Sex and pornography addiction (and partner trauma) are at epidemic proportions and it is important to note that not all addictions are the same. While many well-meaning therapists advertise that they treat sex and pornography addiction and the partners who are affected by this addiction, we highly recommend that you only utilize those therapists who are trained to specifically treat these problems. Even if you do not choose us, please locate a clinician that has been trained as a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT). If you are a partner seeking help we highly encourage you to seek a therapist who is also trained in the APSATS Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model.
Your Sexually Addicted Spouse – Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means
Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts – Vicki Tidwell Palmer
What Is Sex Addiction?
Sex and pornography addictions are real and incredibly painful, not just for the one engaging in the behaviors, but for the wives, the partners, and the families as well.
Sex and pornography addictions are the symptoms of a core problem. Most treatment centers focus only on the symptoms and behaviors, providing you with a dry out period and a bag of tools. While helpful for a while, participants in these programs have a hard time really stay free from their addictive sexual behaviors.
Sex and pornography addiction affect an estimated three to five percent of the U.S. population. We know from our work these numbers are much higher. These low numbers are done through self-report, and nobody I have worked with wants to say they are a sex or porn addict. In 2016, Utah passed legislation to deem pornography a public health crisis, and in time many more will follow.
Sexual Addiction is a process addiction, meaning the user changes their mood by engaging in a behavior, while a substance addiction changes the users’ mood by ingesting a substance such as drugs or alcohol. Sex and pornography addiction are much harder to treat and MUST be treated by a specialist.
Many too, come to us after attempting to stop their destructive behaviors, but can never maintain lasting sobriety and recovery. At Begin Again we know the reason you haven’t been successful in past attempts to stop is you never got to the root cause of the problem. Begin Again focuses on the HOW and the WHY you became an addict, and we treat the core so the behaviors can finally stop for good.
Infidelity & Sexual Addiction
There are few marital problems that can cause as much pain and devastation as infidelity. If you have just learned of your partner’s infidelity, you are understandably hurt, confused, angry – and wondering what to do next.
One kind of affair revolves around sexual addiction. The partner involved in the affair has a difficult time saying “NO.” He/she may want to be faithful, but feels compelled to say “yes.” Some feel stuck and lack the ability to consistently follow through the “no.” Remember that many of us are lured in by something and find it difficult to let go. Infidelity, when connected to sexual addiction, becomes a powerful focal point.
So how do you know if the infidelity is a symptom of sexual addiction? Sex addiction is a pattern of acting out sexually. If this affair is the not first time that you have suspected or discovered infidelity, it may be a sign of addiction. Another sign of sexual addiction is regularly visiting strip clubs, adult bookstores, “hook-up bars”, or other locations where there are opportunities to stray.
Other indicators that infidelity is attached to sexual addiction include:
Sex takes on an inflated role or value. Sex, sexual conquest, and sexual release become a powerful force. Acting on the sexual impulse is a frequent activity. Thinking about sex consumes an inordinate amount of time.
This activity is bound by fear. The person lives with fear: the fear of getting caught, the fear of consequences, the fear of being found out, the fear of being abnormal, the fear of being punished, and the fear of losing family, partner, job, and respect.
A promise/failure cycle ebbs and flows with the inability to say no. After an “acting out” episode the person usually experiences guilt/fear and promises to self or others, “I won’t do it again.” This will last…until the urge is acted upon again. The partner may be aware or unaware of the succession of broken promises (but sense that something is not right).
Others are used or seen as objects for personal gratification. No true intimacy is developed.
Sexuality is often confused with other needs or connected to unresolved past pain or trauma. A child who experiences neglect, confusion around sexuality or sexual abuse of one form or another may hold on to that confusion and attempt to “work that through” in a relationship or affairs.
Such a person lives in a distorted world. They come to see the world and relationship through the eyes of their addiction. They have a great capacity to rationalize their behavior, deceive others and may lead a dual life.
Additionally, ask yourself the following questions to help determine whether your infidelity is a symptom of sex addiction:
- Even before the affair(s), I was obsessed with sex to the point where my desire interfered with being able to accomplish important things.
- I have a deep yearning for sex as one of the only ways I can feel “normal” and sometimes it doesn’t even matter whom it is with.
- I use sex as a way to escape my typical problems either at work or at home.
- I spend hours every week on the internet looking at images of sex or sexually provocative images of people I don’t know.
- I spend several hours a month on the internet engaging in sexual-related chatting with individuals I don’t know.
- I usually have to masturbate or have sex at least twice daily in order to concentrate on normal work or relationship requirements.
- I frequently pay for or exchange favors for sex with people I don’t feel an emotional connection to. When I complete the act, I feel temporarily satisfied, but the feeling quickly goes away and I feel ashamed or guilty.
- Anonymous sex appeals to me, and I feel more comfortable with it than sex with someone I know.
What does Infidelity Recovery with sexual addiction look like?
Infidelity, like sexual addiction, often includes secrecy, dishonesty, shame, guilt, emotional turmoil, and difficulty with intimacy in significant relationships. To recover from infidelity, couples must address the pain caused by the unfaithful behaviors, create awareness about the reasons for the infidelity, communicate their new expectations, learn to set boundaries, establish clear consequences for any future infidelity, and learn to trust one another once again. The infidelity recovery process requires commitment and patience from both partners.