Be Gentle with Yourself
You might be conditioned to an extreme level of intensity and focus on and during sex. Your brain and dick may be hard-wired for Tina. You may have reinforced sex combined with Tina to the point that whenever you think of sex, you think of using.
The task before you is to de-link these strong connections between Tina and sex in your mind. Know that during this journey, you are likely to over-emphasise your sense of failure when you have slips. Avoid beating yourself for slips, and for using slips as excuses to start using all over again. Be gentle with yourself. This will take some time. Know that it might be 2 steps forward, 1 step back for the first few months.
Set Small Goals, Step-by-Step
Some of us feel so disgusted with ourselves after a big Tina binge, that we are highly motivated to big life-changes. These times are good windows of opportunity – and take them. However, focus on just one day at a time, and on smaller goals like cutting back problem activities, and building success in small steps. Don’t get yourself into a panic with promises of getting to 100% abstinence, only to find that you have freaked yourself out into too big a change.
With regular Tina use, we become conditioned to need fast, quick fixes now. Moving away from Tina is a change that takes time and ongoing commitment. Know that it does get better, and that others have done this before you.
Explore Trigger Causes
We experience a stressful situation and immediately feel horny, depressed, sorry for ourselves, lonely, and overwhelmed. Many guys find it helpful to begin to sort out and map out triggers. When you begin to feel a craving, Distract yourself, using ACCEPTS or some other distraction until the crest of the trigger pases. When it does, think ahead about the cause of the trigger. What do you think induced it? Writing this question down and its answer can be helpful.
Play the Tape Forward
Think about the problem behaviour you get into once a trigger activates an urge. Do you jump onto the internet for a marathon bate session that then leads to cruising on Bareback RT that then leads to a Tina session? “Play the tape forward”. Where does this train take you? Play it forward passed the PnP Play session. Where does this train take you as you crash? After the crash? The days after?
Address the Function of your Use
What function does Tina play for you? To cope with loneliness? To satisfy an identity you have as a hedonist? To feel pleasurable physical sensations? Because you want a lover and don’t know how to get one? Write out 5-10 functions your use serves, 5-10 needs it addresses.
What are some other activities you can do instead of using Tina to meet these needs? Start to make lists of activities other than Tina use that can help you cope with loneliness, help you feel good about being a hedonist, give you physical pleasure, take you a step closer to being more ready for a lover…
Put this list of Goals somewhere you can see them regularly, like on your fridge or near your computer, especially if that is your portal to using.
It’s a reality for many of us, especially at the early stages. Our social habits, networks and activities may all be associated with Tina sex, or otherwise unsupportive of the changes we are trying to make. Anticipate loneliness. Develop a list of other options to address social needs:Join an interest group
- Join an interest group
- Sign up for a new gym/gym class
- Attend discussions at the library
- Volunteer with a social organisation
- Join a cause, or board of an organisation you want to endorse
- Get a bike and bike around
- Attend a spiritual gathering, church service, or meditation group
- Take continuing education or culinary classes
Fill your schedule in so that your problem trigger times are blocked off with commitments and alternate activities. Try to pair your Tina sex-replacement activities with things that satisfy, even in some small way, the same function that Tina was providing you with. Was Tina giving you a thrill? Explore activities that give you a sense of thrill. Did Tina help you feel wild? Go on an outdoor adventure.
In the beginning stages of change, it is easy to focus on what you’ve lost. You may miss Tina sex (or having sex at all). This is common and actually necessary. It’s part of a grief process. Acknowledging that you are grieving, and let yourself feel sad, without descending into self-pity or “poor me” thinking. Stay focused on what you are gaining by reducing or eliminating Tina. Track the cumulative small successes you might experience each week. Remind yourself that cutting back Tina use can induce depression and your sad thoughts may be due to withdrawal.
Many guys benefit from talking about what they are going through, with a friend, partner, an individual therapist, with a support group, or a combination of any of these. For help with professional services available in Toronto please refer to our Resource Guide.
Developing a new sexual life
Sex without Tina is going to be different. It can even be better: this comes from guys based on real experience. In working towards sex without Tina, start with small, short-term goals and build on them over time. For help with goal setting you may want to refer to our Tools section. There is no right way to achieve goals but here are some strategies other have found useful: