There’s no question that one of the biggest challenges facing us guys fighting to overcome habitual sexual sin is finding good accountability partners. This is true whether you’re just starting out, or if you’re many years into recovery. Like a high achieving pro scout, we’re always on the lookout for good, strong, trustworthy men to fill out our accountability team.
The Accountability Partner Bottleneck
In my last blog, I offered up some tips and suggestions on what to look for when searching for a good accountability partner, including where to look and who to turn to for help. Let’s face it–this blog is full of great advice and guidance from a lot of experts on what to look for in an accountability partner.
So what’s the problem? Why is it so hard to find good accountability partners?
For one thing, the actual task of finding qualified candidates and initiating contact with them can be awkward and time consuming at best, and at worst, risky and unsafe. It’s difficult for men who’ve been unfaithful and untrustworthy in their addiction to learn to trust others. Add to that the guilt and shame most men who struggle in this area bring with them into the recovery process, and just calling another guy can be like picking up an 800 lb. phone.
But I’ve also found there’s an even more fundamental reason that often gets in the way. A lot of times, it just comes down to having a hard time finding someone you like spending time with. You know, people you’ve got something in common with, who like doing the same kinds of things you like doing. In our busy lives, building healthy male relationships often gets pushed to the bottom of our priority list. So when we really need it the most, we’re out of practice finding and building healthy male relationships. Especially those that go deep and get personal.
Compatibility Factors for Guys
But when those relationships do click, it’s usually because there’s a good match in a certain set of criteria. Here’s a sample of some key criteria I’ve seen most guys use when considering who they want to spend time with, whether it’s for the primary purpose of accountability or just hanging out together:
1. Like-minded and like-hearted
I believe that this compatibility factor trumps them all. When a guy finds another guy who, at least in the case of their common pursuit of sexual integrity, has a similar attitude and level of commitment towards the task at hand, their connection takes on a greater sense of purpose and meaning. There are the spiritual sojourners, the equally yoked brothers in Christ. These pairings are hard to find, but also hard to separate.
2. Age and Marital Status
Age and marital status are what I’d consider to be the next biggest factors in male relationship compatibility. Guys typically like spending time with other guys their same age and relationship demographic more than they do guys from another generation and a different marital status. They just have more in common in their given season of life.
3. Hobbies and Interests
This factor is a biggie and tends to override differences in age – that being shared hobbies and interests. After all, guys are doers. We just like doing things far more than we do talking about doing things. So all the better when we find someone else who likes doing the same things we like doing. It’s relational nirvana for guys!
While the younger guys who I mentor are just as comfortable on screen as they are in person, relational compatibility still most often comes down to location, location, location. So even when distance and remote proximity requires regularly connecting by phone or video, those same guys will eventually want to meet up face-to-face, even if it requires them flying clear across the country in order to do so. It’s a necessary step in building a lasting trust.
5. Similar Backstory and Time in Recovery
This isn’t so much a determining factor of whether or not guys will connect in general, as much as it is a helpful guide for someone wanting to know what kind of accountability relationship they might be headed into – whether it’s with a peer, mentor or mentee. Of course, we need all of these kinds of men in our lives. Guys start to figure that out when they start sharing their stories and talking about their past and present relationship with pornography, sexual temptation and sexual sin.
This is just the short list of the key criteria I’ve seen guys use when deciding who they want to start spending time with. There are others as well. Naturally, the more of these factors they discover they share with another guy, or those they find they work well with in spite of their differences, the more likely it is that they’ll be intentional and invest in that relationship.