There’s a guy in our Porn Reboot group who started a great conversation. He was upfront and honest with his partner when he started his journey with the Porn Reboot system. He shared honestly about his struggles with pornography and masturbation. She was immediately supportive of him, grateful for his honesty, and agreed to be his accountability partner.
A few months later, he let her know he relapsed by fantasizing about her. She found it a bit weird; though, and responded with uncomfortable energy. Our brother came to the group immediately and explained his situation. He wants to be honest with his partner but wasn’t sure whether he did the right thing.
This raises the question: should your girlfriend be your accountability partner?
Is Honesty the Best Policy?
The first thing I want to make absolutely clear is that I believe that your partner should know if you are struggling with pornography. I know there are many of you out there who are scared to tell your partner, many of you who are hiding it. On an ethical level; though, your partner must know what’s going on at least to some extent.
That’s where it ends for me with ethics, though. A lot of traditional counseling approaches, 12 step groups, and other methodologies stress the importance of honesty. They believe honesty is the best policy and your partner needs to know everything right away.
While I agree that your partner should at least know what’s going on, I don’t believe that’s the case for everyone. Your partner might not be ready to hear everything. Telling her every detail about your out of control behavior only considers your feelings, not hers.
Your Partner Might Not Be Ready
Honesty releases you from the weight of guilt and shame that comes with your secretive sexual behaviors. “It’s what’s good for her, though, JK. She deserves to know the type of man she’s with,” men will tell me. But, have you taken into consideration how it will affect your relationship? Have you thought about how it will affect your partner’s mental health?
Those traditional counseling approaches and 12 step groups suggest you be honest. Some counselors insist that telling the truth will always work out in the end. Then men take this suggestion and, wanting to relieve themselves of their shame, dump the truth on their partner.
Part of your recovery includes being considerate of your partner. It’s a heavy time right now with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the entire world. She already has a lot on her plate. Maybe she lost her job, perhaps there are some family troubles she’s dragged into, or she might even be dealing with some existing mental health issues.
What will it do to her if you come home and let her know, “Hey, honey, I’ve been a porn addict for the past seven years”? What’s going to happen to your relationship? You don’t get to uproot her entire world just because you want to relieve your shame and guilt.
Getting Ready to Get Honest
This doesn’t mean your partner never finds out about your behavior. Like I said before, I believe that your partner should know about your problem. That’s what I did in my relationship and that’s what I recommend to the men I work with.
So it’s not a question of whether you will approach it, it’s a question of how and when you’ll approach it. You need to consider what is going on in her life at the moment. What is she going through?
If she’s going through certain difficult things already, I recommend you wait. I suggest you continue working on your behavior. You should continue talking with a therapist, counselor, coach, or participating in a program, whatever approach you prefer.
You need to utilize your preferred approach to create a plan to tell your partner. Coming straight out with it is not the best way to tell her, especially if she’s already going through something. You cannot take your honesty lightly; you need to consider her first when you’re preparing to get honest.
Can Your Girlfriend Be Your Accountability Partner?
Once you’ve found the right time to be honest with your partner, she might appreciate your being honest with her. She may want to support you in your recovery like our brother who wrote into the group. What do you do if she suggests becoming your accountability partner, though?
I recommend you don’t allow your girlfriend to be your accountability partner. It might seem like a good idea because she’s ready to support you but it’s not good for her or your relationship. There are three main reasons why your girlfriend shouldn’t be your accountability partner.
1. She’s too close to the problem
Your partner wants to be supportive of you. She wants to help you with your out of control behavior. She might appreciate the fact that you’re coming to her with this. On an emotional level, it may feel great to be able to support you in something.
The reality is she doesn’t know what she’s getting into. She’s too close to the problem. Sure, your partner might be your best friend but she’s much different from your guy friends. She’s the friend with whom you’re in a relationship, an intimate, sexual relationship. Pornography addiction is a sexual problem. Because you have a sexual problem, it’s going to affect her.
2. She didn’t sign up for this
Your partner doesn’t understand how long it’s going to take you to end your out of control behavior. She doesn’t know how insidious the slips and relapses are. She doesn’t understand the emotional highs and lows that you’re going to be going through. She doesn’t realize that this is a legit addiction.
When she finds out that it’s a legit addiction, she’s going to reach out for help. I get messages every day from frustrated women. They love their man but they don’t know what to do. Eventually, she’ll reach her wit’s end and at some point, she’s going to sit down and think, “Wait a minute, I didn’t sign up for this. I knew there would be tough times but not this.”
3. Your addiction will reduce her attraction to you
A woman wants a man who has self-control. She doesn’t want a man who is pouring out his feelings all the time. She doesn’t want an unreliable man. Your partner wants to be with someone who can control their behaviors and maintains the boundaries she sets.
There were very specific qualities that made her attracted to you. Your inability to control your sexual behavior was not one of them. If you make your partner your accountability partner, you’re going to kill attraction. She’s going to tell herself, “I didn’t sign up to be with a child who can’t maintain his boundaries.”
Step Out of Your Shame and Seek Help
Sometimes, we just get caught up in all of the programming that’s pushed on us. You might think your partner is your best friend; the only one you can trust. She’s there for you for better or worse. She’s the one who’s directly affected by your out of control sexual behavior. It only makes sense to have her as your accountability partner.
Your partner isn’t the only person you can trust. Your behavior is your responsibility, not hers. You need to find the courage to work through the shame and ask for the help you need. Recovering from pornography addiction is on you, not on your partner.
Maybe you’re telling yourself you aren’t ready to be around a group of men; that’s exactly where your problem stems from, though. If you’d rather mess up your relationship and be comfortable than get honest with a group who understands, you have work to do. You’ve got to make some courageous moves to save your relationship.
Reach out today and join us here at the Porn Reboot group. This incredible group of men understands the struggles of porn, masturbation, and sex addiction. Each of us has been where you are right now. You don’t need to rely on your partner to help you; there’s a brotherhood right here waiting for you to join us.