Why Signing Contracts or Promises Are Counterproductive

Signing contracts or promising never to watch porn seems like a good idea especially to the other person in the relationship who does not have the compulsion. It seems logical. However, with a compulsion as strong as pornography and how it works with the brain, this tactic will be counterproductive.

Here is the reason. I like the “learning to ride a bicycle” analogy because it’s all about the brain learning how to balance the body. Would you ever have someone sign a contract or promise to never fall on a bike as they are learning to ride? Of course not, because falling down is part of the learning process.

Couple looking at a contractSo it is with learning to stop a porn addiction. Overcoming porn has everything to do about falling down. Every slip during the compulsion allows for a glimpse at the triggers that caused the slip. Knowing what the emotions are that cause triggers will allow the person to strategically pick Modifying Behaviors that will satisfy the trigger without using the addiction.

Slips are necessary to recovery as much as falling off the bike is necessary to learning balance.

We know about the TROUBLED feelings. Signing a contract that says you will never watch porn again will only amplify the “R” of TROUBLED (Regret) when you do have a slip. The downward spiral is fed by regret. The negative feelings after having a slip will be amplified many more times because not only did you have a slip but now you broke your contract on top of it. To overcome the addiction you must build on success and not failure. To overcome the addiction you must stress the successes and minimize the failures. Chalk up failures as learning opportunities and not as dishonest, contract breaking failures.

Would you set up a ramp for the person learning to ride a bicycle? No, of course not! You know the kid is going to go face first into the ground if you did. So don’t have your porn addicted partner sign a contract about never watching porn.

Instead be a source of encouragement to your porn addicted partner. Don’t ask about failures but ask about successes. Some triggers are easier to discover and beat than others. So ask about which triggers they have identified and how their modifying behaviors are working. Sometimes the person overcoming the addiction will not even realize that they’ve just completely eliminated a certain type of trigger. Pointing out that they have not had a slip with a certain type of trigger will be a huge discovery. Realizing that the Limbic System has accepted a Modifying Behavior for a certain emotion/trigger is an extremely joyful event in the process of overcoming the addiction.

Being porn free is a learning process, but once it is learned a person is so many times happier. Helping someone overcome the addiction will be something they will be forever grateful to you for doing. And it will only strengthen and give appreciation for the relationship with you.

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