Tag Archives: Sex Addict

His “Rules” About Cheating

8 Oct

The last few days I have been trying really hard to process things.  I am realizing that it is harder to get into the mind of a serial cheater than the average person could ever understand.  I don’t recommend it at all, actually.

One of the things that shocked me are all of the non-sensical “rules” he had about things.  The way that he justified his behavior is absurd to me.  For instance, once he found a new woman to sex chat with online, he was only with her.  He didn’t seek out more than one sex chatting partner at a time.  He said that would have been too much for him…  Really?  If I wanted random, fairly anonymous sexual contact online, I would diversify.  Why only have one skank I could run to online?  Why not 5 or 6?  More chances to wank off!  More diversity!  More options!  Nope…  Not him.  He had exclusive, monogamous relationships with his random internet sex hookups.

He also had a fairly standard progression to things.  Go to chat room.  Seek out women to talk to.  Make sexual advances.  Attach to the first person to respond positively (yeah, that’s right… just the first sad, pathetic woman with no self-esteem and loose morals).  Escalate your chatting activity, phone sex, and virtual sexual contact for 3-6 months.  Verbally abuse the woman to the extent she would allow – the more often you could call her a bitch, whore, slut, cunt, etc. the better.  Once that got boring, choose a spot to meet up for in person contact.   Drive (sometimes hours) to see her.  Get drunk and high.  Fuck her a few times (as often as he could get it up).  Leave.  Never speak to her again.  Ignore all contact.  Repeat.

Yeah…  that was basically his pattern for 20 years.

Except… for when he was in a relationship.  Then the rules were different.  Don’t get me wrong, the above pattern was still basically the same.  Actually, exactly the same.  The only difference is that he had an “exclusive” girlfriend as well.  He wouldn’t see the girlfriend and the internet sex buddy on the same day.

So, if you keep following that logic…  He was more exclusive with them than he ever was with me!  That’s right!  He couldn’t have two internet skanks at the same time, but he could have one of them AND one of me.

Or, in fact, 4 of them and me.  Never all at once – THAT would be going too far, of course.

I discovered that the entire time we were dating he was maybe exclusive with me for 6 months.  He was involved in one of his fairly anonymous sexual “relationships” when we met.  He slept with his latest internet whore in the beginning of us dating.  That means he was probably close to the point in his cycle with the new harlot where he was getting bored.  Luckily, since he started dating me, he changed that plan and just kept cyber-fucking women in chat rooms.

When he asked me to be exclusive with him he got rid of his latest internet flavor of the month.  What followed was the 6 month period when he didn’t have a fuck buddy.  Don’t worry, though, he was still hiding pornography and jacking off to that multiple times a day while denying me sex, and there were at least one or two visits to strip clubs in there.  I still wasn’t alone in his head.

He can’t tell me a timeline for the other 3 – or at least he hasn’t tried to yet.  I do know that they followed a similar cycle to above except at some point he would realized how fucked up his action were, feel guilty, and stop.  He said the fact that he cared for me would trigger his guilt until at some point he felt worse about himself than good from what he was doing (as the buzz was fading).

Except for the last one.  Apparently there was nothing disgusting, nasty or mean enough that he could say to her.  And apparently knowing that our relationship was more solid and comfortable pushed him farther into his fantasy with her.  He thought I would forgive him if he was caught.  I’m so glad I lived up my part of that pathetic expectation.

When he made that revelation, I asked him  why feeling solid and safe with me would cause him to act out more.  He said in his mind he knew I would be there.  I had already discovered him hiding and lying about pornography, which crashed my laptop, and seen a few chats accidentally, and hadn’t kicked him out yet.  The more likely he could get caught, the more excited he was.  He also said it was easier for him to lie to me than to come to me and express any fantasies.  So in his mind, forgiveness = the ability to do anything he wanted to do and license to keep lying.

So how can I not expect the same behavior now?  How does that not mean that forgiving him won’t just lead to the same thing?  I thought I was at that point with the information I had, then all of this new information has again left me feeling devastated and on shaky ground.  My entire picture of our relationship has shifted.  Now I know that I was never his only “girlfriend,” although he never called the online skanks that.  Now I know that he has had about 5 times more sexual partners than I thought.  Now I know that only a week before our wedding he wasn’t committed to me.  He wasn’t committed to us.  He didn’t care about my feelings.  He lied to my face, and asked his best man to do the same (I just found that out last night).  If I forgive all of that am I just setting myself up for something much, much worse? (I think yes!)

