The process of recovery from sex addiction is long and challenging. Part of the recovery process involves setting your “bottom line.” Setting a bottom line is a common concept in recovery from any form of addiction. The process of setting a bottom line isn’t necessarily a conscious one, but each addict will come to recognize or understand his or her bottom line throughout the recovery process. It can be useful to break up a bottom line into three separate parts: red light, yellow light and green light.
Red light behaviors are sexual behaviors that are destructive, addictive and lead to sexual preoccupation and out-of-control behaviors. These include behaviors where even one instance could lead to serious consequences such as arrest, transmission of HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, loss of job and loss of a primary relationship. Red light behaviors also include any behavior that “makes you crazy” or starts a sexually compulsive acting-out cycle. These are behaviors that an addict must commit not to engage in, making them, his or her bottom line. Red light behaviors will differ from one sex addict to another, and each addict must discover and commit to on his or her own.
Yellow light behaviors can be broken down into two separate categories: boundary behaviors and caution behaviors. Boundary behaviors are those that you cannot engage in, but are not as severe in their consequence as red light behaviors. Again, these behaviors will be different for each sex addict. A common example of a boundary behavior might be viewing pornography on the Internet. Caution behaviors are those that you made the decision not to give up. However, you are still aware that they need to be monitored to prevent them from spiraling out of control. A common one may be masturbation. Again, each person will have different caution behaviors.. Yellow light behaviors can really go either way for a recovering sex addict. Some sex addicts may need to stay away from masturbation completely, while others may find it to be a healthy activity if closely self-monitored. The key with yellow light behaviors, both boundary and caution, is to know yourself and be able to recognize when your behaviors are close to getting out of control.
Green light behaviors are the behaviors on which you really should be focusing your energy in your daily life on the road to recovery from sex addiction. These behaviors include establishing healthy relationships, dating and engaging in healthy sexual behaviors with a partner. Work on making green light behaviors the focus of your energies each day and over time you will not even think about the yellow and red behaviors. The more you engage in your new healthy lifestyle, the more fulfilling healthy sexual behaviors will become.
It can be hard at the outset of the recovery process to know what your bottom line is, but over time you will begin to recognize what behaviors are red, yellow and green.