Category Archives: Sex/Love Addiction & Partners of Sex Addicts

Articles about sex addiction, love addiction, and co-dependency.

Help for partners of sex addicts

Whether it’s porn addiction, infidelity, or obsessive sex related behaviors, being in a relationship with a sex addict or someone who repeatedly lies about their sexual behaviors can be paralyzing and often end in divorce or a break up. Partners of sex addicts often struggle with intense anxiety and fear that their partner will continue to repeat the obsessive porn use, the affair, the sex with strangers, or the obsessive sexual behaviors.

Partner’s of sex addicts often experience intense confusion and shame because of their being married or in relationship with a sex addict.

You stay because you love them, it’s what you know, because the passion you experience together seems impossible to recreate, or maybe because you have children together. You stay married to or in a relationship with a sex addict because, well, you don’t know. Or maybe it’s because when things are good, they are really good. Your friends are fed up with you, they think you deserve better, they are no longer willing to listen, be your counselor, or therapist when you come to them hurt and confused about your partner’s most recent infidelity – whether it was new porn you discovered on the computer, conversations of them sex-chatting on-line with someone, or evidence that they are having an affair again. Your friends tell you to leave the marriage or relationship but you feel they just don’t understand. Or maybe your friends don’t even know. Keeping a partner’s sexual addiction a secret is common.

Partners of sex addicts often experience such intense shame that they keep their pain and their partner’s addiction a secret.

You may feel having friends know about the disrespectful behaviors – the lying and cheating, would be humiliating. So you may be coping with the pain of the infidelity-the addiction alone. Which makes coping with the feelings you have even more difficult. Your own obsessions about where your partner is at any given moment, what they are doing, what they lied about today, whether you will ever be able to trust them again, keep you from experiencing your own happiness, pleasure, success, healing, etc.

You may have resorted to spying – gps tracking, reading texts, hacking into emails and tracking their every click on the computer…

you are now addicted to tracking them and most of the time tracking them no longer relieves the anxiety you feel when you are away from one another. The only time you feel like you can relax slightly and not obsess about their every move is when you are together. This can be incredibly confusing and if you have no one to talk to about it, you feel alone in your relationship but also alone in the world. Seeing a therapist who understands what you are struggling with can be incredibly helpful. But if you are not yet ready for this, here are some amazing books that can help you better understand some of the feelings you are experience and help you to know that you are not alone. Your Sexually Addicted  Spouse by Barbara Steffens & Mending a Shattered Heart by Stefanie Carnes


True Love or Co-dependency?

Is the book the Giving Tree about true love or co-dependency?
One of my many insightful clients brought up recently that the book “The Giving Tree” seems more about a person’s co-dependency with a partner who takes, is selfish, and never gives, than a beautiful friendship or loving partnership. So I had to open up that old book on my shelf and take another look at it from a therapist’s perspective. Wow, did I agree.

From my perspective, giving of oneself selflessly is not what love and friendship are about. I find that many of my clients are caught up in patterns of rescuing behaviors that result in their partners being dependent upon them. Ultimately they end up feeling resentful about their partner‘s lack of responsibility, neediness, or selfishness yet struggle to get out of their patterns of giving or pursuing. Sometimes this is the only kind of love we  know and this is where the work begins to decrease unhealthy enmeshed behaviors that result in resentment, dependency, and co-dependency. Increasing healthy differentiation and ultimately learning to soothe ourselves when our partners may appear to need us to save or protect them is essential to changing the relationship dynamics and eliminating our own tendency towards co-dependent behaviors.  As the old saying goes, “It takes two to tango” is relevant here. In order to change a relationship we ultimately need to change how we react to our partner’s behaviors and their patterns of relating.

According to Wikipedia “Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.” I actually don’t think that the person one is co-dependent with has to be narcissistic or an addict; that sometimes, that person could just be enjoying receiving like the boy in the giving tree. When my clients get caught up in co-dependency or acting like a parent to a child in their adult relationships, I encourage them to consider what they are getting out of relating with their partner in this way. While there are many disadvantages to having a partner be dependent upon us there are advantages to this as well – it can feel pretty good to feel needed or to feel in control.  But when does this get confused with feeling loved? Without the support of an objective supporter, it may be hard to pull back and see how the dynamic maintains itself and how we continue to feel like the victim in our relationships.  If you find yourself experiencing these feelings repeatedly in your relationships it may be time to take a look inward… if you want to create something different.