To his credit, he did try to help me through this.  He told me all of the things that have changed for him from then to now.  He said that one key is that he knows he has a problem now.  Before (as incredibly difficult as it is for me to grasp), he didn’t think any of his behavior was a problem.  He would feel guilty and stop, yet somehow that wasn’t a problem.  When he started back up because he couldn’t help himself, that wasn’t a problem in his mind.  When I caught him, and he continued lying, he didn’t see the problem.  Now he does.

He also had medication to help him think clearer since he had undiagnosed mental conditions before.  Now he said he can think in the more linear process that the rest of us use.  He has accepted what he is, and he is going to therapy to correct it.  He also said that he knows forgiveness isn’t a given – that maybe I won’t be able to forgive him – or if I do that it will cause a lot of pain and hurt.

I still have a lot of concerns.  I still have a lot of fears.  I have a lot of questions, a lot of worries, a lot of problems with the things that he revealed.  I’m not sure what to do with them all right now, but I’m trying my best to hold on and keep going.

Advertisements

Being Aware of Our Vulnerabilities

2 Oct

man on a wire – by simple pleasure

Last week a blogger I follow posted about a Vulnerability Assessment from her marriage counselor.  I was instantly intrigued.  She pointed out that Vulnerability + Opportunity = Affair.  That makes sense, although the reality is probably a tiny bit more complicated.

Those do seem like the basic questions to ask yourself, though – how vulnerable are you to being led astray and what kind of opportunity do you have to act on that vulnerability.  Those two things together are important to the equation.  Having lots of opportunity to cheat doesn’t necessarily mean that you will.  Similarly, being vulnerable to an affair doesn’t guarantee you will have one.  Someone can also be vulnerable and make their own opportunity or have so much opportunity that it creates a vulnerability.  However, if you mix equal parts vulnerability to an affair and opportunity to have one, it is obviously a recipe for disaster.

That made me wonder…  Just how vulnerable am I?

If I had to guess, I would say that I probably have a fairly high score on that assessment.  My husband is a sex addict, so his cycles and behaviors have definitely put him at a high risk overall.  But what about me?

Certainly, according to the small snapshot she shared, I would answer “True” more often than I would like.  Just look at some of this stuff…  Did you know you are at increased risk of having an affair simply if:

  • you have a Facebook account?
  • you have been dealing with stress (family, illness, work, marriage, new job)?
  • you have moved?
  • you have had to deal with the loss of a parent, child, sibling, pet, close friend, family member?
  • you have dealt with or are dealing with a physical/emotional illness (stress, depression, low self-esteem)?
  • you feel taken for granted or taken advantage of at work, at home, in life?
  • you have had to deal with children that are teenagers, rebellious, or unruly?
  • you have felt self-conscious of aging, a bulging mid-section, receding hairline, sagging breasts, erectile dysfunction, major weight loss/gain?
  • you have felt sexually inadequate or second-rate in bed?
  • you confide easily in others?
  • you lack clear goals or dreams or sense of purpose for your life?
  • you have thought or spoke negatively about yourself?
  • you have a lack of self-awareness concerning infidelity, such as:
    • “This couldn’t happen to me.”
    • “I’m committed to working on my marriage.”
    • “No one would be interested in me.”
    • “I would recognize the signs.”
    • “I can be his/her friend only.”
    • “He/She is only a friend.”
    • “He/She is not attractive to me, so this is OK.”
    • “We are both married.”  [As if that totally rules it out…]
    • “This will not get out of hand.”
  • you have a high need for affirmation from others in your life?
  • you feel sorry for yourself?
  • you often see things as ALL or NOTHING?
  • you are unable to communicate your thoughts and emotions to your spouse? perhaps you have been dishonest with them about difficult issues because you fear them rejecting you or punishing you, or because you think it will protect them…”What they don’t know won’t hurt.”)
  • compared to others, you view yourself as:  morally superior, smarter than, or more self-aware?
  • your spouse embarrasses you in public?
  • your marriage is “keeping up the image” to others?
  • you have felt your sex life lacked quality, passion or adventure, and/or it has not been frequent enough?
  • you are disconnected sexually because of emotional starvation?
  • you have married friends who complain about their marriages?
  • you spend time alone?

