Is anyone coping with addictive, PMO-like relationships?

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by No More It, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. No More It

    No More It Fapstronaut

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    Hi, is anyone coping with addictive relationship? By that I mean that we treat our partners as if they should be a quick acces to joy and relief, same as we did with PMO.
    I am PMO free for twon months, but have recently enter a relationship, and I am still struggling not to be "addictive" towards my girlfriend. I don't want do exhibit the addictive behaviour as I used to with PMO.
    Reflections, suggestions, please.
     
  2. Ted Martin

    Ted Martin Fapstronaut

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    I think it can be easy for some people to look to other people to complete them or to validate them. This is a key element of codependency and perhaps something for you to explore. The other issue is that when PMO are not part of the picture it's easy for the addict to turn to some other channel to fill that void. For some we turn to other people in unhealthy ways or to food, alcohol, smoking, work, the gym, etc. It can be anything really. The key is to start changing the unhealthy behaviors into healthy ones. Reaching out to other people for healthy connection is actually the best way, in my opinion, to beat PMO. It involves stopping meeting our own needs, on our time, how we want, etc. and instead looking to have a healthy connection with someone else. This can be hard and involves risk though. We could be rejected. That's many times why we turn to PMO as a coping mechanism or self-medicating habit. Reaching out to others takes us from unhealthy behaviors that push us to isolate into the light where the addiction and the secret of it can't survive when brought out from the shadows.

    However, we have to make sure that connection with other people is healthy. Really, at it's core, porn addiction is an intimacy disorder. We are looking and for, want and need intimacy. Problem is we go about it all the wrong way by using quick fix coping mechanisms such as PMO. So in order to beat the addiction we need to look for and build healthy intimacy and connections with other people. That being said, we can't use others as a porn substitute either. It can't be that we are just looking to use them or to just have them meet our needs. That defeats the purpose and isn't healthy either. ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  3. No More It

    No More It Fapstronaut

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    Thank you brother for this wonderful reply. You have articulated exactly what was on my mind.
    I agree especially on this: "t's easy for the addict to turn to some other channel to fill that void". This is exactly what I am doing. And I am aware of it, but still struggling with this addictive behaviour. Can you explain a bit more what does it mean to construct a "healthy connection"? How do you approach these issues when it comes to "stopping meeting our own needs, on our time, how we want"? This is my biggest problem. If my partner doesn't meet my needs in a way I expect from her, I will feel miserable and desperate, and my self-confidence will be low.
    I know it's a kind of dopamin fix, the one we used to get from porn, but for me it's transposed into my relationship. I want that to end, I want to find my inner confidence and strength, and not to be addictive to someone's affection anymore. But sometimes its really hard to separate those two - addiction and love. Is it even possible?
     
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  4. Meshuga

    Meshuga Fapstronaut

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    Some of us have to extract ourselves from sex altogether for a while before we can enter into healthy sexual behavior. I tried the shortcut, but found that I was behaving like I was still on porn, even after normal sexual activity with my SO. I couldn't stop treating her like a porn outlet, partially because both of us have learned the wrong things about sex.

    Modern Western culture has taught us that sex is primarily for enjoyment. As long as it's consensual, anything goes. We've promoted the "no strings" and "free love" ideas, which sound great in theory, but I don't think people work that way. I could be wrong because, as evidenced by my presence here, I am a porn addict. I'm messed up and relearning things, but I suspect sex is primarily bonding behavior with nice side benefits. Sex has strings, they keep us secure. Love is not free, because it's worth something. Knowing this on an intellectual level isn't enough, though. We have to retrain our brains.

    Physical desire is a key ingredient to romantic relationship, but it's just one. As addicts, we find it easy to over emphasize that desire to the detriment of everything else; especially in the early stages of a relationship when novelty is doing its work. It's typically recommended to avoid starting new romance relationships during reboot. If you do, honesty is a scary but important step. Your girlfriend might be disappointed and unwilling to take you on as a higher maintenance partner than she initially thought. On the other hand, she might appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. It could be a case of the right person at the wrong time, or it could be the start of a relationship built on honesty and support, not superficial attraction.
     
  5. Credo

    Credo Guest

    Healthy connections will start when you have a healthy relationship with yourself. When you accept yourself exactly how you are, flaws and all, you will be able to stop looking towards others for happiness and validation. You will begin to live for your own approval and look towards yourself to supply your own happiness.

    A book that's been helping me with this process has been "No More Mr. Nice Guy".


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2016
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  6. Ted Martin

    Ted Martin Fapstronaut

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    Great question! For me personally, it was a shift in my thinking. While acting out with PMO, it was all about me. Everything was very self focused and internally driven. Addiction at it's heart is about greed. Now I am changing my focus from selfish desires and relying on self-medicating habits and coping mechanisms to one that is outward facing. I am working at replacing the greed born from addiction and replacing it with the opposite...I am working on gratitude and gratefulness. That's a big shift for an addict.

