• Consult with a mental health professional or pastoral counselor who can help guide you through an effective disclosure pro­cess.

• Make sure that you pick a time when the person to whom you are disclosing is not distracted by something else. For example, turn off the phone and talk in a private setting that feels safe to you.

• Let the other person know you have something personal and confidential to share.

• Ask if the person is open to listening. Even when it appears to be a good time for you, it may not be for the other person.

• Share how difficult opening up is for you. Let the other person know you have struggled to reach the decision to talk about your problem. Tell them that you chose to reveal your problem to them because you trust them, feel safe with them, and re­spect their opinions.

• Let the other person know why you are revealing this now. You might say something such as, “I am telling you this now be­cause I no longer want to keep this a secret; I don’t want to continue hurting myself and others; I’m ready to admit I’ve got a problem and do something about it.”

• Let the other person know what you most need from them.

Do you want them just to listen, to offer advice, to share their thoughts and reactions, or help you in some specific way?

Reactions will vary. Following these suggestions can help you increase the likelihood that the person you talk to will feel some empathy and respect for you. But it is impossible to control or predict anyone else’s reaction. Dave told us, “There were some people who did withdraw. My guess is they were either genuinely disgusted by the topic or it put them in touch with something they were afraid of, felt humiliated by, or hated in themselves. They had to reject me because they didn’t want to deal with what my issues brought up for them. Once I understood that, their negative reactions didn’t really bother me. I just focused on and appreciated those people who were understanding and supportive to me.”

Many former porn users tell us they were able to find acceptance and understanding from the people they admitted their porn problems to. Kevin decided to start talking about his problem when he went on a fly-fishing trip with two guys he had known for years. “During the trip I had plenty of time to think about how my porn use was affecting my wife and family,” he said. “I really wanted to quit and knew I needed to reach out to other people for support. At dinner one night, I told my buddies about it. It was amazing. They supported me. One of the guys said that he had problems with it too. I realized that we all have our struggles with our compulsions, fears, and secrets. Whatever the problem, someone else can relate. I found out that when you honestly start talking about your issues, people feel empathy and often open up to you in return.”

Alex was also moved by the support he received from a small group of close friends in his church group when he first revealed his porn ad­diction to them. “When I told them about my problem, everyone in the room cried,” he said. “No one was disgusted with me, rejected me, or called me sinful. It was a huge relief to be honest with them. They cared as much about my problem as I did. My life really mattered to them. I didn’t feel alone.”

Hopefully, you will have a positive experience when you tell someone else about your porn problem. But, regardless of whether your initial disclosure is met with support and empathy or anger and rejection, it is an essential step you have to take if you want to free yourself from the isolation and pain of a problem with porn.