Teetering on the brink – © Copyright John Naisbitt and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons

I definitely don’t have all of them, not even half, but several of them stood out.  This is also not the entire list.  She got a HUGE list of almost 250 characteristics that can make you vulnerable to an affair, and chose just to share some of the ones that she found the most surprising or that made the most sense.

If I spent time alone I’m more vulnerable to an affair?  Huh?  If it’s on there, though, there must be a reason.  I think it is important to remember all of the little ways we can become vulnerable – to an affair, but also to drifting apart from our partner.  Each of these things is part of a bigger picture.  Too many of them together can mean that you are opening yourself up to stray, or even just to become estranged from your spouse.  The moral of the story is:

Expose your weaknesses before the lies become believable.

I am about to head into the therapist’s office to have my husband give me a full disclosure of his acting out behavior.  I am nervous.  There are all sorts of thoughts and emotions swirling around inside me.  One thing I have been keeping in the forefront of my brain is that the roles could easily be reversed.  If I had a different childhood, if I were treated or raised differently, if I had chosen to cope with sex or porn instead of shopping or eating, if any number of things had happened… this could be me today.  I am going to try my hardest to leave all judgement at the door.  We have walked down different paths.  We have experienced life differently.  The things we have been through brought us together, and we are moving forward hand in hand.

What’s that saying… “But for the grace of God go I.”  I may not believe in God, but I do believe that none of us can be positive that we aren’t vulnerable to being that person we despise, pity, hate, laugh at, etc…  I am going to try to hold onto that renewed sense of humility and self-awareness as I listen with an open heart to the things my husband has struggled with in his past.  Wish me luck.

A homeless man in Paris – work by Eric Pouhier

Do You Have an Addictive Personality?

4 Sep

Flickr/Jam Adams http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamadams/ CC BY-SA 2.0

I recently read a blog entry about addictive personalities.  It was published on a blog about treatment for sex addiction.  It is written by a doctor, and I find the information there very interesting and helpful.  Check it out at http://porn-no-more.com/.

In the post about addictive personalities, she quotes a study by Alan R. Lang, a psychology professor at Florida State University.  His study was about how a person’s personality plays into addiction.  What I found very interesting is the list of common personality traits shared among all addicts.  They include:

  1. Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification and a predisposition toward sensation seeking;
  2. A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance;
  3. A sense of heightened stress;
  4. Compulsive attraction to excessive, repetitive use of pleasurable activities to cope with unmanageable internal distress, pressure and stress.  While such activity may begin pleasurably, the process of increasing activity to achieve the same effect eventually results in injury to major aspects of the person’s life.
  5. The addicted person denies that his activity is detrimental to him.  If forced to stop, he finds he suffers physical or psychological withdrawal pains and feels compelled to resume his excessive pattern.  Compulsiveness is key.
  6. Tendencies to depression, dependent behavior and difficulty formulating long-term personal goals because of a concentration on short-term gratification;
  7. The potentially addictive child may have been physically or emotionally abused by one or both parents.  The child has often been lied to, shamed, criticized or humiliated by parents who act in highly inconsistent ways, leaving the child in a helpless rage;
  8. A lack of self esteem — feelings of  low self-worth.

addiction

I can’t answer on that list for Mr. Mess, but reading it hit very close to home for me.  Out of the above list, I can put a check mark next to 6 of them.  The first one doesn’t hold true for me because I usually have no problem with delayed gratification – in fact, I think it’s the best kind.  I’m also generally not a very impulsive person.  I like having a plan, and I like to stick to it.  There isn’t a lot of “sensation seeking” going on with me for the most part, either, except for planning the occasional fun activity on vacation (like going air boat riding in Louisiana and feeding the alligators) and my desire to go sky diving.

#2 is me to a T.  I was alienated socially from a pretty early age.  As you have read in some of my past posts (Tackling My Body Issues and Pink), I was home-schooled until middle school.  I had a pretty difficult transition, and have never been a social butterfly.  My lack of popularity was also due to my introverted personality (See Being Complete Opposites), and the fact that I wore braces, thick glasses, and had a very unfortunate perm.  I was always different from other kids my age.  I was constantly reading something, I pondered bigger life questions, and I wasn’t interested in whatever the new fad of the moment was.  Once I became more confident I also embraced the weirdness in myself.  I started to think of “normal” as one of the worst words in the English language.  I would rather die than be average.  That led to a “general tolerance for deviance” because deviating from the norm was a very good thing in my eyes.

