3 minute read

How to Be the Best Ally Ever

Last Updated: June 22, 2021

Peter Kleponis

Dr. Peter Kleponis is a Licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in Conshohocken, PA.  He holds an M.A. in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA, and a Ph.D. in General Psychology from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Kleponis specializes in marriage & family therapy, pastoral counseling, resolving anger, men’s issues, and pornography addiction recovery. He is the author of Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography.

Being an ally, or accountability partner, in someone’s journey to overcome porn is a privilege and a responsibility. Most people are honored when asked to be an ally. It shows that the addicted person trusts them and wants them to be part of their recovery process.

However, some people are hesitant to be an ally. This is often because they are not sure what being an ally like this requires. They may believe they are responsible for maintaining the addicted person’s sobriety. This is not the case.

The addicted person is fully responsible for his/her own sobriety and recovery. The ally is simply a caring individual there to help the addicted person stay on track. If you agree to be someone’s ally, you might wonder how you can be the best ally and truly help your friend.

That being said, here are some tips:

1. Be Compassionate

It took a lot of courage and humility for your friend to ask you to be an ally in their journey to overcome porn. Obviously they trust you. You need to respect that trust by maintaining confidentiality.

Recovery is hard work. Your friend will most likely be attending 12-step meetings and counseling sessions, reading about pornography addiction and recovery, and striving to develop healthy living habits. It’s important for you to encourage him in these endeavors.

Give him credit for all his hard work. Celebrate with him any victories he experiences in his recovery process. If he falls, be there to help him up and get back on the track of recovery. Let him know you are always there to help him any way you can.

2. Be Tough

As an ally, you will probably be checking in with your friend daily. This should usually be done in person or by phone. I don’t recommend using email or texts for daily check-ins.

When you have your daily check-in, don’t simply ask how he’s doing.  Instead, be ready to ask tough questions, such as, “What are you doing today to maintain your sobriety?” and, “How are you dealing with triggers today?”

If he has a slip and views pornography, don’t be afraid to ask, “What was the trigger for the slip?” and, “What are you doing to prevent this slip from happening again?”  Don’t be afraid to challenge your friend.

While these may be difficult conversations to have, they will go a long way in helping your friend in recovery. You can balance them out by also discussing any victories your friend has had, such as successfully getting through a difficult situation that would have led him to view pornography in the past. Offer encouragement for the work he is doing in recovery. Daily check-ins should always end on a positive note.

3. Never Give Up

Recovery from pornography addiction involves a series of victories and defeats. The beginning of recovery usually holds more defeats than victories. However, as time goes on and your friend progresses through the recovery process, the victories come to outnumber the defeats. Before long, the victories are plenty and the defeats are few and far between. Eventually, the defeats become virtually nonexistent.

This process can take several years, so you need to be totally committed to your friend by being a constant source of support and accountability. When he slips up, be there to encourage him to persevere in recovery. Never give up on him no matter how many times he falls. Knowing you’re there to support him could be the encouragement he needs to persevere to make the victories outnumber the defeats!

4. Don’t Write Yourself Off as an Ally If You’ve Struggled Before

It’s been my experience that those who have also struggled with a pornography addiction often make the best allies. This allows both individuals to be sources of accountability for each other–a twofold benefit.

You Understand What They’re Going Through

Each individual truly understands what the other is experiencing. While a person who does not struggle with a porn addiction can be a good ally, he or she may never fully understand what it means to be addicted. Working with an ally who understands the addiction makes it easier to talk about it. This makes it easier to let go of the shame associated with the addiction so one can be fully open and honest about it.

You Can Work Together

A greater sense of teamwork can come when two individuals who struggle with pornography addiction keep each other accountable. This can help strengthen their commitment to recovery by placing a greater emphasis on staying sober and on helping one’s friend stay sober.

It’s also easier to turn to this friend when struggling with temptation, and it’s easier to confess slips. Together they can work on developing strategies for avoiding slips in the future.

Healthy lifelong friendships have developed as a result of being allies. This further contributes to healthy recovery.

5. The Best Allies Are the Same Sex as the Struggler

I also believe the best ally is someone of the same sex as the addicted person. Now I don’t mean to appear sexist here. It’s simply that people often find it easier to talk about issues pertaining to sexuality with individuals of the same sex. For example, it can be difficult for a person to talk about his/her use of pornography and masturbation with someone of the opposite sex. It’s just naturally easier to discuss these things with someone of the same sex.

