Hello Rabbi Twerski,
I am a twenty-one-year-old yeshivah bachur and collegestudent. My addiction started at the very end of eighth grade. I’ve been involved with inappropriate material and the aveiros that go with it, and even bad chatting, but baruch Hashem, I have been shomer negiah throughout high school. I joined Guard Your Eyes in the end of April 2009 when I saw an ad for it on Vozisneias. It was that day that I realized I had an addiction. In the past few months, although there have been times when I’ve been very good and very close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, there have also been times when I felt like abandoning Judaism out of sheer frustration. Right after falling, I’d say to myself, “I can’t live this double life. I need to choose one. I’ve tried giving up the Internet, but it just stays with me.” When I get a streak of even a few days, it’s such a great feeling, though. Like I am king and nothing can stop me…

I am getting to the age at which I need to start consider dating for marriage. I have three very close friends who are all engaged, and I feel maybe now is the time in my life, once I get my issues in order, to look for my one and only. I don’t think this recurring issue will ever leave me. B’ezras Hashem I will grow stronger everyday in order to be prepared to fight it off when it comes next, but I don’t think I can get rid of the images that are carved into my head. So how do I know when I should start dating?

My friends ask to set me up with a shidduch and I repeated- ly turn them down without giving them a specific reason. My plan is to get a streak of thirty days in which I am clean. I think this itself is enough to build a relationship with. I would like to think that going into dating with a thirty-day streak (which I have only done once since I have been an addict) will help me continue and become stronger. Can the Rav please give me straightforward, honest feedback?

Thank you very much.

Rabbi Twerski Responds

I don’t know of any hard-and-fast rules on how long one must be abstinent.

It is important to know that the addiction is under control before considering marriage. Marriage is not a hospital and does not cure addiction, and continuation of the addiction is likely to ruin a marriage.

Attendance at SA meetings and getting support from the group can be very helpful. There are some good therapists who can help.