I’m not so sure about the “sense of heightened stress” described in #3.  I don’t know if that means that I have heightened stress in my life, my stress perception is heightened, or that I blow stress out of proportion.  Any of those except the 3rd definition fit me pretty well.  I do have quite a bit of stress in my life right now (lots going on at work, sex addict husband, dog with glaucoma, trying to diet, and on my period today…), I can perceive stress in others, and I sometimes allow other people’s stress to bleed over into me.  I am fairly pragmatic most of the time, though, and don’t think I blow things out of proportion much.  On the contrary, I am usually the one who helps people calm down and put things in perspective.

The concepts in #4 are things that I have been really thinking about the past few days.  I will probably go into this more soon when I talk about my most recent S-Anon meeting, but I’ll leave those specifics for another post.  Just to scratch the surface a bit, I have been able to recognize areas in my life where I use activities to cope with stress and emotions that I want to avoid.  One way I do that is by blogging.  It can be a very healthy outlet, but it can also become a refuge from dealing with hard things.  I have been guilty of spending hours writing and editing my posts, then more hours reading other people’s blogs and commenting.  Sometimes my hours of blogging have taken away from my responsibilities at work or have led me to shut out Mr. Mess or not spend the time connecting with him at night that I should be.  It didn’t start that way, but it has escalated over time as I needed more and more connection to feel the same level of support and sanity, and as I watched my blog stats climb.

The other one that doesn’t fit me well is #5.  Even when I’m engaging in an activity that is addictive and starting to take hold, I am aware.  I never deny the issue.  In fact, I am often the first to point it out.  I limit myself intentionally in areas that I can feel an addiction starting to grow because I don’t want to be that person.  There are very few activities in my life that are truly compulsive or that I don’t already make a conscious effort to control.  Blogging and shopping are my two newest “vices.”  In the past it might have been food.  No matter what, I always stay away from excessive alcohol consumption, I have never abused any prescription medications, and I don’t use illegal drugs.  At times I have been “addicted” to stupid things, like playing Farmville.  Once I realized the amount of time it was consuming, I very quickly stopped playing and haven’t looked back.  There were no “physical or psychological withdrawal pains.”  I have always been aware of this tendency in myself and worked hard to control it.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the rest of these, except to say that they definitely exist.  I have a tendency to depression and have struggled with it at various points in my life.  I am currently on an anti-depressant and intend to stay on it because it seems to be working pretty well.  I was also emotionally and possibly physically (depending on your perspective) abused by my father growing up.  I was shamed and humiliated by my Dad a lot as a means of control, he was terribly inconsistent in his behavior and rules between me and my siblings, his beliefs were often irrational, and the “helpless rage” sounds all too familiar.  It is probably obvious from some of my past posts that I have struggled with a lack of self-esteem and have often wondered if I am good enough.

I think this topic is very interesting.  I have no idea where I originally heard the term, but I know that I have thought of myself as having an “addictive personality” since I was fairly young.  Even in my early teens I remember identifying with that term intensely.  Addiction does seem to run in my family, if there is such a thing as that (I think I have heard there is).  My grandmother on my Mom’s side is an alcoholic.  She has been sober for 13 years, and still attends AA meetings every week.  Before she got sober, though, she almost lost her life because of drinking on at least two ocassions.  My grandmother on my Dad’s side is probably an alcoholic, too, although she would never admit it.  She and my grandpa used to go through a case of beer a day and a carton or more of cigarettes between the two of them.  Two of my cousins have been arrested for drug dealing (marijuana), one of my cousins has had at least 2 “crack babies” who were addicted to hard substances from birth and taken away by Child Protective Services, and I believe another of my cousins is in rehab as we speak (although I’m not sure what her drug of choice is and her health is further complicated by schizophrenia).

I think because I was aware of addiction growing up and saw its effects on my family, I also became aware of how easy it could be for me to slip into that behavior.  I have always been someone to engage completely in anything I attempt.  That is usually a good thing, but it can easily turn into an addiction that becomes detrimental to your life.  Walking that fine line is hard.  It is equally hard to be present and deal with your emotions as they come up, especially the difficult ones.  Finding a way to escape is completely normal, but it can also go too far if you have an addictive personality.  It is far too easy to be lured into the trap of addiction.  Then, before you know it, you could be caught up in something that is very difficult to get untangled from.

