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Monday, April 6, 2015

Relationships and Addictions

Dear Bro Jo,

I am writing you because in the past I have read your blog and you seem to have trusted advice.

I am nineteen and I recently started dating this young man.

He has been home from his mission for about a year now and he is twenty three.

I do not believe that our meeting or relationship is any way by chance and I know that the Lord had his hand in directing me to meet my boyfriend.

He is an amazing young man who is always trying to be his best.

He is constantly serving others, bearing his testimony, and fulfilling his callings.

Unfortunately, I know that he has a past and things that could haunt us in the future.

Before his mission, he was not on the best path.

I know that he was naked with a girl and had a pornography addiction which is why he did not go on a mission at 19 but rather 20.

He went through the repentance process then was clean for a year then for the duration of his two year mission.

When he came home from his mission he then fell into a state of depression, turned to pornography once more, which then just fueled a cycle of depression and addiction.

Three months before we met he realized the road he was on and went to see the Bishop to repent.

The Bishop though shattered his hope in a lot by being harsh and critical and, I am sure, misunderstood.

This only furthered the depression so instead my boyfriend began to see a psychologist which helped.
It was about two months before he fully was committed to changing and repenting.

It has been four months now and he is still working at it.

The mistakes have been much less frequent now and he is determined to overcome this.

He has been completely honest with me and continues to be.

He is also very rational about the fact that addiction is never something that really goes away completely.

I have faith in the atonement, as I have experienced it in my own life.

I also had an addiction (not to porn) that I have conquered, but still battle.

I know that he can overcome this and that he has the desire and faith to do so.

Previously, I dated a guy who struggled with his testimony, went on a mission but came home, and had similar but more severe issues.

I continued to give him second chances until the Lord steered me away from him and gave me peace enough to let go. I do not want to repeat the past with my current boyfriend.

I have prayed and felt peace about being in the relationship that I am in now.

I love my boyfriend and I want to help him get through this.

I would like an outsiders opinion on whether I seem to be just repeating the past.

I would also like to know if I should continue to date him, be seeing other people or should walk away entirely.

I would also like to know if it is stupid to marry someone with an addiction even if it is dormant (which seems rather hypocritical because I know that I had/have one too).

How long of being incident free is enough to enter into marriage?

In addition, is there any advice that you can give me on how to help him?

Also, my boyfriend suggested that it may be helpful if I talk to my parents about all this.

I would like to and think I will but I am not exactly sure how to approach them on the subject. 

Sincerely (and thanks in advance),

- Trying to be Realistic

Dear Trying,

I agree that addiction never totally goes away.  However, and this is Very Important, there's a HUGE difference between being, say, A Recovering Alcoholic and BEING An Alcoholic . . . and that difference is both in Attitude and the Atonement.

The very general rule about time in the past is 1 year, but more importantly is that Repentance has happened.

Remember, the final stage of repentance is to "turn away from the sin".

If that has happened, I think it's fine to date and even marry him.

If it hasn't, then I think you need to be out of this relationship.

While he is making progress, he clearly isn't out of the woods yet, and I'm concerned about things like blaming his Bishop and leaning on you to help him recover.  There's an element there that indicates that he's not taking the responsibility he needs to take.

Depression is often a trigger for addictions, and very real, but part of recovery is learning that one does not have to give in to the trigger.

Even the happiest of people get depressed every now and then.

Before this relationship continues you need to know that the addiction is over for good. And he needs to know that, too.

I think that he needs is to learn more positive ways to deal with the challenges and trials that come into our lives.

Can you help him with that?


It's possible that you can help him see the triggers, and learn how to overcome his addiction.

If he's "clean and sober", then I say stick it out.

If he's not, then I say part ways, love him as a fellow disciple of Christ, and tell him that, should you still be single once he's fixed what he needs to that you'd love to pick up where you've left off in this relationship.

Look, no one is perfect, and any successful marriage is going to have to accept that each person has flaws.

But the problem with addiction is that it places your needs below that of the addict; they choose the behavior . . . the substance . . . over you.

That's why it's so destructive.

If he can't choose you over pornography, then he's not ready and you should move on.

His suggestion may be wise:  talk to your parents.

No need to make it dramatic or weird.

Simply ask their help with how to deal with a situation.

But I must say I'm a bit surprised that he'd make such a suggestion. It seems odd to me.

Like I said, we all have flaws; Sister Jo certainly knows mine, but I'd hate for her to share them with her parents. Heck, I'm sure they know more of my flaws than I'd like them to, but that doesn't mean I want her telling them the others.

Before talking to your parents, it might be good to ask him why he wants you to spill his problems to them.

- Bro Jo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice. I'm recently divorced from a porn-addicted husband (I didn't have knowledge of his addiction prior to marrying him). From first hand experience, I know that pornography use and dishonesty destroys a marriage relationship. I tried my best to help my husband recover, but he was unwilling and (still is) in denial about how his actions hurt me and continued to use throughout our marriage. He repeatedly put porn above me, refused treatment, and I suffered terribly.
Thank you so much for sharing. I totally agree there are some red flags here before she moves forward in this relationship.