In another post, I described one technique for getting to the truth. It is an extremely effective technique, so here are some things to do BEFORE you get to the truth about his history with porn. The beginning stages of dealing with this is so important, so there a few important things to do before you bring up the conversation. (After you’re done with these steps, go back and read how to get to the truth by using the link above.)
1 – Most women are shocked to hear he did anything beyond looking at soft-core porn. Unfortunately, soft-core porn isn’t the mainstream anymore, and many men have surprising things to reveal.
TO DO: a) You need to have a plan for what you will do in case it’s revealed that he’s violated your deal-breakers. Your plan can involve a mentor like me, counseling, a 12-Step group, etc.. (If you’d like to save time, understand the success rates of each of these approaches.)
b) You need to know exactly what your boundaries are. If you think you might be tempted to leave over certain betrayals, you need to be very clear with him about what it will take for you to stay.
c) Don’t know how to bring the subject up? In my story there are links to the two tools I used to confront him. Feel free to use those.
d) You’ll also want to know what to do in case he doesn’t want to get better.
2 – Even though most men really want to be open, many of them test the waters before revealing things that feel too risky to them. They may hide some truths (even when they say they’re telling the truth) knowing they can reveal more later if the initial truth telling sessions go well.
But some of the trouble may have started years before: Many women go into relationships saying, “I will leave anyone who lies to me.” But then she meets a guy. They settle down and build a life together. Time passes and then the issue of his porn use surfaces. She feels so confused by his porn confessions–especially in light of their good times together–and suddenly following through on her earliest conviction to leave isn’t quite so easy. What’s worse, the fact that she isn’t holding to her earlier convictions only burdens her further.
TO DO: a) Begin believing in a common phrase: “Addicts Lie.” Lying is common enough that you can almost expect him to lie to you. Going into this next phase knowing, “My significant other will probably to lie to me,” will keep your injuries to a minimum while he gets used to opening up to someone he loves about all this.
b) Know his lies aren’t an indication of him not loving you. It’s an indication of him fearing vulnerability with someone he does love–if he didn’t love you, he’d just blurt it out because he wouldn’t care what you’d think.
c) You need to know what your ultimate deal-breakers are. You do. But since so many men tend to ‘lie when telling the truth,’ seriously consider suspending your personal convictions in this area–especially if you feel you love him enough to think twice before leaving.
“3” written just below may be a way to give yourself the most breathing room, while not being unduly burdened by your prior-convictions, and still getting the details you prefer.
3-Most men want to get everything off their chest. Why? Because even tiny secrets can feel very heavy. Unfortunately, sometimes they dump everything onto the woman. He feels relieved, but she’s left holding the heaviness of the truth he unloaded. (Some guys are kinda clueless: some guys feel so free they can’t understand why she isn’t celebrating with him–or later, gets impatient when she’s still trying to wrap her mind around everything.)
TO DO: You need to tell him you want to be in control of how much you hear and when. You can even make an agreement like:
“I would like to enter into a truth telling phase of our relationship. Which means, in __ months I’d like everything out on the table. BUT–and this is huge–during our truth telling conversations, I’d like to be able to say when I’ve heard enough for that session. We can discuss more later, but I’ll need to be able to process a little bit at a time.”
This way, you’re giving both of you room to adjust to this new phase of your relationship, and you’re in control of how much and how soon he unloads everything on you.
4-Sometimes the things men have to reveal are so shocking that women feel they can’t turn to just anybody with it. When my husband and I were going through our stuff, I knew I couldn’t turn to certain people because they would have encouraged me to leave him. (And if I had left him, I would have given up on any chance of having this awesome relationship with him–with our years of history.)
TO DO: Determine beforehand exactly who you will turn to for support. Write down their names and keep the list handy. Consider calling them beforehand to get support for this part of your journey. (If you don’t have a someone to turn to with this issue or if you need specific guidance, contact me here.)