Learning of a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, or other associate’s pornography use or addiction can have a variety of effects on us, especially if the severity of use has led to public consequences. This is especially true if the individual has held a position of responsibility, leadership, or esteem in our eyes. Adults, teens and children may have questions about how this will affect their relationship with this person. Initially there may be feelings of disbelief, fear, disgust, betrayal, distrust, shock, denial, sadness, and anger. We may wonder if we can ever trust the addict again, if he or she poses a danger, and why the addict would continue in such behavior.
Some people may deal with these emotions by withdrawing from the relationship. Others may try to maintain a feeling of normalcy by avoiding the issue and pretending nothing has changed. Others may try to inappropriately step in and try to fix the problem without having the tools and skills necessary to help the individual truly recover. We may experience a grieving process similar to what a spouse of an addict undergoes. It is important for us to identify our feelings and emotions and work through them in healthy ways, asking for help if necessary.
The process of healing through forgiveness is for us. It allows us to feel at peace while recognizing that our loved one will have to take responsibility for the consequences of his or her behavior. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. Trust must be earned. This can be accomplished by learning more about the addiction and thereby being able to support recovery. Recovery takes time and effort. Some choose not to travel the path of recovery or fall off of it frequently. This is painful! It means we need to participate in activities which center and bring us peace during times of stress. This may include paying closer attention to our own needs of sleep, diet, exercise, and interpersonal relationships. Many have found listening to uplifting music helpful. You should expect that with time, education, personal reflection, and setting appropriate boundaries you are able to find a safe yet compassionate balance to the relationship.