The Cost of Sex Addiction: The Devastation of Your Partner

Reclaim Sexual Sanity:  Find Recovery Now by Calling 212-673-5717 for an Initial Consultation.  See www.sextreatment.com for 35 full-length articles about sex addiction and for details about my private practice.

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A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.  ~Ruth Bell Graham
 
Your Partner’s Pain
 
The effect on your partner of your addiction has to be one of the most painful negative consequences of your sexual behavior.
When they discover  (and they do have ways of discovering)  the amount of time spent viewing porn (never mind the shock of its content), the “cybersex” phenomenon of going into chat rooms for erotic dialogues, the exchange of lewd photos, erotic e-mails, erotic texting, the use of a webcam to share lustful content, or the occasional use of prostitutes, THEIR WORLDS ARE SHATTERED.  The most devastating aspect of their discovery is that you’ve been keeping a secret for so long, that you’ve lied and deceived and concealed.
If you’ve ever entertained thoughts like “Nobody’s getting hurt” or “It’s not cheating because there’s no intercourse”,  GET CLEAR ABOUT THIS:  the woman you love and who loves you, when the inevitable disclosure occurs, gets VERY, VERY hurt.  And YES, IT IS CHEATING because you’re channeling your erotic energy away from your primary partner.  You’re going outside the sanctity of your “couplehood” to give and receive sexual pleasure from a complete stranger (or two, or a hundred).
I’ve worked with quite a few partners over the years, and it’s been my experience that the partners/spouses of sex addicts become crazier than the addict.  After all, the sex addict has the pleasure of the “erotic haze” to provide them with pleasure, safety and comfort.  Also, addicts’ defense mechanisms (denial, justification, rationalization) protect them from unwanted feelings they have about their addiction.
The partner has no such port-in-the-storm.  She can’t talk to friends or colleagues because of the shame, and relating to the addict makes her start to feel that she doesn’t know what reality is.  She knows something is up, or she may have discovered erotic e-mails or such on the computer.  He denies or justifies everything, or worse, blames her.
In order to establish a much-need sense of control over an unmanageable situation, she begins to search for “evidence” that her sense of reality is correct.  And so she begins the “detective” game, becoming obsessed with finding anything she can that will make him tell the truth.
She becomes so obsessed with controlling her partner’s behavior that she neglects her own needs and wants, ignores the children, stops seeing friends.
Where the addict is obsessed with sex, the partner is obsessed with the addict.
A woman coming for treatment had already discovered that her husband was looking at porn, but she rationalized it, thinking as long as he wasn’t having sex with anyone else, it was alright.
One day she was dumping the trash and she discovered paperwork for an $800 loan her husband had taken from the bank.
She was already primed for hysteria from dealing with his porn usage.  When she found the bank paperwork, she immediately concluded that the money was spent on her husband’s use of prostitutes.  This was a completely irrational conclusion because he had never seen prostitutes and she didn’t take the time to talk to her mate about what the money was for.  She was convinced he was seeing prostitutes and was determined to find the “proof.”
Thus began the obsessive “detectiving.”
As she relayed it, “Searching pockets, going through bills with a fine-tooth comb.  Searching the premises.  Turning over every mattress, I mean everything.  Looking in every place.  Looking in storage areas downstairs, looking through closets, under things, just tearing the place apart.  To find what I knew I would eventually find.  But that was my craziness.”
 
At one point she kept a record of her husband’s mileage, not knowing that every time he drove to the city to act out, he disconnected the odometer.
This woman had become disconnected from herself and what she wanted to be.  She existed either in a reactive mode or in a caretaking mode.  Her own needs and wants were discarded.  She was doing what she did not want to do, and she could not stop herself.  She felt caught with no escape.  She was an addict, but her obsession was another person.  She continues,
“I never questioned if I loved him, only if he loved me.  I never thought about being happy, only if I could keep him by competing with his porn images.  I wore sexy clothing and did sexual things that for me were perverse, always trying to keep him sexually satisfied.  Thinking there was something wrong with me that I could not meet his sexual needs.  Thinking the best solution was if he were dead, then wishing I was dead.  Having no interest outside of the relationship.  Feelings of absolute nothingness when he left me.  Willing to do anything to get him back.  And always the pain.  The extreme difference between what I imagined myself to be and what I actually had become.”
 
Partners in situations like these often develop problems with alcohol, overeating and depression.
What they imagined their worlds were and who the person they lived with is shattered.
If you’re interested in treatment, contact me at dorothyhayden1231@gmail.com for a 30-minute free consultation.
 
See http://www.sextreatment.com for 35 articles on sex addiction
 
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