Starting a relationship early in Reboot?

Submitted by Back2Reality on
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Hi everyone, this is my first post and I need some advice. If you can’t be bothered to read this whole post, I understand. The main question I would like feedback on is in the last paragraph, so just skip to it...

I’m a 28 year-old single male in the beginnings of porn addiction recovery. I have tried to stop many times but have only every made it to about 2-3 weeks without relapse. I’ve never been interested in having a stable relationship, and I’ve always been much less interested in picking up girls in general, compared to your average red-blooded male.

The few times I have been in a sexual encounter, I just didn’t feel anything. No connection, no pleasure, and obviously, no erection. I was merely serving the girl’s wishes, like it was the natural thing to do, even though it didn’t feel naturally fulfilling to me. It felt like I was outside of myself, watching an actor.

As I rapidly approach 30 (years young), I’ve realized that all my friends are very much loved up, and are getting more ‘coupley’ by the day. I feel like I’m now being excluded from social events and outings simply because I don’t have a plus-one. The old spinster complex is setting in and I’m worried about my future.

Truth be told I’ve always worried about my lack of Mojo when it comes to girls, but I thought it was all down to a lack of self-esteem, thanks to my hair falling out when I was 19 (thanks god). They always say that you can’t love anyone until you love yourself and I believe that to be true.

Luckily, things have improved as I mature, and since first learning about porn addiction and starting my reboot attempts, I have been more attracted to women, and relationships in general. I have noticed that women are now showing more interest in me too, which has in-turn furthered my attraction to them.

There is one girl in particular that has pursued me, and I am now seeing her casually. She seems like a great girl - attractive and full of life. But this is also the problem - she is an extrovert, I am an introvert. I think since trying to abstain from PMO, my social anxiety has been spiking periodically. I just cannot make small talk or think of interesting things to chat about, and I panic. It makes the whole experience of socializing with her and my friends seem like an arduous chore. I also go through long stretches where I’m not really bothered about seeing or talking to her at all, but then I’ll get jealous if I see her getting chatted up by another guy. I know people should naturally want to go out and do things together and have fun, but I have always been more comfortable on my own.

I think the problem lies in the fact that I have spent about the last 10 years in a zombified state of depression and anxiety, without nearly enough life experiences or even a healthy general knowledge of the big bad world. My job as a freelance artist generally involves me sitting in front of a computer on my own all day, frantically juggling deadlines. When you work for yourself, you’re never really feel like you’re ‘off the clock’. This leaves me little time to grow as a person, so I don’t really feel like I have much to offer.

I feel like I’m out of touch with what matters to people and what they find interesting. I suffer from poor concentration, memory loss and well, an overall brain fog. So when a topic comes up in conversation, I usually can’t provide any meaningful input, or I feign interest.

I used to be an intelligent kid at school and throughout Uni, but something has happened to me since. I feel like my brain is rotting, or a the very least, gestating in its own filth. I am however a good person and like to treat people with respect, so I don’t know how to proceed with this girl.

I don’t want to tell her everything, as nobody knows how screwed up I am, and she knows a lot of my friends and people I know. It could turn out to be the talk of the town, and I couldn’t have that. But as I have only seen her about 3 times over the past couple of months, she is bound to be wondering what the hell is happening between us, if anything.

Should I tell her about my issues depression and anxiety and explain that I need time to heal, or should I be forcing myself into a relationship and more social events even though I don’t feel that I’m ready? I know that a change to more healthier habits and activities is considered a strong strategy for rewiring the addict brain, but I feel like I need a completely fresh start first (I currently live at home with my parents, and I’m considering a career change as I hate my job and it doesn’t provide financial security). I want to be independent, financially secure and happy in my working life before I can support a full relationship.

Apologies for the rambling post, I just felt like I needed to get a large portion of it off my chest. The crux of the post is, should I get into a relationship while I am in recovery, or should I allow myself some breathing space to slowly build up a healthy body and mind (fully-functioning human being) before going back on the market?

Thanks all. Reuniting and YourBrainOnPorn are wonderful sites.

it's much easier to recover

when you have a relationship with someone. BUT this is provided that you aren't feeling pressure to perform sexually.

It is a HUGE advantage having a girlfriend you can be with. If you cuddle and snuggle and all of that, short of attempting intercourse, this is hugely helpful. I can't stress this enough.

So that means having a discussion with her about where you are going and how you want to take it slow but you want to see her a lot more and see where things go. If you can be set on what you want, women are attracted to that certainty and direction. It is a very masculine place.

And welcome here -- please post often. I read your entire post and found it very helpful.


A Good Point...

Thanks for the quick reply Emerson, and kudos to you for reading the whole thing!

You make a very interesting point when you talk about the masculinity of having a direction and sense of certainty. I think this is where I fall down big time. It seems like I am currently going through a premature mid-life crisis - want a complete career change but not sure what, want to move away but not sure where, want to be happier but not sure how. That is why I feel that I have nothing to offer a woman at the moment. I feel like I need to BECOME the type of man that can support a healthy relationship, BEFORE I go throwing myself into one.

The girl is 24, and as I mentioned, I am 28, so she is probably attracted to me because I am older and she thinks I am mature and confident and grounded. I would love to be able to just tell her about all of this, and for her to understand and have loads of snuggle time to help me re-establish my normal reward circuitry, but I'm just not sure she would take it well at all.

Her last proper relationship lasted for 6 years, until the guy promptly dumped her through the gentlemanly medium of the Facebook status update before vanishing. What a guy eh? So she said she doesn't want to be messed around anymore or have any 'negative' people influencing her life. She actually told me that she had severed all ties with a guy she knew recently for this very reason (eek!). So I don’t want to dump all of my problems onto her, I want her to be happy. I just wish I was ready to take care of her.

I just can't see any feasible way of bringing her back to my tiny little room next door to my parents for a kiss and cuddle session at the ripe old age of 28. It just seems totally absurd to me. Also, I currently don’t drive (although I'm taking lessons as part of my 'awakening') so it's difficult to go on a decent date as we both live in the same quaint little village in the middle of nowhere.

You see, on paper, I sound like a loser. Sit at home on computer all day, don't earn a sustainable income, living with parents, can't drive, addicted to porn, no motivation. But let me assure you, I am acutely aware of how unattractive my current predicament is. It's like I am a totally sound, intelligent person trapped in a loser's body and mind. I can switch on the charm when I need to, am overly extrovert when I'm drunk (especially on the dance floor) and I have quite a few friends who seem to respect me.

I feel like I could be a good person overall and that I’m capable of great things, but that part of me is locked away in some long-lost crypt in the back of my mind, surrounded by acres of numbing white noise.

This is what the reboot is all about. It’s not just abstinence from PMO, it’s about trying to branch out of my comfort zone and try new activities and experiences that might just reawaken the dormant king in that crypt. But unlike trying out a night class or going on a trip, a relationship piles on a level of ongoing responsibility that I feel is draining my energy rather than boosting it.

I was not looking for a relationship at all during reboot, it’s only because she pursued me for so long. Given the fact that she was still interested even after a couple of shaky initial encounters (involving my drunken self completely ignoring her advances) I thought it must be fate or something telling me that the time was right.

Now, I’m not so sure. I just want to stick to the plan: start exercising, pass my driving test, figure out a career change, get a job (and consequently money), move into my own place, THEN start looking for a relationship. It’s as if having the relationship now is hijacking the attention from all other efforts.

I completely agree that having someone to hold and have reciprocal affection with is of great importance to one’s recovery, but I just don’t think I am in the position (geographically, financially or mentally) to maintain a relationship of any sort, or sustain her interest. There is just too many ‘normal’ people queuing to fill my place. Concurrently, the effects of her reacting badly and blabbing to her friends would be devastating.

Further time for rumination is needed on these matters methinks. A meet-up with her is definitely on the cards though. I shall try to keep you posted, and in a more concise fashion than these previous entries demonstrate :) Maybe I should become a writer...

you never know until you try

it sounds like you are resigned to not getting really close to this girl.

So you really, really have nothing to lose by telling her you are growing and changing and figuring out how to move out etc.

Nothing to lose at all.

Hey man,

Hey man,

Im going to give you advice from my point of view. Keep in mind this is just one guy talking from the perspective of his life experiences and I am in no way claiming I know whats best for you or your situation.

First, having a mate has only stifled my progress. The desire for sex was just too great (on my end) and really just detracted from my reboot.

Most women, especially in their 20's, arent going to want to sit with you through this from the very start. Some may, most wont. My advice is to get this under control before getting a girlfriend. There are 3b women on this planet. Shes not your only option. During my first reboot i made that mistake and here I am 5 months later back at square one.

Man the fuck up and get your testosterone checked. Own your problem. Take this to a medical dr and see if this is really your problem. It could all be hormonal. You write like an able, intelligent young man. Get off your ass, get out of the house, set some goals, and catch your life up.

