3 minute read

10 Phrases Every Person Overcoming Porn Needs to Hear

Last Updated: September 9, 2021

Moriah Bowman

Moriah Bowman has been using Covenant Eyes since childhood. As a member of the Covenant Eyes team, she is passionate about writing and fighting pornography in the millennial generation. Moriah has a BA in political communications and plays an active role in fostering children of all ages who need a temporary safe home.

As an ally or friend to someone working to overcome pornography, knowing what to say to them through their inevitable ups and downs can be challenging. You may not even have any idea of what you can say that will be encouraging, and that’s okay. Just being there for someone struggling with porn can have an incredibly positive impact on their recovery.

Here are 10 things you can say to a person who is seeking freedom from porn:

1. “You can call or text me whenever you are feeling tempted.”

In moments when triggers are present and temptation creeps in, having someone to contact is often the key to killing this temptation and staying pure. If your friend is feeling alone, hearing your voice or receiving a text will remove some of that loneliness and encourage them to talk to you instead of watching porn.

When you do get that call or text, the remaining phrases below can be a great encouragement!

2. “I want to help you.”

It can be easy for someone struggling with porn to feel like a burden to their ally. After all, you’re taking time out of your life to help them with a problem you may have never struggled with.

If you truly want to help them, assure them of this! Remind them that you want to walk alongside them to leave porn in the dust and bask in the rays of freedom.

3. “I do not look at you any differently because of this.”

Although those struggling with porn might feel like they are different from everyone else, you need to remind them that you do not view them as a “porn addict.” Reassure them that even though they are fighting porn, you don’t base your opinion of them around this. Remind them of their positive character traits, and treat them with respect.

4. “If you relapse, I’m not going to judge you.”

Let’s face it. Relapses are likely to happen. Before they do, let your friend know that you will not judge them. Of course, you want to encourage them not to relapse, but it’s also important that they know where you stand if they do.

And when they do relapse? Continue to stand by their side and offer support instead of judgment.

Related: In Case of Relapse

5. “Porn is not easy to overcome.”

I have heard so many people comment on how they thought porn would be easy to quit. In theory, it seems like it would be. Just stop looking at it, right?

Porn is far from easy to overcome, and your friend needs to hear that over and over.

6. “No matter how long it takes, I’m going to be here for you.”

Recovering from porn is a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of journey. Your friend needs to know that no matter the length of time it takes for them to be freed from porn, you’re going to be there for them. Some people spend years fighting, and if you’re willing to help them, they are going to need your help for the long haul.

7. “Your recovery is important to me.”

Life is busy and chaotic. We all get that. Making sure your friend knows that you will prioritize their recovery can motivate them to make it a priority as well.

Putting these words into action will also show your friend that you value their recovery and truly mean what you say.

Related: How to Be the Best Ally Ever

8. “I appreciate your honesty.”

Confessing to relapses can be daunting. It can produce shame, so let your friend know that you prefer honesty, even if it’s not what you want to hear. Commend them when they are honest with you, and be a truth-filled example to them!

9. “The freedom will be SO worth the battle you are fighting.”

Few things are greater than being able to say “I am free from porn.” In the days when their battle is tough and victory seems impossible, remind your friend of the pure joy that comes with freedom.

10. “Let’s celebrate your success!”

Get this party started! Your friend is choosing to fight against pornography! Even if/when they do relapse, remind them of the times they have succeeded in overcoming temptation. Even if they have been porn-free for a week, let them know that this is worth celebrating! It will motivate them to continue to say “no” to porn.

  • Comments on: 10 Phrases Every Person Overcoming Porn Needs to Hear
    1. KM on

      Regarding point 4: “Let’s face it. Relapses are likely to happen.” That is such a harmful statement. It gives addicts an excuse. If an addict relapses, he is cheating on wife or girlfriend as well as abusing and traumatizing her. Why is Covenant Eyes condoning that? Addicts need to get into recovery and there are many resources available. Relapses are part of the acting out cycle, not part of recovery and addicts shouldn’t fool themselves that they’re in recovery if they relapse. I was devastated when I discovered my husband had been watching porn again after a few years of white-knuckle sobriety. I don’t even call it a relapse because he was never in true recovery to begin with. He is now getting the proper therapy and has resolved the root issue of his addiction. I am so disappointed when I read articles like this that say to pat the addict on the back and be gentle when they act out. They need tough love and someone to tell them what they’re doing isn’t working, so they need professional help. The addicts who believe relapses are part of recovery are the ones who never stay sober. Relapses should not be considered normal. Relapses harm relationships. Relapses are not acceptable.

      Regarding point 6: “ Recovering from porn is a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of journey.“ Where did this idea come from? My guess is from addicts who aren’t recovering, possibly because they’re trying to quit without the right help, and from therapists or programs who don’t know how to help people overcome the addiction, therefore assume sobriety and true recovery aren’t possible.

      I was hopeful when Covenant Eyes published the articles about early exposure to porn and about betrayal trauma. After reading this, I’m now disappointed.

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi KM,

        As the author of this article, I’d like to respond to your thoughts!

        For point 4, regarding relapse: If we all live under the assumption that relapse won’t happen, how devastating will it be when it does? I think that when it comes to porn recovery, it is important that all involved be of the mindset that we are a flawed people. We are going to mess up. Some of us may find freedom from porn and never look at it again, but from what I know and the countless people I have talked to, recovery is just not that easy. I think it is much more beneficial for us as allies and spouses to be of the mindset that relapse is likely. Of course, we don’t desire this, but it will prepare our hearts for if it does happen. And, I don’t believe that we should be “easy” on someone who relapses. They need help, and fast. But I also don’t believe that we should reap judgment on them, when we are just as much of a sinner as they are.

        For point 6, regarding the journey: I never said that sobriety and recovery aren’t possible. But what I do firmly stand to is the basis that recovery is tough. I have yet to speak to anyone who says that it is easy. It’s full of temptation, shame, anger, and frustration, even if they do have the right people helping them. For many, it can feel like an uphill climb.

        I say these things based on the stories I hear and my research into porn addiction. I am sorry for any disappointment you feel towards my beliefs, and I hope that my words have been an adequate response to your thoughts above.
        Blessings,
        Moriah

      • Jen on

        I am a betrayed spouse of porn addict. This article does not address abuse. Porn users are abusers. Your comments are spiritual abuse. Would you say if he only hits you occasionally or rarely or slipped up and hit you – encourage him? I agree with the Previous commenter. To receive trauma informed education look at betrayal trauma Recovery.org. Btr.org

      • SMD on

        KM, I’m so sorry for your pain, and I understand your sentiments completely. I used to feel the same. Understanding the brain science behind porn/sex addiction will help us as partners understand why relapse is imminent. Patrick Carnes has some excellent books on the topic that opened my eyes to the neurology behind my husband’s struggle. It’s an addiction. And the substance to which they’re addicted is within their bodies, unlike drugs or alcohol, where the addict can at least put some physical distance between himself & the addictive substance. Recovery takes time as it’s a process of growing self-aware (triggers, for example, aren’t usually all identified except through these minor relapses).

        Thinking about the addiction as an illness has helped me as a spouse a lot. If I’m expecting zero relapses, I’m only fooling myself and presenting my unreasonable expectations as an extra trigger for my husband. As spouses, we are not ever to blame. But we certainly have the power to give hope or push them toward despair, so we do have a responsibility. It sucks, but I’m finally getting this. Initially, the addict often isn’t even aware of his lust half the time- how can he stop something he’s not even aware he’s participating in? It takes time. Falling down, but getting right back up again. The getting up again is the part that matters- not the fall. I’m learning to focus on encouraging him to get back up & not dwell on his shame or mistakes. I don’t want to push him to despair by constantly reminding him how he’s failing. He is not my enemy- the addiction is our common enemy, and we need to be a team as much as is possible. But that also means that he sees the consequences of his choices that I have to face- he sees me grieve deeply, & he has to face the reality that his choices have caused such deep wounds and a plethora of other consequences for our family. That grief can also be a powerful motivator in his own healing process. I hope this is helpful, and not hurtful. Best wishes for you and yours.

    2. Nate on

      Great response. I believe the author was spot on on both the article and the response to the lady’s comment but I highly doubt she’ll understand just because of the hurt she’s carrying.

      Reply
      • JP on

        Nate, you obviously don’t get it. It’s not about the hurt that she is carrying. It is about the hurt that the addict has inflicted and continues to inflict by pretending to be in recovery and relapsing. It’s every addicts dream to be validated for his behavior. We tell the addict good job and give him a plastic chip for sobriety, while his partner is losing her mind because of the trauma.

    3. AH on

      “But I also don’t believe that we should reap judgment on them, when we are just as much of a sinner as they are.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by reap judgement, but that is an incredibly harmful statement to say to the betrayed party. Yes, we are all sinners but that does not mean all sin is equal. A relapse is still an infidelity, asking the betrayed spouse/partner to shrug it off because “pobody’s nerfect” is not fair. Yes, it’s a journey that needs compassion, love, and understanding. We’re standing with our loved one and are some are even bracing themselves for more pain in the process, but the “all are sinners” argument seems dismissive.

      Reply
    4. G on

      As a betrayed partner of a husband with a lifelong pornography addiction, my heart is so deeply troubled by the author’s response to KM. I don’t think at all that KM was trying to argue that somehow we should reap judgment on the addict. My experience has been that most betrayed partners have significant compassion and empathy for the addicts in their life. I am deeply concerned about the author’s clinical background to have posted such a comment and to be writing these types of articles.

      I do, however, think that KM was rightly acknowledging that relapse is not part of recovery. It is part of the addiction cycle. This is well-documented in the research and treatment of sex and pornography addiction. For those of us who have been at this awhile, there is a divide in addicts who are successful in sobriety and recovery and those who are not. Unfortunately, the divide is in two places 1) participation in an accountability group versus a recovery group. It is starting to come to light that addicts who are in groups where they use the 12 types of denial to justify their acting out are not successful predictors of sobriety or recovery whereas a recovery group where men don’t soft step relapse and dig in to the underlying causes are more successful. 2) an addict who does not swim up stream when they get to the purge part of their cycle. If that doesn’t happen, they will continue the cycle and act out again.

      Is relapse common? maybe. I think some in the counseling world are seeing now that it may be more common because of our interventions and our normalizing of it. There are many addicts who do not relapse.

      Also, I am somewhat troubled that Covenant Eyes is not having trained counselors, addiction specialists, or CSATS write these more clinical posts.

      Reply
    5. jake on

      I agree with KM that we should not see relapse as acceptable. Period. But the author is right to say that we should not judge. We all deserve judgment, but we have been greatly forgiven for our sins. So we do not judge because we have not been judged. That judgment was put on Christ. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We help because we have been helped.

      We WILL face the choice to relapse and we MAY relapse. But many of us who used to relapse no longer do so. We need to confess to God and to our brothers in Christ! Share how we are tempted with those brothers as well. View those temptations as trials that drive us to have more faith in our faithful God, who will deliver us. 2 Peter says “a man is the slave of whatever masters him.” We need to get the help to get to the root of why we’re being mastered.

      Reply
    6. kj27 on

      Moriah, thank you for the article. As one who has struggled myself and also is walking with others who struggle, it’s helpful to have some phrases that bring encouragement and not condemnation while at the same time not condoning porn use. It is a process and a battle and yes it can feel very discouraging if people don’t have a realistic view of what it takes to overcome any addiction.

      Reply

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *