Understand If Your Partner Is Struggling With Sex Addiction
Is Your Partner A Sex Addict?
These sex addiction partner questions should never be used in lieu of professional therapy or counseling advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific situation, seek out professional help. Always seek information, a sex addict evaluation, and advice from a qualified healthcare professional. This is important before attempting, enrolling in, or undertaking any type of sex addiction intervention, treatment, or a recovery program.
As a partner of a someone who may be a sex addict or struggle with sexual behaviors, use the following questions to think about your relationship and partner in the terms of sexual addiction, love addiction, pornography usage, and similar sexual or romantic behaviors.
Why was I so blind to the sex addiction? Learning about your partner's sexual behaviors and sex addiction from gaining gratification from those behaviors can be devastating. Many partners start to question their involvement in creating the sex addiction in the first place which lead to the sexually compulsive behavior.
You may think thoughts like:
- "Things would be different now if I could have only seen the sex addiction signs clearly back then and understood what was happening."
- "If I was able to change certain aspects, components, or dynamics of my relationship with the sex addict, things could have turned out differently."
Be careful with these thoughts, and understand a few things.
- No matter what you thought you should have or could have done back then, going back through the traumatizing events and happenings of the relationship at the time the sexually compulsive behavior was occurring will bring up the past.
- This will most likely trigger your memories from many events where you will think that you should have felt or known something was wrong with the situation.
- However, you were too blind to see the problem of the sex addiction. Take these thoughts and control them.
Do not think about these thoughts since the past is the past, it happened, and you are here now. The past cannot be changed, only the future.
What are the two lives and worlds of sex addiction? You must come to the understanding that you were deceived, manipulated, and disregarded by the other person in your relationship. The fact that you were taken for granted is one of the most consistent elements of sexual addiction. This includes the component of the sex addict's ability to live two completely contradicting lives. One life with you, and the other life with the sex addiction.
The first life is the "social" life. You most likely played the a large role in this social life. You were likely the foundation for much of the sex addict's morality, stability, and sense normalcy. It was through you, your life, and your relationship that their social identity is established. This social life looks different for different people and includes the sex addict's job, career, kids, hobbies, and other activities. It was what their world revolved around. Even in your current conflict and distress in the post-sex addiction discovery world, the role that you play in your partner's life is huge. You are part of the foundation for how they believe others perceive them.
The other life involving the sex addiction is lived in secret. It is an intensely personal and guarded relationship that has few is any social values and boundaries. While the first social life is lived in reality in the real world, the second secret life is experienced through fantasy, gratification, and emotion in the sex addiction world. In this world, the values and boundaries the sex addict experiences come from what "feels right" at the immediate moment. This is true even when engaging in social behavior involving very real people. The sex addict is influenced by the emotional patterns associated with the sexual addiction.
Understanding these two lives and associated worlds have many implications for you as you try to make sense of the "why" behind their sexually compulsive behavior. There are too many implications to specifically list here, but they include your partners actions which led to:
- Placing your family at risk
- Disregarding your relationship or marriage
- Placing your finances and future in jeopardy
- Hundreds of other irrational actions in between
It is necessary that you understand this secret sex addict identity, and it is critical to your recovery as a partner of a sex addict. These insights are not intended to be used for generating forgiveness from your partner, for placing blame, or for reducing the personal responsibility of your partner's actions. On the contrary. Understanding the secret sex addict identity is required so that you can know what needs to happen in order to eliminate the sex addiction from your partner's life.
There is also no question on whether or not sex addicts have two lives and worlds in the first place. If they have a secret sex addiction. They have a secret world to play out the compulsive sexual behaviors. Again, I want to clarify if your partner has developed a sex addiction, you can be certain that they have such a dual-life established. One with you. The other with the sex addiction.
With these worlds fully created and in place, all sexual behaviors associated with that addiction can only be described in the context of emotional immaturity. This includes the covering-up those sexually addictive behavioral patterns. This is because while the sex addict may be extremely deficient in their emotional management skills, they have mastered and perfected their ability to protect their secret sex addict identity at all costs.
The things some sex addicts do to protect their identities are beyond belief. They go through great lengths to cover their tracks, hide their behavior, and keep the secret world a secret. With this in mind, realize that the situation of finally discovering the sex addiction you find yourself in now was never a matter of you being "blind" to your partner's addiction. It was always a matter of your partner being a master of deception at protecting his secrets.
A healthy partnership, relationship, or marriage should not require even a hint of the type of snooping and distrust that would have been required for you to discover the sexual behavior earlier. The idea that you trusted your partner is a good thing. Hold on to that. Know that you accepted them as they presented themselves even if it was dishonestly. This is also a good thing. They are the one who needs to change. Not you. The sex addiction is not your fault.
Why can't I expect honesty from a sex addict during early recovery? A sex addict cannot give you honest answers early on in recovery from a compulsive sexual behaviors and sex addictions. It seems almost silly or childish to suggest that a person cannot be honest about their behavior.
Honesty is a very simple idea of telling the truth. It is usually an easy skill to naturally acquire at a basic level. If you do something bad, you tell the truth. Few things can be more black and white in a person's life then telling right and wrong. It can be as easy as a simple question like, "Were you or weren't you honest?"
Yet sex addicts possess an inability to be honest about their sexual addiction. Even after discovery, this fact remains the single greatest destructive influence in their relationship. It is also potentially the single biggest obstacle in rebuilding their relationship and regaining the element of trust with their partner as well. Understand this fact won't easily change even if you are the most compassionate, forgiving, and understanding partner they could ask for and you encourage them to be honest along the way.
Why can't sex addicts think logically about their sex addiction? Why is this true? It actually makes no sense logically. As a partner of a sex addict, what you are seeking is the truth. You want to find the truth about their sexual behavior. You want your partner to open up about all of the secrets they so closely guarded and protected so you will know exactly what you are dealing with. In your heart and mind, you sincerely want to work through the crisis caused by the sex addiction. You may find yourself bracing for the impact and willing to accept almost anything your partner reveals. Anything except dishonesty.
The only thing that won't help the sex addiction recovery process is dishonesty. How you can help someone if they won't be straight with you, the therapists, or the counselors? Inevitably, what is usually discovered down the road of sex addiction recovery is exactly that. More deception, lies, cover-ups, and deceit. The sex addiction will bring out more distractions, omissions, push backs, accusations, and blame shifting, and redirections. Anything but the truth will come out. It's a miserable foundation to rebuild a relationship upon and one that should be wholly unnecessary to anyone thinking with and working through sex addiction recovery with a rational mind.
Unfortunately, expecting that your sex addiction affected partner will be completely honest with you is unrealistic. You might think, "I already found out about the sexual addiction. I already know and discovered it. What else is there to hide?"
Sadly, it is the case because you are not dealing with your partner's thinking in a rational mind. Instead, you are dealing with an emotionally undeveloped, stunted, and immature mind who has developed a pattern of behaviors which seek after immediate gratification. All sex addicts have a need to seek immediate relief in the moment through the sexual acts. This thinking is also uncaring about the long-term consequences of such behaviors. The immediate relief is the only focus.
Does a sex addict know what they are doing? You might think, "Maybe my sexually addicted partner doesn't know or understand what they are doing." To that we can ask, "do they know that they are lying to you?" The answer is "yes". This seems contrary and contradicting of the incomplete and clouded picture of the information and situations that they usually present early on in sex addiction recovery.
Again you may question, "Can a sex addict stop their lying to me and others?" This answer is also "yes". However, keep in mind this outcome is a likely as expecting them to stop their acting out with sexual behaviors in the first place. These are the same behaviors which you discovered and are trying to get truthfulness now in your current situation. The sex addict has to make the rational decision to do so in both cases.
Why does sex addiction recovery focus around developing emotional and life management skills? Sex addiction recovery takes time and focusing on the redevelopment of many emotional management and life management skills. The trait of honesty also falls into the category and requires the development of many life management skills. One of the most important skills is the ability to integrate their social identity with their internal values as a rational mind would do.
This means they must understand, deal with, and eliminate their secret sex addict dual life and associated world. Until their desire to hold on to this secret life has been fully eliminated and its fire extinguished, the lies they tell to you and others will continue to protect those secrets. This is an extremely a sad but true fact of the early phases of sex addiction recovery. It is one of the reasons why the Recovery Nation workshops, support groups, and twelve step programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous encourages sex addicts to let go of all secrets no matter how hard they are holding on to them.
After the early recovery phases as sex addicts develop emotional maturity, the need to lie to protect themselves ends as the secret life and world fades away. Reaching this point allows the person to communicate openly and honestly as they develop their emotional management and coping abilities. Then true recovery from sex addiction can start.
How do I know if someone I love and care about has an addiction? This can be hard question to pinpoint and answer since there is no absolute set of rules to go by for every individual regarding sex addiction.
Some people can have multiple affairs, masturbate, watch or look at pornography, fall "instantly" in love, and perform other behaviors which are thought of as related to "sex addiction".
However, the causes of these behaviors need to be assessed. Just because someone is doing them doesn't mean they are addicted even though the sexual behavior may not be acceptable in your opinion, healthy for relationships, or morally acceptable or upstanding.
They may have a number of reasons for performing these behaviors and may not be "addicted" to those behaviors at all. However, there are a clear set of questions you should ask yourself that will help you to determine whether or not a sex addiction problem exists in the life of your loved one. Please review the following questions and see the other sex addiction FAQs below this one for further information.
- Does the potentially long-term effects of the sexual behavior in their life significantly outweigh the immediate satisfaction gained from performing specific sexual act?
- Has the person performing or displaying this sexual behavior ever promised to stop or change their behavior?
- Is their sexual behavior being done in secret or do they take steps to keep it hidden?
- Does the sexual behavior appear to be a part of a pattern of behavior or cycle of sex addiction in their life?
- Does the sexual behavior appear to be completely out of character for this person or unlike who you know them to be?
- Is this person trying to cover up, hide, or mask their sexual behavior through lies, deception, and secrecy?
If you see these six signs present in the life of someone you love and care about, there is a good chance they are dealing with a sexual addiction. Please visit the other areas of this website to learn how to help them.
How can I help someone if I think they are struggling with a sex addiction problem? Sex addiction is a hard subject to address. When facing this addiction, keep in mind that the initial attempts to help them recover from their compulsive sexual behaviors is best left to a professional therapist or counselor. This is because the foundation of successfully recovering from sex addiction must be laid by someone who knows what they are doing. They can address the sensitive issues at hand and take the sex addict step-by-step down the road to recovery.
When we try to fix things ourselves (even with the best intentions), recovery can be much harder. Think about it like this example. If you had to do something really important like pour the foundation for your new house, would you undertake the task by yourself? Pouring a foundation while not having expertise or experience in construction can be dangerous and put your whole future house at risk. A similar scenario applies to sex addiction treatment, only in this case, the foundation is your relationship and not a house.
Your role in sex addiction treatment as a partner, family member, loved one, or friend is to identify the person's need for help and help them find the sex addiction recovery resources they need. Yes, you should be there to support them. Let them know you care. Point them in the right direction to get professional help. Get them immediate help if they are in a crisis or suicidal self-harm state. Don't try educate them so much on the subject of sex addiction, but start them on their own personal recovery journey. Leave the details beyond these things to professionals while loving the person along the way and helping them to get better.
Ask The 6 Sex Addict Partner Questions
The Sex Addict Partner Questions
As a partner of someone involved in sexual behaviors, you want to know if they are ok. If you are unsure of whether or not a loved one, family member, or friend should seek treatment for sexual addiction, love addiction, or unhealthy romantic behaviors, ask yourself the following questions about what you see in their life and actions.
Does the potentially long-term effects of the sexual behavior in their life significantly outweigh the immediate satisfaction gained from performing specific sexual act? Think and analyze your opinion of the situation, their life, and their actions. If their behavior appears to be a means of receiving immediate gratification the, person's behavior is bordering on sexual addiction territory. You should encourage them to seek assistance in exploring the possibility they have a sex addiction.
Has the person performing or displaying this sexual behavior ever promised to stop or change their behavior? If the person in question has told you or voiced to others a promise to stop performing a sexual behavior, they should seek help and treatment for sex addiction. This is the case even if they have not had the opportunity to follow through with that promise and actually stop the sexual actions.
This is because of enhanced focus of the sexual behavior in their life. They probably won't be able to completely cease or stop the behavior all together by themselves. It provides too much gratification. This comes from a valid rational that their promise, values (or morals), and actions are at odds with each other. They are creating a conflict which needs to be addressed and resolved.
Simply expecting someone struggling with sexual addiction to stop on their own accord is unrealistic and dangerous. It can lead them deeper into the sex addiction in more intense ways or with increased drive.
There is still hope. Can a person permanently stop sex addiction in its tracks on their own? Absolutely they can! Yet, it rarely happens naturally of self conviction and will power. This person is like a sick friend. You would encourage them to see a doctor for their illness. The addiction is the same. It is best to encourage this person to seek help and assistance through a self-management recovery program, therapist, or counselor to assure their success. They can recover from sex addiction.
Is their sexual behavior being done in secret or do they take steps to keep it hidden? Like the promise to stop the sexual behavior, anyone that feels the need to perform a sexual behavior and keep that behavior a secret from their loved ones knows that there is a conflict going on inside of themselves. This struggle is between what is right, morally, and socially acceptable and what isn't right.
Even so, a person addicted to sex continues to perform the behaviors which they know to be wrong so that they can receive the immediate gratification they seek from the sexual release. This exchange in the face of conflict indicates a problem in their life and represents a scenario which needs to be addressed.
Does the sexual behavior appear to be a part of a pattern of behavior or cycle of sex addiction in their life? To put this question into context, examine other behaviors in this person's life which they exhibit. Are there similar trends in the actions? Look for any similar compulsive behaviors. These behaviors may not just be sexual or romantic in nature. Try to find anything which appear to be a part of a larger addictive pattern.
Be vigilant, but do not go on a "witch hunt" to find things which don't exist. You will know it when you see it. Usually, these patterned behaviors will tend to be obvious in particular areas. They will emphasize the theme of immediate gratification, not waiting patiently, and place satisfaction now over long-term satisfaction. Several examples can be things like compulsive shopping, over eating, going to the gym too much, over exercising, and spending too much money.
These are just several examples which may indicate an underlying pattern of emotional self-regulation is present in that person's life. When too much of anything exists, that potentially indicates the need for some type of intervention to compensate for the behavior and provide a balancing effect. This is entirely true in the case of excessive sexual behaviors when found in conjunction or along with compulsive sexual or romantic behaviors.
Does the sexual behavior appear to be completely out of character for this person or unlike who you know them to be? This a strong indicator that this person has developed a secret dual lifestyle. When sexual behavior is involved, it is also a sign of sexual addiction. This is due to the fact that the behavior of your loved one, family member, or friend does not match who you think they are. Therefore, they are hiding that part of themselves from you so they can continue the behavior unbeknownst to you.
When you discover what you think is a sexual addiction, look at the behavior in the context of who you believed that person to be. If the two do not align and there is no doubt of the behavior, it may be related to an advanced sexual addiction. Discovering this is the key which will unlock the door to help for their sex addiction.
Is this person trying to cover up, hide, or mask their sexual behavior through lies, deception, and secrecy? There is an important clause to this, and I want to make this very clear. Just because someone tells a lie about having an affair or doesn't want to reveal how pornographic pictures, videos, or material got onto their phone or computer doesn't mean they have a sex addiction.
