Internet BullyThe most important thing to realize about the struggle to resist the urge to “act out” with addictive sexual behaviors and internet pornography is that resistance really is futile.    Sayings like “what we resist persists” and “if you are arguing with your ‘addict’, you have already lost” convey the idea that there is something wrong with trying to fight off a sexual craving.

You feel a slight urge to go to the computer and look at porn.  Maybe it’s weak at first so it passes for a while.  You may begin to worry that the urge will come back.  It’s time to go to bed but you’re not sleepy.  Suddenly the urge is back with full force.

Porn calls to you.  Part of you is still intact enough to know that this would be a relapse and that it is a terrible idea.  You try to “fight off the urge” or “talk yourself out of it,” but it doesn’t work.  Why not?

In resisting the craving we notice it and then we focus on it and then finally we fixate on it.  In the process, the craving becomes strengthened.  Logic is no match for a rampant urge.

Using mindfulness skills with cravings

Avoiding a sexual behavior in response to an urge is going to involve a different part of you, a different skill than thinking, namely mindfulness.  Notice the craving and instead of tensing against it simply allow it to be there and observe it in a detached way.  Instead of panicking and trying to get rid of it, co-exist with it and if you can wait for a few minutes in a calm way, the urge will subside.

The craving cannot gain strength if you loosen your grip.  This is similar to some martial arts techniques and also to how good swimmers learn to extricate themselves from a tangle of seaweed by moving gently and slowly instead of thrashing around.  If you slow down in this way you will notice that you have made room in your mind for other thoughts to enter, thoughts about something completely different.  This is both a mindfulness technique and a relaxation strategy.  Make a tiny bit of space in your awareness and things will change.

The attempt to replace sexual behaviors with something else

Attempting to replace porn or other sexual behaviors with another “enjoyable” activity is not a good bet.  Why?  Because there is nothing that can replace the “high” of sexual acting out.  Although engaging in healthy activities is a part of sex addiction recovery, nothing comes close to the intensity of using sex as a drug.  Accepting this is a huge step forward in saying good-bye to your sexual drug and beginning to come to terms with the loss.

Using 12-step program tools

Calling a recovery friend, reading some recovery meditations, journaling and so on are all useful program tools.  But the chances are that if you can do those things instead of going with the urge, then you have already relaxed enough to focus on some other activity!  you have already allowed the craving to subside a little bit, just long enough to remember that there are helpful things you can do.

Can you prevent cravings from happening?

Preventing a craving from arising in the first place is worth doing if possible.  However it is far from certain that you can predict, and find ways to prevent, all urges toward sexual acting out.  Still avoiding or planning for situations that are “slippery,” like being alone in the house or in a hotel room at night, can improve the odds.  But you may still have to be ready to come back to your basic mindfulness skills.

This method for dealing with cravings was summed up by Lao Tzu about 2500 years ago:

“When in the process of self-transformation

            Desires are aroused, calm them with

                        Nameless simplicity.

When desires are dissolved in the primal presence,

            Peace and harmony naturally occur,

                       And the world orders itself.”

Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource

 


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    Last reviewed: 1 Jul 2013

APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2013). Overcoming Cravings for Porn and Addictive Sex. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 23, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2013/07/overcoming-cravings-for-porn-and-addictive-sex/

 




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