I’ve noticed that when it comes to the relationships of our typical clients, some relationships are great while others suffer.
Most of the men I work with are great at maintaining the relationships that pertain to their careers. Relationships with their clients, customers, employees, or coworkers are good because they see these people every day. They understand how to navigate the different scenarios that involve these other people.
Oftentimes they’re also good at maintaining other long-term relationships with childhood friends, close college buddies, and some family members. These long-standing relationships are important and easy to maintain because these people have been around for years.
People often assume the most problematic relationship for men struggling with compulsive sexual behavior is the one with their girlfriend or wife. Even with the problems that come with these relationships, though, they’re not the most challenging type.
Believe it or not, the relationships I find men in the Porn Reboot system struggling with the most are new relationships with other men. Does this apply to you?
It’s hard for a lot of men in the program to put themselves out there. This might seem surprising but a lot of successful men have maintained the same core group of friends for years. There’s nothing wrong with having that set group but problems arise when you’re unwilling to step out and make new friends.
This hesitation tends to stem from the shame and guilt of your out-of-control behavior. Over time you put yourself in the position where your circle becomes your family, your close male friends, the people you work with, and nothing more. Developing newer relationships is off the table, even when your existing relationships are dysfunctional.
But how do you overcome this?
Fix Your Relationship With Yourself
You need to have a good relationship with yourself before you can ever form a good relationship with another person. When you develop a compulsive behavior with pornography, masturbation, or sex, though, you do not have a good relationship with yourself.
If you look at it a certain way, your addiction takes on the role of an abusive partner. It controls your every move and dominates your life. It doesn’t let you do anything healthy for yourself. Every time you try to engage in the appropriate self-care, it overtakes you.
There’s that voice in your head telling you, “Hey, listen, you don’t need to do this meditation thing. Why are you calling a friend? All you need is me. Let’s hang out, open some tabs, and do that thing we enjoy.”
If you want to build healthy relationships with others again, you have to fix that relationship with yourself. This process starts with cutting the ties you have to the abusive part of yourself. It’s not an easy process but it’s worth doing if you want to overcome your out-of-control behavior.
A Reboot Relationships Exercise
I have a quick exercise you can do right now. This is all about building self-compassion. Grab a pen and paper and write down a mistake you’ve made that left you feeling inferior or embarrassed or ashamed. Write down every detail of this thing that takes up space in your head and makes you feel guilty and shameful.
Now I want you to imagine you have a close friend who made this same mistake. You love this person unconditionally and you want the best for them. You see them going through this terrible pain, feeling so inferior and beaten down by this mistake.
So I want you to write a letter to them. What would you say to this friend? How would you approach helping them feel better? Which suggestions would you make? I want you to put pen to paper and write a letter to this friend who shared this mistake with you.
Once you’re done writing the letter, I want you to read it back to yourself. How does it feel to read that letter to yourself? If you take the time to follow through with this exercise, I’d also like you to email it to me, too, with the title “Reboot Relationships.” I’ll read your letter and respond to it.
Exercises like these are the first step to rebuilding your self-esteem. Rebuilding your self-esteem is the only way you’ll learn to form healthy relationships with new people in your life as well as strengthen the existing relationships you already have. In a few days I’ll let you know how you can continue working on your self-esteem.