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I've been dating a wonderful guy for about 6 months. I knew up front that he had a pornography addiction that had started at a very young age and has had a massive impact on his life. Pornography addiction is, at the core, a dopamine addiction, I know. 

He hadn't been temple worthy for quite some time and wasn't when we started dating. He finally was able to stop regular pornography use and go back to the temple recently. He's always been honest with me in every aspect regarding his addiction.

He wants to marry me, but he is waiting and respectful of my decision. Part of me really wants to get married, but I think I need to wait until he's been clean longer. 

How long should he be clean before I consider discussing marriage again and possibly getting engaged? Any general advice? 

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30 minutes ago, Idrawhorses said:

I've been dating a wonderful guy for about 6 months. I knew up front that he had a pornography addiction that had started at a very young age and has had a massive impact on his life. Pornography addiction is, at the core, a dopamine addiction, I know. 

He hadn't been temple worthy for quite some time and wasn't when we started dating. He finally was able to stop regular pornography use and go back to the temple recently. He's always been honest with me in every aspect regarding his addiction.

He wants to marry me, but he is waiting and respectful of my decision. Part of me really wants to get married, but I think I need to wait until he's been clean longer. 

How long should he be clean before I consider discussing marriage again and possibly getting engaged? Any general advice? 

Welcome!

I think the reality is that sometime, somewhere, there is going to be a relapse. That’s just the reality of porn issues.  That does *not* mean he’s a bad guy or that you shouldn’t marry him.  Nor does it mean he’s *definitely* going to relapse.  But:

—You should keep your expectations tempered and consider whether occasional relapses going forward are something you’re willing to deal with;

—You should also consider the possibility that statistically, a large number of LDS young men have struggled with this sort of thing; and this young man is at least being forthright about it—which, many others aren’t.  Perhaps the issues you know about with him are preferable to the issues some other would-be husband conceals until after the wedding?

—You should stay close to the Spirit.  Seeking advice is great, but various people are going to have anecdotes that run the whole gamut between “sure, you’ll have a great marriage!” and “run away as fast as you can”.  None of us know him.  None of us know you.  God knows you both.  

—You shouldn’t let anyone suggest you “owe” anything to this young man, or to anyone else except to yourself and to your God.  After marriage you will need to be forgiving and willing to overlook flaws and be self-sacrificing—but before marriage, you get to (and need to) look out for number one.  

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1 hour ago, Idrawhorses said:

He's always been honest with me in every aspect regarding his addiction.

Just some general advice to anyone: I think what can be claimed here, is "he's telling me he's been honest with me, and I believe him, because I haven't seen any behavior to indicate otherwise". 

Dating folks is a process of earning each other's trust.  It's supposed to take time.   I think your notion of waiting more than 6 months to get married is a good one.  It's fair to pick a timeframe you're comfortable with.  1 year of dating?  1 year of cleanliness?  1 year anniversary of his return to the temple?  Something like that seems reasonable.

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The thing about laying down a timeframe (“you have to go x months without a relapse before I’ll consider marrying you”) is that you’re creating an incentive for deceit.  If he makes it five months and two weeks and then relapses—he’s not going to want to start the clock over, especially when it’s so easy to lie about it.

It’s not necessarily a bad idea to have such a timeframe/criteria in the back of your mind; but I wouldn’t explicitly tell him that; I’d just say “well, I know there will be good days and bad days and I expect you to work on it and I expect you to be open with me about it; and we’ll see how the two of us are doing in a few months.”

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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I agree with JAG, and I'll just add one thing.  Some people think that getting married will "cure" pornography use/addiction, but it doesn't.  I took a class about pornography (from a Marriage and Family Therapist) and he said getting married is not a cure.  As JAG said....well just read his post again.  He hit on all the important points.  :) 

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In the sexology circles that I frequent, porn as addiction is much maligned. The therapists that I see talking about it frequently talk about why the user chooses to use porn (covering some other uncomfortable emotion or avoiding something uncomfortable or ...).

