I'd like to share my personal experience with dating. It's no secret that one of the main motivators that brought me to GYE in the first place, was the very simple point that I don't want to bring this into a marriage. Till I came here, I was in a bubble of delusion thinking that this is called "sins of youth" because it's only a problem when we're young. Once we get married, have a wife, a family, responsibilities, etc., things change. I still remember the feelings that shot through me when I first read the stories here on GYE written by married men. Then I looked at the 90 day chart and counted up all the married men still struggling with lust. Boy was I in for a surprise! It opened up a new way of thinking that I never had considered - "If I don't deal with this now, I'll have to deal with this later! It isn't going to go away on its own."
Now it's not that I haven't considered stopping in the past. About 8 months back, before I officially started dating, I had to prove to myself that I'm capable of stopping at will. I stopped for a period of time (about 23 days) and then relapsed.
I now look back at the many times that I've tried stopping since then. I was a fighter! But you know what? After putting a nice streak under my belt, I'd always end up falling. I knew that I had to put "dating" on a temporary hold till I could be certain that I'm heading in the right direction and that I'm not turning back. "The only way", I told myself, "is to join a 12-Step program" (Duvid Chaim's anonymous phone conference). Personally, I was aiming for either some serious sobriety time, or a long streak of days that I haven't crossed any red lines. But what Duvid Chaim's phone group gave me, was much more than that! Over the course of the past 7 weeks, participants of the group have learned how to trust, feel, and speak, and with a raised level of awareness, honesty, openness, and willingness, we've begun to dig into the root of our addiction to see how we can uproot it from the core, by being better people!
At this point, I've been here at GYE for about 4 months, and though not always consecutive, with the help of Hahem, I've racked up a great deal of sobriety days and earned back some of my freedom - more than I ever imagined! I've joined Duvid Chaim's 12-Step group, and boruch Hashem, my dating (which has been on hold for a while) has gone much better. Would you believe me if I told you, that precisely on day 90 of not crossing my red lines, I got a phone call from the shadchan with a wonderful suggestion? And this was a girl who they had been trying to set me up with for a while, but complications kept cropping up. But on day 90, all the problems were resolved. (We've gone out a few times since then, and let's just say that things are looking good :-).
If you put in the work, Hashem will shower you with brachos, no doubt!
If you are on GYE then you've come to the right place. You're a miracle in the making!
For more on recovery & dating, see Rabbi Twerski's advice here: