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Instead of. . . try this!

Instead of assuming the worst, ask about their use.

When you are taking about starting the “pornography” conversation, it can be intimidating. How do I start the conversation? What words do I say? How do I respond? How do I come across as loving and not accusatory? When do I begin this conversation? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

We are here to give you some answers and a starting point to work from.

What is the reality of use:

The reality is nearly all men and about half of women have sought pornography by 25. With isolation ever present in our pandemic restricted communities these numbers are sure to rise. Users are lacking connection! (We talk more about the difference between exposure, seeking, using, and addiction in this post that addresses when you become a “user”).

So whether you are a number, a parent, or dating, the chances of those you love in your life having a pornography history is very high. Coming to grips with the reality of the scope and exposure of those you love will help you have a measured response when you hear their actual history. Gone are the days where exposure is rare. Now, in 2021 exposure is the new norm.

With the development of internet and handheld devices, exposure has skyrocketed. The age of first exposure for a girl or boy is now 9 years old. Instead of trying to deny the numbers, or avoid exposure (which will likely be unsuccessful), learn the skills you need to have the conversations that will put you on the path to successful connection, taking away the appeal of pornography.

This can happen! There are success stories of those who have done a 180 in regards to their pornography use. They learned how to be successful. It all starts with one conversation.

Planing a response:

Before we get to the details of the actual conversation, let’s talk about how you will respond. It is important that you do just that, respond. Knowing what you know about the reality of the use will help you to realize the struggle that pornography can be for so many people. Hopefully this creates a little empathy in the response you choose to deliver.

Once you hear what your loved one has to say, take breath and respond instead of reacting. The reactions are usually full of big, valid, but condemning emotions that might forces those you love into a corner. This has the potential to isolate them even more. When conversations are full of reactions they usually make little progress and have the potential to close the windows of communication that can provide help and healing.

Sometimes a pre-planned response is a good option:

“Thank you for telling me. I need some time to process this and I would like to talk to you about it again. Can we come back to this tomorrow after lunch?”

This gives everyone time to digest and process information. Allowing forward progress much sooner than “hashing it out”.

Come up with a response that feels right. It could buy you time if you aren’t ready to finish the conversation. If you aren’t ready to finish, then schedule a time to come back to it.

How to start the conversation:

“What is your pornography history? “

Why ask this instead of something else? Because this open ended question 1. Does not place blame, 2. Allows them to give as much or as little information as they choose, 3. Can open the door for clarification of values, boundaries, and definitions.

  1. This question does not have emotions attached to it that can set a conversation up for disaster. It allows the responder to begin sharing without any projected emotions or expectations from the inquirer. An honest response is likely to follow.

  2. This question allows the responder to give detailed information, vague information, a little bit, or a lot. This can be a measuring stick for where they are at with using. If they are slow to share they may be nervous about a reaction. After giving a little bit of information, and seeing it being handled well, they may give a little more. As more and more details emerge it is important that they do not feel interrogated. This does not foster equal communication which can lead to more hiding.

  3. This question can open the door for clarification on what pornography is. Maybe it starts a conversation about whether or not they see pornography as a problem or a negative activity. It can also start conversations about what boundaries they have for the intimacy they participate in. Whatever comes, roll with it! The bottom line is that conversations are good, talking is not hiding and we know that pornography thrives in hiding.

What to do moving forward:

You can make a plan ta talk more often about these topics. You can make a plan to come back to the conversation if you are not ready to respond. You can help them to get the help that they need. The biggest thing to remember when moving forward is that you can’t REALLY help someone that doesn’t want to change.

The best thing you can do is keep having conversations, keep connecting, and keep showing them what “healthy” looks like. When you are in a place to offer a plan to get help they will be receptive if you have laid a foundation of communication, trust, and respect. This all comes by starting the conversation with “what is your pornography history, and responding instead of reacting.

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