Hi, I guess I took it pretty hard when me and this guy (that I’m still friends with) stopped “dating”(it wasn’t dating but we were an ‘item’). I blamed it on myself and had a lot of shame about it and I guess I got into porn as a default. (I don’t really know how I got from shame to porn? but it is what it is.) Now I’ve resorted to talking to people online, on a certain “adult” website. I talk dirty with people, don’t give out personal info., I don’t get any either. I know it’s risky, and not right but it’s fun and I guess I do it, or I’ve been told I do it, because of a need to connect with someone. I’ve been exploring dating websites, although I havn’t followed through with any of them. I know talking to people online is risky and unsafe, and I feel convicted about it, but I’m not sure I want to stop. It’s fun. (Although dangerous and not smart.) I know how I’ve dealt with this is unhealthy. I’ve taken steps to filter my internet access. How can I help myself to be more emotionally healthy and deal things like rejection and this more healthily? This question is also about self development.
Rejection causes several emotional wounds; it inflicts emotional pain, damages our self-esteem, and makes us hesitant to get hurt again and lead to withdrawal. Your self-esteem has taken a blow, you’ve stopped dating ‘real’ people, and you’ve resorted to porn and online chatting as an emotionally less risky substitute. When we get rejected we often fail to recognize the ways in which we are wounded, and while you understand your behavior is “dangerous”, and “unhealthy”, you haven’t applied Emotional First Aid techniques and therefore, your wounds have not healed.
In order to heal emotionally, you need to revive your self-esteem, get over your fear of rejection and put yourself back in the dating world, and you need to find ways to mitigate the risk of rejection and emotional hurt going forward. There are numerous psychological exercises you can do to facilitate this process (I devote an entire chapter to them in my book) and while it is impossible to encapsulate them all here, I will suggest one basic exercise to get you on the right track.
Make a list of meaningful qualities you have that make you a good romantic/sexual/relationship partner (e.g., being supportive, loyal, a good listener, and/or sexually adventurous). Then choose one quality from the list per day and each morning, write a couple of paragraphs about why the quality is meaningful, how you expressed it in previous relationships and why it would be appreciated by a future partner. Do this for ten days (one essay a day), stay away from porn and chat sites on the internet, and you will feel emotionally stronger and more ready to consider dating real people.
And do report back on how you’re doing.
Guy Winch Ph.D.