Re: Character dilemma... any thoughts?
One could argue that the guy's actual problem is making terrible decisions.
"Getting caught" is going to resonate with a lot of viewers and readers. If the MC is a fairly normal, likeable guy who just picks the wrong time and place to play pocket pool, he's not likely to alienate the audience. But if he is "gross pathetic loser" then I doubt he gets any sympathy.
There was an anecdote in a study about masturbation that told of a guy who made the terrible decision to indulge in self-abuse while trapped in an elevator... an elevator with a hidden security camera. He was called on the carpet, presumably standing there with a burning face and feeling his life was over as the boss told him he'd been recorded. He was fired but the boss told him the reason would not be revealed. Due to the overwhelming embarassment, he could not even contemplate protest.
So the real crime was not any kind of crippling addiction, but was actually making a decision that was, in hindsight, outrageously stupid.
Even if your MC is so fond of Onanism that he has to bring along a comb to get his palms read, he doesn't have to be unsympathetic.
Perhaps your MC meets the love interest as a direct result of being terminated. Were he still employed, he would have missed that magical "right place, right time" moment.
He likes her, she likes him. But can he tell her the truth about why he was fired? Doubtful. So here we have deception entering the relationship from the very beginning. Deception that will lead to conflict later on.
As a result of that conflict, he may demonize the act and not the decision to indulge in the act. Maybe he considers himself a disgusting, perverted wanker when he's really a doofus who makes terrible decisions. And now he's met the girl of his dreams but he keeps putting lies in place that will destroy the relationship.
Anyway, just a few thoughts. Good luck with the script and I hope you make the deadline.