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Conservative Reboot Dating: Balancing Values and Experiences

Conservative Reboot Dating: Balancing Values and Experiences

I’ve got another question from a brother today that addresses his concerns about his conservative views on casual dating. He asks: 

“I’ve had a dialogue in my head for quite some time about the approach I should take to dating. I grew up in a very conservative family in a very conservative area. I have carried the value of only needing one woman for the rest of my life. 

“However, recently I’ve considered the idea of dating casually without any intent for a long-term commitment. I feel a lot of resistance to this, though, and oftentimes sabotage opportunities with women I’m interested in. Am I wrong for only having gone out on a couple of dates with one person in his life? Is it wrong to have this sort of value?”

If you’ve been around the our Porn Addiction Counseling program for a while, you know that I recommend dating casually when you’re early in your reboot. I support you talking with and dating multiple women at a time because the primary goal is learning to enjoy interacting with women without expectations. 

Dating multiple women at a time makes you less likely to be overly engaged, needy, and dependent while casually dating. You don’t see the woman you’re with as your only option which keeps you from feeling and behaving desperately. 

However, if you hold a conservative view of dating you may struggle with seeing more than one woman at once. Some conservative segments of society frown upon the practice. Even if you aren’t ready to settle down, the idea that you would see multiple women isn’t an acceptable approach to the dating process.

I believe this is an antiquated concept. Dating in the Western world has changed a ton over the last few decades. Most people see nothing wrong with casually dating multiple people. It’s almost assumed that you’re seeing more than one person at once until exclusivity or commitment is explicitly mentioned.

Casual dating allows you to interact with and enjoy the company of other women. You’ve spent so many years isolating yourself from the world and lost touch with the skills necessary to build a relationship. If you only date one woman at a time, you hold yourself back from engaging with as many of them as possible. Why put yourself at a disadvantage there?

You should also consider that the way society views sex is much different than it used to be. Things are far more sexualized today than they ever were before. I was watching a show on HBO Max the other day and saw more penises at once than I ever had in my life. Everything is sexual nowadays. 

Casual sex is also much more common. Both men and women are more likely to have more sexual partners before settling down than our predecessors did. Most of the women you date have likely sex with at least one or two people before. The majority of people are no longer “waiting ‘til marriage” like we were told to do when we were young.

Unfortunately, I see many of our conservative brothers rushing into marriage for the sole purpose of having sex. If your only focus is sex, brother, you’re going to have a miserable marriage. It won’t take long for men who hurry into these lifelong commitments based on the expectation regular sex to realize they made an incredible mistake.

Dating shouldn’t automatically equate to marriage just like dating shouldn’t automatically equate to sex. I support casual dating without the expectation of either prospect. You’ve spent the entirety of your porn addiction learning to objectify women, whether you realize it or not. Porn addiction problems strips all intimacy from the equation and destroys your ability to have healthy interactions with women. Casual dating is the first step to learning how to engage with women without objectifying them. 

I’m not recommending you abandon your values, brother. You’ll find no one more supportive than me when it comes to adhering to your values. But I want to challenge you to reframe your beliefs about dating. Dating multiple women casually doesn’t have to mean rejecting your values. It’s simply a way to relearn how to interact with them without unrealistic expectations.

I do want to point out, though, that not everyone adheres to the same values as you. There’s nothing wrong with holding to your conservative values, but expecting the women you date to hold them as well is likely to set you up for frustration and disappointment. I’m not saying that every woman lacks these values but far fewer are sticking to them than they were before.

I also want to mention that if you’re dating for the sole purpose of getting married, I think you should pump the brakes a bit. Your brain is still rewiring and you don’t want to make a lifelong commitment without fully thinking it through. 

If you aren’t already married then you have no reason to rush into things. It’s better to take your time and get to know some different women at a deeper level than what they have to offer physically. There is plenty of time in your life for marriage, brother, but right now is likely not the time. You don’t want to find yourself regretting your decision in the future.

Instead, focus on asking yourself whether casual dating truly goes against your conservative values. Do they need to be mutually exclusive or can you find a balance between the two? I firmly believe that you can have both, but it’s up to you to decide what is best for you.

Honesty in Relationship Recovery: Balancing Transparency for Successful Reboot

Honesty in Relationship Recovery: Balancing Transparency for Successful Reboot

I want to bring you a question from one of our brothers in the Porn Reboot group today. He asked:

“My girlfriend and I decided that to protect her heart, I don’t share anything about my reboot slip-ups unless she specifically asks exactly what she wants to know. Sometimes when we’re catching up about our days, though, I’ll have acted out that day. Like she’ll ask how my midday nap was but I watched porn instead of taking a nap. I feel horrible lying to her but I want to keep our agreement. How do I handle this?”

This is a fantastic question because it’s something many men in committed relationships deal with during their reboot. Many spouses and partners of men with a porn addiction problem experience extreme betrayal trauma. 

When a man first ends his out-of-control behavior with porn, sometimes his spouse wants to know where he is going and what he is doing at all times. She wants to know whether he’s still watching porn, what type of porn, or what the women he’s watching look like. These women feel unbelievably hurt and for good reason. 

This brother’s question means he and his girlfriend are in a good position given the situation. She is aware of his out-of-control behavior and he understands how his behavior hurts her. It sounds like she’s allowing him enough space to work on his reboot without her getting too invested or involved.

However, it also sounds like this brother is someone trapped by the idea that he needs to be honest at all costs. I don’t hold to this belief, especially when it comes to the reboot process. I don’t believe you should lie to your partner but I also don’t think you need to tell her about every slip that occurs.

I think you should have a conversation with her upfront instead. Let her know that slips are often part of the reboot process but you don’t want to put her in the middle of things. Explain that you have a coach, a therapist, and accountability partners to work through those slips with. Tell her you understand that she didn’t sign up to be your accountability partner, nor did she sign up to be hurt. Acknowledge the damage you’ve done and help her see how talking with her about any future slips will only do more harm than good.

If you’re honest about the possibility of slips from the beginning, it eliminates the need to feel like you’re lying by omission. You shouldn’t drag your partner through the weeds every time you slip; it’s your responsibility to fix it and keep her from dealing with the repercussions of your behavior.

Find a way to discuss situations like the one our brother outlined above without bringing up the slip. For example, he could tell her that he had a lot on his mind when he laid down so he wasn’t able to go to sleep. 

He doesn’t need to bring up watching porn because it’s ultimately irrelevant. He should talk about the emotions that led up to the slip instead. Perhaps he was tired from the gym or stressed about an intense workload. He could bring these things up and talk them through with his girlfriend so he is honest without needing to talk about his slip.

I recommend you do the same in your relationship, brother. It’s not your partner’s burden to bear, it’s yours. You must find a way to work on your behavior without stringing her along through the process. You don’t need to be completely transparent about every slip but you do need to let her in on what’s going on.

Knowing the fine balance of how much to share is something you learn during the reboot process. Over time you won’t deal with slips as frequently, either, so you won’t have to keep skirting around the topic. The Porn Reboot system works, brother, and both you and your partner will benefit from the work you do.


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