How about you?  Do you have any of these personality traits?  Do you think you might have an addictive personality?  If so, what do you think is your current addiction of choice (don’t limit yourself to the “traditional” hard substances alone)?

Being Open About Sex

15 Jun

I have to warn you now, this topic is personal.  I have grappled a bit with if I should post it, but I decided to take my own advice from my last post and be honest.  I know this will probably make my husband uncomfortable, so I apologize in advance to Mr. Mess.  I just feel like I need to get this out there and talk about it so maybe someone else in a similar situation won’t feel like they are all alone.

I have heard from lots of people about their hysterical bonding after DDay.  That never happened for us.  We maybe had a slight upswing in our sex life a few months in, but nothing drastic or immediate.  Now things are back down to pre-DDay levels which is around 1-2 times per week if I’m super lucky.

I’m a very sexual woman.  I have always heard that men are supposed to have a higher sex drive than women, but that is definitely not the case in our relationship.  My husband often turned to pornography and masturbation rather than actual sex with me.  When I was interested he was always “too tired” or some other lame excuse – except for about once or twice a week (usually on the weekends) when he couldn’t think up a lie I would believe.

Like I said, there was a slight upswing in sexual activity a few months after DDay, but nothing sustained.  And nothing to write home about.  The fact is that it doesn’t take much to have an “upswing” from nearly never.  Part of the disparity in our libidos may be that I am 20 years younger than my husband.  I am 27 and he is 47.  Women are just hitting their sexual peak at my age.  If you consider his sexual addiction issues and his age I guess I can see where my sex drive might be a little higher.  But he’s a sex addict for goodness sake!  A s-e-x addict who never seems to want s-e-x!

I have voiced my concerns in the past about the lack of sex in our marriage.  That has been when some of the upswings have occurred.  He has now been on anti-depressants for a little over a year, and I know that those can effect sex drive.  However, I just keep feeling like there is something more.  I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something.  It’s just not right.  I’m here.  I want sex.  I’m open-minded and flexible (in more ways than one).  I put myself out there.  Still, when it comes to our sex life, I get crickets…

The other night my husband was ready to head off to bed early – at around 9.  He never wants to go to bed that early, and it hadn’t been a particularly long day.  His work was normal, and he didn’t have to go to school.  I was thinking that maybe I might get lucky!  Alas…. no.  He basically wanted to get in bed, put on his CPAP machine (he has sleep apnea), and go to sleep.  I was beyond frustrated.  It’s not like we don’t connect or touch.  It’s not like he isn’t affectionate.  We kiss, he slaps my butt, we hold hands on the couch, I had snuggled up to him and was wearing barely anything… but it rarely goes much further.

Wenesday night it was just too much.  I told him that I am frustrated.  He thought it was because he wanted to go to bed so early.  I told him that wasn’t it.  I can almost always sleep because I am stressed right now, plus I like us to go to bed at the same time so we can unwind, talk, and connect.  I feel like if we start going to bed without each other we may as well just get separate rooms – something I am not willing to do.  I told him straight-out that I am disappointed by how infrequently we have sex.  I told him that I am not ready to be in a sexless marriage at 27!  And to me once per week is basically that – because there is no passion, no need, no feeling of hunger or desire from him.

He was quiet for a long time.  I thought he had just decided to go to sleep and ignore me, which was making me even angrier.  Then he finally said that he can understand.  I said something like, “oh, really?” in a slightly (okay, very) sarcastic tone.  He just replied “Yeah.”  That was the extent of our conversation.  Sometimes it is like pulling teeth with that man!  I was still frustrated, but let it go for the night.

Yesterday at lunch he gave me a call.  He said that he has been thinking about what I said.  He said that he is sorry that he has been neglecting me.  Then he said that he thinks he is really just afraid.  I asked him “what of?”  He said that he is afraid that if we have sex more he will start thinking about sex more and he is worried that will lead to acting out and cheating on me again.  He was teary – I could tell from his voice – and it gave me a little pause.  I thought about it, and told him that I can see where that might cause some anxiety.

I pointed out that there is a difference between healthy sex and unhealthy behavior.  He should be able to have sex with me without that making him want to have sex with someone else, too.  He said that he does know that.  So I asked again what is it that makes him feel afraid of sex with me (the healthy, normal, necessary to sustain a marriage sex).  At first he said he wasn’t sure because he knows that isn’t the same as his unhealthy, obsessive, unsatisfying, secret porn/ chat room/ affair-driven sex life (if you can even call it that).  I asked if he really feels like he has addressed those issues.  He said yes immediately.  Then I asked him if that is really true… has he dealt with them or has he just been avoiding anything that would make him have to confront them.  He then admitted that was probably it.

