We have found it simplest to draw a circle. Inside this circle, we write down each one of the compulsive sexual behaviors from which we find it necessary to abstain. That will become our “Inner Circle” and everything inside is totally off limits for us.
These behaviors are the “drugs” we must stop using, the “alcohol” that gets us drunk and destroys our lives.
One day at a time, we abstain from all behaviors which we have placed in the Inner Circle …
Many of us may list behaviors such as: anonymous sex, voyeurism, masturbation with [or without] pornography, prostitution, sadomasochistic behavior, manipulative or angry sex within a relationship, phone sex, strip clubs, adult chat rooms, cross-dressing with masturbation, exhibitionism, child sexual abuse or incest.
In the inner circle we put the sexual behaviors we want to abstain from, the ones we consider “acting out.” These are the behaviors that we identify, with our sponsor’s guidance, as addictive, harmful, or unacceptable for us.
Some of us put certain behaviors in the inner circle simply because they lead to an addictive pattern that can cause us trouble.
For example, we may put using pornography in our inner circle, or cruising (driving around or otherwise looking for sexual possibilities), if we experience powerlessness over these behaviors and find that they fuel a desire to act out more, or in more destructive ways.
Some of us may consider the same behaviors destructive and dangerous in their own right. We may, for instance, list pornography in our inner circle if it takes up too much of our time; leads to isolation, loss of employment, or damaged relationships; or causes ill health or emotional problems.
When we define our inner circle, or otherwise identify what acting out is for us, we eliminate possible confusion concerning our program, and about what we mean when we use terms such as “acting out” or “abstinence.”
Bottom Line behaviors
A primary and critical step in beginning recovery from sex addiction is identifying our Bottom Line behaviors—those activities from which we must refrain in order to attain physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wholeness.
For guidance, we turn to our sponsor, God, and other members of our recovery community.
A change in our behavior—stopping the addictive pattern—one day at a time, marks the beginning of abstinence from compulsive and destructive acting-out.
The physical, mental, emotional, and often spiritual upheaval which generally accompanies the release of our addictive pattern is called withdrawal.
Acting-out=being involved in “bottom line” behavior.
Addictive indulgence is marked by loss of control over rate, frequency, or duration of bottom line behavior. This loss of control always leads to negative self destructive consequences which, over time, continue to worsen.
Acting out patterns, and therefore “bottom line” behavior, can differ markedly among individual sex and love addicts. This acting out behavior can run the range from obvious promiscuity involving countless individuals, to solitary acts such as compulsive masturbation, voyeurism, and exhibitionism, to obsessive commitments to fantasy and romantic intrigue.
It may include hyper dependency problems involving one (or many) individuals. Some acting out patterns can involve all of the above, but more often a “bottom line” acting out scenario highlights one or two major areas.
- Any sex outside of my marriage including all masturbation and all sexual fantasy.
- Any sex within my marriage if I am not completely present or if I am using it to avoid feelings.
- Looking for, or at, pornography (primarily on internet.)
- Manipulative sex partners (controlling, coercive, pushy)
- Adult bookstores and theatres
- Unprotected sex, unsafe sex, illegal sex, and/or sex in public
- Neglecting self-care emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally in a relationship to the point of serious damage in any of the above areas.
- Using sex with self or others in a way that denies and violates my selfhood and the selfhood of others by not cherishing myself or others as gifts of God.
- Using sex as a “drug” to avoid feelings instead of expressing love to myself or another.
- Not respecting the boundaries of others who are in committed relationships
- Pornography – Defined for me as pictures designed solely to create sexual desire for a person as a sex object, either online, TV, films or printed form. (This does not apply to images that just happen to “pop up” incidentally, as will happen in an R or even PG rated film or TV show, or an online pop-up ad, unless my intent is to continue to visit the image to objectify). Also, I am now including erotic stories, defined as stories written for the specific purpose of sexual arousal.
- Sex chatting – Defined for me as being engaged in sexual “acting-out” chat in any chat room or private messaging with someone that I am not currently in a committed relationship with. “Acting-out chat” means chatting solely for the purpose of bringing oneself and/or someone else to orgasm.
- Sex outside of a committed relationship with someone. A “committed relationship” is defined as being in relationship with someone who is available for me and who desires to move toward a more serious relationship, such as engagement or marriage with me. (“Available” means “not married, engaged to, or dating someone else!”) I must also be available for the other person, too
- Masturbation – Becomes a bottom line only when used with pornography or sex chatting as defined above.
- No sexual body to body contact or intercourse with any man or woman with the exception of my wife, and intercourse/mutual masturbation with my wife, only.
- No acting out (a/o) with my wife, (i.e., fantasies of others, forcing myself to get off, my satisfaction being what it’s all about). If I’m having difficulty being there for her, talk about it, communicate what I’m feeling – BE Rigorously HONEST!
- No dwelling on triggering thoughts (i.e. taking arousal to an additional intensity with fantasy, thoughts, pictures or words, to take myself to the teetering razor’s edge of gratification—teasing my addict.)
- No masturbation/self-gratification.
- No pornography magazines, internet, books, TV, or movies. This includes teasing, taunting, & sensual non-nude and model sites. Do not read program descriptions of adult sites on satellite TV menu. (IT IS ALL SEXUAL CONTENT FOR ME!)
- No chat rooms, friend-finders, adult message boards, except SCA, SLAA, SAA (no sexually explicit conversations with ANYONE in these rooms except sponsor and then only if completely necessary)
- Phone sex
- Physical sex
- Pornography (viewing, reading, writing, creating