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Triggers and Fear

Discussion in 'Partner Support' started by evs, May 14, 2019.

  1. evs

    evs Fapstronaut

    My partner is now over 77 days PM free and in terms of his life, things are sincerely looking up. He has a new routine going to the gym and completing a daily checklist to make sure he’s on top of things he wants and needs to do. I’m pleased with his progress but I feel like I’ve been left by the wayside.

    People are telling me to start my own routine and do things for myself alongside the things he is doing for himself- but I find myself totally distracted and unmotivated because I’m so afraid of a relapse or finding out other secrets he’s been keeping (he drip fed me his problem, starting from a ‘problem with porn’ admission followed by an incidence of cheating, regular webcam chat use and other details). I truly want the relationship to work and to move on from this but I’m terrified that by creating my own distractions will mean I’m leaving room for these problems to come back up again. I’m a bit obsessed.

    Like a lot of others on these forums, he’s struggling mainly with intrusive thoughts about watching P or using webcam chats and with ogling women when we’re out and about. I have a real problem with the ogling for my own reasons, having experienced my fair share and feeling very uncomfortable as a result, but my new obsession is that he is ogling people that I know and that are close to me (or to him, for that matter). He has admitted that his ogling and intrusive thoughts are worse when he’s not busy, he’s had alcohol or he’s in a public place with lots of people. This is making socialising with friends a big trigger for me, too, because I’m finding myself constantly worried about where he’s looking and what he’s thinking. It makes me feel very insecure that he’s ogling friends that we’re out with which devastates me, to be honest. My self-confidence is at an all time low and the activities I enjoy (going out, meeting up with friends) are a place where he’s not only ‘weakened’ but I feel like he’s distant from me and is probably ‘browsing’ other women.

    Worried that I was catastrophising, I asked him straight up whether he ogled my friends and he gave a very evasive answer saying he was “aware that I had very attractive friends but he made a conscious effort not to think about them in that way” That just confirmed my fears. I’m struggling because every activity he undertakes I have a cause to worry. If he’s alone I’m worried about P, if he’s at the gym I’m worried about ogling and if he’s with me socially I’m worried that he’s looking over my shoulder for someone more sexually attractive.

    I’m trying to upkeep a ‘normality’ between us but it’s crippling to pretend I’m feeling happy and optimistic when I am constantly hounded by these thoughts and dreads. I feel like I’m walking around in a fog and I want to disappear a lot of the time. The activities I used to enjoy have become so emotionally exhausting and panic-inducing.

    Does anyone have any advice for dealing with these triggers? Will they subside? They seem to creep up on me when things are ‘going well’ otherwise. I’d appreciate any help!
    +TenPercent and Kitty lover like this.
  2. gymismylife

    gymismylife Fapstronaut

    I can empathize with you on this. I know what it's like to be afraid to go out and do your own thing because you're so afraid of what he's up to when you're gone.

    I read a really good book recently that has nothing to do with porn addiction, but it was a good resource to help understand how the male brain works. It's called "To Date a Man, You Must Understand a Man" it talks about how in order to keep a man and get him to do the things you need, you must assert yourself as a high value woman who isn't going to put up with his crap. Which means socializing with friends and going out and doing your own thing. He has to realize that you will leave if he doesn't smarten up.

    I'm still working on alot of it and struggle with going out and doing my own thing, but I fight the urge to stay home, and I go. It seems to help. Plus it's helped me.rebuild my self.esteem to spend some time with people who don't stress me out on a daily basis.

    Good luck with everything. I hope it works out for you.
  3. Kitty lover

    Kitty lover Fapstronaut

    Hi Evs,

    Sorry to hear what you're going through.
    My partner is around the 80 day mark too- doing so well , but theres days I just can't support him and his great success.
    This is generally brought on by triggers too.

    I completely understand the fear of ogling, and how absolutely SHIT
    it makes us feel when our partners give other women ' that' look. I get anxiety about going out in public too, As I know if he does it- I'm gonna feel crap.
    We have talked about it over and over - with no solution in sight other than him making a conscious effort not to.

    Before I knew about my partners PA, I used to drive myself crazy in my head questioning if he really was looking at our friends or other women in the street like that - and only on one occasion did I actually have the balls to call him out on it. Ofcourse he denied that he was- perhaps unaware.

    He confessed in his last disclosure ( drip fed information also!) that he had masturbated over a handful of our friends facebook photos- which really confirmed for me the true extent of his problem and the way he views women.
    This ruined every last part of self esteem I had left. Not to mention respect for him. I'm in a bad way at the moment as we have events coming up where we need to face these women.

    I hear ya on every level Evs- especially when you say you've experienced ogling first hand. I must say too, I have been made to feel very uncomfortable by men aswell. It makes me feel almost embarrassed to be walking around shops with someone who can barely make eye contact with me, and potentially make other women feel uncomfortable.

    And then ofcourse, its a vicious cycle of feeling insecure, angry, slightly crazy? All reminders of what happened, and questioning if its just me sabotaging things all because I'm hurting.

    There's no right answer here- I'm hoping with the end of the porn habits, those sexualized thoughts of our beautiful friends & strangers will fade. Can only hope.

    Stay strong and try our best to be positive- we love those foolish men.
    We wouldn't be here hurting like this if we didn't xxxxx
    +TenPercent, hope4healing and evs like this.
  4. evs

    evs Fapstronaut

    I can't quite believe, because it must have been as I was writing this post, that he relapsed today. He messaged me and told me an hour later.

    It sounds so stupid but it was my birthday yesterday and I can't help feeling that the effort of trying to make me feel special for 12 hours was too much effort for him to handle. I suspect he had thoughts/feelings yesterday that he didn't bring up because he didn't want to 'ruin' my day.

    It feels horrible that when I was feeling my most vulnerable and afraid of this (going backwards, or relapsing), it happened. I know this definitely won't help my paranoia in future and its going to create more problems with my anxiety.

    I've been supportive and understanding and I've told him that it doesn't undo all of the good he's done. I've told him I'm not angry and that I still love him and I'm trying to help him bring himself up now rather than wallowing in guilt. It's just a double-edged sword because the more supportive I am the more lonely I feel. I don't have that support from anywhere.

    Thanks for your replies guys, it really helps to know I'm not alone. I'm just so miserable at the moment. Every day is so exhausting. I feel like I blindly navigate every situation and it's all so trial-and-error. I hope it improves for all of us.

    I do really believe that we're courageous and strong for working through this, even though it leaves us feeling weak and afraid a lot of the time.
  5. Numb

    Numb Fapstronaut

    I'm so sorry, my heart goes out to you. My bf relapsed after over 500 days, only I had to confront him about it. If anything take hope in he came to you and told you about it and didn't try to hide it. This is a very hard journey to walk through, it takes a lot of strength to do it, on both sides. But I know that we often try to push our own feelings and pain down to support our PA. If you two can work together and support each other I think you can get through it. I really have no advise, I'm lost in all this too. I just wanted to offer up some support.
  6. Raylea

    Raylea New Fapstronaut

    Wow, I can relate to you, EVS. The hardest part of all this at least now, after 15 months of recovery, are the ogling triggers. It's is not much fun being out now especially in vulnerable places. My WH therapist told him to avoid the avoidable if those places trigger me. Even our grandkids soccer games are triggering as there are hot young mothers there for his eye candy pleasure. This whole ordeal has nearly ruined my self esteem. At age 66 I can in no way compete with 30 something women.
    I have lost all respect for my 75 year old husband. The fact that he has been lusting after young women more than four decades younger than him is sickening to me. And it seems young sexy, scantily dressed woman are EVERYWHERE. When did spandex become everyday clothing, Geeze!
    I have been doing thing alone a lot more these days. Even though he is in solid recovery, I still am triggered when attractive woman are around cuz I know he is struggling to control his eyes and thoughts....ugh!
  7. Kitty lover

    Kitty lover Fapstronaut

    Hi Evs ,
    Im so sorry to hear that her relapsed- especially while you were feeling so vulnerable.
    You must take comfort in knowing that he immediately came clean- that's huge. Well done for showing him support, kindness and compassion. If my partner relapses again- I really really hope I can be as strong as you.
    Was there any feeling that perhaps he was heading in that direction? The post you made initially suggests you were feeling particularly insecure at that time. Our senses serve us well- as I too was feeling the same way before my partner relapsed 80 odd days ago.
    Tbh that feeling of insecurity and anxiety is coming back - and some of his behaviours and attitudes are starting to sway. Lets hope I'm wrong.

