For Partners and Spouses of Sex Addicts
The discovery of a partner’s sex addiction whether it be having affairs, compulsive masturbation, Internet sex, or soliciting prostitutes can be emotionally devastating. It has been likened to experiencing an earthquake or other natural disaster, only this one is man made. A partner of a sex addict will likely experience many after shocks following discovery or their loved one’s disclosure. Many partners state that after the discovery they feel emotionally unbalanced and feel they are going “crazy.” If you are a partner of a sex addict you may be struggling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Like all addictions, sex addiction is rooted in shame and many partners and spouses find themselves having to carry the shame. Many believe no one will understand the addiction so they keep the problem a secret. Keeping the secret and not seeking help or support fosters depression, anxiety, rage, and resentment towards the addict. Those partners who do disclose to friends and family are often met with encouragement to leave the addict. This plunges partners into further confusion as to what to do. Partners often feel no one can understand their conflict: “Do I stay or do I go?” “Did my partner act out because he doesn’t love me?” “How did I contribute to this problem?” “What do we tell the kids?”
Partners of sex addicts need, and greatly benefit from a recovery plan just as sex addicts do. Recovery is a challenging and difficult process: It forces partners and addicts to confront problems in their relationship. For many it may trigger unresolved trauma from their past. The good news is that creating a recovery plan, getting support, and entering treatment not only helps partners, it helps the addict’s recovery as well.
Mark Falango, LCSW, CSAT offers a Partners Support Group to help partners and spouses recover from the trauma of discovery and disclosure enabling them to begin a process of self-care and a rebuilding of self-esteem.