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I love my boyfriend but I’m addicted to swapping nude snaps with strangers online

DEAR DEIDRE:  I LOVE my boyfriend and our hot, edgy sex life is great, but I’m addicted to seeking attention online.

I am constantly flirting with strangers and sometimes swap nude pictures with them.

I don’t like what I’m doing but I can’t seem to stop.

I’m a woman of 23 and have an exciting sex life with my boyfriend.

He’s 31 and a fitness coach.

We’re both into BDSM in the bedroom.

It’s all safe, sane and consensual, so no issues there.

I started the flirting online about five years ago.

I was in a three-year abusive relationship with a woman at the time.

She hurt me a lot and I started talking to people on the internet as a means of escape from my unhappy life.

My girlfriend eventually cheated on me.

I realised how toxic the whole affair was and I plucked up the courage to leave.

Life became less stressful then but I carried on posting to strangers online.

My boyfriend knows all about this weird habit of mine and he has from the start.

I’ve discussed it with him and he has said he doesn’t consider it’s cheating on him.

He may be OK about this but I’m not.

You may say I should simply delete my accounts and then never go back but it isn’t that easy to do.

I think I’m hooked on the adrenalin rush I get from it.

I’ve been deleting and remaking accounts for quite some time now.

The worst of it is that I’m hurting the people I talk to online.

I draw them in so they think they can trust me but don’t tell them I’m in a relationship.

Then I just ghost them and they don’t know why.

You don’t have to tell me that’s wrong.

I’ve tried hard to stop posting online but I can’t.

I don’t know what it means but I know that it gives me a sense of escape.

DEIDRE SAYS: That sense of escape is important to you and your habit of posting and flirting online does go back a long way.

It began with that painful relationship back in your teens – and I reckon you need to look back even further than that.

Think about why you got into that toxic affair in the first place and what made you stay for so long.

What was your home and your upbringing like?

Were violence and drama a part of your earlier life?

That could also explain the nature of your sex life now.

Your boyfriend is making you happy but you still seek that rush of excitement online.

You choose to cause hurt to the people you message.

That suggests you are not really happy inside, despite being in love.

My guess is that pain from the past has still not gone away and you need some counselling help.

Then you should be more in control of your online habit. See bacp.co.uk.

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