He is so afraid of messing up again that rather than develop healthy coping skills, confront those triggers, and do the work to heal himself, he is just trying to avoid sex altogether.  Once it reached a timeframe where he felt like he needed sex or he should be giving it to me, he would give in briefly and have sex.  Then he would bottle up all of his sexual feelings together and store them away somewhere.  He would only allow himself to feel sexual during that hour (or whatever) he allotted for us each week, then he would lock everything down.

He told me that he knows that isn’t right.  It isn’t fair to me.  It isn’t healthy for him.  It’s not what he really wants.  He said that he wants to be more open and sexual with me.  He is just afraid that once that box is open he won’t be able to control it.  I told him that I can understand now that he is talking with me about it…  That it definitely allows me to give him more grace around this matter.

I also told him that I’m not the person who knows what the solution is.  I’m patting myself on the back for that one a little bit because in the past I would have tried to come up with some “game plan” or started researching and looking for an answer.  Today I just told him that I think he is feeling that way because he hasn’t really addressed things.  I suggested that he talk with his IC today in their appointment to get guidance.  I didn’t push.  I didn’t call and get the schedule.  I didn’t dictate to him anything that he needed to do – other than reach out and start figuring this out with appropriate people who can provide assistance.  I said that I am really glad he shared that with me, and I want him to keep talking to me about those sorts of feelings.  But I didn’t try to become the “rescuer.”  I think that is a healthy step for me.

What I am wondering is if anyone else has had a similar issue with their spouse.  I know not everyone is dealing with this kind of situation, but I am curious about if other people’s partners have fear around sex.  Do they worry that letting go in one area will cause bad habits to pop out in another?  I haven’t heard a lot about this, so I’m not sure the best way to support my husband through this.  All I know is that it’s frustrating as hell.

Sex Addiction and Change

8 May

Sex addiction.  It’s a topic I have been avoiding up to this point in my blog.  I haven’t mentioned it yet because I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around the best way to talk about it.  I don’t even know if it’s real in the sense of being an actual disease.  It’s certainly not in the DSM IV.  But people can have incredibly warped sexual behaviors that negatively affect their lives.  That’s what I’m talking about.  I will use the term sex addict throughout this blog for simplicity, and because that’s the only term I know to use for what has caused havoc in my life.  It is the omnipresent elephant in the room.  That’s because my husband is a sex addict.

That was harder for me to write than it should have been.  Sex addiction is something that a lot of people struggle with.  It is similar to other types of addictions like alcohol and drugs.  But it is somehow treated so much differently.  Television makes a big joke out of it.  People glorify sex addiction like it is something wonderful and glamorous – like it just means having sex a lot and liking it.  Sex addiction is dismissed as not real or not really a problem.  Culture continues to promote the idea that sex is great and the more sex the better.  In this society a man who talks about sex addiction is likely to get a high-five and a few laughs.

That’s not sex addiction at all.  Sex addiction in the real world is not fun.  Some people who are heavily addicted to pornography are unable to be aroused by real men or women.  People who struggle with it often feel guilt-ridden and dirty.  They can’t stop even when they want to.  It is a compulsion, it escalates, and they need more and more to be satisfied.  It overtakes lives.  It destroys relationships.  It takes something fun and healthy and twists it into something shameful and unfulfilling.  It hurts people other than just the one who is addicted.  It is difficult to overcome and painful to deal with.

For those of you not familiar with what sexual addiction is, this is what www.everydayhealth.com has to say about sex addiction:

Warning Signs of Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is not rare. Between 12 and 15 million people in the United States have a sexual addiction, according to some estimates.

Indications that a person might have a sex addiction include:

  • Using sex to numb negative feelings or achieve a fleeting high
  • Hiding sexual behaviors from your spouse
  • Feeling that you’ve lost control over your sexual behavior
  • Failing to heed self-imposed limits on your sexual behavior
  • Finding that your sexual behavior has caused you to lose a relationship, fail at your job, or spend less time with your friends and family
  • Knowing that your sexual behaviors could lead to problems in your life if people knew about them
  • Finding that you can’t permanently quit harmful sexual behaviors.  They engage in sexual activity even though they experience negative consequences or truly want to stop what they’re doing.
  • Feeling intense guilt or shame over sexual behavior and your inability to control yourself.   Regretting the pain you’ve caused others through your actions.

