Sexually compulsive/sexually addictive behaviors cause more trauma to a partner than any other compulsive or addictive behavior. This can include “just looking at porn.”
If you are in a relationship with someone who struggles with a chemical addiction, it can be traumatic and chaotic, however, more often than not, a partner understands that the person struggling is not willfully choosing their addiction over you or your relationship. It is much more difficult to understand that sexual behaviors (either contact or non-contact) can be compulsive and/or addictive and are not a choice over you and your relationship. When your loved one struggles with sexually compulsive or sexually addictive behaviors, you, as a partner, is much more likely to absorb the embarrassment and shame than with other addictive behaviors and substances.
It is very common for partners to ask themselves, “What’s wrong with me?” and “Why am I not enough?” or struggle with comparison, “if I only looked a certain way, weighed a particular amount, acted in a specific manner” then my partner would not act out. These thought processes are known as distorted thinking. You did not cause your partners sexual addiction nor can you cure it. Most partners are not even aware that their spouse/significant other struggles with sexually compulsive or addictive behaviors.
There are major areas of impact for partners when sexually compulsive/addictive behaviors are present. And, male partners can be equally as devastated as female partners. There is no gender bias when it comes to the traumatic impact of intimate partner betrayal.
HOPE, HELP AND HEALING
The discovery of your partner’s secret sexual behaviors (whether it is contact or non-contact) can leave you feeling hurt, fear, numb, angry, hopeless, disgust, humiliation, shame, disbelief, rejection, embarrassment and despair. To sum it up in one word, what you are experiencing is TRAUMA.
Partners need support. They do not need to be shamed or blamed for the behavior of their spouse/significant other. Partners also do not need to be forced or coerced into forgiving their spouse/significant other until they are ready to so. This can cause further trauma. Partners need to know they are not alone. There IS help.
Many partners are opposed to seeking “therapy” when they discover a sexually compulsive or sexually addictive behavior. Comments such as, “this is his/her problem, not mine” or “I didn’t know about this and I didn’t cause it, so I’m not the one needing therapy” are common. However, partners need support and they need education. It can be helpful to learn what tools are available to assist in moving through their trauma.
At Upstate Recovery Center, our Certified Sex Addiction Therapists are trained specifically (through IITAP and APSATS) to address this type of trauma and to provide tools and resources to assist a partner in navigating through their hurt, anger, and devastation. We offer help and support through your journey of healing.
After an initial individual assessment by either Sarah B. McGuire or Leslie Hull-Kimball, recommendations are provided as to appropriate treatment options. These can include:
- Individual Therapy
- Partners Group Therapy
- Couples Check-In Sessions
- Couples Therapy