Working with those in recovery has taught me what every addict attempting change knows—you cannot recover in isolation. You may have success in quitting a behavior, but you won’t recover. Our neurobiology was built for human connection, and we thrive with others. Accountability with a partner can be a rich and life giving pathway into relationships that shouldn’t be ignored.
Recovery is not usually a quick or easy process. Any sustained and focused support on the journey is like water to one crossing a desert. Don’t be fooled, you need to do the hard work of recovery yourself, but having a fellow traveler radically transforms the perspective. Traveling across a desert is a useful analogy for us here. So where in the desert will your partner help you?
When you see an Oasis
It is very common in addiction to misread and misinterpret the landscape or your own needs. Addiction can trick us to think we need a substance, behavior or neurochemical to survive when in reality we have conditioned ourselves to them. Another tricky oasis is thinking we are in control of an addiction, or that we have less of a problem than the reality.
It is hard to accept the truth when the oasis of lies seems very real. Addicts are master liars—to others and themselves. Often the lies come from hiding and from ignorance. An accountability partner can point out the oases when they come and help you find a true source of water that comes from your recovery plan.
There is humility in admitting that we are so disoriented that we need another’s eyes, and there may be a reluctance to embrace this vital, life shifting relationship. Remember, we are hardwired to thrive in healthy relationships.
When the hot sand is wearing you down
If you have ever walked on a hot beach—let alone through a desert—you will know that you quickly become thirsty and it is hard to walk. When you start a journey of recovery it may not be long until you want to turn back for familiar solid ground feeling tired and weary of the changes. An accountability partner can help you keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when you’re just too tired or can’t figure out just why your crossing the desert in the first place.
Further though, this partner can help you to actively engage in better ways to walk the hot, slipping sand. Then, when you start to get the technique, they can praise your newfound skills. Not everyone can validate your skills this way as they may assume you should already have past this point, or know how to slide down sand dunes. Not so! An accountability partner understands the path.
When your eyes are fixed in the wrong direction
In a desert it can be hard to navigate. Everything you stumble across feels like a familiar and wanted rest bite. You wander off towards that bush that must have water!
Your accountability partner can recognize sexual temptation, teach you to name it for yourself and redirect you to a better sustenance. As you learn to recognize, name and reconsider temptations in an active process you can avoid them and make new life choices.
When you walk back towards the start
Relapses are common in recovery. It’s a fact!  There is nothing quite like an accountability partner to lovingly tap you on the shoulder, look you in the eyes and remind you of why you are pressing on towards the goal. They can remind you how many steps you have taken and help you over come the inclination to dwell on the five steps back you just took.
Sharing the sand between your toes
The unique experience of sand between your toes, that gritty yet soft, invigorating yet distracting feeling just can’t be done justice with words.
Your accountability partner is able to empathize and identify with your experience.
Quite simply, they can get it—especially when they have walked a similar recovery desert themselves.
A sexual partner won’t be able to come alongside you in this foundational way due to their experience of pain and distrust. Nothing builds community like shared experience—so share it.
Who should I pick?
What a good question.
The qualities of a good accountability partner can be described as someone of the, “same sex, who is wise, loving and tough, and who doesn’t struggle with sexual behaviors as you do.” 
This person can be a wider family member, good friend, previous struggler or a number of others. The key is that you can do the following things with them:
A thinking partner
This person must be willing to look at the sandy landscape with you, get dusty and dig in. They should be willing to think through temptations, lies, confusion, emotions and plans with you.
A role model
If you can look up to them as they provide a stable and reliable presence then you are in good form. An accountability partner should be ahead of you in maturity and fully sober. You are looking for a person you want to model yourself after (at least in recovery).
What is the procedure for talking to them?
The process of using your accountability partner is key. If you aren’t proactive and making the most of this life giving relationship then it won’t benefit you all that much. Below are the key steps to take:
- Call them everyday (usually) to check in and get in the habit of talking. Be real and honest.
- Share your feelings with them.
- State lustful thoughts and temptations that have been in your awareness.
- Confess where you haven’t maintained the boundaries you have set up.
- Be specific about precise things they can ask you to keep you in check.
- Celebrate with them as you make progress. 
1. Maltz, W., & Maltz, L. (2008). The porn trap: The essential guide to overcoming problems caused by pornography. New York: Collins. Ch 9.
2. P. L. (2015, November 18). Month 1 Recovery Resources [From StopSexualAddiction.com]. St Louis.
3. P. L. (2015, November 18).
About the author: Written by Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—He is the founder of www.stopsexualaddiction.com.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 21, 2016
Published on AddictionHope.com