Spouses and Partners Dealing with Compulsive Sexual Behavior (CSB)

A great deal of my work focuses on the building of trust and emotional intimacy between those struggling with compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) and their partners. Spouses and partners are devastated by this behavior in a more intimate and profound way than other behavior. You can never be a bottle of tequila or a six-pack of beer, but you can compare yourself to an acting out partner, porn star or sex workers. The effect of this comparison can be traumatic and life-changing.

We may believe that the partner with CSB must recover for us to feel better, but the truth is we need our own help and recovery. The discovery of a partner with compulsive sexual behavior in our partner is devastating. The discovery usually starts with feeling as if things in the relationship don’t seem right. One might begin checking wallets, emails and text messages. They often become like computer hackers or excellent private investigators in pursuit of evidence that their partner is acting out.

When the partner with CSB is confronted with evidence of acting out, they will almost always deny the evidence and make their partner feel “crazy.” The partner will often continue their detective work in an effort to catch and hopefully, stop the CSB. Sometimes a CSB will have a flight into hypersexuality in an effort to join with/be close to the partner with CSB. Other times, they may retreat into sexual anorexia due to injury to their sense of sexuality.

As partners, we cannot “fix” our significant others. We need help in grieving the loss of the partner we thought we had and of the life we thought we were living. Recovery for partners can be rewarding. We can move toward healing our own wounds, grieving and rebuilding trust with our partners if we choose to do that. We often have their own trauma history to heal from and the discovery of CSB in our partners is a retraumatization that we also must heal and grow from.

The grieving cycle is intense for partners and there are clear, identifiable questions to be answered before deciding if a relationships is worth salvaging. Partners of those with CSB need a sense of safety and security moving forward. My work focuses on building trust and creating healthy intimacy and eventually, a healthy sexual relationship between the partner with CSB and their spouse or partner.

This work is intense and rewarding, not only for the couples involved, but for me as a therapist. Education about CSB helps the intellectual brain. Openness and true transparency from both parties allows for the healing that is needed for the soul and heart.

As a partner of someone with CSB, it is imperative that when seeking help, you find a therapist that has experience and expertise in this area, and will concentrate both on the CSB itself and the emotional health of the partner.

Those with CSB do not act out because of their partners. It is not about what partners ARE or ARE NOT. Don’t buy this lie!