't think we should remove ourselves from our social support network, even if we're not going to be praying or speaking in front of others. From my own life, though, I have extended family and friends of friends that have judged those they date, and written people off for various supposedly "disqualifying" reasons. That has to hurt. It pains me that you've had to essentially become accustomed to that treatment, including from supposedly nice young ladies. The super sad fact is that statistically speaking, there isn't a male alive that hasn't had some exposure to porn, and only a sliver-thin minority who hasn't had some level of a problem with this issue of lust. So, those judgemental types who think they've found another are probably being lied to. I say stay honest and of utmost integrity and you will find true love. Don't be anything other than yourself. I mean, discretion in serious topics should of course be reserved for a serious relationship. Withholding information pertinent to your future marriage is not advisable.

    The good news, as with so many of us here, is that assistance and healing are both possible. Once we turn our wills over to the Savior of us all, he is truly mighty to save. I have personally felt the peace in my life that is only available through following Jesus Christ. A closer relationship with the Lord isn't actually rocket science: for me, largely just reading scriptures and praying twice a day to start. Later, understanding the concept of pondering and carrying a prayer in the heart will become more powerful tools. Then, as we sinners become more worthy, more clean through repentance (including confession), we are availed privileges such as, for brethren, holding and exercising the Priesthood, participating in ordinances such as the Sacrament or through temple attendance, and those will become a powerful shield in our lives. God promises to forgive and forget. This is such a difficult thing for an addict to accept. We become so whittled down and troubled and damaged that we forget that forgiveness is amazing -- and readily available.

    God bless one and all.
     
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  3. benjaMAN

    benjaMAN Fapstronaut

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    You're not alone. I've been there. It's important to keep your faith. As long as you do whats right marriage will find you. God will prepare a way for you to do what he has commanded. It's celestial law. I met a girl over the summer, before our first date, I told myself it would be the last date I went on for a year. I needed to quit my addiction. The date went so well and we started dating more and more. God called her on a mission. She left about two weeks ago. When I dated her, it was a huge wake-up call. I knew that to have her, I needed to quit. COMPLETELY. I'm going to get married in the temple someday. I don't know when and I don't know who but it's all going to work out. Don't put your dreams on the back burner because you feel unworthy.
     
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  4. benjaMAN

    benjaMAN Fapstronaut

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    Dude. You are inspiring. Seriously. So impressed with your comment.
     
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  5. vxlccm

    vxlccm Fapstronaut

    Nah. Just a veteran in this war.

    Being over the hill of the horizon is where I can see the light now. You'll get there =)
     
  6. Phantom Avalanche

    Phantom Avalanche Fapstronaut

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    vxlccm:

    Thank you for your response! I totally agree. Just to clarify, I never implied nor insinuated that a relationship would "fix" an addiction. Rather, the question I posed is just the opposite: is pursuing a relationship during recovery detrimental? We all have a need to be wanted and loved; how does that place into recovery? This question is really about having hope in the future and finding support, rather than finding a technique or strategy for abstinence. I think we both agree there, and I think you answered that part well enough anyway.

    I think what you said following that nailed what I was really trying to ask: "Let us consider the example of how the Church never kicks someone out of meetings, though -- all are welcome, no matter their sinful state. So, participation alone is never denied and I don't think we should remove ourselves from our social support network, even if we're not going to be praying or speaking in front of others." Perfect analogy, perfect response. Thank you for saying that!

    I'm also grateful that you addressed the question more in general and made it applicable for more people. Thank you!

    To broaden the question, what other concerns to people have about relationships and recovery (particularly in an LDS perspective)? All answers are welcome!
     
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  7. Phantom Avalanche

    Phantom Avalanche Fapstronaut

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  8. Bobcat Bandit

    Bobcat Bandit Fapstronaut

    I think it's amazing what God can do with even very ugly situations. I'm dating a girl now (unusual for me, I'll be honest - last girlfriend was six years ago) and things are going incredibly well. I told her about my problem. I was pretty terrified to tell her, but I was pretty certain it's what I needed to do. I wondered how she could even be a support. Let me tell you, she is an incredible support. It's an ugly situation from certain angles. I shouldn't have this problem, and it's kind of unfair of me to gain such a strong romantic relationship and then spring this on her. BUT God is good, and God wants us to grow. I still have a problem, and it's still ugly, but the love of a good woman is truly a force to be reckoned with. A force that would have gone untapped if I didn't confide in her.
     
