Dating and pornography addiction

Posting on a Catholic forum, I would like to think that the users here understand how pornography addiction is so very harmful to body, mind, and soul. But thinking back, I’ve been Catholic for my whole life, and went through most of my life without knowing the harmful effects of pornography and only hearing that it is sinful. So if you are not aware of just how harmful pornography is, please refrain from posting your opinion and watch this video by Matt Fradd:

I think it’s amazing that there are people in secular society who recognize just how harmful pornography is, and how beneficial it is to break out of porn addiction. If you want to see what I mean, check out this thread on a secular (I repeat, secular) forum:

Now to the main topic: Without giving a detailed personal account, I would like to hear your opinions about when it is appropriate to date after breaking out of an addiction to pornography and masturbation. How long should a man remain free from his addiction to porn and masturbation before pursuing a relationship?

The reason I ask is because pornography addiction warps perception and damages relationships (some of this is addressed in the Matt Fradd video posted above). Also, the human brain has a way of pulling us back into our old habits, as much as we try to cut them out of our lives ( - easy to understand, includes one explicit word). So even though I have been free from porn and masturbation for a time, the reality is that the strong temptation to turn back to it can reappear at any time.

So how long should a man remain free from his addiction to porn and masturbation before pursuing a relationship?

I honestly think that the only men can persuade men that this is harmful. It seems to me when a woman speaks against it, the men who want to enjoy it seem to think its coming from motives that are only for her benefit. - like she doesn’t like it, or it makes her feel bad about herself. (Which may be part of it, but it doesn’t cover the whole problem of it.) That’s why I think its going to have to take a whole movement of men to take a stand against it, but I don’t believe that will ever happen.

As far as your question goes… I’m not sure if I as a woman can answer that. I don’t really think that anyone can because it could be different for each case. There are some conversions that are immediate and very sincere with no having to work and strive to solve the issue needed- God just gives them understanding a grace and they in turn have no desire to turn back to it. That I’d say is rare, but it does happen. There are other cases where people fight off and on with the issue… its no different from any other sin that is out there. No people go into marriage perfect sinless beings. There are others who feel ashamed but are still very much attached to the pleasure they get from it and feel a lot of temptation.

I’d guess I’d have to say that if there is real remorse and real understanding of the perils and problems of it and a real resolve to not have it a part of their life, then pursuing a relationship is ok. But again, that’s coming from a female perspective. Perhaps it is different for a man.

I disagree here. I think pornography exploded because women stopped holding men accountable for the sin of objectifying women. When a movement of women rise up and demand that men reform, when women demand that society recognize that pornography is harmful to men and women alike, and when women demand that sexuality and motherhood are sacred, then men will alter their behavior. Men take their cues from women.

With respect to the original poster, I think that only you can answer the questIon. If you can respect a woman’s humanity–if you see her as a child of God–the you are ready to date again.

I’m not sure it’s possible to give an exact answer to the OP’s question since it really depends on the individual. In some cases, the loving support of a significant other may well be helpful for them and may also provide an incentive to avoid pronography. there is of course the risk of relapse however this is something that cannot be discounted regardless of whether or not the person is dating. Sadly, there are for than a few men (and, to a much lesser extent, women) who are in relationships or married and yet suffer from a pornograhpy addiction.

Well, he will never be totally free of the addiction. By this, I mean that the addiction can roar back to life in one moment of weakness, even after years of not indulging in it. Just one five minute lapse at 2am can set it off. It is important that he understands that. Now the minimum step is to go 120 days or so, that is when many of the adverse affects of the addiction will have diminished. He should be able to look women in the eyes and so on. I wouldn’t recommend actively looking for a relationship for 6 months to a year. The person owes it to their potential future spouse to be able to maintain their sobriety. Ideally at some point before marriage the future spouse should be told of this issue on some level. All couple should have a continuing dialog on how important it is to avoid pornography. Don’t pretend that it couldn’t happen to you, the percentages affected by this problem are outrageous.

You are asking a very important question. :thumbsup:

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.

Why is this on a Vocations forum?

I disagree with this. I think a woman’s voice in this can be very convincing, especially if she is a wife/girlfriend to the man addicted. There are alot of men who have a divided heart about doing it, and encouragement to stop from both men and women alike can be helpful.

I’ve had the same question myself about length of time away from porn-- I actually posted a similar thread here, which you might find helpful reading:

I was attending a purity support group meeting months back and asked the same question. Basically unanimously everybody said that it was a good idea for me to be dating now, and I didn’t need to have a certain length of “sobriety” before dating. My friends said the same thing - I was being too hard on myself, dating would be good for me.

But looking back I don’t think that’s the best advice. I’m leaning more towards what WHM said, 6 months to a year of success against it. If you’re going into dating someone without a decent length of sobriety, it’s sort of like limping into a relationship. It’s not fair to the other person. If you come clean to the other person about it, maybe it’s not as bad, but it’s also something that can easily be hidden.

I think in most cases if you’ve gone a year without porn/masturbation, it means you’ve significantly changed – you’ve made good habits, you’ve developed some healthy relationships, you’ve made some positive lifestyle changes. Once you’ve changed, don’t you think it’s possible the type of person you like could change too?

This is just my opinion, I don’t have experience to back it up because I’ve never made it more than a few months of being pure.

I would wait a year or two and then start off VERY slowly and very casually. When you do get serious about someone, make sure you tell her about yourself and how you stopped that addiction, still struggle with it, but are determined not to fall back. It should be up to her then to decide to continue the relationship. Addiction to pornography is a national shame that is not taken seriously enough.

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