Share in the Victory

While being an ally may seem like a lot of work, it’s actually easier than you’d think. It takes a daily phone call that lasts between 10 to 20 minutes and a commitment to never give up.

The rewards, however, are immeasurable. You can experience firsthand how a person enslaved by pornography addiction can find freedom. You will be able to share in the victories as your friend overcomes his addiction. This experience is priceless!

  • Comments on: How to Be the Best Ally Ever
    1. Bob A. on

      This was very helpful reading and excellent points! Id like to add a comment regaring usimg your spouse or significant other as an accountability partner.
      My experience is, dont do it. I’m a husband and had my wife as the accountability partner who received the Covenant Eyes report. There was always friction and heartache every week. This did not help my recovery at all. I felt extremely limited on what i could share even if i had a good week.
      Just my 2 cents.

      Reply
      • A Wife on

        I think it is unfair to automatically rule out and discourage the idea of a wife being the accountability partner of her husband. The husband-wife relationship was built on the concept of loving and helping each other. There is a potential for ultimate friendship, trust, and intimacy within marriage that can’t be found within any other human relationship. By discouraging husbands and wives from becoming a team in the battle for purity, the potential for ultimate intimacy is compromised. A man may feel more ashamed telling his wife everything about his struggles, but is that a bad thing? Why should a man coming clean about his thought life be easy and comfortable? I believe a man is humbled when he is able overcome his shame and guilt to be able to confide in the person who God intended to be his help mate. I think there is something incredibly loving about a man reaching out to his wife in this way. He is allowing himself to be vulnerable and that is a precious gift for a wife to receive. A wife may very likely find that knowing her husbands thoughts so intimately challenges her ability to love and forgive her husband with her whole heart. A woman’s heart is crushed by these revelations and her sense of security within her marriage is rocked to the core. But does that mean that the wife isn’t up to the challenge of overcoming these incredible hurts to be able to love her husband fully for the imperfect human being he is and forgive him with the grace that can only come from accepting God’s grace? Absolutely not. When a woman places her trust in God and allows her heart to be transformed by the forgiveness and the ultimate gift of love that we received at the cross even though we didn’t and don’t deserve it she is capable of being there for her husband the way that God intended her to be. I’m not saying that any of this is easy. It’s not and quite frankly it shouldn’t be. But with adversity comes great strength and diamonds are made under great amounts pressure. I think husbands and wives need to look to God to learn how to become the team that God intended them to be. It’s time we stop shortchanging the marriage relationship in the battle for purity.
        **Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think seeking help outside of a marriage is a bad thing. There are times when it is absolutely necessary to the healing process. And obviously those who are single can’t look to a spouse for help in this. But I feel that encouraging a man (or woman) to not be completely open with their spouse compromises the God-intended intimacy within a marriage.

    2. A Wife on

      I want to add that I believe that it is a husband’s responsibility to help his wife to heal as well. They need to work as a team to help each other.

      Reply
      • A Wife on

        I agreed with the first article right up until the point where the author says that a husband shouldn’t be honest with his wife about his thought life. The rest article stresses that the wife has the right to decide what she wants to know about her husband’s recovery. If the wife decides that she needs this level of transparency to be able to trust her husband, then she has a right to that. Perhaps the mortifying prospect of having to be honest at that level with the person he is hurting the most will help him to weed out those thoughts entirely. Telling another man about those thoughts might be difficult, but telling his wife will be excruciating. Sometimes facing the pain head on can be the most powerful force when it comes to healing.

        My point, bottom line, is that the wife has a right to her husband’s thought life if that is what she needs for total trust to be restored.

      • A Wife on

        And the same with the second article. If the wife wants total transparency from her husband, then that is what she is entitled to. A Godly marriage is built on transparency. Loving someone in their most naked and vulnerable form. Nothing should be hidden. Not thoughts, not what is discussed in a group. Just my opinion, but I am forming my opinion on my understanding of what God intended for the relationship between a husband and a wife: united as one flesh, naked, vulnerable and unashamed to be that way with each other. This is what we should be encouraging. This is what we should be helping married couples to work towards even if it takes a lot of work, pain and time.

      • Steve on

        I see the above comment was written in 2017, and its 2021. But I felt the need to share this…I couldn’t agree more with you, and I am a man. the Bible says “the two shall become one”. That’s highly unlikely to happen when there’s secrets between the two. And we must remember, satan doesn’t play fair. He opens the door to sexual struggles when we are 8, 10, 12 years old, sometimes younger. As young children, we don’t realize the massive struggle that’s beginning in our lives at that young age. At that time, its new, fun and feels good. We don’t have a clue the battle that’s coming our way. How awesome there are wives willing to stand together with us through this coming victory. And I say victory because the Bible says; Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12. Jesus, wife, husband. Thank you for sticking with your spouse. Deep in their hearts, they don’t want to be where they are, struggling with porn every day.

    3. Richard H. on

      Can I, as a father,use my 17 year old female daughter to be my monitoring partner ? Her mother has been kicked out of the house who use to be it .

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi Richard, regardless of the legal question, I believe it is an inappropriate burden to place on your daughter. What about a pastor? Anyone at work? Make it someone else….for her sake and for yours. She just should not be the one responsible for holding you accountable.

      • Jamie on

        As a daughter, I’d like to second Chris’ answer a chime in with a strong, resounding “no”.

        It should never be up to a teenage daughter (or son) to keep her grown father (or mother) accountable in terms of purity, or really anything else that concerns addiction recovery. So many kids are put through this and in my experience, it doesn’t leave the parent and child relationship in a good place at all, at all.

      • Laurie on

        Feels like a great, big NO!

    4. Richard H. on

      Also could there be any legal consequences for using my 17 year old daughter to be my monitoring partner?

      Reply
    5. Diane Coleman on

      I am my husbands accountability partner. At first, I wasn’t sure it was the best idea, but it seems to be going well so far. I am his biggest fan and supporter and probably the only one willing to do it. Our pastor just simply has to much on his plate. Once I learned that I had to approach my husband and his addiction with compassion, it changed everything. I’m no longer judging him or feeling resentment. I think about the little boy who found the magazine and there was no one there to protect him or explain why he felt the way he did. It’s not his fault that he was never allowed to express his emotions as a child. It was a learned behavior for him and now we are working to “unlearn” it. We tried the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and tapped through the feelings of shame and guilt and “it’s not my fault” and “I forgive myself” and it was like a weight lifted off his shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, he did NOT want to do the EFT willingly. I kind of gave him no choice. I said, well counseling isn’t working, reading books isn’t working, so really what choice to you have?? He knew he didn’t have one. So between having Covenant Eyes on his phone and the EFT he is making strides in his addiction… for now… One day at a time.

      And for Richard H. Please don’t use your 17 year old daughter as your accountability partner. Everything in my being screams NO about that. It’s really asking too much of her. She just needs to be free to be your daughter.

      Take care…

      Reply
      • A Wife on

        Diane, thank you so much for speaking up! I think more women need to speak up and express their willingness to help their husbands through this and the strength they are getting from God to do it. It is not an easy task by a long shot. It is a hard thing for both the husband and the wife. But I don’t like to focus on just what’s going on in this life. I like to focus on what it will be like to stand before God (with my husband and best friend by my side) and to hear my Heavenly Father tell us that He is proud of us for fighting the battles of this world together.

        I’m not suggesting that a woman shouldn’t take time to focus on her own healing as well. She absolutely needs time and a lot of love. The husband is responsible for helping her with this healing just as much as the wife is responsible for helping her husband with his. Some people may argue that we aren’t responsible for anyone but ourselves, but when you enter into a marriage your spouse is a part of you. You are one flesh. You are bound by a holy covenant to take care of each other. Dealing with the fallout of sexual betrayal of any kind is a brutal process, but “love never fails. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

        I also stand firm that a husband should not share with others anything that he doesn’t share with his wife. In regards to thought life I personally don’t believe that it is beneficial for a man to sit in a group of other men and discuss in detail the weak moments of their thought lives. I don’t believe men should dwell on such things. It is enough to say that they had moments of weakness. So my point is there shouldn’t be any sharing that can’t also be shared with the wife. Period. One flesh means one flesh. Spouses are supposed to be a dynamic duo (actually a trio because they should be working with God as well). Once you start confiding in others more than you confide in your spouse it will begin to chip away at a foundation that is supposed to be solid and impenetrable. So can a husband talk to other men about his struggles? Absolutely! But should he be secretly confiding more details and feelings to those men than he is to his very own other half? Absolutely not! “Therefore what God has joined together, let no on separate.” (Mark 10:9)

        God Bless you, Diane! I will be praying for you and your husband and healing for you both!

    6. John on

      Yes

      Reply
    7. John on

      My question is; I’ve a brother from church,we want to help each other not to fall into temptation with girlfriends. Utilizing the porn addiction steps are going to be beneficial,but what info would me more directed to celibacy?