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  9. Phantom Avalanche

    Phantom Avalanche Fapstronaut

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    I'm surprised at how much patience and compassion that people within our Church have for those struggling with PMO and relationships. I know we've all run into that one member who wants to doom and gloom us out the door, but after a little review, I realized many of the leaders of our Church really have love and hope for those trying to recover! I think we really let the warnings sink in really deep because of our shame/guilt, and often we don't hear the other side of the message - the one about hope, recovery and the reality to quit PMO; our inherent worth which is unchanging; the reality that all of God's blessings are still available; That we are still able to love, be loved, and are still redeemable and worth redeeming.
    Here's a few links to start getting the hopeful LDS messages about PMO recovery and relationships. This is hopefully just a start, and I'd love for anyone/everyone interested to add to this list so we have a good LDS reference on the topic. I know these have helped me in hard times, so I feel they can help others.

    LDS Relationships and PMO:

    1. Elder Ballard's talk that includes dating a person w/ PMO and to not demonize addicts: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/m-russell-ballard_questions-and-answers/

    2. Sister Carol Stephen's advice about dating while PMO from a Face-to-Face event: https://www.lds.org/media-library/v...tephens-and-elder-donald-l-hallstrom?lang=eng

    3. [Non-official material, but still great] "Why I happily married a pornography addict: http://www.ldsliving.com/Why-I-Happily-Married-a-Pornography-Addict/s/82280

    4. Elder Oak's message on how to define/recover from pornography better as to not doom people: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/10/recovering-from-the-trap-of-pornography?lang=eng
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
  10. xerxies

    xerxies Fapstronaut

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    Thanks for this great question and all these great comments. I just want to add my witness that there are great people out there. While I am currently single, I have been in several relationships where I told my girlfriend about porn and she freaked out at first. After a few days though, every single one of them came to me, apologized and said they wanted to help however they could. While none of them worked out in the long run, I am a better person because of my efforts dating and I have several more great friends who are helping me in this fight.
     
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  11. Phantom Avalanche

    Phantom Avalanche Fapstronaut

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    UPDATE 5/2021:

    So, for those who have read the above, I would like to give an update on my life a bit. After a long go of it, I was (and as of writing, currently am) able to gain a significant hold on sobriety. But before that, I decided that the course of being (tactfully) open with others about my problems and risking the disdain was the better way. Yeah, some people hurt you when they find out. But what I've since found, as others on here said they found is that there are others that do listen. Others don't judge as hard. Others who will indeed accept you. Not everyone, but there are some.

    Surprisingly, there is a fair crowd of LDS women who have had issues with P/M/O in their own lives, and feel very left out as "women would never do that." The first success story for me was an LDS girl who admitted a pretty open sex addiction with men - she had went to BYU Idaho, nice person, but got sucked into the hook-up culture. Thankfully, we quickly decided that we weren't going to have any sexual relationship, and we chatted for over a year, just to keep up and see how we were both doing with our struggles. This little, but genuine, relationship gave me the courage to reach out to more people as it made sense.

    I met a very kind woman on that Mutual app. Divorced, trauma of her own, yet she 100% did not judge me. Her previous husband was very addicted to porn to say the least. I say addiction for him as it really dominated his family, professional and personal life a whole lot, and he had no desire to change. Like none. I will let her tell her own story about that (she has since joined this site), but I bring that up as she had every single right to take one look at me and run away. She didn't. She told me her experiences made her very sympathetic to LDS guys who are in this predicament, and we started dating. We talked a lot. We shared secrets. I'll spoil the story- three months ago I proposed, and now we are freshly newlyweds!

    Looking back at myself from 2017, I would tell him a few things from the future:
    1. You never know how things will change in the future- very few things are constant, and even then, your understanding and perspective of them will change. None of us are going to be stuck in this cycle forever!

    2. Persistence wins - you won your wife over in part to one of your attributes of keeping trying, despite failure and the feeling you would never, ever really win. To everyone else, none of us really know "when" the finish line is for our lives, so just keep going, no matter the previous losses.

    3. Believe there are other people who will see good in you. Don't lose hope in others.

    4. Believe in God and in yourself. All of us are perpetually changing. One day there will be a version of you that will see this cycle end. It may begin again, but it can and will definitely end. The pornography addiction cycle is not an eternal one, but the one for the Atonement is forever and eternal. Don't forget which cycle will win out!

    I hope this gives a few people hope that things do indeed change, and the changes can be good things, and that while I can't promise myself that I'll be forever sober, I can promise myself that I'll forever try. And for some people- God, our Savior, and choice people in our lives- that is good enough.

    NOTES: updates are grammar edits as I catch them. Thanks!
     
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  12. NisamSnješko

    NisamSnješko Fapstronaut

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    Every honor! that is huge. Congrats on making the journey through the thick and thin
     
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