I think you are wise to think about and talk about the issue and try to understand your own views and opinions on the topic before committing to marriage. Marriage is supposed to be for life -- for richer for poorer etc. -- including some sense of what you will tolerate and what you refuse to tolerate around porn exposure and use.

You have every right to decide for yourself if and when this is a dealbreaker and when it is not.

If you (and/or your boyfriend) are interested in approaches that lean away from the addiction model, you might look up:
Cam Staley is an LDS researcher who has had a recent publication on the issue.
Jennifer Finlaysen-Fife is a popular LDS sex therapist who has some ideas around porn use and integrity and such that I find compelling.
Daniel Burgess did an episode with Saints Unscripted (I think they are still a thing on the main third hour page) on his views regarding porn as not addiction.
any number of other LDS and non-LDS therapists and researchers who suggest alternatives to the porn/sex as addiction model.

If your boyfriend has already tried and failed at the addiction model for porn use, he might try looking at it differently and maybe find success in another way.

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2 hours ago, MrShorty said:

In the sexology circles that I frequent, porn as addiction is much maligned. The therapists that I see talking about it frequently talk about why the user chooses to use porn (covering some other uncomfortable emotion or avoiding something uncomfortable or ...).

I think you are wise to think about and talk about the issue and try to understand your own views and opinions on the topic before committing to marriage. Marriage is supposed to be for life -- for richer for poorer etc. -- including some sense of what you will tolerate and what you refuse to tolerate around porn exposure and use.

You have every right to decide for yourself if and when this is a dealbreaker and when it is not.

If you (and/or your boyfriend) are interested in approaches that lean away from the addiction model, you might look up:
Cam Staley is an LDS researcher who has had a recent publication on the issue.
Jennifer Finlaysen-Fife is a popular LDS sex therapist who has some ideas around porn use and integrity and such that I find compelling.
Daniel Burgess did an episode with Saints Unscripted (I think they are still a thing on the main third hour page) on his views regarding porn as not addiction.
any number of other LDS and non-LDS therapists and researchers who suggest alternatives to the porn/sex as addiction model.

If your boyfriend has already tried and failed at the addiction model for porn use, he might try looking at it differently and maybe find success in another way.

I've heard several things along those lines as well.

Pornography does not normally fit the lines used for addiction and is entirely different than actual addictions.  Even crazier, 90% of young men supposedly self excite themselves and most of those are actively, or have watched pornography.  The thing that strikes me weird is that when people have looked at the rates of Utah, they match the general statistics among young men.  This would indicate that 90% of current young men in the LDS church ALSO have this problem of self arousal and in many cases also that of having watched or looked at pornography or still actively doing so.  I would hope that there may be some sort of variance and that it was at least only 50%, but most studies I have seen indicate that there is no real difference between the LDS and the general population in this matter, and that also remains true for those who are strictly religious and the general groups of young men.

However, they also state that this does not mean that a majority of young men in the US also have addictions to pornography.  It hits a different area of the brain.  It is more akin to someone who really really really likes to drink rootbeer, or eat candy, or other such things that people may really like to do, and some may think is like an addiction, but in reality is more of a preference and something they do more out of habit and choice.  In some that appear to qualify more of using it in an addictive manner it is not actually an addiction itself, but caused as an extension of some other difficulty (emotional problem or stress in their life).  Thus the pornography itself isn't the addiction, but the escapism or other mechanisims done via pornography is itself an indicator of the true problem that has not been resolved.

I've also heard that those with strict rules against Pornography such as in religious settings tend to have the strongest impulses to watch such materials at younger ages (during the age of youthful rebellious attitudes and such) and the stigma attached draws some of them to utilize it far more than the general population (when they are heavily into it's usage as opposed to those who have merely seen it).

I find it far more interesting to see that the success rates seem to be very good when one sees it more as a psychological difficulty or emotional extension of other items rather than an addiction and when getting help to resolve those issues in many cases help to resolve the supposed 'pornography addiction' far more successfully long term than many of these pseudo science programs that seem to be popular in Utah and some of the states with greater evangelical religious populations.

I'm not a doctor but I've seen enough and heard enough from various professors at the university that when I attended one of these supposed programs sponsored by one of these UTAH groups (meaning the program was sponsored and created by a company out of Utah that supposedly helped youth cure pornography addiction.  They offered a free workshop for students and concerned parents and teachers to attend) I could see the pseudoscience they were using from a mile away.  The methods they use will help against their classification of 'pornography addiction' can help break one who has a habit, but if it is caused by extensions of emotional difficulties or other concerns, their methods do nothing to actually solve it later in life.

As far as the OT of marriage goes, at least the young man is being honest (if the statistics are right) where as many are probably just lying about it.  On the other hand, you KNOW there is an existing problem already.  You may not know what is the cause of it (is it just habit, preference, or is there a greater underlying concern).  There is a good chance it will not simply go away.  I think @Just_A_Guy offers great advice on the matter overall.

Edited by JohnsonJones

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As a convert, my perspective may be a little different.  I think the issues in a relationship with regard to a pornography addiction often have more to do with the spouse's issues with that addiction than with the addicted person's actions.  A person can view pornography and still have relationships.  Many happily married people have pornography habits with no intent of quitting.  

That said, we know that pornography is wrong.  We know that it's presence in a marriage changes the dynamic of that marriage, even more when it is a point of contention.  We strive to be better in our relationships, regardless what issues there are, and there are ALWAYS issues.  

Will he relapse from time to time?  Probably.  Can you be supportive and help him hold himself accountable?  Is it such an issue with you that you can't be married to him?   Personally, I wouldn't be that concerned unless it's a life-altering addiction.  It doesn't change how he feels about you. 

Edited by Grunt
apwllinf

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On 3/7/2020 at 9:42 AM, Idrawhorses said:

I've been dating a wonderful guy for about 6 months. I knew up front that he had a pornography addiction that had started at a very young age and has had a massive impact on his life. Pornography addiction is, at the core, a dopamine addiction, I know. 

He hadn't been temple worthy for quite some time and wasn't when we started dating. He finally was able to stop regular pornography use and go back to the temple recently. He's always been honest with me in every aspect regarding his addiction.

He wants to marry me, but he is waiting and respectful of my decision. Part of me really wants to get married, but I think I need to wait until he's been clean longer. 

How long should he be clean before I consider discussing marriage again and possibly getting engaged? Any general advice? 

Don't do it, don't marry him. No amount of time will be enough for you to declare him clean. You have used the word addiction so I am assuming worst case here. If he is an addict you cannot/should not marry him. 

 

How do you define addiction to pornography?

How does he define addiction to pornography?

 

 

 

Edited by omegaseamaster75

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2 hours ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

Don't do it, don't marry him. No amount of time will be enough for you to declare him clean. You have used the word addiction so I am assuming worst case here. If he is an addict you cannot/should not marry him. 

How do you define addiction to pornography?

How does he define addiction to pornography?

This seems harsh.  Are you saying someone with a porn addiction (compulsive use disorder) are not able to overcome their weakness and be worthy?

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I've been working on recovering from a sex addiction mainly compulsive porn use for 14 months.  I had the problem for over almost 25 years.  I've got a long way to go still.  My wife has been a great support, but she's suffered a lot through this as well. 

I think there is hope for anyone.  My advice is to learn and keep learning about it.  You'll get your own individual revelation on how to proceed.

There are a lot of resources available, both from the church and other sources, for those who struggle with pornography and for people who know someone who does. Here are a few I use.

https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/?lang=eng

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/life-help-and-self-reliance/pornography?lang=eng

https://tech.churchofjesuschrist.org/wiki/Family_Safety

https://pathformen.com/

https://leadingsaints.org/tag/addiction/

https://reach10.org/

https://fightthenewdrug.org/

https://unashamedunafraid.com/

https://www.covenanteyes.com/

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On 3/10/2020 at 4:12 PM, dprh said:

This seems harsh.  Are you saying someone with a porn addiction (compulsive use disorder) are not able to overcome their weakness and be worthy?

I didn't say that, not at all of course someone can overcome their weakness and become worthy. the OP is asking about marriage and by your own self admission your wife has suffered due to your own weakness. The OP now has the opportunity to decide if this is something she wants to deal with in her life. The obvious answer is no if she knows before hand this needs to factor into her decision about whether to marry this individual or not.

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37 minutes ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

I didn't say that, not at all of course someone can overcome their weakness and become worthy. the OP is asking about marriage and by your own self admission your wife has suffered due to your own weakness. The OP now has the opportunity to decide if this is something she wants to deal with in her life. The obvious answer is no if she knows before hand this needs to factor into her decision about whether to marry this individual or not.

You are saying that her decision can be boiled down to his porn addiction.  Flat out.  No other consideration.  It seems like you would apply this to anyone this guy would consider marrying.  As long as he's being honest with the woman he dates, he won't get married in the temple.

I believe this man is redeemable and can be part of a happy healthy marriage.  He's already pursuing help.  Having a person to be accountable to is a huge benefit in recovery.

My issues were not limited to pornography and those are what has caused most of my wife's pain.  If I had gotten ahead of my issues before marriage, our relationship now would be much different.

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2 hours ago, dprh said:

 

You are saying that her decision can be boiled down to his porn addiction.  Flat out.  No other consideration. 

Yes of course it can, some things can be deal breakers. This maybe a deal break for the OP we don't know. 

2 hours ago, dprh said:

 It seems like you would apply this to anyone this guy would consider marrying. 

Yeah, we all have our check lists of people we will and will not marry. This should be on the list.

2 hours ago, dprh said:

As long as he's being honest with the woman he dates, he won't get married in the temple.

Not true at all, for some this may not be a deal breaker and he should be honest. I commend him for it.

2 hours ago, dprh said:

I believe this man is redeemable and can be part of a happy healthy marriage.  He's already pursuing help.  Having a person to be accountable to is a huge benefit in recovery..

I agree I also believe he is redeemable, in fact I/we have no idea where he is in his recovery or repentance process I only wish the best for those who have these struggles.

2 hours ago, dprh said:

My issues were not limited to pornography and those are what has caused most of my wife's pain.  If I had gotten ahead of my issues before marriage, our relationship now would be much different.

So the question is, would your wife have married you knowing what she knows now? 

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4 minutes ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

So the question is, would your wife have married you knowing what she knows now? 

This is a question that each of us could ask, and many would not know the true answer beforehand. This is also a question that fits into the old warning against searching out things that you really don't want to know.

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32 minutes ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

So the question is, would your wife have married you knowing what she knows now? 

Nope, the question is still should the OP should consider marrying her boyfriend who has struggled or does struggle with a porn addiction.  Your answer was a flat "No." Nothing added about it being a deal breaker for some and not for others.  Your follow up post said that same thing.  She should not marry him because of his issues with porn. 

If you really think he can be redeemed, I think you need to add some qualifiers in your responses and not be so adamant in answer.

4 hours ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

The obvious answer is no if she knows before hand this needs to factor into her decision about whether to marry this individual or not.

 

On 3/10/2020 at 1:25 PM, omegaseamaster75 said:

 No amount of time will be enough for you to declare him clean.

 

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1 hour ago, Vort said:

This is a question that each of us could ask, and many would not know the true answer beforehand. This is also a question that fits into the old warning against searching out things that you really don't want to know.

I agree, I would not ask that question of my wife unless I was sure of the answer, and maybe even then I might not ask, I wouldn't want to be blindsided.

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45 minutes ago, dprh said:

Nope, the question is still should the OP should consider marrying her boyfriend who has struggled or does struggle with a porn addiction.  Your answer was a flat "No." Nothing added about it being a deal breaker for some and not for others.  Your follow up post said that same thing.  She should not marry him because of his issues with porn. 

If you really think he can be redeemed, I think you need to add some qualifiers in your responses and not be so adamant in answer.

I can see that this is a subject that strike close to home.  When we are deciding about who we are going to marry we need to weigh out the pros and cons. For many this might be on con side of the ledger. if it is on the con side the individual needs to ask them selves if they can live with this or not. For many this is a non starter. Just like marrying a girl with brown hair would be a non starter. 

I recommended that the OP not marry this individual based on the wording she used (addiction). 

I also asked the OP to qualify how she defines addiction to porn. Also the Boy Friends definition of addiction. 

I have not seen a response to either question. Those responses may change my opinion. 

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My experience is that THE ONLY way you can know whether or not you should marry someone is by prayer and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I really don't think there are any other relevant considerations. 

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11 hours ago, askandanswer said:

My experience is that THE ONLY way you can know whether or not you should marry someone is by prayer and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I really don't think there are any other relevant considerations. 

I disagree, you need to have qualifiers make a decision based on what you want in a spouse make sure your potential mate meets those or most of them and then take it to the Lord.  

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On 3/10/2020 at 2:25 PM, omegaseamaster75 said:

Don't do it, don't marry him. No amount of time will be enough for you to declare him clean. You have used the word addiction so I am assuming worst case here. If he is an addict you cannot/should not marry him. 

 

How do you define addiction to pornography?

How does he define addiction to pornography?

 

 

 

When I say addiction, I mean compulsive use for about 15 years for him, but with a desire to stop. He has now stopped using for about 4 months successfully. 

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24 minutes ago, Idrawhorses said:

When I say addiction, I mean compulsive use for about 15 years for him, but with a desire to stop. He has now stopped using for about 4 months successfully. 

If his use has been compulsive for that long, there's probably underlying triggers.  Like (for one possible example) he's feeling down about himself, so indulging in this served as a pick-me-up.  To break such a long-term thing, he needs to find a healthy way of dealing with that trigger instead of just white-knuckle-not-doing-that-bad-thing.  For example, he's feeling down about himself, so he instead goes on a jog, gets his mind off of it, endorphins pumping, and taking good care of himself.

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19 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

If his use has been compulsive for that long, there's probably underlying triggers.  Like (for one possible example) he's feeling down about himself, so indulging in this served as a pick-me-up.  To break such a long-term thing, he needs to find a healthy way of dealing with that trigger instead of just white-knuckle-not-doing-that-bad-thing.  For example, he's feeling down about himself, so he instead goes on a jog, gets his mind off of it, endorphins pumping, and taking good care of himself.

Great suggestions. 

You could also encourage him to set up boundaries to keep him safe.  Some examples are

1. Not taking the phone into the bathroom

2. Not using it after a certain time at night. 

3. There are apps that can track time and app usage on the phone.  This can help him realize how he spends his time.

4. Create a list of 'fire drills' that he can do in moments of stress or triggers like:

     a. Reach out to someone he can trust and talk to.

     b. Physically move, whether jog, or do push ups, or walk into another room.

     c. Look at a picture that reminds him of his values.  Like of Jesus, the temple or his family.

     d. Work on memorizing a scripture, a poem or something to get his mind working on something else.

5.  Have a daily checklist of things to do.  Mine includes exercise, listen to 2 or 3 conference talks or a recovery podcast, study scriptures, morning and evening prayer, journal writing or other recover work like 12 steps.

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1 hour ago, Idrawhorses said:

When I say addiction, I mean compulsive use for about 15 years for him, but with a desire to stop. He has now stopped using for about 4 months successfully. 

Decide if you can live with a relapse, and all the lies and deceit that come with that. It will happen and it doesn't make him a bad person, but it will happen.

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43 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

If his use has been compulsive for that long, there's probably underlying triggers.  Like (for one possible example) he's feeling down about himself, so indulging in this served as a pick-me-up.  To break such a long-term thing, he needs to find a healthy way of dealing with that trigger instead of just white-knuckle-not-doing-that-bad-thing.  For example, he's feeling down about himself, so he instead goes on a jog, gets his mind off of it, endorphins pumping, and taking good care of himself.

I agree with the underlying issues. HE needs professional help. Has this been sought out? When I say professional help I mean that you pay money to someone to find out what is the root cause of his addictive behavior. 

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