How to Spot Sexual Addiction

A sexual addiction can manifest itself in many ways, so you will need to look for a variety of possible warning signs that you or your spouse or partner is a sex addict. Kathryn A. Cunningham, PhD, director of the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, identifies the following possibilities:

  • Sex dominates an individual’s life to the exclusion of other activities.
  • The individual engages in phone sex, computer sex, pornography, use of prostitutes, or exhibitionism.
  • Their preferred sexual behaviors become ritualized, as they repeat similar activities or re-enact certain situations again and again. These behaviors are not necessarily intended to provide orgasm; they may serve to just constantly elevate the person’s arousal levels.
  • The individual has multiple sexual partners or cheats on partners.
  • In extreme cases, the person engages in criminal activities, including stalking, rape, incest, or child molestation.

Does that still sound like fun?  My husband dealt with almost all of those things except the more extreme examples at the end (that I know of).  His sex addiction and pornography habit took him away from a real-life, sexy woman who wanted him (a.k.a. me).  For years I wondered why the man in my life kept rejecting me.  I thought men were supposed to want sex!  Real sex.  With real women.  So why was I always the one asking for it?  Why was he always the one too tired or not in the mood or full of excuses?

Now I know the answer – his sex addiction.  Sound weird and backwards?  It did to me, too.  But apparently it’s not uncommon for a man with a sexual addiction to feel compelled and drawn to pornography, sex chatting, strip clubs, and other “deviant” forms of sexual release.  They wear themselves out with these behaviors and inundate their brains with so many false images and ideas of sex that they are not able to relate sexually to another person who cares for them.  The act of sex becomes disengaged from love, tenderness, and connectedness to someone else.  It becomes preferable to watch increasingly disturbing sexual images, have inappropriate sexual contact with people who are meaningless or even repulsive, and engage in other compulsive behaviors remotely (phone, internet, videos) than to be truly intimate in real life with someone who cares about them.

When I began to understand the truth about sexual addiction, it was terrifying.  We live in the age of rampant internet porn, normalized teen sex, and the increased sexualization and exposure of young children to sexual programs, advertisements and images.  Our society and culture are heading even further down that road every day.  That’s not to say that sex is a bad thing.  I love frequent, creative, “dirty,” wild, amazing sex.  With a committed partner.  Not with strangers or the computer.  But I married a sex addict.  Did that mean our marriage was doomed?  Would he never get better?  Was I better off running away as fast as my legs could carry me?

Obviously, I decided to stay.  I decided to believe in him and us.  I made the choice that if my husband would seek help for and work on his issues, I would give him another chance.  I have asked myself why a few times, and there are a lot of answers.  One reason is that there are people in my family who have struggled with addiction and come through on the other side.  Another is that I love my husband.  Yet another is that he finally admitted and accepted his problems.

Probably the biggest reason, though, is that I believe people can and do change.  I know that change is hard, but it is possible.  Sometimes people do not live consciously.  They repeat old learned behaviors without any sort of thought process being called to action.  My husband’s sexual problems, his compulsive lying, and all of the hurt he caused me were partly conscious decisions but also partly a result of those deeper patterns of behavior and distorted thought.

Still skeptical?  You can probably relate more than you think you can.  Have you ever identified something that you wanted to change?  Overcome shyness?  Make better food choices?  Stop biting your nails?  Quit smoking?  Stop watching so much TV?  Implementing those sorts of changes involves cognitively overriding what would be your normal inclination until the new behavior has become established enough to be your new normal.  It means breaking bad habits, figuring out what leads to those behaviors, finding new ways to respond to your environment, and keeping yourself from backsliding into what is easy, familiar, and routine.  It takes work and committment, but it can happen.  We can change our behaviors and we can overcome addictions.  Humans are very adaptable and resilient like that.

So, getting to my point…  I explained all of that to say this – I am on a difficult journey, my husband has a long road ahead of him, and our marriage will undoubtedly have more challenges in the future, but I have some hope.  That is something I couldn’t have imagined saying a year ago.  In the midst of all this mess, all this yuckiness, all this hurt and darkness, I have found a way to hold onto the promise that things will be okay, no matter what happens.

%d bloggers like this: