Free Sexual Addiction & Trauma Webinar This Friday (Plus Personal News)

Finding Peace CHS Webinar Troy Love

I am excited to invite you to an excellent webinar this Friday and share with you some very cool personal news. To learn more, check out my newest LifeSTAR Sacramento Blog post called FINDING PEACE FROM SEXUAL ADDICTION: FREE TRAUMA WEBINAR THIS FRIDAY.

I hope you can make it this Friday and March 8th as well! 😉

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!






Tools for Battling Fantasy, Lust, & Unwanted Thoughts

Staci Sprout, Quote Clouds Fantasy

Do you struggle with unwanted thoughts? Most of us do. If you want some help in this arena, start with reading the above quote by Staci Sprout. In Life After Lust, I provided many more strategies for battling lust. Which ones help you the most? What other strategies help you modify your thought patterns?

We can be free from the thoughts that tempt us to return to old, addictive, and self-destructive behavior. May we learn to let go of unwanted thoughts, replacing them with those that uplift and inspire us.


*Artwork created by Forest Benedict (aka Me)

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Mastering Self-Compassion

Matery self-compassion female mirror

Skill to Master #14: Self-compassion

How self-compassionate are you? I challenge you to make self-compassion a daily recovery practice. Click here for ideas on how to do this.


Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!


_Often the wounded make the mightiest warriors._


Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!


My Magic Formula

MY Magic formula

A friend of mine recently questioned how everything keeps working out for me, asking what my secret was, as if there was some magical formula. The more I thought about it, I realized in some funny way there is a formula I am living out right now.

In the past, my magic formula was Say Yes to Everything + Try to Impress Everyone = Burnout & Resentment.

Today’s formula is more like Do What I Love + Work on Myself + Be Visible + Believe in Something Bigger + Be Consistent + Surround Myself With the Right People + Relentless Optimism + Synchronicity + Waiting = The Next Right Invitation (SO SIMPLE, RIGHT?!)

Right now, this is working out in mind-blowing ways and I can’t help but laugh! Really, it is quite unbelievable how this is all playing out. I have not been pounding the pavement looking for places to speak and teach and publish like I have in the past. I’ve just practiced the above formula and really cool things are happening. Here’s a sample of some of the upcoming opportunities on the table:

  • October – Finishing a chapter for a major contribution to my field (I’ll tell you more when I’m allowed to – wait, I should be writing now!)
  • November 9-10 – Co-facilitating a Phase 1 recovery Intensive in Sacramento
  • November 14 – Being interviewed by Clay Olsen for Fortify (join us!)
  • November/December – Possible webinar with a big online Christian sex addiction event
  • February – Speaking at the Life After Lust Retreat in Northern California
  • March – Webinar with the Center for Healthy Sex

After that….we’ll just have to wait and see!

I share these things not only to invite you to participate in them but also to invite you into your own purposeful path. Is there anything more meaningful than living the life we were designed to live? The more freedom we experience, the more perspective we gain and the more we can live out our purpose.

Based on your life experience, what is your magic formula? What are the keys to a meaningful life?

Ok, that’s all for now…I need to get back to my other writing. Thanks for reading!


Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!


The Greatest Hits of Life After Lust: Top 10 Most Popular Passages

LAL Top 10

When you write a book, you never know what’s going to resonate most deeply with readers. I certainly didn’t know. But I recently learned what passages were most highlighted in my ebook and now I know. The results are somewhat surprising and certainly fascinating. I’d love to share them with you.

After compiling the top 10 passages from Life After Lust, it is astonishing that 7 out of the 10 were from the same place – Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust! (Ironically, I had a recent dream about Chapter 4). This was clearly people’s favorite chapter. This discovery delighted me because I wrote that chapter specifically for this book, knowing there was a need for a clear definition of lust.

Two of the 10 most popular passages were from Chapter 3: Don’t Be a Victim to Sexual Addiction. This is meaningful to me because I took an article I published through XXXChurch, based on thousands of dollars of personal growth classes and experience, and very thoughtfully, with the guidance of others, crafted it into what it is today. Personally, I believe this is the most powerful chapter, with the most life-changing implications.

One more thing…I thought it would be fun to create quote pictures to represent these popular passages. These will be posted here, in my newsletter, on my Facebook page, and on Twitter. Will you please share them on those platforms, Pinterest, Instagram, etc to help spread the hopeful message of Life After Lust? Also, I would love to hear what your favorite quotes were from the book. It would make my day if you shared those with me.

Without further ado, here are the greatest hits of Life After Lust (in reverse order, to heighten anticipation), based on reader’s highlights. I hope you have as much fun reading these as I did creating them.

#10 with 14 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

10 Popular LAL Quote

#9 with 22 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

9 Popular LAL Quote

#8 with 24 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

8 Popular LAL Quote

#7 with 30 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

7 Popular LAL Quote

#6 with 35 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

6 Popular LAL Quote

#5 with 41 highlights from Chapter 3: Don’t Be a Victim to Sexual Addiction

5 Popular LAL Quote

#4 with 43 highlights from the Introduction

4 Popular LAL Quote

#3 with 44 highlights from Chapter 3: Don’t Be a Victim to Sexual Addiction

3 Popular Quote

#2 with 46 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

2 Popular LAL Quote

Drum roll…..

And #1, with 54 highlights from Chapter 4: The Lie of Lust

1 Popular LAL Quote

May these reminders strengthen your resolve to let go of the lie of lust and grab hold of a life of love.

If this post inspired you, please share it with someone you know.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Joe Saavedra & The Evil Genius

Evil Genius Quote

As a teacher, this is a proud moment for me. One of my SATP students is wasting no time at making waves in the world. Joe Saavedra, LMFT, SATP (student) just landed a writing gig on Rob Weiss’ Sex & Relationship Healing blog! You may know that Rob Weiss is one of the most prominent leaders in the sex addiction treatment field (I will forever be gratefully shocked that he endorsed Life After Lust). So, I am incredibly proud of Joe for playing big with his life and using his expertise and recovery story to impact others.

If that wasn’t enough, you know what Joe went ahead and did in his newly published post called The Question of Identity? He quoted Life After Lust, introducing a character in my book called The Evil Genius. I feel deeply honored by Joe’s generosity in doing this and hope that this exposure will help more people experience healing.

I invite you to read Joe’s article, subscribe to Rob’s blog, and think about what place the Evil Genius has in your life and recovery.

Watch out world! Joe Saavedra is equipped, skilled, and more passionate than me about sexual addiction recovery. He is making an impact and, trust me, this is only the beginning.


Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Female Sex, Love, & Relationship Addiction Training Program with Staci Sprout (Starting Soon)

Staci Pilot Program

Do you have a heart for helping female love, sex, and relationship addicts? If so, I have an unprecedented and amazing new training opportunity to share with you. Author and female sex addiction specialist Staci Sprout has created a female addiction training program for clinicians, coaches, and pastoral counselors. This is a much-needed resource! Only 20 people can participate in the pilot version of this program. Will you be one of them? I know I’ll be sharing this opportunity far and wide.

For more information, here is a message from Staci Sprout:

I want to invite you to join me in a new project I’m developing, an online class to support therapists, coaches and pastoral counselors who are working with female sex and love addicts. To this end, I am offering a six week Zoom PILOT training program to clinicians, coaches, and pastoral counselors based on my experience working with women love, sex and relationship addicts in individual and group therapy since 2006 (and what I’ve learned from my own recovery journey and sponsoring women since 2001).

The course is called “Shadows of the Heart for Professionals: Best Practices in Individual Treatment of Women with Love, Sex and Relationship Addiction,” and you are most welcome to participate! You can find out more details and sign up HERE.

This inaugural pilot program will eventually form the basis for a more in-depth Shadows of the Heart for Professionals training program, including online education on Individual and Group Treatment, an Instructor’s Guide, and more. The larger course will be fine-tuned based on the experience and feedback of the pioneers who will be taking this PILOT training course with me. And all who complete the PILOT will get 1/2 off the final course on individual treatment, which will be 24 hours, learn-at-your-pace, plus much additional expanded content.

The PILOT price is $497 for 12 total hours ($41/hr), 2hrs/week for 6 weeks. If that is a hardship and you are interested, email me and we can talk about installment payments. I really want this to be accessible. 🙂

There are several spots still open; I am accepting up to 20 participants – I don’t want the class to be too large.

I hope this will be a great addition to what we’re all already doing – I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, great learning (for me too!), and getting to know each other better in service of helping women heal. Women, men and those with non-binary gender ID are encouraged to participate.

*Applications will be processed in the order they are received, with the exception of a priority of those currently in my consultation program, and inclusion of multi-disciplinary, ethnically diverse, and LGBTQI helping professionals. We need all the diverse perspectives we can get for female-informed care, so please let me know if this applies to you!

In gratitude,

Staci Sprout, LICSW, CSAT


Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Re-Imagining Sex in Recovery: A Paradigm Shift is Possible

Re-Imagining Sex in recovery

Today I am thrilled to share with you two excellent resources related to sexual addiction recovery and sexual health. First, I want to share with you a chapter from Life After Lust called Connected Sex: A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted. This is the first time I have publicly shared this chapter in its entirely. I hope you find it mind-expanding and life-altering.

Second, skilled and knowledgeable specialist in sexual addiction treatment, Valerie Hamaker, has created a valuable online course series on healthy sexuality and  sexual addiction recovery. I highly recommend this series! It is a great resource for recovering individuals and couples, as well as professionals. I recently added her first two lessons on Healthy Sexuality to my Introduction to Sexual Addiction Treatment class in the SATP program. It is high-quality content that is well worth the investment. Will you help me spread the word about this excellent resource? (Click here to learn more).

May these resources help you experience deeper healing and increased sexual health.

Chapter 22

Connected Sex:
A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted

From Life After Lust, Copyright © 2017 by Forest Benedict

Skill to Master #21: Learning to emotionally connect with my partner

Skill to Master #22: Practicing a healthy, connected sexuality

It may go without saying but sex is a significant topic for recovering sex addicts. As a sex addiction therapist, I tell my clients that successful recovery necessitates a new view of sexuality. Rather than seeing sex as a numbing agent, instead, sex in recovery is a connecting agent. This transition in thinking and practice is difficult, since sex addicts inherently have a dysfunctional relationship with sex, rooted in an intimacy disorder.

A Sex Addict’s Sex Life

There are many ways in which a sex addict’s perception of sex is distorted and unhealthy. In her TEDx Talk on Sex and Intimacy, Dr. Sue Johnson superbly explained the dynamics of connected and disconnected sex. Her explanation of sealed off sex is characteristic of the sex addict’s experience because it lacks emotional intimacy, is solely sensation and performance focused, and leaves individuals feeling lonely. Sex addicts may also seek out solace sex, where the focus is on reassurance rather than sexual passion. The significance of both of these sex styles is that they are rooted in insecure attachment patterns, which are common among sex addicts. Dr. Linda Hatch similarly describes the sex life of sex addicts, writing:

Even when the sex addict is having sex with a partner or spouse, it is often the case that the addict is not “all there.” He or she may be lost in fantasy or just going through the motions. Many addicts feel they are having satisfying sex with their partners when in fact they are not really able to be present.

I often describe this dynamic to my clients as “using your partner to masturbate.” Sex for the sex addict is an experience of emotional disconnection. The sex addict sees sex as a drug and distraction, not a profound point of connection. The sex addict hijacks sexuality to get their self-focused high. This distorts the very purpose of the sexual experience.

Sex for the sex addict is lust-driven, not love-driven. Regardless of whether a sex addict objectifies a stranger or their partner, connection never results.

Another pattern that some sex addicts experience is called sexual anorexia, which occurs when a person avoids sex and emotional connection completely. Alexandra Katehakis explains that “where sex addicts ‘act out’ or ‘binge’ through promiscuity or high-risk behavior, sexual anorexics starve themselves by ‘acting in,’ denying themselves the pleasure of relationships, dating, loving touch, and genuine connection with others.” Sometimes, both acting out and acting in dynamics are at play, creating a sexual bulimic like cycle of sexual binging and purging.

As you can see, there are many potential scenarios that explain the sex addict’s misguided use of sex. Difficulties ensue when sex is used solely for coping, not connecting.

All About Intimacy

In their book The Couple’s Guide to Intimacy, Drs. Bill and Ginger Bercaw explain that “one of the greatest challenges facing couples in recovery is learning how to be emotionally and sexually intimate after the relationship has absorbed a direct hit.” A couple reeling from this type of relational trauma has a lot of hard work ahead.

As recovery progresses, sex addicts have the opportunity to see sex with new eyes. They can learn to appreciate a depth to sex they never knew before, experiencing what Katehakis describes as the “sensuality of connected closeness.” Connected sex, or synchrony sex, is a bonding experience that includes openness, play, and sexual passion. As connected sex becomes a new ideal, the addict will find that this transformation requires something quite unexpected: a foundation of emotional connection. This is the key to a quality sexual relationship.

The core of good sex is safety and connection, but these are two areas in which sex addicts experience extreme deficiencies. Most couples working toward fostering emotional intimacy will need extensive work with an attachment-based sex addiction therapist. Learning to deeply connect with their partner is an essential skill for sexual addicts in recovery.

This type of learning requires guidance, work, and a plethora of patience, but with the right help there is hope. Active recovery is necessary for any couple working toward increased connection. If the addict is engaging in their acting-out behaviors, the addiction becomes a competing attachment, hindering the couple’s closeness. Thus, sobriety is a starting line for the couple’s successful connection journey.

Often recovering sex addicts, whether in a relationship or single, abstain from masturbation as part of their sobriety. This makes more sense when sex is seen as a connecting experience rather than a solo act. When masturbation is lust-driven, compulsive, or sought out for emotional comfort, this behavior plays a key role in the addictive cycle. Still, there are varying views on the topic of masturbation in recovery, which is another reason why seeking guidance from a sex addiction therapist is recommended.

In early recovery, it is common for sex addiction therapists to prescribe a period of sexual celibacy from all expressions of sexuality, including with their partner. This orchestrated season of abstinence can have many benefits for the addict, partner, and couple, including taking the “sexual pressure off of the relationship so the couple can work on play and communication.” This period can offer a detox from unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs about sex, clearing the way for other forms of connection.

On the pathway to connected sexuality, there may be many detours. Sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, medical issues, distrust, trauma, and other factors may complicate the couple’s sexual experience, requiring additional help from a sex therapist, doctor, or other professional. Patterns of sexual avoidance grounded in a partner’s lack of emotional safety or using sex as an attempt to control the addict’s behavior should be addressed with a sex addiction therapist.

The Powerful Potential of Connected Sex

When a sex addict learns to experience sex as the “potent bonding activity” it can be, this is a massive mental shift for them. Instead of using sex as a drug: to escape, numb, or avoid, sex can become a source of satisfaction. Healing from a shame-based sexuality will be part of the process. Learning how to leave lust and objectification out of the bedroom are additional aims of recovery.

The truth is, all connection work in recovery, whether emotional or sexual, will require the help of those who know the way. The Bercaws’ book is an excellent resource for couples impacted by sex addiction. I love the vision they cast of what a recovered sex life can look like:

You can know for perhaps the first time in your entire life what it feels like to embrace a passionate and fully satisfying sex life while retaining your integrity and while being more fully present.

Katehakis casts a similar vision of healthy sexuality, calling it “a profoundly new experience. It has the ring of innocence and simplicity, devoid of addictive adrenalized and dopaminergic intensity. For the first time, the psyche and body do not melt in disarray afterward. Healthy sex can make amends to the self and to the partner. When partners join in an open-hearted and present way, sex becomes a genuine act of love in the moment and leaves both parties feeling good afterward.”

Imagine that: A shame-free sexuality. A satisfying experience of secret-free sex based on love. This is what lust always promised but never delivered.

Dr. Mark Laaser tells a story of one recovering couple who experienced non-addictive sex for the first time. Their time together ended in a loving embrace and joyful tears. This is the prospect of connected sexuality.

As we grow in our willingness to challenge and change our distorted views of sex, we can learn to experience a more fulfilling, connected, and healthy sexuality. A paradigm shift is possible.



Benedict, F. (2016, October 20). Connected Sex: A Paradigm Shift for the Sexually Addicted.

Bercaw, B., & Bercaw, G. (2010). The Couple’s Guide to Intimacy: How Sexual Reintegration Therapy Can Help Your Relationship Heal. California Center for Healing. 7, 11.

Hatch, L. (2012, February 15). Why is Sex Addiction Called an Intimacy Disorder? Retrieved from an-intimacy-disorder/

Johnson, S. (2015, July 28). The New Frontier of Sex & Intimacy. Retrieved from

Johnson, S. (2017). Three Kinds of Sex. Retrieved from

Katehakis, A. (2014, August 12). The Devastating Pain of ‘Sexual Anorexics’ Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoda lies-trauma/201408/the-devastating-pain-sexual-anorexics

Katehakis, A., & Schore, A. N. (2016). Sex addiction as affect dysregulation: a neurobiologically informed holistic treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Laaser, M. R. (2004). Healing the wounds of sexual addiction. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 182.

Reid, R. C., & Woolley, S. R. (2006). Using Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples to Resolve Attachment Ruptures Created by Hypersexual Behavior. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13(2-3), 219-239.

Sexaholics Anonymous. (1989-2002). Sexaholics Anonymous. SA Literature. 40-42. Elements Behavioral Health. (2013, November 15). Sexual Anorexia Within Sexual Addiction. Retrieved from anorexia-within-sexual-addiction/

Weiss, R. (n.d.). Sex Addicts and “Sexual Sobriety”. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from

Zapf, J. L., Greiner, J., & Carroll, J. (2008). Attachment Styles and Male Sex Addiction. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 15(2), 158-175.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Female Fantasy Addiction: The New Infidelity

Female Fantasy Addiction_ The New Infidelity

This week I have the privilege of sharing a guest post written by women’s addiction recovery coach and best-selling author Lacy Bentley. You may remember, I interviewed Lacy on Female Sex, Porn, & Love Addiction in March. I was honored to write the Foreword to her new book Overcoming Love Addiction as well. We met in person for the first time last month when we both saw Dr Donald Hilton speak on The Sex Industry and Public Health: It’s Impact on Exploitation, Healthy Sexuality, Empathy and Addiction in Salt Lake City.

Lacy Forest Hilton

I have much respect for Lacy and am grateful for the work she is doing in the world helping women heal from addiction. I hope you enjoy her article on female fantasy addiction and share it with others who would benefit.

Female Fantasy Addiction:

The New Infidelity

By Lacy Bentley

I know, I know, we can’t control every thought that comes into our minds. Temptation is all around, and oh so tantalizing. For some of us, that tantalization comes in the form of a sexy picture of our favorite screen actor, or his role in the latest Rom-Com. For some, it is a scene in a romantic novel, with or without sex. For others, it is the friendly banter or touch of a nice guy at work or church. After the initial thought or emotion (aren’t they pretty much simultaneous?) we actually have a fraction of a second to take charge. But, why worry about it? Why not explore this inner fantasy world a little, and celebrate our inner sexuality? And, if not, how do we lengthen out that fraction on a moment to engage in decision making about the temptation?

American culture vacillates rapidly between free love and prudish terror. The pendulum swing leaves us disoriented and unsure of what healthy sexuality really is. Let’s start there. Sex isn’t a bad thing, and sexual arousal is healthy. In fact, the random noticing of an attractive individual just means your radar is still intact. The hope is that your radar is not always going off, and that you are not distracted from the very real life and relationships right in front of you. This is the “why” part of “Why worry about it?”

So often, women become distracted from what needs to be done by lots of things. Let’s look at a few of these every-day potentials for stray thoughts:

  • Other things that need to be done
  • Looming deadlines
  • Social media, text messages, or email alerts
  • A kid’s needs
  • Fatigue
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Conversations with that really sweet, cute guy at work…

And off our powerfully creative brains go, making up wonderful neuro-cocktails for our fantasizing pleasure.

So, what’s the harm of spending a few minutes (ahem, hours…) in our made-up world? No kids crying, no snotty noses, no deadlines, no burned cookies, just us and Mr. Fabulous. He knows just what to say, how to say it, and he mops the floor! Okay, maybe that’s just my fantasy. But seriously, it’s not like you’re doing anything, right? It’s just a daydream. Nobody even knows, and certainly no one is getting hurt, right?

Not so fast…This kind of fantasy, even if it doesn’t take a turn into full-blown mental porn, impacts every relationship we have. The longer and more drawn out the distraction from reality, the greater the impact.

  • Hubby can feel the distance. The further into the fantasy we go, the less and less satisfying the flawed, real man in front of us becomes. Soon, we find ourselves comparing, upset, and thinking about how Mr. Fabulous would handle the kids or play with our hair, or do the dishes without expecting sex. 
  • The kids feel it. They know when you are annoyed at having to break out of the fantasy world to cook dinner or take them to practice. They start to feel more and more like a burden and less like the valuable souls we have a responsibility to. They also notice when you are not really paying attention to the conversation or activity you are supposed to be engaged in.
  • Your girlfriends and sisters feel it. Lust, sexual energy, comparison, it all seeps out of our skin in waves that others may not be able to identify but can certainly feel. For many women, the fantasy spills over into flirting with a waiter or valet. It is manifest in the movies we watch, the conversations we have, and the book on our nightstand. It distances us from the real people trying to connect with us. They may not mind it, as they are very possibly in the same space. Then again, the disconnect and lack of conversational involvement will eventually become apparent. Real relationship connection cannot survive this disconnect. Those around us looking for real friendships won’t stick around long before heading in another direction all together.
  • Your target feels it. He may not know what it is, or he might, but he senses something. If he is a man of integrity, he may be unaware of what he’s sensing, and just keep boundaries in place, even distance himself subconsciously. If he is also a man in addiction or fantasy, this energy can easily become detrimental to committed relationships and family dynamics for you both. When we are warned not to play with fire lest we get burned, this is the very inferno we need to avoid. Indulgence in fantasy will make that task increasingly difficult. 
  • Those around you can often sense unchecked emotion. Again, they might not know what it is, but they feel something is off. This could lead to issues at work, assumptions, and rumors. Even if there is no conscious awareness, disconnection and distraction are off-putting. Plus, we can’t always control how those side glances are interpreted. 

So, as tempting as it is to dive into this inner world, and explore what it might hold, the risk is high, and the impact is out of our control. Not to mention, coming back to reality after the distraction is hard! 

One last reason why indulging this inner world will not end well: even in our minds, an affair is an affair. Think about it. Are you neutral, or celebratory of your intimate partner spending this much time thinking about conversations, romantic dinners, and even sex with a pretty co-worker? Just because his porn is on the internet, and yours is all in your head, does that excuse it? One woman lamented to me how her husband had recently relapsed into soft-core porn. The following day, she made a comment about an underaged actor taking his shirt off in a then-highly-popular teen romance. Excuse me? Can you imagine the backlash if a 40-year-old man made that comment about a 17-year-old actress? What if he had a seductive photo of her on his phone screen saver? How is that not okay, I asked her, but she can have this young man, who, remember, is still a minor, for her phone’s screen saver?

Women get away with way more than men do, and don’t see the double standard. That does not change the fact that fantasizing about intimacy, even if it is “just” romantic fantasy, is an emotional affair. Your emotions are involved, you’re quite possibly aroused on some romantic or sexual level, and most likely comparing your partner to your fantasy. That will not keep a relationship healthy and deeply rooted for long. Fantasy destroys natural love, the outgrowth of commitment, and life-long companionship. All of this fades as the unchecked sexual desires of an entire generation run rampant, first in the mind and heart, then the streets of promiscuity, sexual indiscretion, and life-altering STIs. Fantasy feeds eventual behaviors. As women, we are powerful creators. We need to be responsible with what we create.

There is hope, and you can navigate this well.

I talked previously about that fraction of a second where choice exists. Jumping into that space takes practice, and I’m not going to lie: it’s not easy to even want to! It does get easier though, the more space and time you get from the distractions. I also want to make one clarification here. Thinking about what style of curtain, what color of paint, or which new car you are getting is not the same thing as fantasy—unless it keeps you from living your real life. That is planning, goal setting, even healthy creation. Visualizations are powerful. That’s why we use them to help us grow into the successful women we want to be. This is all the more reason to be careful how that energy is spent. We do become what we spend time creating in our minds. Create intentionally.

Here are a few recovery hacks I’ve used, then longer term solutions I hope you’ll consider.

  • Keep a tally on the back of your hand, or inside of your wrist of how often you think about a certain person. I know this was written from a heterosexual standpoint, but that in no way means targets for women can’t be other women.
  • Report your tally to a responsible friend each day, and what you intend to do as you work intentionally to cut back on fantasy (hopefully to zero!)
  • Intentionally increase the spirituality in your life. This can be through meditation, the types of books and music you listen to, and the movies you watch. 
  • Fill your idle time with something uplifting, like a quote or verse of scripture to think about each day.
  • Intentionally strengthen the social, romantic, financial and sexual connection with your intimate partner.
  • Use a proverbial bucket of ice water by calling it what it is: fantasy. It’s not real, it’s not actual relationship or connection, and it is keeping you from the real people in your life. If you or the individual in your head are in committed relationships, romantic or sexual fantasy about this person is also an emotional affair. Call yourself out and choose honest responsibility.
  • Use real ice, or a trinket in the palm of your hand to keep you in the present moment.

Let’s talk longer term solutions now. If your only issue is fantasy, excellent. Get yourself a mentor or coach to help you break the habit. If it is more nefarious, and involves other behaviors that trouble you, you’re going to want professional help from someone who gets what you’re dealing with. A therapist is needed if you have serious historical abuse or trauma. Otherwise you might like a coach or paid mentor. The important part is that you get someone on your team who knows how to help you in the ways you need, and who’s personality you enjoy. You need to agree on fundamentals, like:

  1. Is God important to recovery?
  2. Are the behaviors I want to work on also important to this therapist/coach/recovery mentor?
  3. Do I feel a connection with this therapist/coach/recovery mentor?
  4. Do they encourage me to build a foundation of support in my day-to-day life?
  5. Am I willing to pay for the support I need? (Trust me, no one thinks they can afford recovery. If you really want it, you’ll figure this out, then you’ll move mountains to work with the person you know is right for you. Cost is an excuse when you underestimate the need).

Ultimately, this is your decision. Do you want the life-long, deep, honest, full connection available to those willing to learn to maintain it, or not? Then, are you ready to do what it takes to get it, no counterfeits, no self-sabotage, and no excuses? If you answered yes to both questions, you’re probably ready to find your match in recovery support. Who comes to mind? Look at a few options, then decide. In the meantime, I’d love to send you a copy of my women’s recovery guidebook, now an International Best-Seller, “Overcoming Love Addiction.” It’s free, just shoot me an email at You can just sign up using the red box at the bottom of the page on my website,

Yours in Recovery,

Lacy Alajna Bentley

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ABOUT LACY: Lacy is a women’s addiction recovery coach, best selling author, and mom of four teenage boys. She is also a former pornography and Hentai (pornographic anime) user, who used these sources to help her define what “desirable” and “real” womanhood looked like from the age of 13. Now, she knows better, and wants to help other women heal, while empowering parents to have the tough but necessary conversations with their daughters. For a free PDF copy of her book, email her at, or sign up on her website by filling out the red box at the bottom: Lacy also runs women’s online mentorship and recovery groups, and you can contact her about those through the email above.


Posted by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!