Porn, masturbation, and dating


#1

My story: I started masturbating at age 7, never having been told the ins and outs of sex by my parents, neither of whom had a healthy view towards sex. They divorced shortly after when I was 8 and the divorce dragged on for another 4 years. I started using porn when I was 12 and, probably due to the porn, really tried my hardest to seek out real sex with women...but only got as far as a few instances of oral sex when I was 15 and that was it.

Starting in high school I started having a conversion back to Catholicism after many years of not really practicing as I should have, but the masturbation and porn continued. While I subconsciously knew it was bad I never truly grasped the gravity of this sin until college.

During this time the masturbation, almost always accompanied by porn, continued at a rate of once every two weeks but that dropped to about once every week. I would masturbate to porn anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on how I "controlled" my climax.

About a year and a half ago I managed to stay away from porn for a whole month, although I still struggled with the masturbation (and once the month was over I fell back into the old pattern). Then earlier this year I managed to maintain complete abstinence from either activity for a whole month before falling again. And until recently I was able to attain two months of purity before falling again, once a few days ago and again just last night/this morning (and presumption was definitely involved).

I narrowed my triggers down to both anxiety and, when in the "right mood", just not caring. I recently saw a psychiatrist who believes I have anxiety which manifests itself in depression, etc. and recommended therapy rather than anxiety meds. I guess this makes sense given what I've seen about the nature of this issue. It also helps explain the long history I've had with low self esteem, bouts of self hatred, and a lack of confidence (exacerbated by years of emotional abuse at the hands of schoolmates and a family member).

During this entire time I spent time discerning my vocation and trying (very, very unsuccessfully) to date. I discerned marriage and developed a strong desire for marriage and fatherhood that never existed before. But because of my strange personality and sense of humor most women would NEVER consider dating me because they don't understand me.

Until recently...that was when I started becoming romantically involved with a girl I've known for several months now. Not only do I like her, but she likes me back (very rare for me) and likes my sense of humor. Given the rarity of this type of occurrence I've come to see this girl as an absolute blessing. In fact my two month period of sobriety started right as we started getting more serious and it provided me with a reason to try harder to maintain purity.

The issue is that my bad habits remain. And now I'm facing a variety of issues:

1) Can I even legitimately go to Confession today given my presumption and habit of constantly having to go? I have had priests tell me that I'm at risk (or already am) abusing the Sacrament.

2) Should I even bother dating? I believe not dating this girl would be the biggest mistake I could possibly make because of how huge a blessing she is. But at the same time I don't know if dating is wise (although this line of thought is motivated more by the depression I'm facing more than anything else...when I'm not depressed I realize this is foolish thinking).

3) Am I, as someone who struggles with purity, unfit for marriage, especially given my history?

This is tough for me, as I have a variety of issues I have to juggle at once. I'm hoping you can be of help to me.


#2

[quote="mr1234, post:1, topic:241701"]
1) Can I even legitimately go to Confession today given my presumption and habit of constantly having to go? I have had priests tell me that I'm at risk (or already am) abusing the Sacrament.

2) Should I even bother dating? I believe not dating this girl would be the biggest mistake I could possibly make because of how huge a blessing she is. But at the same time I don't know if dating is wise (although this line of thought is motivated more by the depression I'm facing more than anything else...when I'm not depressed I realize this is foolish thinking).

3) Am I, as someone who struggles with purity, unfit for marriage, especially given my history?

[/quote]

  1. Yes, you can go to confession. Please please go to confession. Go every week. That is what it is for. Every person has some "sins" that they find very very difficult (pride, envy, lust--in your case). That is what confession is for.

  2. Yes, you should date. It sounds like you and this girl are doing well. There is nothing wrong with dating. You, of course, want to make sure that you keep the relationship pure until marriage, if that is where it leads. But, yes, date. You either want to be single (which you said you don't), in clergy (which you didn't mention, so I am assuming you don't), or married. There you go. Date. Get to know different girls. Meet new friends. You will find somebody who "gets you."

  3. No, you are not unfit for marriage!!! Every person in the world has ISSUES. It is HOW you deal with those issues that makes you the person you are!! Speak to your future-wife about them. (I gotta say, though.... I mean future-wife.... that means NOT the first date, or the second date or the third date. That means when you guys are going through pre-cana stuff. Don't want to get to that too soon in a relationship!!).

You know, I don't know you and I only know what you have written on this post. But based upon that, you actually sound really normal. Not everybody does the things that you do, but everybody has things that they are working on. For example, I have the sin of PRIDE :eek: which I struggle with every day of my life. But, you are normal. :thumbsup:

Good luck to you and I will say some prayers!!! :gopray:


#3

[quote="mr1234, post:1, topic:241701"]
The issue is that my bad habits remain. And now I'm facing a variety of issues:

1) Can I even legitimately go to Confession today given my presumption and habit of constantly having to go? I have had priests tell me that I'm at risk (or already am) abusing the Sacrament.

2) Should I even bother dating? I believe not dating this girl would be the biggest mistake I could possibly make because of how huge a blessing she is. But at the same time I don't know if dating is wise (although this line of thought is motivated more by the depression I'm facing more than anything else...when I'm not depressed I realize this is foolish thinking).

3) Am I, as someone who struggles with purity, unfit for marriage, especially given my history?

This is tough for me, as I have a variety of issues I have to juggle at once. I'm hoping you can be of help to me.

[/quote]

Your past history doesn't define you, however continual sinning does change our character.
Only when you have this under control are you able to give the gift of yourself in purity and real love to a woman.

You cannot with sincere love start a relationship of exclusive and chaste love while constantly looking and lusting at other women in your mind or on the screen. Any Catholic woman, and most other women too, cannot live and thrive with a man who masturbates while looking at perversion, and they shouldn't have to. So I say, if you truly love this girl you stay away from her until you have succesfully and lastingly overcome this addiction which destroys marriages and relationships all over the world as we speak.

Its the same with drinking.. an alcoholic needs to get his drinking problem under control, and repent from it seriously before he attempts to ever marry anyone.. its not something to bring a woman and potential kids into.

That might not be what you were hoping to hear. I know I am in the more intolerant end when it comes to porn, compared to some people, but I think you will get this response from most people here.

No woman deserves to live with a man who commits virtual adultery. Its very degrading and often ruins both the conjugal life and the self-image of the woman in the relationship. I remember one friend I had at university. She was a very beautiful woman and had quite big breasts, but her porn-watching boyfriend was not satisfied with her body and even told her so :eek: That relationship didn't last.. but the damage done to the girls self esteem did.

I for one would never consider being with a man who was an addict to porn. Its different even from all other addictions in that it involves a whole prostitution industry of formerly molested women, people who drown their misery in drugs and alcohol while daily risking uncurable STDs.. all this while addicted people are lusting at more and more perverse practices so that normal sex seems boring etc. It all gives a totally distorted and utilitarian image of women and so there is just so much in that addiction that makes it a special threat to marriage. I even read that it actually changes the structure of the brain of a man who looks at it, so there are long term consequences.

I have a friend, a sweet innocent girl, who fell in love with a man who was inside the hell of this demonic addiction.. That relationship was immensely damaging to my friend, and I wish it happen to no other girl.
I do also think that only romantic pink-glasses can make an otherwise intelligent woman go into a relationship like that.
I hope you get rid of all the stuff that you use to enable this addiction ( I like the part of Fire Proof where the porn-addicted husband goes and smashes his computer with a baseball ball, and barely thereby saves his marriage) and continue to work on yourself until you are really ready to give yourself in authentic love to one woman.
I wish you blessing and good councelling for that.


#4

First of all masturbation and pornography are very common sins to be addicted to. The force of habit and what not can mitigate your culpability. That is not to say that you should ignore it, but that you need to humbly accept that overcoming this isn't something you can do by sheer will power. You need God's grace and you need to rely on His mercy. So keep going to confession very regularly with the intent to continually strive to avoid the occassion (opportunities to commit this sin) even though you know you'll likely fall. You don't need perfect contrition for confession. See confession as a partof the process of overcoming this sin.

As for dating, I would say that when suffering with depression that you need to be weary of the temptation to treat a woman you are dating as if she were a part of your treatment for depression. Strive not to use her compliments and affirmations to build up your self esteeme. This in effect will make you completely emotionally dependant on her which would destroy your relationship. Another person cannot bear the wait of your self esteeme. That is your responsibility.

Depression can often lead to desperation for romantic relationships. It often makes chastity much more difficult because of the temptation to use the good feelings which lead to the good sexual feelings as an anti-depressant. Your depressioncan also be may be another reason why overcoming pornography and masturbation is so difficult for you.

I'm not sure how depressed you are or what other problems you may be having. Whether you are emotionally ready to date is something you will have to discern.

However if you decide not to date, you will not be alone and let me tell you that it can be very well worth it. I stopped dating for a period of years because I had become well aware that I was not emotionally stable for it. I got a college degree all without the distractions of romantic relationships. My relationship with God grew to be so deep that my standards in men increased to the point that I wondered how a man could possibly compete with God. I discerned religious life for a little while, but ultimately discerned out of it. I however felt called that I needed to marry only out of obedience to God. I could not let romantic love compete with my love for God. Loving my spouse had to be a part of loving God. I waited a very long time and finally met my husband who definitely kicks my butt with things like encouraging me to not slack off on daily prayers. We encourage each other on our path toward God. Neither one of us is a diversion from God for the other. So I didn't date from the ages of 19 to 27 and I didn't get married till I was 29. But it was well worth it. going through a succession of failed relationships doesnot prepare a person for marriage. I had a vocation to marriage, but I had to wait for God's timing and work on not being restless as I waited.


#5

) Can I even legitimately go to Confession today given my presumption and habit of constantly having to go? I have had priests tell me that I'm at risk (or already am) abusing the Sacrament.

2) Should I even bother dating? I believe not dating this girl would be the biggest mistake I could possibly make because of how huge a blessing she is. But at the same time I don't know if dating is wise (although this line of thought is motivated more by the depression I'm facing more than anything else...when I'm not depressed I realize this is foolish thinking).

3) Am I, as someone who struggles with purity, unfit for marriage, especially given my history?

Re:
1). Going to Confession by implication entails confessing the failures rather than confessing the good-if it was vice versa then there wouldn't be a need to confess.
Perhaps though what you are asking is whether given the tendency to repeat the same sin, how can one confess something that one has no intention whatsoever to quit?
But does one really need to quit masturbating?Does masturbation qualify as being one among the many items found within the category of sin? The Old Testament speaks of unclean bed, whereas the New Test speaks of 'sin in thought' however then we need to identify what sins fall within the category. Answer=ALL sins fall in the thought category.
If so, when you go to Confession, regardless of whether you intend to masturbate or not post theConfession, you will inevitably sin post the confession. Thus it is erroneuos of those priests to advise you that if you keep commiting a particular sin, you are abusing the Sacrament-why? Because given our sinful nature, and thus our persistence in sin, such abuse is inevitable.

2).Well would you prefer the confines of your imagination or would you prefer concocting those ideas with a real person(within the confines of marriage certainly)? Indeed a real person facilitates a ground where you can invest all the passion that is consuming you at this point-indeed it might 'save' you from what is tormenting you.

3).Marriage does not purge one's thoughts but neither does a solitary mode of living. It is via a self-examination and spending time in prayer/study that one can purge his mind of what he upon self-examination finds 'unfit'.


#6

...But does one really need to quit masturbating?Does masturbation qualify as being one among the many items found within the category of sin? The Old Testament speaks of unclean bed, whereas the New Test speaks of 'sin in thought' however then we need to identify what sins fall within the category. Answer=ALL sins fall in the thought category.

Hi Denny,

It seems to me on reading your post that you may be questioning the sinfulness of the practice of masturbation. If so, you are making a serious mistake. There is no question that this is considered a sin by the Church. It needs to be confessed.

You are correct that if any priest suggested that the OP was abusing the sacrament simply because he was struggling repeatedly with this sin, that the priest was in error. Many sins are habitual, and it is perfectly acceptable to go to frequent confession as a way to handle it. However, I am not sure what the priest may have said in actuality, and he may have been misunderstood. It is important to work hard on resisting any sexual sin, and to get access to some sort of accountability or counseling if dealing with addiction.

2).Well would you prefer the confines of your imagination or would you prefer concocting those ideas with a real person(within the confines of marriage certainly)? Indeed a real person facilitates a ground where you can invest all the passion that is consuming you at this point-indeed it might 'save' you from what is tormenting you.

Again, I am unsure that I understand your meaning here, but the OP should not marry until he has overcome any addiction to unchaste behaviors, especially pornography.

I hope these comments are fair to you. But I want the OP to be very clear regarding right and wrong in such an important area.

To mr1234,

I am sorry that you've had such a rocky past. We get started with things as kids that we can't understand, and then as adults we're left holding the bag for it all. I will pray for you, that you will be able to enjoy chastity in your life. Try to find help from a therapist who respects the Faith and has some sort of expertise in pornography addictions. I wouldn't break it off with a girl who may be right for you, but don't try to get committed in a serious way until you are confident you have the right approach to your problem, and make sure she is not in the dark.

God Bless,
Joan


#7

Of course not! I have had great struggles with sexual sin, including masturbation & using porn as well as pre-marital sex. If struggles with purity make you unfit for marriage then I'm way out. But in the words of Saint Paul, "it is better to be married than to be tortured." (1 Corinthians 7:9). Being a sinner is not an impediment to marriage.

If this girl is committed to chastity and purity, then yes she is a huge blessing to you and being with her could help you hugely. But considering you struggle with purity, it would only be wise to be involved if she is committed to purity as well.


#8

If you are sorry for your sin and intend to try your best to stop then you can go to confession.

You are not ready to date, you would ruin any good woman who you dated at this point and it would also make your life harder as well because you know yourself you cannot be trusted around women.

You need to fix yourself first.

Stop identifying yourself with this sin, this sin is not a part of you, it is not who you are, it is lust which has invaded you and you can you drive it out.


#9


#10

[quote="PerfectTiming, post:9, topic:241701"]
That's unfair and I don't think it's true at all. A woman who is dedicated to chastity could help him so much and he would not "ruin" her.

[/quote]

Emily, I think women have a problem with wanting to help men out of their sinfulness. But this is an insidious sin and one that affects the way men view women in totality.

One example - I started a thread this morning b/c my 17 year old son is again downloading porn onto the computer and his phone. Last night at the dinner table, we were talking about that day's final exams, and he told us that he had "raped" his theology final. That is evidently a COMMON expression among he and his friends.:eek:

And he sees nothing wrong with using it in front of his own mother. :(:mad:

You see, little things can go so very wrong once you objectify sexuality. And how can any girl help my son - I know he is talking to a nice homeschooled Catholic girl - I want to warn her and her parents to stay away from him. Do you know how much that hurts when the pervert is my own son?

Please don't believe that any woman needs to help a guy with this problem. Women need to stay the hell AWAY from a porn user.


#11

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:10, topic:241701"]
Emily, I think women have a problem with wanting to help men out of their sinfulness. But this is an insidious sin and one that affects the way men view women in totality.

One example - I started a thread this morning b/c my 17 year old son is again downloading porn onto the computer and his phone. Last night at the dinner table, we were talking about that day's final exams, and he told us that he had "raped" his theology final. That is evidently a COMMON expression among he and his friends.:eek:

And he sees nothing wrong with using it in front of his own mother. :(:mad:

You see, little things can go so very wrong once you objectify sexuality. And how can any girl help my son - I know he is talking to a nice homeschooled Catholic girl - I want to warn her and her parents to stay away from him. Do you know how much that hurts when the pervert is my own son?

Please don't believe that any woman needs to help a guy with this problem. Women need to stay the hell AWAY from a porn user.

[/quote]

I did read your thread and please know my prayers are with you.
But the OP seems to want to change and stop using porn and is trying to. If he was unrepentant and didn't see the problem then I would see your point, but if he is truly trying then I think the case is very much different.


#12

true, and point taken.

OP, please, go to confession, and Adoration. The more time you spend in front of Jesus, the easier this will be.


#13

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:12, topic:241701"]
true, and point taken.

OP, please, go to confession, and Adoration. The more time you spend in front of Jesus, the easier this will be.

[/quote]

Thank you, but what about this girl? I'm thinking about ultimately calling my priest for advice but I'm still unsure what to do or say to this girl. Again, I really care for her and definitely don't wanna lose her.


#14

What would you say to her? “I’m struggling to overcome my habits of looking at porn and masturbating, so just to let you know…”

You say nothing to her. You just don’t do it, period. If you want to be chaste, this is your fight and it’s not fair to her to draw her into it, and it will not gain you her admiration. Every day that you succeed, will be a testimony to your love for God.

:thumbsup:


#15

[quote="mr1234, post:13, topic:241701"]
Thank you, but what about this girl? I'm thinking about ultimately calling my priest for advice but I'm still unsure what to do or say to this girl. Again, I really care for her and definitely don't wanna lose her.

[/quote]

Stop the porn and masturbation if you care for her. That can be your motivation. Don't consider marriage until you have been free from you addiction for an extended period of time(say a year or more). Make it clear to her that purity is very important to you. Don't watch movies with nudity, don't watch immoral tv (most of it is), don't listen to immoral music (again most of it is). At some point you can tell her you think it is important to do these things to maintain purity.

Go to confession every week, whether you fall or not. Go to daily mass when you can (make time). Go to adoration. Say the rosary daily. Do these things with the motivation of improving your worthiness for this girl and it can be done.


#16

Praying for you...

Use everything at your disposal to fight this spiritual battle. Satan wants you to live this way. Satan wants you to feel bad about yourself, never get married, never be happy and to feel like a prisioner.

Sacramentals may be very helpful. Everytime you are tempted bless yourself with Holy Water. Get a small container and keep it with you everywhere. Ask a priest to bless some salt for you and sprinkle it in your room and around your home. Carry a blessed Rosary with you everywhere.

Temptation can be awful but freedom awaits you! Jesus loves you so very much and wants to help break you free from these chains. Please take care.


#17

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:12, topic:241701"]
true, and point taken.

OP, please, go to confession, and Adoration. The more time you spend in front of Jesus, the easier this will be.

[/quote]

Thank you, but what about this girl? I'm thinking about ultimately calling my priest for advice but I'm still unsure what to do or say to this girl. Again, I really care for her and definitely don't wanna lose her.


#18

[quote="mr1234, post:17, topic:241701"]
Thank you, but what about this girl? I'm thinking about ultimately calling my priest for advice but I'm still unsure what to do or say to this girl. Again, I really care for her and definitely don't wanna lose her.

[/quote]

Repent and do everything to get healed from your addiction.
As some other poster said, when you have been sober at least one year, maybe you can speak to the girl about starting to date.

For now you don't date anyone. I am with Juliane on that. I wouldn't want any friend, daughter or sister to date a man who was not well past a porn addiction, just like I wouldn't want anyone I love to be with a drug abuser or alcoholic.
These things are far far too destructive and they dont just impact you yourself but any girl you would date. I know that coz I once considered dating a guy like you and I felt I would be swallowd into a dark pit, and also saw what it did to my friend when she had been involved with a guy who struggled with this and it damaged her so much.. she was and is a good and pure soul, and oh how that relationship broke her down.

If you truly love her, get yourself fixed through councelling and prayer. If you can be friends, good. If you can't be friends with her without always desiring to take it to the next step, take a break. For her sake.


#19

If he has truly repented and is determined to keep chaste then there is no reason he should not date. Just because your friend had a bad experience does not mean the OP will hurt this girl. I have had issues with porn and masturbation: by no means an addiction, more a habit, and it only been two weeks since I stopped but would you tell me to not date someone even if I am committed to staying chaste? I don’t know if I just see it differently because I am a woman who has suffered from a typically male temptation but I think if the OP is committed to chastity and so is this woman then there is no real impediment to their relationship.


#20

If I can offer my humble opinion I think those actions come about because of a personal void. So I would encourage you to pursue this relationship, while at the same time, pursuing other activities that fill the void you may feel in your life.


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