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PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:03 pm 
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This is my first post although I have been reading for months. I am hoping that people here might offer some examples of boundaries they have put in place for themselves. I am truly blank and have no idea what boundaries would even look like for me today. About 30 years ago, when we were young and in college, my boyfriend at the time who had been a recovering alcoholic and the most honest and trustworthy person I knew, shared with me that he felt he might be struggling with some sexual compulsion regarding masturbation and porn. He took the initiative to find a therapist and started attending 12 step meetings for sex addiction. I read the book he was using (which scared the crap out of me) and was already using 12 steps for codependency. He seemed to take responsibility for his recovery and I trusted his process. We split up for awhile and he went down a dark path. When we reconciled some years ago, we had a really wonderful relationship experience. He no longer went to the meetings for the sexual issues but said that he no longer felt it was an issue and it was really about a young man having common experiences of young men. A few years ago some things came out that really concerned me. I found out that he had gone to prostitutes during the time we were not together. He called it “a more honest transaction” and did not seem to see it as an issue because we were not together. I later found that he had an Ashley Madison account and had been obsessive about online dating while apart. His porn use resulted in immediate issues with his ability to perform sexually when we were intimate so I asked him to stop using it. He said he had. Months ago some things came out that were devastating to me. I still have not cried. I felt like I was a walking zombie and could barely function. I did not know who to talk to. He asked me not to tell any of our friends or family. He suggested I find a therapist although we came upon some financial challenges so I didn’t feel free to spend the money. I did not actually find anything, but I was feeling something. I simply told him that I knew there were secrets and lies between us and I wanted to get everything on the table the following day. He shared a lot that was hard to hear. I have always asked for truth above all things. I thought we had a better relationship that anyone I knew. I feel like I no longer know anything. He had been attending 12 step meetings for his sexual addiction in March of this year again. A few weeks ago I had to get on a plane to care for my mom through a surgery. I was gone 4 days. I was having that “bad feeling” by day 2. I asked on the phone for him to share anything that might account for the uncomfortable feeling I was having. He denied it completely. When I came home I asked him again and he shared some very minimized things. I am not an easily angered person but walking around my house I had the feeling if active addiction in my home and I felt angry mostly about the deceit. He could see I was upset and asked if I would talk about it with him. I did and told him that while I understand it is hard to tell the truth about things he feels shame about, the lies, partial truth and delayed truth actually damages me more and I would like The whole truth. Days later he shared more. Something inside snapped for me. After all this time I suddenly feel like I do not see him as I did before. It was the intentional conscious choice to lie ONE MORE TIME. While I know that is part of addiction, it is still damaging to me and it is selfish. This relapse apparently lasted a few weeks rather than the months of the last one, and the thing is that I have no idea if anything he says is true at this point. I realized that he had not done anything he said he would do after the last relapse other than the one meeting a week. It was suggested he get blocking software for his devices and he did not do that though he told me I could do that for him. Did not see the therapist. Did not remove his second phone number. I’m not sure that he is really committed to his own recovery or if this is just about appeasing me. I suddenly have a need for self protection that I haven’t felt before. I asked him to get rid of his paid Skype phone number and to let me know what he planned to do about his recovery. He asked if I had any boundaries to share and I just sat blank. I do not have any idea what boundaries look like regarding this stuff. I knew what to do with the alcohol relapse years ago. Please share some of your boundaries. I feel blank and that makes me feel weak and lost. Your experiences with boundaries would help me begin to envision something.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:31 am 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 649
Ladyinrecovery - I am sorry you are here but this is a healing place to be. I know you have been reading, but I strongly recommend starting the lessons. They helped me with learning about boundaries. It took me some time to learn to even identify when I needed a boundary let alone how to create one. Remember, boundaries are about our safety and values. They are not about punishment or control of others.

As you make boundaries, it is important to know if you will enforce them. Early on I told me husband if I discovered him using internet porn, I would divorce him. I'm not sure if I would have followed through with that, but now, five years later, I would.

You already had a boundary around the Skype account. Or the Ashley Madison account. It goes something like this:

"I don't want to be lied to in my intimate relationship or be betrayed sexually or romantically. Having and Ashley Madison account or a Skype account leads to those lies and betrayals I ask that you delete those accounts."

Now is the hard part. If he doesn't follow through what will you do? You can leave for a night or a weekend. You can ask him to leave for a night or a weekend. You could break up.

