SO fear of future PA relapse-How to cope?

Discussion in 'Rebooting in a Relationship' started by fadedfidelity, May 23, 2019.

  1. fadedfidelity

    fadedfidelity Fapstronaut

    I know there are no guarantees. I know there are men on here who relapse after 50, 100, 200, 300+ days. BUT I cannot shake the fear of potential future hurt from my husband relapsing. I cannot take one more heart brake from this. I am not sure if my anxiety and fear will ever go away. Am I setting myself up for future pain by staying with my husband if all men relapse eventually? Are there ANY PA's that have NEVER relapsed??? (Or is this a magical unicorn tale?)

    This week things have been really good between PA and me. We have been talking and intimate with each other. He has made great progress and has been doing some soul searching to fix things. He has been going to his therapist weekly, plus SAA phone meetings and nofap. He has been giving me things that I need to feel loved and safe.
    ****And perhaps that itself is a trigger for me at this point? (Feeling like things are good and I am close to him is usually when I get smacked in the face with evidence of PMO.)

    How do I cope with this anxiety??!? Have any other SO's felt absolute fear and anxiety of potential future relapses? So much so that you think of not getting back together with PA?

    I keep going through these cycles in the past 30 days; I feel good and get closer to my husband, and then start thinking of the high chances of relapse plus the past relapses and pull away. We can have a great few days together, but then my brain will warn me to not get too comfortable. I feel so much anxiety and want to guard myself and stay away from him again. But he has been doing well and I don't want to give him reason to feel otherwise.

    What causes relapse after 200, 300+ days?!? Do men take away the blockers, get comfortable and slip back into old habits? Or do they get a huge stressor like a death in the family or the loss of a job, etc.? How can SO's prepare and help to prevent it from happening??
    Nugget9 and Butterfly1988 like this.
  2. If I could comment, and its my feelings about your concerns.

    I have struggled trying to do all the right things and right times and best things and ultimately have failed on so many levels in my life.

    I learned and have been reminded again just this week by an auti accident that WE ARE NOT INFALLIBLE BEINGS.

    Relapses happen, bad memeories exist or stress cones on and we make poor chouces and mistakes are made.

    We can not live i fear of the what may happen because we will miss out on and not see WHAT IS HAPPENING

    My heart goes out to you as you and your PA make this journey together and I pray you both are successful together.

    Know also your feelings are heard. I an sure this is an ongoing battle in the mi ds of many SO's and we are all here in some form of support for each other.
    Nugget9 and Butterfly1988 like this.
  3. Tao Jones

    Tao Jones Fapstronaut

    I had 18 months of no P and relapsed after a very difficult interaction with my parents and siblings. I was blind-sided by it and went back to what I knew would make me feel safe and loved -- even though it was false. I stayed in active relapse for about a year after that. When I finally came back to my senses, it was a huge wake-up call to me. I realized that I could not afford to let a single day go by without addressing this addiction. And every day since then, I have done just that. I also quit MO, too, as I realized from reading on this site that it would eventually lead me back to P. That was new learning for me, even after a few years of recovery.

    At any point along the way, my wife could have chosen to leave. She still can. She has every right to do so. I have violated our vows to one another many times through PMO. So far, she has decided the pain of living with an addict in recovery is less than the pain of breaking apart the family. Sadly, there is no easy answer. Any choice the SO makes may result in pain, and it is difficult to tell which path will result in the least amount of it.

    Trust takes a long time to rebuild. It is an ongoing choice. One day at a time is the only way to do it. If you get focused on the future, the stress will kill you. If I think of the many thousands of days ahead of me in which I will never PMO again, it can begin to seem impossible. But if I look only to today, I know can do that. I have the resources and knowledge in place to help support me, and I have the desire to do right. I imagine it is the same for the SO. If you think about what might happen in the future, you will certainly despair. The past gives you plenty of reason to think the future will be no different. But you cannot live in tomorrow -- only in today. And today, you enjoy what you have, do what you need to do to get through, and hope for the best.

    Nonetheless, some days are harder than others. It is good to walk the path with friends. It is a very hard path to walk alone.
  4. Numb

    Numb Fapstronaut

    My bf relapsed after over 500 days. I know what triggered it, his dad was diagnosed with cancer and triggered anxiety, depression and his PTSD. He started to sink back into unhealthy habits. The last time he addressed a lot of things with his PA, but never the root cause. I tried to push him in that direction but I think he thought that he had it, because he had gone for so long without it. I knew a relapse was probably going to happen, as much as I hoped that it wouldn't. I had hopped that he would tell me if it did, but he did not. So now we are thrown back into this shit, with his dad's illness on top. It's all hard, but I hope it helps him to see what he needs to do now.
    There is nothing you can do to stop him from relapsing. It has to come from him. I've spent a lot of time fearing this moment and now that it has come it is not the relapse that hurts the most, though it does hurt. It is the lying. I can not deal with the lying anymore. The lying is the worst.

    As time has gone on my anxiety over it is getting better, but I fear it will never be gone completely. Time helps, but I also need openness and honesty from him. Those things are being worked on, and even after our last go round it has improved greatly. But there is nothing wrong if you decide that it is too much for you, it is doing too much damage to you and you need to get out of the relationship. This is hard and painful and it is every day. You will have doubts, you will be suspicious at times. As long as you both are working towards making yourselves healthier and working together for the relationship I think it can work out for many couples.
    Trappist and Nugget9 like this.
  5. Tao Jones

    Tao Jones Fapstronaut

    The lying is what my wife and I have found is the hardest thing, too. She knows that my P addiction has nothing to do with her whatsoever, and she knows I love her as best I know how. She has extended me plenty of grace in our marriage, but only if I am honest with her about how I am doing. She doesn't want all the nitty-gritty details, but she wants to know I am working on my recovery. The hiding of the PMO from her is what she will no longer abide. And rightly so!

    So, I keep a recovery coin on my desk where she can see it. She can ask about things any time, and I have promised to be honest about how I am doing. If she sees my coin flip back to the "Welcome"/intro-level one, she knows something is up and we can talk. And if she finds I am lying again, she has said she will look on that quite unfavorably. We put all this in place after my last relapse last summer, and it has been working well for us. Maybe other couples can do some version of this that works for them.

    And the coin has also prompted great conversation with my two pre-teen sons. We are raising them to be much more aware of the dangers of PMO than I was growing up! frank, direct conversation about the topic has been good. And being accountable to my own sons is a powerful motivator to stay the course!
    Nugget9, Hros and Butterfly1988 like this.
  6. kropo82

    kropo82 Fapstronaut

    My longest streak from before was 654 days. I wish I could say it was a big stress that flipped me back, but I'm not sure. I was away from home on business, stressed (and excited) about a conference presentation I was giving the following day, and I dived back into porn. But I was not keeping a journal then (this was back in September 2013) so all the events and feelings are a bit jumbled for me. If I had a journal then like I keep here now I would be able to give you a more textured account of what went wrong. There are a few things that stand out though
    1. This place did not exist (here's what the site looked like in October 2013: )
    2. I was not in therapy then
    3. I was still masturbating, I had not realised that stopping might help me quit porn
    4. No-one, other than me, was day-to-day engaged in my recovery (my wife trusted me to get on with it and did not want to 'parent' me through it)
    5. I was not being as careful as I am here about journaling triggers, techniques, etc.

    I started trying to quit porn in 2010 and I had many relapses, but, to offer a glimmer of hope, since joining NoFap in October 2016 I have not relapsed at all. I am on Day 964 without porn and my sobriety feels solid now. I do not want to tempt fate, and I am going to stay vigilant, but I do not expect to relapse ever. So for me it was the community here that was the final jigsaw piece I needed. I'd done work already and reached the point where I needed these forums. For me you have all been the key. Making the commitment publicly (albeit behind a pseudonym), the advice, the support, other's stories, people who cared about my success, the sense I would be letting people down, the counter, etc., etc. it all helped. The techniques I gleaned from others here (which I've brain dumped here) have become cornerstones of each stage of my recovery.

    I'm not sure where I am going with this. I wish I could give you more hope, or more techniques that might help you as a wife. My heart goes out to you, I believe you will both win.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  7. Lilla_My

    Lilla_My Fapstronaut

    Me personally don't buy into that "one day at the time" bullshit that's thrown around. Like, "you should choose to trust him one day at the time". What does that even mean? I doubt it would sound good if the shoe was on the other foot. Like if I told my husband "you never know what tomorrow may bring, I might sleep with your best friend, but you should choose to trust me today!" Would that be reassuring? No. Would that even make any sense? I doubt it. Trust doesn't work that way.

    I know exactly how you feel. The fear is paralyzing and you are in the midst of a mental torture I don't think some of the PAs can fully grasp. I can honestly say I would rather have lost an arm than to go through this, as I feel my life, my purpose, my judgement and my sanity has been taken away from me.

    After every relapse I've lost more trust in my husband, but I'm addition to that, I have gotten scarred badly and I feel that's a good thing, as I'm not as trustworthy, sweet and gentle as before. I'm more indifferent and I feel I have disconnected from him. You will be surprised that hurt can really make you stronger and more resilient, smarter and braver than before, and your husband will know he has a lot to loose as you no longer frighteningly cling to his side.

    There must be lots of succesful stories out there, where people have managed to turn their relationships around for the better, but I also think many of those former PAs are not on this forum. What you see here are those that struggle and are in the midst of it all. I've seen some reddit threads and some accounts from where married PAs have claimed to stop for good. I don't know if it helps, but there is also the possibility that your husband will relapse and learn from it, making him even more resistant to porn in the future. A lot of relapses occur where the relapser deeply regrets himself and gather more strength to stay away (he sees yet again that it wasn't worth it). Your husband seems to have made great progress and all of that would not be wiped out in case of a set back.

    I hope you two can speak freely and objectively about the possibility of a relapse and all the things that might come from it. The more you two can study the possibility, the more tools he will have to fight against it.
    Susannah likes this.
  8. Tao Jones

    Tao Jones Fapstronaut

    Just to clarify, I only meant to say that worry about the future is counter-productive. We cannot control it and we cannot predict it; by worrying about what might happen, we do not do anything other than make today worse. Similarly, we cannot change the past. It is gone. By dwelling in the past, we ignore the reality of the day, whether better or worse.

    Trust, however, does rely on knowledge about the past. It is built up slowly over time through consistent performance. I trust my wife today because she has proven herself trustworthy over a long period of time. She trusts me because I have done the same. At one point, she would have been right to trust me less. And so she did. She chose to stick around and see if things got better. And so they did. it could have gone otherwise.

    It was not my intent to conflate the two ideas. I apologize if that is how it came across. I am less facile in expressing ideas than I would like.
    Nugget9 likes this.
  9. Butterfly1988

    Butterfly1988 Fapstronaut

    Girl, I feel the same.
    Susannah likes this.
  10. Susannah

    Susannah Fapstronaut

    Participating in any relationship is a guarantee of some amount of future pain. But I don’t think this is what you are talking about. I think you might be asking if you are setting yourself up for “betrayal trauma” grade pain and if so, can you stand it? You are looking for people to tell you that there are exceptions and that there is a possibility, no matter how tiny, that your PA is such an exception and that you might be spared more of what you have endured so far. You are looking for someone to tell you it is possible you might just win that particular lottery. But it’s not just you - that dream is what keeps so many SOs hanging on for one more round. You say you cannot take one more heartbreak from this. If that is literally true, you should leave immediately. You should not destroy yourself in service to him or this relationship. (Sadly, such an observation does NOT go without saying in the SA world we inhabit. We have to be explicit about it.) But let’s face it, just a brief sweep through the SO journals and forums here will show you that we routinely make these “never again!” declarations only to find ourselves somehow absorbing “one more”. It is tempting to say that ‘only you know how much pain and risk you can take’, but even that might not be true. One insidious thing about BT is that over time, we stop listening to the messages our bodies and our emotions are screaming at us, and mistake that “ignoring” for pain tolerance. We often don’t understand how much we can (or couldn’t) take until we are debilitated by PTSD or our bodies and minds start to shut down. Could we take it? Well, I guess so. After all, we are technically still breathing. But that seems a pretty low bar for “taking it”, or at least it would in the “real” world.
    Problem is, we can never know. You are presenting this question to a group comprised of 1) sufferers of a condition characterized by lying, either to oneself or others and 2) their SOs, who have an emotional vested interest in believing that those unicorns exist.
    Yup. This is how it was at my house. Things started feeling better, we got close, he got complacent because I was “not mad anymore” or just out of laziness, he relapsed. And each time I had gotten just enough of a taste of the Promised Land to get me to sign up for yet another round. It makes me tear up a bit to think of it. Whaddya know? I didn’t think I could cry anymore.
    Yes. Absolutely. Eventually I decided that I could not continue living immersed in anxiety, so “I let my love for him go” (it can be difficult to accept that this is a possibility, but when one is ready, it IS possible) and separated from my husband. But for a long time before that I was in denial. This denial took (at least) two main forms.

    1) Denial about how much I could take, characterized by the following thoughts : “I can learn to live with this pain”, “I can stick it out a bit longer”, “When this is all solved, I will be able to take care of my damage, but for now, dealing with the addiction is job one.”, “This is an opportunity for personal growth and I will be the better for it”, or “I am strong!”, (a mantra that SO’s are encouraged to adopt, and which in actual practice often amounts to “There is no limit to the shit I will put up with!”)

    2) Denial about my PA’s level of sincerity. This one was characterized by “Hmm. Could it be that he seems different this time?” and usually entailed lots of looking for ever- tinier indications that he might finally be taking things seriously and making progress. But I was forever either catching him in little lies or talking myself out of naming as lies what, in fact, were lies. It was difficult for me to really accept on a deep level that this person to whom, once upon a time, I had invested with all my trust, could not reasonably be expected to reliably tell the truth. So I was always looking for indications that, this time, he was being truthful. In a frantic effort to convince myself, I lied to myself. I was desperately doing whatever mental gymnastics it took to allow myself to live the lie a bit longer.
    Your brain is just trying to help you. You have been slapped on the muzzle while reaching for a treat from his hand one too many times. You can override this with your “higher” brain, but don’t expect your amygdala to fall in line.
    Please don’t take this burden on yourself. It is a slippery slope from there to a life spent tiptoeing around him in a mistaken belief that your behavior is in some way responsible for his. Your anxiety and caution, and yes, your mistrust are consequences of his behavior and in order to recover he must learn to bear that. @Trynagetbetter said it very well. "I would admit that in the past I honestly believed I need to be close to the wife or I do bad things.... I learned the problem had always been ME. MY RESPONSES to stress, or triggers, or difficult emotions.... The trigger is never the problem; the "default response to the trigger" is the problem. He is responsible for learning how to handle arguments, disappointments, and periods of unresolved conflict like a MAN."

    I’m so sorry this is happening to you and wish there were solid answers to your questions.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  11. IamOlive

    IamOlive Fapstronaut

    Ah yes this sucks. The fear of the unknown and wanting to hold on for dear life when things are going great. I’ll admit I’m struggling with this too. We have a great day and I don’t want to go to sleep not knowing what tomorrow brings. Working on my own stuff and betrayal trauma does seem to be helping. I can catch myself more quickly when codependency or not loving myself first sneaks in. It’s hard and takes practice. I think we have to learn to heal ourselves so when/if the relapses happen we are able to cope better. That’s my hope anyway. I think it would still hurt like hell.

    Open communication with my husband seems to be also helping and being in support groups.

    As for the anxiety I’m doing it through chemistry. Prozac :)
  12. JKnight

    JKnight Fapstronaut

    You fear that he will relapse. When I began, I feared that I would never be cured. It was a tough pill for me to swallow at the time; I would always have to be on my guard, even after I've rebooted. Rebooting just makes it easier, and starts the brain on the process of healing. But it will always remain scarred. My brain will always remember that there is a bloody easy and free way of feeling nothing. That there is a quick fix that floods my brain with dopamine that takes away stress and anxiety, and yes, it makes me feel bad afterwards, the chemical side and brain side, that's not true. My brain has got its fixed.

    So addiction is a hugely compulsive behaviour; it's a bloody addiction akin to other addictions. We must choose to want to stop it, but it's difficult, the brain and the subconscious is powerful. And if we are not careful, a situation may arise where our usual techniques fail or we fail to apply the techniques that help us deal, and so our brain remembers this quick and easy fix and urges flare up again. Life's hard. relationships are hard and women are freaking crazy. There are triggers everything. This is not just true for porn addiction, but it is also true for alcoholics and drug addicts, for most types of addiction. It will leave a scar.

    I relapsed after 110 days. Why? because my ex-landlord perjured a document, froze my bank account and was taking us to court; we had no bank account or assets for 11 months. And it was the day of the court case and we had no money for a lawyer. There are triggers every time my wife and I fight, hence the fact I'm writing this message, because it seems to help dissipate the strength of the urge.

    Did I tell my wife when I relapsed? No. Did I lie to her? No. I didn't tell her because she didn't ask and because of my pride. Did I lie to her when she did finally ask. No. And I was happy when she did ask.

    That was a bit of rant, but I guess to answer your question, will there be relapses? Possibly and likely. Should you fear them? No. It's up to you, but if you encourage and open and honest conversation, not based on fear, that makes it easy to disclose and to check-in, if he is trying to recover, you'll realise that it's (a) not about you, (b) it's not even about sex, (c) he's more likely to be honest with you, (d) it'll make it harder for him to relapse from within himself and easier to bring himself out of relapse if it does happen because he's in a supportive environment.
  13. RedeemedIowan

    RedeemedIowan Fapstronaut

    I’ve got nearly 1,000 days without porn and have MO’d once in more than a year. My wife knows these things very well. I have to give credit to God, NoFap, and lots of APs. Whenever I feel tempted, which DOES happen, I lean on these resources.

    I think one big key is I don’t masturbate. I think God’s plan for me is to have all my sexual energy given to my wife. That’s really difficult and has resulted in me pressuring her for sex. But I believe if we men are periodically masturbating it’s really tough not to let the hunt for sexual pleasure take us wherever it takes us. Take the battle to masturbation and the battle against porn or p-subs will be much easier.
    Lilla_My and hope4healing like this.
  14. justafriend

    justafriend Fapstronaut


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