Dating as an Addict
Hello Rabbi Twerski,
I am a 21 year old Yeshivah Bochur and college student. I started lusting at the very end of 8th grade. I've been involved masturbation, pornography and even bad chatting, but B'H I have been shomer Negiah throughout high school. I joined GuardYourEyes in the end of April '09 when I saw an ad for it on Vozisneis. It was that day that I realized I had an addiction. In the past few months, although there have been times where I've been very good and very close to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, there were times where I felt like abandoning Judaism out of sheer frustration. Right after falling I'd say to myself, "I cant live this double life. I need to choose one. I've tried giving up the porn, but it just stays with me". When I get a streak of even a few days its such a great feeling though. Like I am king and nothing can stop me...
I am getting to the age where I need to start consider dating for marriage. I have 3 very close friends who are all engaged and I feel maybe now is the time in my life, once I get my issues in order, to look for my one and only. I don't think this recurring issue will ever leave me. Be'ezras Hashem I will grow stronger everyday in order to be prepared to fight it off when it comes next, but I don't think I can get rid of the images that are carved into my head. So how do I know when I should start dating? My friends ask to get me a Shidduch and I repeatedly turn them down without giving them a specific reason. My plan is to get a streak of 30 days in which I am clean. I think this itself is enough to build a relationship with. I would like to think that going into dating with a 30 day streak (which I have only done once since I have been an addict) will help me continue and become stronger. If the Rav can please give me straight forward, honest feedback. Thank you very much.
Rabbi Twerski Replies:
I don't know of any hard and fast rules on how long one must be abstinent.
It is important to know that the addiction is under control before considering marriage. Marriage is not a hospital and does not cure addiction, and continuation of the addiction is likely to ruin a marriage.
Attendance at SA meetings and getting support from the group can be very helpful.
An excellent therapist is Dr.Richard Leedes in NJ. 609-497-9323.
At the risk of nepotism, I can also recommend my son, Dr. Benzion Twerski in Brooklyn, 718-437-4118.