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It’s possible to build an even stronger relationship if sex addiction or porn addiction has impacted your relationship. But how? One skill, a capacity that can be developed is undefended honesty. This is a form of honesty that builds on the truth that’s been revealed in the disclosure of your sexually compulsive behavior.
This kind of honesty is not necessarily easy or natural to stick to, nor is it easy or natural to receive, but the skill can be developed. Let the difficulty motivate you to find ways to understand what you’re thinking and feeling, what’s driving you to think and feel as you do, and to then communicate those thoughts and feelings more effectively. You can build your skills of telling the truth, first to yourself, and then to your partner or your significant other. This skill of communicating with undefended honesty can help you with all of your relationships—with friends, relatives, and any other relationship.
WHAT IS UNDEFENDED HONESTY?
Undefended honesty begins by simply telling the truth, no matter what it is. If your partner is asking you a question, you deliver that truth in a caring way, which means that you have to be very careful with the details. Basically, you need to provide the information that your partner is asking for, but do it in a compassionate and caring way. One of the things that can happen when you’re feeling guilty or shameful about something is a tendency to be brutally honest in an attempt to make yourself feel better. However, this just ends up further hurting the other person.
BRUTAL HONESTY IS NOT UNDEFENDED HONESTY
Undefended honesty is not brutal honesty. There's a big difference between these two things. With brutal honesty, you’re being honest, sure, but you’re not taking your partner’s emotions and feelings into account. This doesn't mean that you should avoid honesty because you do need to be honest and provide the details that your partner is asking for in order to work through your addiction and struggles. Brutal honesty is being truthful in a way that isn't compassionate — it’s throwing out the information with an attitude and saying “okay, now deal with it.”
Undefended honesty comes from a more compassionate and caring place, when you say “okay, here's the truth, I want to be honest about what's going on here, and let me be in this space with you as you process. Let me support you emotionally as you digest this information that I'm giving you.” The intention and compassion for your partner or significant other is the main differing component in these two situations.
WHY ARE YOU SO TEMPTED TO LIE?
Addicts tend to lie. It’s a part of the addictive cycle, but this lying is usually not malicious. When we lie, more often than not, the goal of what we're doing is to spare the other person's feelings or prevent ourselves from getting in trouble. Often, porn addicts and sex addicts don't want to deal with the reaction because you know that telling the truth will upset your partner. But often, what’s actually happening is conflict avoidance, and that’s understandable. But healing for both you and your relationship requires honesty, even if you know you’re going to get a negative reaction.
UNDEFENDED HONESTY CAN BE CHALLENGING
Often, the tendency is to want to just move past the situation when there’s a problem or to fix it with a simple action and move on. But that doesn’t serve your partner or your porn addiction recovery. As your partner processes the truth, you may be tempted to defend yourself, but the truth is just the truth, and the truth doesn't need a defense because it's just facts.
One of the easiest ways to go wrong while getting help for sex addiction is by telling little untruths or omitting little details. If you hide little details, this is another form of dishonesty. Instead, you need to provide the level of detail your partner needs to hear. Undefended honesty requires integrity. This can feel difficult in the moment, but if you’re going to have integrity and be straightforward and transparent during your addiction recovery, there will be some discomfort.
SPEAKING AND LIVING WITH INTEGRITY
Undefended honesty is speaking with integrity, and being truthful in a loving way, not in a defensive way. Even if the truth you need to tell is going to be painful for others to hear, you still need to have the integrity to speak it. We all want to hear the truth and we want people to give us the truth with the mindset of “give me all the information and let me decide what I'm going to do with that information.” If the tables were turned in a situation where someone's asking us for the truth, we would want the same thing, so it’s important to be compassionate and view your honesty from the perspective of others around you — using undefended honesty to convey the truth.
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