Masturbating to porn all day is contributing to your social anxiety, depression, and lack of desire to pursue real women in my humble opinion, it certainly did in my case. You have got to find something to occupy your time to improve yourself as a person, whatever that vision is, while you solve what could very well be the source of all of your problems. If you havent yet, read the blogs of others here - your feelings and experiences mirror many on here. Your symptoms seem to fit. If after a month of no PMO you are still being crippled with anxiety and depression, get on meds. GET ON MEDS. Its almost impossible to achieve with A and D. Ask me how I know.

I understand depression and anxiety. Truuuuuust me. I understand the effects on your body, the unmotivation. Ive been there. Youve got to make the decision to come out of it, youve got to stop porn, youve got to stop masturbating, and you have to start succeeding. If you havent gone to college - go. If you can see yourself in the military - do it. It made me into the man I am today and Im very thankful for it. Starting a rigorous gym regime 5-7x a week is exactly what you need. The transformation you can make your body have in one year through proper nutrition and weight training principles will do wonders for your self esteem. While you do this, enroll in a fighting class - I recommend brazilian jiu jitsu. Nothing makes you swagger with confidence more than knowing you can beat everyones ass in the room. You are still young. This is america. You can be a Dr if you want. You can go to Harvard business school. Its all here for you, you just have to TAKE IT.

If I were you, Id force myself out of my comfort zone. Move out of town into a big city, throw yourself into the flames of uncertainty and be forged into the man you are, but havent been because of this. Some people dont succeed until theyre backed into a corner, and then theyre quite the sight to behold. Perhaps you are one of them. Your potential is limitless. You only have to truly decide you want to try to reach it.

You Read My Mind!

Thanks again Emerson. I have considered telling her over and over again, but I’m just not sure how to go about it or how she would take it. We live in a small community where everybody knows everybody else. It would only take one person finding out about my ‘situation’ and I would be screwed. Basically, I don’t know her well enough to trust her with this. She seems more like the ‘devil may care’ type than the sensitive, caring sort. Ironically, I think this is what attracted me to her :)

Lethstang, thanks for the fresh perspective. Just to give a bit of background on me - I went to University when I was 17 and got a 1st class Honours degree, so I haven’t just sat on my ass my whole life. I also lived away from home during this time (5 years) which was in the city. So there was plenty of chances to meet different women, but I was always very nonchalant about hooking up and had little desire for real sex, which I am now realizing was probably due to starting PMO in my mid-teens. Also, I was more of a Casanova in my late teens (pre-hairloss). So like many others, perhaps the porn is just a catalyst for my many other personality disorders such as low self-esteem and poor body image.

I actually considered the military for the sheer physicality of it and its reputation for molding weak minds into strong disciplined ones. I totally respect it for that element, but I just could not in good conscience take part in any foreign war, it goes against all my beliefs. Just my personal view. I am glad it worked for you though.

You are right on the money about an exercise regime. I got a gym membership a couple of years ago when working in the city and lost 3 stones in 3 months, and I have to say that was probably the longest period of PMO abstinence I have ever managed. Then, out of nowhere, a Perfect 10 just landed on my lap. Slim, blonde, pretty, kind, and incredibly intelligent (she was an anesthetist). So naturally, I felt totally inferior and unprepared, bottled it after our 2nd date, and never called her again. I vowed to never let that happen again, but now here I am with another girl and completely clueless how to handle her.

So I’ve recently bought a kettlebell and I’m planning on having 3 weekly workouts. It’s also funny that you mention martial arts, as I previously trained in Karate and Aikido when I was younger, and was recently thinking of getting back into Aikido purely for the level of direct human contact that it affords.

Many thanks to both of you for your input. Lethstang, your train of thought seems almost identical to mine at the moment. I appreciate that there is no one clear way out of this, and that different strategies work for different people. I just hate using girls as a practice doll for my recovery. It seems cruel and immoral. I suppose I could trust her with full disclosure and flee to the city if the 5hit hits the fan, but I would rather not compromise the many close connections I have at home.

I already said to her that I would be up in the city this week (where she works), so I’ve sown the seeds for a catchup. I’m hoping that the success or failure of this date will let me know whether to tell all or call it a day.

Thanks again guys.

You don't have to tell her

You don't have to tell her everything to tell her something. Explain you're evolving and are interested in going slow and exploring affection. As long as it won't make your home base uncomfortable, share away.

Not only I read OP's entire

Not only I read OP's entire post but all of them. Lol
Believe me when I say I completely understand how you feel. I'm also in a situation where I don't know if I should go for it and be totally honest with this girl or if I should "play the game", Put a mask and Pretend to be someone else.

Keep us posted!

Sharing yourself at the right

Sharing yourself at the right time isn't game playing. Adding masks isn't helpful. That doesn't require all at once disclosure. There's an Osho piece on how the more we know someone, the more mystery we see in that person.