Unfortunately, these things are common place in the world, but not everyone who has affairs, looks at porn, or uses masturbation is a sex addict. Telling lies about these activities does not necessarily indicate addiction either. Naturally, people try to avoid uncomfortable situations and feelings by whatever means possible.
This usually includes panicking that they were discovered and now they have to hide the truth as quickly as possible. This frequently brings out lies, miss truths, falsehoods, avoidance of the problem, and denying responsibility. It's like when you were playing ball as a kid in the house. No one wants to admit who broke grandma's vase even though several minutes earlier, everyone wanted a turn swinging the bat.
Like the behavior mentioned before, look for patterns of lying. A sign of sex addiction is watching for more defined, well-thought-out, pronounced, and elaborate lies and falsehoods. This indicates a pattern of trying to invent a false reality to cover up their sex addiction reality. It is a preoccupation and value conflict. The deeper the lies go, the more advanced the addiction.
Be careful in this area as well. You are revealing the truth when you expose the lies surrounding sex addiction. Depending on the person and their emotional stability, shame factors, and impact on their life, sex addicts have been known to result to extreme consequences. The discovery of a sex addiction can lead to dramatic and dangerous events including murder and suicide as the sex addict tries to cover things up and maintain secrecy.
Take Care of Yourself As A Partner of A Sex Addict
Partner Self-Care Details
You know when you are a partner of a sex addict or someone involved in compulsive sexual behaviors. Your self-care is important to your health, and there are things you need to do to maintain your stability, well being, and life balance. Take a look at the categories below and see if any of these things apply to you. If you find one that does, think about the details of the subject and take steps to take care of yourself.
Set firm boundaries against sex addiction in your thoughts, life, and actions. Self-care means taking care of yourself. Setting these boundaries means you are protecting yourself and drawing the line. If means you are not allowing yourself to be manipulated. You don't play that game whether it's through behavior, truthfulness, abuse, or emotions. Emotions can be easily manipulated since we are emotional beings. Things like guilt tripping, pity, or anger are the three dimensions of causality. They can also try to manipulate you for not trusting them which goes back to truthfulness.
In sex addiction recovery, there must be consequences. Once a defined set of consequences is set for acting out with certain sexual behaviors, you must follow through with those consequences. When a compulsive sexual behavior is performed or sexual urge is acted on, do not minimize the behavior or the consequence. This is important.
This boundary will prevent you from trying to measure the intentions of the person displaying the behavior. This will also prevent the person displaying the behavior from lying to you. Its a win-win on the path to sex addiction recovery. Destroying the secrecy around sex addiction is a critical element in all health-based, sex addiction recovery programs. Look for this aspect when evaluating treatment plans, programs, and groups.
Maintain your life balance apart from sex addiction. This is hard for many partners when fighting the battle against sexual addiction. The important piece to remember here is to not become consumed with your loved one's recovery program, their boundaries, or a potential relapse of sexual behaviors.
Your goal should focus on building a healthy relationship with the sex addicted person. This is the case whether they are currently in recovery, trying to recover, or still actively involved in the sexual compulsive behavior.
You must focus on doing your part to create a healthy lifestyle for yourself. Becoming consumed with your partner's recovery from sex addiction changes the focus of your relationship from a health-based perspective to an illness-based perspective. Although you may find some present comfort in undertaking a role in your relationship recovery, it is not nearly equal to the longer-term comfort you can create by establishing a healthy balanced, long-term relationship.
Ask the Sex Addiction FAQs To Your Partner
You can learn more about what your partner is dealing with by asking them the sex addict frequently asked questions. These questions will help to define their behaviors and what they do.
Recovery Nation & Partner Resources
Recovery Nation offers free resources for partners of sex addicts. They are a nonprofit organization and and provide sex addiction help, workshops, and support groups.