Inner Circle Middle Circle Outer Circle

Outer Circle

Outer-circle behaviors encompass a wide range of healthy activities. They are frequently the things that the sex addict didn’t have time to do when he was acting out.

Just as there was no question that the behaviors listed in our Inner Circle were compulsive, addictive, and therefore dangerous and destructive, so there is no question that the behaviors we list in our “Outer Circle” bring recovery and are to be encouraged, praised and practiced.

That is to say that healthy sexual behaviors are behaviors we choose because they enhance our life, our recovery, and our spiritual connection.

Examples of behaviors that some people place in their Outer Circle are:

  • working the 12 steps
  • calling a friend
  • personal devotions
  • journaling
  • rediscovering hobbies, starting a new hobby
  • playing sports and physical exercise
  • spending time with friends and family
  • socializing and making new friends in a safe environment
  • volunteering our time to a cause we believe in
  • engaging in any other activities which make our lives more enjoyable and meaningful
  • being sexual within a committed relationship – honoring the bond of love that you and your partner have built,
  • enjoying affectionate touch
  • taking a dance class
  • wearing beautiful clothing,
  • taking a bath
  • developing nonsexual relationships with people
  • developing new healthy interests
  • sharing our recovery with other recovering sex addicts
  • healthy sexuality
  • spending time in nature
  • serving others

In short, we want to be gentle with ourselves—to practice behaviors which are self-nurturing. These Outer Circle behaviors are clearly the antithesis of our old way of life, and it is the practice of these actions which will lift our obsessions and compulsions and bring us serenity and joy. Once again, it is important to actually write these down on paper, listing them in an Outer Circle which is drawn around the Inner Circle.

Example1

  • playing my guitar,
  • journaling,
  • exercising,
  • attending meetings,
  • working the steps,
  • having a healthy sex life with my partner,
  • maintaining rigorous honesty with others (especially with my sponsor and my partner),
  • going to the movies and theatre, entertaining friends at my home

Example2

  • Tools of the program: meetings, the telephone, sponsorship, literature, working the steps, prayer and meditation, working on my plan, abstention (partial or total), socializing, dating, saying the slogans, service, writing
  • gainful employment, volunteering, exercise, taking walks, reading, spending time with appropriate people, sleeping, eating, breathing, going to therapy sessions (group and individual), attending theater and movies alone or with appropriate people, non-sexual massage, haircuts, seeing doctors/dentists, taking detoxification treatments, going on retreats, romantic and/or sexual behavior with someone in a mature, mutually nurturing and appropriate way

Example3

Healthy people = People who want to help you recover and help you to maintain your recovery and sobriety, and allow you to do the same with them.

  • keep in conscious contact with God through prayer and study of Scripture and recovery readings;
  • write my feelings in my journal to keep in touch with myself;
  • keep in conscious and healthy contact with recovery partners and others. If a conversation leaves me feeling unhealthy, I can walk away from that scene and seek out someone who IS healthy;
  • eat if I’m hungry, talk to someone healthy if I’m angry or stressed, find a hobby or help someone else if I am lonely, and go to bed to sleep if I am tired;
  • go to meetings, boards, and any other recovery “meetings” as much as possible;
  • if I feel like isolating, do a healthy thing that will take me out of myself. It may be calling someone in recovery, it may be going out with friends, or it may be going out to do something new and/or social;
  • give the computer a rest sometime and pick up a good book or watch a good movie instead;
  • if I am feeling like I am in an uneasy space for any reason, accept it, let the feelings pass, and do something that is kind to yourself that is not sexual that allows for a sense of accomplishment. It could be housework, it could be going for a walk, or it could be taking a bubble bath or spending time with a healthy friend or doing service work;
  • if a person I desire to be in relationship with is in a “committed relationship” with someone else, the loving thing to do is to respect their commitment and back off. A “committed relationship” is any relationship where one is in an engagement, marriage, or marriage type situation with another;
  • in relationships, whenever the need for a sexual boundary arises, define boundaries as to what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and let my partner(s) know. If it feels “ick,” feel free to say so, declare a boundary and honor it, and ask that my partner(s) honor my boundary. If something is right, feel free to reinforce and nourish it, and let my partner(s) know it’s ok;
  • read my sexual history as needed to remind me of my need for recovery

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