On a episode of the Pure Sex Radio Podcast called “Pressing Past Comfort”, the hosts were talking about different levels of relationships guys go through in their recovery. They mentioned the importance of having healthy regular relationships with people who are not necessarily in recovery.
The sexual addict has to learn to move away from those relationships that destroy purity, and embrace those that are healthy.
SEXUALLY SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
Before our recovery begins, some of us are very social. But we’re hanging around people who encourage us to act out sexually. We go to places where people like us are. We pursue relationship with sexual people. We develop routines and rituals around hooking up with people who are sexual addicts. Sexual relationships become the outlet for meeting all of our needs.
If we are homosexual, we surround ourselves with a whole community that things like us.
Addicts who are deep in their acting out begin to shut the people out of our lives that might try to intervene in our lives or correct us. We become great at isolating ourselves, even if that means our own spouse, church or family. We become experts at putting on a false persona, never letting anyone get close, and keeping ourselves at a distance.
ISOLATED, ANONYMOUS RELATIONSHIPS
Many sex addicts are not very sociable. They are used to being lonely, they have a low self-image and a low self-esteem. They become their own best friend and very resourceful at meeting their own needs. Many times as they have internalized their lives they turn to fantasy and masturbation. Sex becomes a way of medicating the pain and making us feel important.
We too shut off others from our lives. We withdraw inward and into the computer. We maintain an anonymity and sometimes act out in very anonymous ways like phone sex, chat rooms, voyeurism, and with prostitutes.
Most of the guys I know from group (including myself) are not the social types, but more isolated in their addictive relationships.
MOVING TO RECOVERY RELATIONSHIPS
Whether you are a social person or an isolated person, you have to move toward healthy relationships. People who come to recovery group start finding some important things:
- People who have been through the same things.
- People who are working on their junk.
- People who care about you and your junk.
- People who are learning to talk about their junk and struggles.
- People who are learning to lean on each other in their struggles.
One of the big lessons we have to learn from our recovery process is that we can’t do recovery on our own. We need God. We need one another. We need skilled hands. We need mentors. We need a church family. We need a strong support structure in our lives.
Developing recovery relationships is a major step to getting healthy in our relationships. Those who are attending group and still trying to do it in an isolated way are not going to go very far.
DEVELOPING OTHER HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
At some point in recovery, the people who are maturing start realizing:
It’s not all about recovery. My life does not always have to be centered around recovery.
The next phase of developing healthy relationships is to find healthy friends outside of support group. We do not have to exclusively hang around our recovery friends. We can step into non-recovery relationships and be healthy. We need to learn to network with others who have different struggles and life stories.
The idea is not to abandon our recovery relationships, but to expand our range of relationships to others.
WHERE ARE YOU ON THE RELATIONSHIP CURVE?
Q: Have you totally broken away from your “acting out” relationships or your “isolation” relationships?
Q: Are you actively trying to connect with others who understand recovery?
Q: Are you looking for other relationships outside of your recovery circle?