    I agree with @NoMoreMrNiceGuy that you also have to love yourself before you can love others. It starts with self-compassion. Then you can come out from under the umbrella of shame and can love yourself and own your story. And in being kind to myself, I build up a reservoir of compassion that I can then extend to others. I am actively fostering an empathetic spirit with a heart for serving other's needs. I think service work is a key component to the recovery process. But you need to love yourself first and not feel shame in order to do that effectively. I am working at learning what other's needs are now and seeing if I can help meet their emotional needs (in appropriate and healthy ways, not in a codependent fashion) instead of it just being all about me like it was when I was acting out. For me, those are all things that feed that "healthy connection" and also can be used to differentiate love from addiction.
     
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  7. No More It

    No More It Fapstronaut

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    I have already started reading No More Mr. Nice Guy, and although I don't agree with everything I see it as a very useful book for starting to respect yourself beyond others' approval.
    I am definitely in the moment in my relationship when, as Meshuga said, "novelty does its work", and I think this is the most sensitive stage to become addicted and co-dependent.
    Also, I find very interesting this concept of "self-compassion", that Ted Martin is talking about. Could you elaborate on it a bit more?
    And I am aware that I have started my relationship during the reboot. But I am still determine to try to struggle with both, my PMO addiction and an effort to build a healthy relationship. I don.t know will I succeed in it, but have to try.
     
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  8. Ted Martin

    Ted Martin Fapstronaut

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    Self-compassion, simply put is giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others. It's accepting ourselves and caring for ourselves especially in times when we are suffering. It's acknowledging that we are suffering and the depths of that. It's not about trying to make ourselves feel better but instead practicing sympathy for ourselves and caring for ourselves because we are suffering. It's not about curing things, it's about caring. (Curing is only possible when we have a way to fix something.) Caring can be done even if we can't cure the situation or issue. With our emotions, the sooner we stop struggling to fix things the better. Then, paradoxically, the self-caring or self-compassion can lead to curing.

    Two main resources I would point you to regarding self-compassion are: Dr. Kristen Neff (http://self-compassion.org/) and
    Christopher K. Germer's book: "The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions".

    You can also go to this website http://www.mymensgroup.net/self-compassion-resources.html and watch the short video there by Dr. Neff as she talks about self compassion vs self esteem as well as read some of the book and article excerpts on that page. You might find them to be useful. That website is something that I created for our men's support and accountability group that I lead. We post the most helpful resources that we use in our group there as way for others to learn and in turn hopefully heal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  9. No More It

    No More It Fapstronaut

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    I'll look into it. I find it very interesting.
    Do you ever have a feeling that sometimes you cause a problem by trying to solve it? And therefore we shouldn't not search for "more solutions" but somehow reconceptualize the whole field in which the problem itself first appeared?
     
  10. No More It

    No More It Fapstronaut

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    I think I am often desperate to find a cure, to fix things, problems etc., that I forgot to care for myself, to show compassion for my own suffering.
     
  11. Ted Martin

    Ted Martin Fapstronaut

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    I'm not sure if this is what you're getting at, but I can tell you that for me, in working with a counselor things got worse and more messy before they started getting better. They pushed me to process through and look at things from my past and childhood that were root causes of my issues. In doing that I was forced to deal with past hurts and pain and in doing that things got more difficult for awhile. Digging up all those painful feelings caused the desire for PMO as a coping mechanism to ramp up all the more. But then slowly overtime as I worked at those feelings in healthy ways they started to improve as I began to get more healthy and that continues to be the case for me too. I believe that by working at fixing things, while there is no magic bullet cure, is taking care of yourself. As you heal past wounds and learn to rely on healthy ways of coping going forward you are killing two birds with one stone. You are better taking care of yourself and you are fixing things and to some degree curing the problem of addiction.
     
  12. Power of the Mind

    Power of the Mind Fapstronaut

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    yes it is a constant battle for me...i have been using my wife 'MO' me for many years and only recently, through the knowledge i have learned on NoFap, decided to give it up. It turns our even though she said she was happy to abide to my sexual whims, she actually resents me for using her in a way that wasn't mutually beneficial. It has had a negative effect on our union.
    I have some healing to do on both sides and NoFap is my driving force.
    started cold showers now to drive the urges away. fuck its hard not to just ask for a favour every few days.
    i count my lucky stars that she has done it for so long and is still with me. PMO manifests itself in other forms of addiction i find, especially with a partner.
    thanks for posting this thread and wish me luck!
    POTM
     
  13. Power of the Mind

    Power of the Mind Fapstronaut

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    this is so well said and thought out. i really relate to it :)
     
  14. F50C137YZ

    F50C137YZ Fapstronaut

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    I normally tell people starting out on nofap that seeking out relationships should not be a priority. It's really hard because there is and always will be a drive for both sexual expression and emotional connection.

    People that are actively seeking relationships as a number one priority tend to have many indicators of low-self esteem. Just go onto the Loneliness section of this forum and look at many of the threads. It is rare that the person is beaming with self-confidence and sel-esteem.

    Most of the time, the person is looking to people in the forum for guidance and even validation that they are, in fact, deserving of a relationship. These individuals more often than not end up attaching themselves to the first person that shows any interest and idealizing said person.

    I can't assume anything about you, OP. For all I know, you have had a healthy dating life. For all I know, you dated around before you met your current partner and came to the conclusion that you two are the best match.

    I can speak from my own experience in that I kind of waited for love to happen TO me. Instead of taking the reigns and putting myself out there with confidence and thinking, "I'm a great person! I deserve an equally great partner and I will find a person like this." Instead, I waited for someone to like me. Even though I waited, it was the number one priority in my life and it got me nowhere.

    You can imagine, this didn't happen very often. So, I found myself thinking, "This is destiny. We are meant to be together. I hope I don't mess this up. What if she sees the real me and doesn't like me anymore?" My thoughts went from extreme fantasy driven "This is it! She is my future wife" to "I'm worthless and she deserves better."

    So, I'm not saying that dating and seeking love is bad. I simply mean that seeking it to make one's self feel less lonely or to fill some sort of emotional void as a main priority in life is unhealthy. This is evident in both people that skip from one relationship to the next and people that desperately want a relationship, but don't put themselves out there. Both share the common factor that a relationship is what gives them value.

    Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to this. Self-esteem is not something that you can just conjure up. It could take years. The thing about loneliness is that it's important, vitally important, to become secure in being alone. To actually work on enjoying being alone.

    I feel like a broken record because I've made many posts like this, but it comes down to passion. Self-esteem more easily comes with becoming passionate about something, not someone. Passionate about ethics, health, societal issues, writing, etc.

    The mistake a lot of people make is that they think passion is one thing. Like for instance, I write music. That became my identity. It became everything. One day, I realized, what if I become paralyzed or deaf? I would be back at square one, with nothing that would create a spark in me and nothing to do.

    So, I decided to get passionate about everything that I do. I work in a warehouse, but I'm passionate about my work. I make the most of it and I put my everything into it while I'm there. I'm passionate about my diet. I'm passionate about talking to people and helping them realize how awesome they are. I'm passionate about doing stretches every day.

    I'm not saying that you should toss your relationship aside. All I suggest is that you take some time to yourself. Think about what you are passionate about. Again, being passionate about your partner is not what I'm talking about. Really think deep.

    What would you have if you two broke up today? Would you have passions that you could really delve into and express yourself through?

    These are called outlets. They are emotional channels in which you can express everything that words just can't express. If you had a really shitty day or you are feeling so lonely it hurts, a true outlet will help you express those feelings into something productive.

    For musicians, it's a song. For programmers, it's a program . For writers, it's a novel or a poem. For yoga masters, it's expressing through their bodies. For dancers, it's making a new dance routine. I think that you get where I'm going with this.

    Self-esteem comes from many things in combination. However, it should never, never, never come from external validation.

    I think that I've ranted for long enough. I hope that something good and helpful and healing has come from my words. I also hope the best for your relationship, but don't fret if it doesn't. You are a beautiful being full of life and that alone gives you tremendous value.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
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  15. mreffinsunshine

    mreffinsunshine Fapstronaut

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    Kind of funny that you posted about this, as it's relates to a tough decision I recently had to make. My last long relationship was basically nothing more than us using each other as porn - we both were taught about sex through porn and expressed ourselves that way as well. I think during the time I was seeing her, my PMO addiction had never been so intense, despite the fact that we were also hooking up with each other. Leaving that relationship was incredibly difficult, but it's also the one that made me realize just how badly my brain had been rewired, all those years ago.

    Afterwards, I made the mistake of jumping into another relationship during a time when I knew better than to do so. Lovely girl, totally supportive of me wanting to get better, but what ended up happening was that I was using her 100% as a porn substitute, and a void filler. Even though I genuinely cared for her, and saw potential for a long-lasting relationship, there was literally no way that I was ready to engage in that sort of situation. I looked in the mirror, realized what I was doing with her, and I ended it. I feel like a complete asshole for hurting her, but I know in my heart I made the right decision.

    All that being said, I think it can be challenging to call these things out about yourself and break the habit, but it can be even more challenging to know when it is okay to start trying to have a healthy connection with a SO again. That's where I'm sitting now - I'm lonely, but know that I have to be. So when is it okay to seek a relationship out again? I wish I had that answer. I just know that, in the throes of trying to recover from an addiction as crippling as this one, it can be very difficult to maintain a positive/healthy romantic relationship and, unless you're already in one with someone who is 100% willing to help and understand, it is best to heal with the support of groups like this and continue to find positive behaviors and activities to fill one's life with on one's own.
     
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  16. F50C137YZ

    F50C137YZ Fapstronaut

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    It's refreshing when someone really gets this concept. There are so many people on this forum that want to jump into a relationship right away at the beginning of their recovery.

    It's a huge mistake because the addiction is just surface level. The real recovery is finding out why one is self soothing with addictive tendencies and figuring out how to mend one's wounds in a healthy way.

    Brilliant post, basically what I've been saying, only you have the actual experience to back it up.
     
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  17. mreffinsunshine

    mreffinsunshine Fapstronaut

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    Thanks for that. Again, I feel happy that I'm able to recognize the right path, it's even harder to actually take it. But, all we can do is our best, and that's exactly what I am aim to do.
     
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