This is a question I have been asked many times. If you are reading this then the chances are you have recently stumbled upon information about your partner’s hidden sexual behaviour and this has impacted on you like an earthquake.
In my clinical experience sexual addicts almost never disclose their problematic behaviour voluntarily to their spouses. It is usually discovered by accident. Maybe your discovery was chanced upon when you borrowed your husband’s computer or picked up his smart phone. Perhaps your eye was drawn to an unusual email or text, or perhaps for some reason an item stood out in his browsing history and you felt curiously drawn to take a closer look? However you have discovered sexual infidelity, what follows is usually a sequence of very painful discoveries about the previously hidden behaviour of the person you love.
I work with many partners who discover that their loved ones have been accessing large amounts of pornography (sometimes on a daily basis), or have been engaging in sex chat with others across the internet. In some cases the behaviour has escalated to meeting up with strangers for sex, accessing paid sex workers or visiting sex clubs. All too often partners have had a ‘sense’ that something is amiss for a very long time but have been unable to pin this down. However, in many cases the unsuspecting wife or partner has had little or no clue as to what the behaviour has involved. ‘Discovery Day’ is traumatising.
Trying to make sense of the previously unknown hidden behaviour is exhausting. The searing pain and confusion I have witnessed in partners is heart-breaking. The anger is frightening – not least to the partners themselves. The truth often emerges in stages as partners ‘turn detective’ and uncover evidence piece by painful piece. Life will never be the same again.
My initial question was ‘Is my partner a sex addict?’ To answer this question can be difficult without meeting and assessing him or her. However there are a set of common indicators that would point to an ‘addiction’ problem as opposed to this simply being a case of bad behaviour. You may want to consider the questions below:
•Has the behaviour been frequent, hidden and continually occupied the mind of your partner for an extended period of time?
•Has he (or she) tried to stop the behaviour but returned to it time and again after promising either themselves or you that they will stop for good?
•Has the behaviour been escalating ~ i.e. become more frequent/been engaged in for longer periods of time, or progressed in activity in some way – such as moving from viewing images to engaging in sex chat – or to meeting up with strangers for sex?
•Does your partner admit to continuing with the behaviour despite knowing the risks (to losing you and the family, to their own and/or to your health, to losing their job, to getting arrested for example)?
•Has your partner made excuses for the behaviour and minimised the significance of it (e.g. ‘it’s only porn…it’s what all men do…’)
•Has your partner turned to this behaviour to try and make themselves feel better at times of stress, anxiety, loss or boredom for example?
If the answer is yes to several of the above questions, then it is likely that your partner has developed a pattern of sexually addictive behaviours.
I specialise in working with partners of sexual addicts. If you need support following a recent discovery or if you have been struggling for some time with the pain of living with a sexually addicted partner, then please contact me.