    Again, well done you for being so strong and such solid rock for your partner.
    +TenPercent and (deleted member) like this.
  8. evs

    evs Fapstronaut

    We've since discussed the reason for his relapse and his counsellor seemed to think it stemmed from problems he experienced in the previous week with family arguments and pressure. Specifically, his relationship with his parents was quite strained and they had quite an intense fight. My partner identified that these were issues that he used to distract from using M and P. My anxieties built over the weekend when I could see his discomfort that had built over the week. He relapsed on the Tuesday - now I see the predictability of it!
    +TenPercent likes this.
  9. evs

    evs Fapstronaut

    I don't know if anyone else here has experienced depression, but it's something I had a pretty rough time with a couple of years ago. It seems now, just as I was seeming to deal well with the recovery process, it's reared its ugly head. I have been having really intense feelings of hopelessness and some suicidal ideation. I don't ever plan to go through with it but I just feel like I sink into it and I can't climb out. My boyfriend has seen this over the weekend and I'm terrified it's going to de-rail him from his recovery. I think I'm actually scaring him away. He says he isn't sure whether the relationship is going to work long-term, regardless of his recovery, because I'll never truly get over it. I understand that it appears to him (and me) that I'm getting worse, but I feel like we'd made so much progress before that and I'm sad that all of my determination and optimism is being undermined by my mental health.

    I have just posted in the 'rebooting in a relationship' general forum for some advice on what to do now.

    I feel like I'm jumping from crisis to crisis situation and I'm not sure what is the right thing to do.
    +TenPercent and Kitty lover like this.
  10. Lostneverland

    Lostneverland Fapstronaut

    The way I see it , is you have every reason to be feeling depressed and hopeless. You have experienced a deep personal betrayal. It takes time to digest all the emotions that accompany the betrayal trauma.

    You’re not responsible for your boyfriend’s sobriety or slips..he’s responsible for himself. If he slips because of the stress and depression that you are experiencing ,it’s still on him.

    If your boyfriend is indicating that he is getting scared about commitment based on your mental health, he’s emotionally distancing/abusing you.

    I also don’t think your determination and optimism is being undermined by your mental health...I think your boyfriend is gaslighting you.

    Please be wise and take care of you, you are in a vulnerable state right now. Reach out to others who have experienced what you are going through, (as you have done) be patient and kind to yourself...YOU ARE WORHT IT...
    Love and prayers coming your way.
  11. Oct162022

    Oct162022 Fapstronaut

    I know this is an older post but wanted to say thanks for sharing how this all has affected you. It really helps me to understand on a deeper and emotional level how my actions affect my wife. Even though she shares her feelings with me i think it helps to hear other woman express similar thoughts because its not just me and her. I am starting to see a pattern with men and how they treat woman and how that makes them feel. I work with a lot of guys who i describe as pigs but i never see their spouses or how they must feel. I often will think to my self "wow. They must be a joy to be married to". At the same time i have been dealing with my own struggles. Im doing better now than i have ever before after telling my wife, but i can't help but think how will we ever get through this if this happens again. I almost would rather my wife tell me that she is not giving me a 2nd chance. I don't ever want to go back to that dark place i was before. Thanks again all of you for sharing, and helping me to understand how all this affects you.
    kropo82, hope4healing and KevinesKay like this.
  12. KevinesKay

    KevinesKay Fapstronaut

    This reminds me of my futile attempts to try to stop P and MB without considering the fact that my continued lust and fantasy was going to springboard me right back into acting out again. For me, it simply was not enough to try clean up my outside with the hopes that some of that cleanliness will rub off on the inside of myself. It never happened. It's a fact that my P and MB are extensions and symptoms of my uncontrolled eyes and free racing mind. If I'm physically sober from P and MB, yet I'm losing battle after battle after battle after battle with lust and fantasy in my life, then I'm not really free. Giving myself permission to look at other women or think about other women leads to just more of the same. Which then leads to me acting it out to relieve the constant cravings.

    Yeah, it takes the help of God in my case. But it's so much more funner and better to clean up my inside so that the outside may be clean also. Today, I celebrate having custody of my eyes and mind. Today, I was at a restaurant with my family. And my wife and daughters are both recognizing and accepting that I'm not giving myself permission to check out all the women around me. And I think that makes them feel a lot more secure. And I choose to keep all the women in the grocery store tonight in my peripheral vision. Because if I don't look at them, I'm not going to check them out. And if I don't check them out, I'm not going to lust. And if I don't lust then I won't crave. And if I don't crave, I won't cave. Game over. I win

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