The lessons will help with all of this. It was important for me to understand what my values were, what my bottom lines were about how I wanted to be treated, and to explicitly say these things out loud. What I will do if these boundaries are violated has changed over time, and that is okay.

With compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 181
None of us ever expected to be the partner of a sex/porn addict and we usually don’t know it until long after the relationship has been established.

Although you both met when you were very young, the roots of his addiction were almost certainly in place even before then. It is often said that sex/porn addiction is an intimacy disorder, and I can certainly relate to that, in that my husband has had obvious difficulties with emotional and sexual intimacy in our relationship. The fact that your partner describes his experiences of prostituted sex as “pure” would certainly suggest that he has sought out sex without the need for emotional connection — which sort of verifies that this is someone who has considerable difficulty with intimacy.

Boundaries are a very difficult concept to understand at first, but the important thing to realise is that we set our boundaries to protect us. It’s not about setting rules and controlling someone else’s behaviour. We can’t control anyone. We can make a request, and if that request isn’t respected then there needs to be some kind of consequence *that protects us*.

You need to decide what are the non negotiables — the dealbreakers that will end your relationship and immediately. For some people that might be a sexual infidelity. For others, one infidelity in a moment of weakness after 20 years of faithful marriage might not be a dealbreaker provided it’s dealt properly with and the reasons are understood. But if it’s one more infidelity after a long history of multiple infidelities and broken promises, that may well be one time too many, and is the ultimate dealbreaker.

At this stage, if my husband was looking at porn again and then admits that he’s done it and has a problem with it, we can both deal with that by agreeing on restricting internet access. But if he was using porn in secret and lying about it, then I would need to act in my own interests and protect myself from all the lying and minimising. I might go away for a day or two just to get some headspace and think about what I want from the relationship and whether my husband’s attitudes and behaviours are in alignment with my values.

I have thought about my non negotiables, and there aren’t any hard and fast “rules” because a lot depends on honesty. It’s very difficult to trust someone who has a long history of deception and has lied to your face. I don’t necessarily like hearing “the truth” but being lied to is an awful experience, especially when you believe the lie at first, get your hopes up, offer forgiveness or whatever and then discover it was all a big deception. I feel that it’s important to have boundaries that protect from this kind of instability and feeling unsafe.

Other than the non negotiables, boundaries can be flexible and consequences can be vary over time. You don’t necessarily have to tell your partner in advance about what the specific consequences will be. You can actually keep it to yourself and decide what to do when/if whatever happens. If your partner lies about a relatively trivial matter, it’s still a lie and it still undermines trust but it’s probably not grounds for divorce. An appropriate consequence might be choosing to spend time alone doing something you enjoy, like going to a movie or out for coffee alone, or making an arrangement to meet up with a friend and do something fun together. The important thing about these low key consequences is that you are telling yourself that you are worthy of respect and you deserve to be treated better. This is the basis of self care and it’s important to practice good self care throughout your recovery period and beyond. Self care isn’t limited to manicures and bubble baths, it can also include the books you read, or exercising, or making time for your friends. Whatever your definition of self care is, it’s important to follow through because it takes you out of that toxic headspace. It’s easy to fall into the trap of rebuilding your life around your partner’s addiction/recovery and neglect other areas of our own lives.

Take care, and feel free to post on whatever your concerns are. Remember you aren’t alone.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:20 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2019 6:52 pm
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Thank you for the feedback responses. It is helpful to hear about boundaries for others and what self care might look like for others. The relapse that he finally acknowledged in March this year included some very difficult information to process. The slow trickle of truth that is coming along is good because I want truth and harder because it is piece by piece rather than just the whole thing. Early on he said that he had shared everything with me, but I felt it was not true and he has since been telling more. Apparently going on as recently as last Sunday. So while I don’t actually care about whether he masturbates, I do care about how his behavior changes with me and how unhealthy and distorted his thinking becomes. I do care about honesty and he says he cannot tell me that he will not lie about this topic at this point. How long does this dishonesty period normally last? I’m pretty sick of it. Is it unreasonable to expect honesty for some specific time period?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 7:14 am 
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I strongly suggest doing the lessons since so many of your questions will be answered there. They were tremendously helpful to me.

It is REASONABLE to expect honesty from your partner. It is not REALISTIC that an addict will suddenly become honest. Jon explains all of this. He also will help you understand what to look for in order to start to understand if your partner is sincere about recovery and being honest with you.

