“There is no emergency kit for marriage...
No neat plan you can turn to when the ground shifts under your feet.”
is your partner a sex addict?
Nothing is so painful as when the pain we feel
is caused by someone we love.
When a Partner suspects or experiences that first “discovery” that is evidence they have been living with a sex addict, the betrayal of trust and intimacy can be devastating. Partners often find themselves spinning in terror and desperation. They are often unable to make healthy decisions and can experience emotional and behavioral changes that are counter to their self-image and values. If you are a Partner, you might be experiencing:
Extreme and rapid emotional swings
Disturbed sleep (insomnia, nightmares, etc.)
Compulsive “checking” behaviors
A generalized sense of distrust
A need to isolate
Impaired functioning in daily life
Physical symptoms (headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc.)
Partners are often expected to focus on, and support, the addict’s recovery while their own very traumatic experience is overlooked. When they are unable to express the appropriate support for the addict's progress, addiction and psychotherapy professionals often label Partners as "co-dependent," implying that their behavior played some role in the addict’s behavior. Partners are often expected to move into forgiveness, understanding, and support without any acknowledgment of the effects of the crisis on them, the relationship, or other family members.
To be clear: co-dependency is "an addiction to trying to fix someone." Many symptoms of co-dependency may match a Partner's symptoms. You may feel that you have some of the qualities that fit that of the co-dependent. But living with a sex addict creates an environment that is fundamentally unsafe and insecure. You're walking on eggshells, waiting for the next shoe to drop. So you're investigating and checking up on the addict. You're reactive and angry, depressed and anxious. This behavior is not necessarily co-dependency. This is a wounded Partner desperately seeking safety. And from that perspective, the behavior makes sense.
At the February 2014 IITAP conference, relationship specialist, Julie Gottman stated that:
“100% of betrayed partners
experience symptoms of PTSD.”
It's true. The betrayal a Partner experiences is nothing short of traumatic. The symptoms are all indicative of a response to trauma, not of someone who struggles with co-dependency. As with any traumatic experience, when a Partner’s experience is not appropriately addressed, the symptoms are very likely to worsen over time whether or not he/she stays in the relationship. Additionally, relationships often explode, end, break, or become irreparably wounded. Relationships can not always be repaired in the wake of sex addiction. But they cannot be repaired without first creating a space of empathy and acknowledgement of the traumatic Partner experience.
Addicts have plenty of treatment options and support for their recovery, but it can be difficult for Partners of sex addicts to find real help.
You didn’t choose to be betrayed.
This is not your fault. You deserve to be heard and validated. You deserve to experience a deep repair from the traumatic effects of sexual addiction in your relationship. Let's do it together.