Stopping, really stopping, a sexual compulsive behavior or addiction presents a major challenge. Some of us can actually stop or at least curb our behavior but we never really feel out of the woods. We continue to feel that we are prone to relapsing. Intellectually we may know that the bad choices we might make are harmful, even wrong, yet we still know that if we get to a certain tipping point, all logic or maturity might just fall away.
Why is that we just can’t seem to really let go of our acting our behaviors, our addict — at least not all the way?
How do you let go and finally break up with your addict? Many people who struggle with sexual compulsive behavior look at their struggle as a sort of Jekyll and Hyde or good versus evil battle. If you are a person who grapples with a sex or porn addiction, have you ever considered that your acting out behavior is something, some aspect of you that you actually rely on? It can be helpful to check out the ways the use of porn or sex works for you. How does this behavior, your addict, attempt to help you cope with your problems?
The Addict: Friend Or Foe?
It is possible to begin to look at your addict as a friend, not a foe. I believe we often overlook the emotional relationship or dependency we have on sex or porn. It’s like that favorite toy or activity that we used to use to feel comforted, to feel safe. I often conjure up an image of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts character, Linus, and his attachment to his ever-dependable blanket … the quintessential comfort object. These items—teddy bears, blankets, a favorite toy, for example—provide familiarity, and safety during trying times. As children and adolescents, we may have used comfort objects to soothe, to cope, to feel better when we experienced hard feelings. They helped us bridge the gap as we matured through the stages of our human development.
If you’re struggling with sex addiction, might porn or addictive behavior be working like a security blanket?
Think of how long you have actually had your behavior around. Perhaps at first maybe it was just fantasy and masturbation. Eventually you progressed to more frequent and/or severe behavior. Your comforting behavior, your addict, has likely traveled with you for most of your life. Maybe you relied on porn for many reasons—like when you were bored, lonely, angry, etc. to self-soothe. In this sense, the addict is like an old friend that provides familiarity and (short-lived) comfort. But, is this addict part of you a friend who really has your best interests in mind?
How To Change This Relationship
If it is hard to break up with your addict, how about growing him up instead? How can you go about changing the nature of this relationship? Can you see what your addict is trying to accomplish and then find other ways to cope rather than acting out sexually?
Here are some questions to examine to help you do that:
• How long has your addict been around? At what age did you start acting out?
• How does your addict help you? What do you get out of acting out sexually?
• What would it be like to stop? Can you see a life without acting out? Have you experienced that already and what was it like?
Understanding this concept can be an important step in actually changing your behavior. Examining why you act out, the relationship you have with your sexual behavior, will begin to tell you how and why you rely on your addiction. Then you have a chance of either breaking up with the addict part of you — or helping that aspect of you to mature, helping that part find ways to find comfort and safety that are not detrimental.