I have found that my husband really struggles with what it means to be honest. Still does after five years. It's very self serving and immature and really not as confusing as he wants to make it.

dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:44 pm 
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The difficult but important concept to understand is that for the addict, dishonesty is normal. It was a very hard lesson for me to realise this because I genuinely expected honesty from d day. My husband even agreed that he’d be honest with me, and that was his first lie, and a significant one at that. Even when there was no point in lying he still lied. So it was lie after lie, and the dreaded trickle truth. The thing is, the addict has been used to getting away with his behaviour and not having to account for himself. Honesty isn’t going to come easily to someone who has justified his lying and deception for years, as summed up by the phrase “what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her”. Of course, what we don’t know does hurt because their behaviour has an impact on us and on the relationship, even if we don’t know what’s going on. We feel something is “off”.

The addict soon realises that when we do find out it creates a lot of upset for both partners and they want to be able to go back to how things were because they didn’t have to face all the fallout. To them, to some edge, life was easier before d day. Their lying, omissions and deception had worked well for them. Or so they thought. But in reality they were actually damaging the relationship, and creating hurt and distress. D day is risky but the ‘do nothing’ option or ‘don’t rock the boat’ or whatever has the potential to destroy the partner’s sense of self worth with serious consequences that can manifest in mental health problems, physical health problems, eating disorders, emotional distress, sexual problems etc. There is nothing more soul destroying than being married to someone whose sexuality only exists outside of the relationship. So, whilst dishonesty might serve the addict, it isn’t good for the partner. Besides, a relationship built on a foundation of lies is going to run into problems sooner or later.

Like dnell, my husband still struggles with honesty. I don’t believe I’ve ever had full disclosure. I don’t believe he has “told me everything” — he said that before and it wasn’t true and on more than one occasion. Truth is difficult to hear. It IS upsetting, but by denying us the truth we’re also being denied the ability to learn to deal with that truth — because the ability to listen to difficult information is a skill. However I have found it easier to hear a painful truth than find out I’d been lied to.

Is dishonesty a phase of recovery? I would say that early on it’s almost a certainty. Later on — that’s up to the addict. It becomes a choice. My husband feigns honesty by not telling me things. He doesn’t quite understand that lies of omission are still lies. He still gaslights me with “I told you at the time” when it’s something I would definitely remember if I’d been told. He also won’t disclose things for weeks or months afterwards. So I regret to say that my husband is still dishonest despite everything we’ve been through. You can’t force anyone to be honest and sometimes lies can be difficult to “prove”. When I have doubts about my husband’s honesty, I have to ask myself what the probability is of something being truthful or not. The problem is that there are so many things I doubt.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:52 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:34 pm
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First off. Big hugs to you. This all just hurts so much, in so many ways. There are no words to do it justice. Others have already replied, those that are more knowledgeable and more well spoken than I. I don't want to restate what another said, but i will add my two cents. Just wanted to send you hugs first.

Boundaries are so hard at first. This is nearly two weeks late here. I hope you've gotten into the partner lessons, they really will help you. But it might not be easy at times. Getting in touch with the things that you try not to think about (that was my experience) what it all did to you. I remember some of the lessons was so painful to me, dredge up old memories and feelings, things I didn't want to think about, but I had to drag it all out into the light, so I could assess the damage and learn how to begin healing that damage.

The lessons on values and boundaries will help so much. Boundaries are you protecting the things that are important to you, your values. You may not at first even know what your values are anymore, once they've been chipped away over a period of time. That's okay for now, you will figure it out, the lessons here will really help there.

I would not have sex with him if he had masturbated. that was a boundary. I had a boundary about honesty. that one was hard. given that there was so much dishonesty and hidden behavior, and that he would hold tight to his lies if there was any possible way, if there was no solid proof. so then i gave myself permission to enact consequences without proof, based on a gut feeling. consequences were at times small, simply leaving the conversation, leaving the room, when i sensed a lie. I just got up and walked out, without comment.

As i recall the lessons state, you should plan out the consequences beforehand, so you're not reacting from pure emotion, know what you're going to do.

No material (pictures etc) in the house, i find it, I leave the house for two days (or a week or whatever you need to give yourself that safe space, physical and mental) sometimes, leaving the house wasn't possible, so i moved to the spare room. i just need the space.

consequences aren't about punishing them, they are about you protecting yourself, your values. consequences can be just acknowledging that it happened and stating your feelings about it.

i will end this with more hugs.


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