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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Should She Do When a Guy She Dated Tells Her That He Has a Porn Problem?

Dear Bro Jo,

ActuaI have another, more serious question for you. So I'll give you some background to provide some context:

My best friend, (Name Withheld #1) whom I've practically been in love with since I was 16, reported to the MTC about 3 weeks ago. It was very exciting, and I'm very proud of him!

He has feelings for me, too, but throughout our friendship we've had the attitude of, "let's follow the prophets' counsel and not steady date," which has proved to be the best decision we could have made. We still developed feelings for each other, but we've also gone on dates with other people.

Well he went into the MTC, and the next day, this guy from my ward, NW2 (I'm using names to avoid confusion) asked me to come over to his house to make dinner. I was excited about it!

He's also in one of my classes.

Well, we started talking and hanging out. A LOT. (Don't worry, this isn't going to be one of those "but I have a missionary!" stories.) He started to like me, and I started feeling confused because I didn't know which direction I should go in. I prayed about it, and literally got NO response for a few days.

Finally, I got a strong feeling that I should break things off with NW2. I was really confused. He's really nice, sweet, creative, and funny--and an RM! It wasn't that I preferred him. I mean, I was only praying because he seemed really nice, and I wanted to make sure I was doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do, not committing myself to NW1 without any guarantee that there will be anything when he gets back in 2 years.

The answer just didn't make sense to me.

Anyways, I decided to go ahead with my prompting.

I'm glad I did.

I was straightforward and told him that I got the feeling that we shouldn't continue in the direction we were going, that I wanted to still be friends if he was ok with it, but a relationship was out of the question for the time being.

I also told him that the only plausible reason that I could think of was that I wasn't ready for a relationship because my feelings for NW1 weren't just going to go away in a week (that's how quickly things progressed for him).

He told me he understood.

And the next day, we were back in class (on Monday), and things were completely fine!!

However, on Tuesday we were texting each other. I was telling him about my religion class, and that we discussed pornography, and I was telling him how angry pornography makes me. I've watched it ruin lives of my friends and my family, and I have no tolerance for it. I really hate it.

He then proceeded to tell me via text that he's had a problem with pornography.

First, here are the questions I have:

1. Obviously the timing was bad--he should have waited. But how do you think a girl should respond when a young man confesses that he has a pornography problem? 
2. When is the appropriate time to discuss such things? 
The reason why I ask this is because previously I thought it was one of those things you discussed when you were thinking about getting engaged. But now that I know, I have no interest in dating him--at the moment. 
Even if I hadn't gotten the prompting to end things with NW2, he's not ready to be married in the temple, so I feel like if I were to continue things, and he were not able to repent fully, then I'd have to end the relationship anyways, because it wasn't going to lead me to temple marriage. 

Does that make sense?

I feel like that sounds harsh, and I might be unfair.

What are your thoughts?


So here's how I went about this: I asked him if he'd seen the Bishop.

He said that he had.

I asked when the last time he'd looked at it was, and he didn't tell me.

Instead, he told me that he'd been tempted over that weekend, but he didn't give in.

I feel like he was downplaying it a little bit, and that he was looking for acceptance.

I felt so grateful that I'd listened to the Spirit. I would hate to be the object of his... fantasies I guess.

I felt like the whole situation was a bad one.

He told me when we weren't even in a committed relationship, right after I told him that I wasn't going to move forward with him.

He seemed to be trying to manipulate me, though I don't think he realized it.

I think that subconsciously, he just wanted to make sure I stayed so I could help him (though it's near impossible for a woman to help a man with that problem), and to feel like he could be loved even though he had such a difficult weakness.

I wrote him a letter explaining that the timing was off, and reminding him that I don't want to pursue a relationship with him, and then we discussed how he needs to work on himself.

He seemed to think it was best to put off dating for another couple years until he was ready, and I suggested to him that he just make sure he's ready when the right girl comes along.

I talked to my Bishop because I felt like NW2 was losing faith in himself, and perhaps the Bishop could help him a little bit where I can't.

The whole situation was so frustrating because I've heard countless times that pornography is the "deadliest of plagues," but I've never been taught how to handle a young man telling you about his addiction, or even finding out.

I feel like what I did was right, and maybe it's a case-by-case thing.

Do you have any suggestions?

I don't anticipate having this issue come up again (I might be dreaming), but I'm sure you've gotten tons of letters on the subject, and having the perspective you do, I'd appreciate your insights.

Thanks Bro Jo!!

I appreciate your time and commitment to us readers!

You're the best!!

- Sister at the Y of I



Dear Sister,

I think you're absolutely right. I think it's a Big Red Flag when a guy mentions a porn problem to a girl.

(So does Sister Jo, by the way. In fact she, wisely in my opinion, says that pornography and it's pervasiveness is behind everything from misogyny to wage disparity.)

I guess I would be okay with it if there was, as you said, already a relationship (at least a close friendship) there.

Perhaps then he'd be trying to make a point, like saying that he struggled with that but with the Lord's help has overcome it, or that having had similar struggles he could sympathize with others, or even if he was making a comment about how pervasive all of this garbage is . . . But to just toss it out there . . . either he's looking to you for comfort (as if you're going to say "that's okay, you're okay") or (as Sister Jo worries) that he's looking for . . . (sorry) someone to be pornographic with.

More than just making a girl the object of his self-gratification, I'm learning that guys, yes even (and perhaps especially) in the Church, will "confess" immorality to a girl as a way of trying to talk her into being immoral.  It's repugnant, but all too common . . . and, frankly, effective.


SISTERS WAKE UP!

Some guys out there have figured out that they can play on your "help him recover" sensibilities and will let you think that he's your "project" because it's a way to get into your pants - or get you into his - no joke.


If you have the Spirit with you then you'll be able to discern when someone is truly crying for help from when someone is crying and from when someone is . . . trying something else.  Trust your instincts (which, IMHO, is another way to think of the Light of Christ) and ALWAYS go no further than encouraging them to get their act together, first by talking candidly to their Bishop, and secondly be getting whatever recovery help they need.

Never start a relationship with someone with a pornography addiction.

And if you're in a relationship, a serious one, with someone who develops that addiction, get help for them . . . and for you.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo

1 comment:

Megan said...

I just want to emphasize how important the spirit is. The man I'm dating right now is struggling with this issue. He told me back before we were dating so I knew that this wasn't to gain anything like that. The Spirit is very good at sensing a persons character. I know the man I'm in love with wants to do what the Lord wants of him and may struggle, but he loves the Lord.

I'm not saying that this guy is like my boyfriend, but I just wanted you to be aware that there are wonderful people struggling and wanting to be better.

Anyway, you are wise to follow what the spirit has told you. Keep at it. =)