No one goes into partnership with the idea of hurting the other person; however, sometimes situations out of our control happen. Pornography, infidelity and sexual addiction are a grave issue that hurts everyone involved.
As you begin to deal with your partner’s addiction, you may find yourself asking, what do I do now? To help you answer those questions, here are 6 important relationship tips to recall as you move forward in your own healing.
After your learn of your partner’s addiction, one feeling you might experience is wanting to shut people out and isolate yourself. No matter how hard it is, now is not the time to shut people out of your life.
Build a support group around you, and find your tribe where you can talk openly and share how you’re feeling. The fact is, this is a hard time, one that can leave you questioning not only your relationship, but also your self-worth. A therapist, close friend, support group, or spiritual leader are some great resources to turn to as you move forward on this path of recovery.
Tip #2 Educate
The more you can learn about your partner’s addiction and why they turned to pornography or someone else, you’ll help in your own recovery by understanding their addiction has nothing to do with you. In many cases, partner’s and families of addicts find themselves asking why they weren’t good enough, sexy enough, smart enough, thin enough—the list is endless—and if because of their so called “failings” drove their partner towards pornography and sexual activity.
The answer to those questions: no, it wasn’t you. Addiction affects the brain by flooding it with dopamine and over time, the user must look at more porngraphic images to get the rush. Because of that, addicts become trapped in a tiresome cycle of shame, compulsion, and betrayal.
Tip #3 Explore Personally
After learning of your partner’s betrayal, you may experience relational trauma. This is one of the hardest traumas a person endures because it shatters your internal world and leaves you questioning who you can trust. While you’re dealing with this trauma, you may find yourself in a fear cycle of fear, obsession, and control. You may experience some of the following reactions while in the fear cycle: unhealthy eating, monitoring your partner’s behavior, self-harm, and isolation. If you’ve found yourself turning towards unhealthy behaviors, now is the time to turn to your therapist, support group, or close friend to discuss how your feeling. This is also a good time to create your own recovery plan and move forward in practicing self-care
Tip #4 Build Your Own Recovery Plan
For those who are struggling with addiction, we recommend to Build A Plan Of Recovery. It is equally important for spouses to help set goals for both the addict and for themselves to help work through their own healing. Take time to set your boundaries, practice positive self talk, write in a journal, pick up a hobby or learn a new skill; whatever brings you joy and allows you to take some time for yourself. This means putting yourself first—at least for a few minutes each day.Remember as you move through the healing process, be gentle with yourself. You are dealing with your own emotions, sense of unfaithfulness, and need time to heal.
Tip # 5 Finding Your Own Support Group
Sexual addiction therapy is important, even for those struggling to cope with the pornography and sexual addiction of a loved one. During this time, partners of addicts are dealing with their own emotions of denial, hurt, anger, and guilt. While working through this difficult time, there are 2 important factors to keep in mind: this is not your fault and you can overcome this. Remember, you don’t have go through this alone and there are people out there who understand what you’re going through. Take steps today to find help and move forward in healing and being gentle to yourself.
Tip #6 Self-care
While you’re moving through the path of recovery, taking time to practice self-care is critical to your healing. This can be particularly harder for women, who tend to have a difficult time putting themselves first. Taking even 5 minutes daily to focus on yourself can do a lot to boost your recovery. If you’re still struggling with the idea of practicing self-care, consider that self-care is NOT selfish. You cannot serve from an empty place. By taking time to indulge in doing something for yourself—reading, writing in a journal, spending time on a hobby—you’re allowing yourself time to recharge and, in the end, will be better able to take care of those in your life.
Dr. Ryan Westrum is a Family Therapist in Minneapolis, MN and focuses on helping individuals and couples with porn addiction, sex addiction and relationship healing. Please contact Dr. Westrum at 952-261-5269 or firstname.lastname@example.org .