“Make sure to have an accountability partner.”
“Do you have anybody to keep you accountable?”
Regardless of whether you fall daily or have experienced months of freedom from pornography, those of us men and women waging this battle have probably heard these words at one point or another. If any of you had a similar experience to me, you probably heard these words early on in your journey and thought to yourself “What the heck does that even mean???”
It took me a while to understand what an accountability partner even did, and even longer before I even asked someone to fill that role for me for the first time. I know how confusing and complicated and downright scary it can seem to be to find an accountability partner. It involves admitting our weaknesses and opening up a part of ourselves that often carries so much shame and guilt. We were not made to fight our battles alone and often cannot make more progress until we unite with others. So if you are looking to break free from pornography once and for all and live a life of freedom and healing, finding an accountability partner AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE is NECESSARY. I want to help you have some clarity on what this looks like and give you some direction in moving forward.
Now before going forward, I think it is equally important to orient ourselves. If you are just beginning or are very familiar with the steps required to break free from pornography I highly recommend reading this article written by a friend of mine. We must always keep in mind the steps that we need to take in order to continue fighting no matter how long we have been at it. I hope that these steps are useful to you and encourage you to take or continue to take action and keep up the fight.
With all that said, let’s talk about how to find an accountability partner step-by-step.
- Tell somebody you trust about your struggles.
If you have not shared your struggle with pornography before, your first step is to bring it into the light. I know that it may take some time to overcome any fear and emotions that are associated. You may also want to give it a go on your own and you may make great progress. But you cannot overcome your struggle with porn on your own and telling somebody you trust is the first step to really turning the tide of battle in your favor. Because of the nature of this struggle and the previously mentioned emotions, it is crucial that you open up to either a good friend of the same sex, a priest, or a religious sister for the ladies if you do not feel comfortable talking with a friend or a priest. It may be tempting to share with a close friend of the opposite sex, but just like many other aspects of maintaning emotional chastity in all relationships, it is important to guard our hearts in this way to protect from oversharing. This person does not need to become your accountability partner, but there is a lot of freedom to be found in bringing it to the light.
- Create a list of potential accountability partners.
Here we go! There is no need to overcomplicate this. Your accountability partner is there to encourage you and to help you execute your plan for keeping porn out of your life. Your accountability partner should be a friend of the same sex that you trust. It’s ideal if you ask your roommate or a friend you can meet up with, but you should be able to be in contact with them frequently. If you know of any friends who also struggle with pornography or have been somebody else’s accountability partner, regardless of where they are in their journey, you should highly consider asking them. However, the two biggest factors are trust and communication. Have multiple people in mind just in case. It is that simple!
- Make the ask and lay out expectations.
Asking can often be the hardest part. Step one is important in order to get to this step. You may have so many emotions of guilt and shame built up for days, months, and even years. But believe me, telling somebody for the first time and creating that space for someone to receive you and let you know that you are loved despite your struggles gives you a taste of the freedom that can be had. It is important that you do this step soon after step one because you will have some momentum going in. Being vulnerable is the only way to allow the person you ask to fully receive you because you are humbling yourself before them.
It is important to explain what you are looking for in an accountability partner and show the trust you have in this person. Give a brief overview of your struggles, what you want your ultimate goal to be, and what you are looking for from them. You don’t need a full game plan yet but you should be able to explain in short what they should expect.
- Come up with your battle plan.
Once you have an accountability partner it is time to make your plan with each other. Knowing your triggers and how you respond to them will directly shape your plan. Talk with your accountability partner about how to best conquer the situations you commonly find yourself falling in and how to avoid them. Establish a way to communicate when you need to talk immediately. Schedule daily check-ins where you can talk about how you are doing and how you have been growing and where you need improvement. Above all, it is essential that you are honest with your accountability partner at all times and let them know if you do have any moments you gave in to temptations. This helps build trust between you two.
- Ask your accountability partner how you can help them.
This is a two-way street. Accountability partners are there to support each other. If your accountability partner also struggles with pornography or another habitual sin, it will be very easy to relate and help each other with your plans. However, if this is not the case, it is still important that you ask your accountability partner if there is anything you can help them stay accountable to. When you are both helping each other, it will only lead to deeper friendship and trust. Through this mutual action you will have the support you need to find the freedom you desire.
- Persevere and periodically reassess.
Every day is a new day of battle. There will be days when it will be exhausting, times when it may be frustrating, but many moments of joy and victory all throughout. It is important to stay committed with your accountability partner. If you find yourselves falling out of touch, come back together as soon as possible. As you grow and progress in your battle for freedom, new situations and struggles may arise. If your old plan does not seem to be working, meet with your accountability partner and come up with a new plan. Take some time to assess and be honest with your progress. True freedom is not a destination, it is a way of life.
These steps will hopefully help you on your path to freedom from pornography and clear up what can seem like a confusing step along the way. Just like with everything else in this life, we cannot do it alone. We need to seek out help along the way, and through the relationships we form we can experience the freedom that we truly desire.