Hello, this is my first post. I wanted to say ‘THANK YOU’ to Ghostwriter, Kenzi and many others for their words of wisdom. I came to this forum over a year ago after googling symptoms of what could be wrong with my husband. It all became crystal clear (painfully so); your posts/replies have been my rock and at times, my sanity- you call it like it is and have reaffirmed what I’ve felt/thought/suspected. Without even knowing it, you have truly helped me. You’re perfect strangers, but I will ever appreciate and respect your guidance, honesty and knowledge. I’ve been with my SO for 20 years, married for 11. Lack of connection, sex that felt wrong and different, objectification, ogling, PIED & DE and his sudden onset of anxiety...all of the symptoms were there and seemed to show up at once. I worked very hard and very patiently to bring his addiction to light and while I know he realizes he is a PMO addict today, the red flags are still there (thank you Ghostwriter for continuing to point out the red flags that we may be in denial about). We did the 90 day reboot and for about a month of that time, I felt my husband was back, present and aware. We actually communicated deeply, talked about sex and how to rebuild our relationship. We were always sexually active, but the PIED was already improving and he seemed connected with me. He was touching all of me, not just zoning in. There were moments of empathy from him, vulnerability and openness. I realized this addiction hijacked those feelings from him and had for some time. I can relate to so many who feel this addiction has stolen their SO. He was indeed a ghost of my husband and while I found hope in early results, I don’t want to be naive, especially when it started to feel he was in his head again, avoiding and withdrawing. BUT all the while, adamant he has not PMO’d. I feel my SO has taken a huge leap forward however, I understand that acknowledgment alone is not recovery and feel he may be regressing. He says he quit and hasn’t gone back, no urges, no triggers, everything is ‘good’. My fear now is the ‘what if’. Like all others, the question of ‘if it were that easy why didn’t he quit a long time ago?’ How can I know if he’s truly serious as much as he says he’s 100% committed. With the lies, omissions and minimizing over the past year, I wish there was a way to know if it’s my intuition, paranoia or should I just put my faith in his word and continue to hope... I have barriers up where there shouldn’t be. Wondering what his intention is when we’re cuddling and hating the fact that between our friendship and sex, we have this huge intimacy void. I’m confused between wanting to share sexual intimacy and protecting myself from feeling used. I feel hurt that I have taken this on and feel lonely as a result. It is devastating to feel like I hardly know my husband after 20 years. There was a post by Ghostwriter a while ago that caught a lot of flack. It was questioning how PA’s hide and sneak their PMO. I wish there were answers to give insight, but instead it was more of an attack on the original post. I would like to know the red flags, signs, symptoms of relapse, how PA’s continue to hide etc. I need to know what to look for and while my instinct was right a year ago, when you feel hyper vigilant, you start to question your instincts. It’s an awful feeling of confusion. I’d like to have the resources and insight from PA’s and SO’s to guide me. Honesty is not something that’s been freely given by PA’s and the advice and openness from those who’ve been there is invaluable. Answering honestly may be a trigger, but aren’t coping with triggers a part of recovery? These forums (and NoFap Reddit) have been my bible in a sense - I know what I know because PA’s and SO’s have shared their experiences. I know my SO doesn’t want to disappoint me or hurt me anymore, but I can’t help but feel that he has/is struggling alone or fighting it himself. He has never been open emotionally and we’ve made progress in that sense which is awesome. I want to focus on the positive except I’ve read so often that it’s not enough to simply say ‘I’ve stopped’. I still catch him zoning out to certain actresses on tv and I can feel his anxious energy at times (restless, rubbing his face, moving arms a lot, sore arms and back). I tell him I can sense the anxious energy, but he says he’s feeling ok. It makes me question that gut feeling I’ve come to rely on and that scares me. I don’t want to question if it’s right or if I’m being overly sensitive. I also feel like a nag and needy when I keep asking and don’t want to push him away with distrust. We’re in a confusing place of when and how to initiate sex because we both want to show our intentions are right. I want the intimacy we lacked and can’t help but feel this is uncomfortable to my SO to have physical contact without sex. He will caress and be gentle, but no kissing or eye contact and there has been frustration when this closeness doesn’t lead to sex. I wonder if he doesn’t know how to anymore because of PMO or if his PA brain is actually healing. How can I help him with this? I don’t want to ‘withhold’ sex, but I want him to know what selflessness and control feels like and feel a natural build up of desire. He has been selfish for so long and I want this to feel right for us. I hate guessing what his motives are (closeness vs a need for release). I’m the SO who has done the work to bring the addiction to light while stuffing my own feelings down. I have talked to a therapist a couple of times when I realized how badly this affected me and I go through daily waves of emotions. I’ve researched, shared links and videos with my SO. My SO has not taken the initiative other than what I have presented. He assures me he will tell me if something is wrong, but I’m depending on him fully to be honest which isn’t easy. Should I feel secure in this? I’ve set boundaries (don’t lie, tell me if you have urges or triggers or a slip or relapse, etc.). At first he said he had no idea PMO could be an addiction and after a lot of work on my part, he admitted he was. But if he didn’t know then, how can he not want to understand more of how this affected him? Is this over confidence, denial or plain old BS? He still takes a low dose of anxiety medication and I feel the anxiety was directly related to PMO. He agrees, but doesn’t seem to question why the need if PMO is gone. How soon should one expect for anxiety symptoms to get better and get off meds? I’m sorry for the long post. I felt this was a good time to reach out, if nothing else but to say thank you. I’m over worried about relapse and how I can ever know. I’m worried about his nonchalant attitude of how easy this seemed to be to kick. I know every PA may have a different story, but is mine really that different - will he be the PA with no urges, triggers, relapses? Is it possible that time alone can bring back intimacy? Is it possible I’m just paranoid about his anxiousness and over worrying without cause? Are there clear expectations I can put in place like boundaries? Do SO’s typically need to lead the horse to water, or at what point can I say ‘you take it form here’! I’ll keep reading and learning because this is an unbelievably scary epidemic and it shocked me to the core to realize it was happening to me/him/us. I know it is ultimately up to him, I’m just so fearful of more years going by with me being a naive fool, thinking this was easy for him...I’ve been through a lot, but it pales in comparison to the feeling of your security and foundation being destroyed by the person you love and trust the most. I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone, but I also wish we weren’t victimized by those we love most. It is very, very painful, hard and confusing to understand and maneuver. I’m struggling between codependency (wanting to desperately fix him) and knowing that I can’t. I want to know what to watch for and when to step back or away. I thank you all for sharing and for your wisdom and honesty, from the bottom of my broken heart. I, like so many of you, want to get through this and come out a stronger, healthier couple, but it’s so important to know the facts and have an understanding of the process and timelines. I’m at a point of loss and confusion - are we at the right place, where to go from here, or have we (has he!) really even started the process at all?