A great deal of my work focuses on the building of trust and emotional intimacy between sex addicts and their partners. Spouses and partners are devastated by this illness in a more intimate and profound way than other addictions. 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 prostitute. The effect of this comparison can be traumatic and life-changing.
Anyone who has been in a relationship with a sex addict is referred to as the co-sex addict or partner. As the co-sex addict, we may believe that the sex addict must recover for us to feel better, but the truth is we need our own help and recovery. The discovery of a sex addiction in our partner is devastating. The discovery usually starts with the co-sex addict (COSA) feeling as if things in the relationship don’t seem right. The COSA often begins checking wallets, emails and text messages. They often become like computer hackers or excellent private investigators in pursuit of evidence that the sex addict is acting out.
When the sex addict is confronted with evidence of acting out, they will almost always deny the evidence and make the COSA feel “crazy.” A COSA will often feel as if they are going crazy. They will often continue their detective work in an effort to catch and hopefully, stop the sex addicts’ actions. Sometimes a COSA will have a flight into hypersexuality in an effort to join with/be close to the sex addict. Other times, they may retreat into sexual anorexia due to injury to their sense of sexuality.
As partners, we cannot “fix” our sex addict counterparts. 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 sex addict if we choose to do that. COSAs often have their own trauma history to heal from and the discovery of sex addiction 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 sex addicts 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 an addict 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 the addiction 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 a sex addict, it is imperative that when seeking help, you find a therapist that has experience and expertise in the field of sex addiction, and will concentrate both on the addiction itself and the emotional health of the partner of sex addicts..
Sex addicts do not act out because of their partners. It is not about what partners ARE or ARE NOT. Don’t buy this lie!