      Reply
    8. Abby Kittle on

      I actually agree that have one accountability partner of the same sex is very important. But, I also think it’s crucial to be there for others of the opposite sex if they need it. For example, the first friend I told was someone of the opposite sex. I finally built up the courage to tell someone, and the person just so happened to be a guy. If both people are comfortable talking about sex related issues, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to confess these things to friends, whether they be guys or girls. If it weren’t for my guys friends who I talk to about this, I honestly don’t know where I would be today. Recovery is hard, and the Body of Christ should support each other, no matter the circumstances.

      Reply
    9. Another Wife on

      (In response to wives being the “ally” for their husbands: this is my personal view on it.) I am the ally for my husband and both of us want it this way. I asked him if he’d rather have a man, friend or someone outside our personal lives to help him with this but he told me he doesn’t want anyone but me. I asked him why he wanted me; he told me because this was between me and him and no one else and if we work together the way God desires a husband and wife to function – this will only make us stronger. And I completely agree. Is it easy, no. Does it get personal and hurtful, yeah. But it takes thinking beyond yourself. My husband hates that he struggles with this. It’s been a battle full of shame for him for most of his life and I’m the first person he has ever told. It’s been very difficult for him and he wants to be free of it for good. Knowing that he hates it makes it so much easier. We both work on kicking this together. Everyday. And probably will for the rest of our lives. But it has brought us so much closer together. It’s a very difficult job. Maybe not for everyone because you have to consider your husband as much as your own self but that’s the whole point. You are one. You’re working for the health of both of you. If I wasn’t my husbands ally, I don’t know if I could trust him. I struggle to trust people anyways. It would hurt me farther to know I couldn’t help him and he had to go to someone else for it. Porn already makes a wife feel like she’s not enough so for me, to be told that he doesn’t need me in the area of help would only make me feel even more useless. But having this kind of transparency has given us the ability to start to rebuild what was shaken. He’s opened up to me about so many things in his life that he didn’t realize were rooted in this addiction. It’s been amazing to watch the growth and change in him but to also see it in myself and our relationship has made the biggest difference and I don’t think we could’ve achieved this if I wasn’t his ally. I don’t know if this is the answer for everyone. Like I said, it’s not always easy but it’s helping me to trust him again. He knows that no one loves him more than I do and he can tell me anything. He knows it will hurt me because let’s be honest – it really sucks for a spouse to struggle with anything but he still tells me because he knows that I will forgive him. I’m not going anywhere ever. Marriage is for LIFE! I don’t care what society says. When things get rough, you don’t bail, you work until it’s fixed and then you keep working to protect it. One of the gifts God gave me is patience and understanding. As a child, I was sexually abused by an extended family member of the same sex and rather than just being angry, I focused on working to forgive that person and trying to understand why people do what they do. This has spilled into many other areas of my life in general – just a want to understand people. This has helped me tremendously with my husband. I needed to understand why and that has helped me feel less attacked by it and more graceful toward him. He has told me repeatedly that he knows Jesus is his savior and salvation but he feels like I have saved his life. But I couldn’t have done any of this without the grace of God. He helped me through my abuse and every step of life I have trusted Him and His Word to guide me. He is who made me (literally). It’d be so easy to be selfish and be hurt or angry or swallowed up in insecurity (and we as wives have every right to feel that way and husbands need to understand that that’s how it makes us feel because porn is SIN) but if I allow myself to only focus on myself, nothing will get better and ultimately isn’t that what we all want? For things to get better! Marriage is a constant work and I’m willing to do whatever it takes no matter what. I am so thankful for a husband who trusts me enough to allow me to be there for him and work together to make our marriage strong! I’m not writing this to sound proud or boastful (I don’t even like saying that because it sounds boastful) I’m writing this because this is some points that my husband has pointed out to me that has allowed him to feel free to talk to me. Forgiving this is hard, it really hurts sometimes. I means REALLY hurts sometimes but if I want to do the right thing and help my husband and make our marriage stronger than I have to remember God’s grace, the grace He gives to everyone (murderers, rapist, thieves, EVERYONE) who believes in Him. There are far worse things done that He has forgiven. Let His grace help motivate you to show the same to your husband. I know my husband is working everyday to fight for us and is extremely sorry for hurt that he has cause me and the struggle he has put his own self through. His is an amazing man and a far better man than anyone I know. I am so proud of him and so incredibly thankful for him. Please be there for your husbands if you are able. It will help rebuild trust so much faster and stronger. Fight for each other. Let it make your marriage tough as nails! God intended for you to be there for each other.

      Reply

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