Spouses and partners of sex addicts go through many common experiences as they attempt to cope with the often devastating disclosure of sex addiction in someone they love.  The impact of the discovery and the experience of betrayal are almost universal.  The affects on relationships are profound.

There are many ways the spouse or partner of the addict can deal effectively and productively with the process of intervention, treatment and healing.  Despite the experience of devastation and the breach of trust, a great many couples do stay together and rebuild their relationship on a healthier footing.

Partners and spouses need to get the support they need and recognize that they cannot go back to the way things were.  But they can, in the long run, build a new relationship with their partner based on trust, honesty and a willingness to be vulnerable.

The video above is a 40 minute livestream that I gave for PornHarms.com.  It outlines the whole process from the initial discovery to getting help to couple recovery.  Please post your own reactions and experiences or other comments as they may be a great help to others.

13 Responses to “How Sex Addiction Impacts Intimacy and Relationships”

  1. Hello Dr, Hatch,
    I am grateful to have found you. My husband has confessed to being tired of living a double life. so far,I know of two affairs and numerous emotional attachments, he also confessed to struggling with lust, masturbation, massages and porn. We are currently separated as he was still pursuing someone and consequently got on a flight to be with this person who lives in another time zone. On returning from this trip a month ago, he expressed wanting to come back home to me and the family(two kids 8 and 5), but I have not seen any changes in terms of reaching out for help. I want to give him the time he needs without interfering and he does see the kids as often as he can, so we do speak. I am getting counselling and I’m in a support group for family members of addicts, to come to grips with my life this trauma. I am not sure how long I should give him or should I move on, we’ve been married 15 yrs and I still love him. He will always be in my life as we share two great kids. However, this is a very lonely place to be and I never saw this coming.

    LisaM

    • Thanks Lisa for you excellent comment. You are doing everything right. The answers will come to you in time I am sure. My only concern is that your husband get serious treatment for what sounds like a problem. His ability to address the issues and change in some basic ways will be a big determining factor in his relationship to the family in the future.
      Best wishes to you
      Linda Hatch

    • Hello Dr. Hatch,

      Thank you so much for your response. Just by way of an update, my husband has not communicated wanting our marriage or family in any further discussion. In fact he has distanced himself from our church community and friends who love him. He stays away from making any communication with me except the mundane. However he has said to a few of our friends that he is at peace and will be moving on with his life.

      I believe he is protecting his addiction and is still acting out, as he has not co-operated in giving me full disclosure with counselors. I am still maintaining my distance and have kept my emotional boundaries in place. He remains unrepentant and is now attending another church where no one really knows him.

      LisaM

      • Their is nothing wrong with a heatlhy sexual appetite. Society has trained women to supress their sexual desires and to have this conservative side when sex is involved but in this day and age more and more women are becoming open and accepting of their sexuality and their is nothing wrong with that. I am a strong believer in no double standards and if it’s ok for a guy to want sex everyday then it’s ok for a girl to want sex everyday. Your boyfriend is just closed minded and old fashion Don’t let him make you feel bad for something that is natural. +7Was this answer helpful?

  2. I’m having a hard time dealing with the fact that my wife is a sex addict. She slept with all of my friends, my brother, my cousin that I detested and my best friend. She says she got no pleasure in any of it but I find that hard to believe. Surely she must have experienced some physical pleasure. Do sex addicts experience the physical pleasure of sex? Is that a driving force?

    • Hello Wayne, the short answer is that sex for a sex addict is a drug. There is pleasure and maybe intensity, but not intimacy. Addictive sex is compulsive and not connected to relationship. It is used to kill pain from unresolved issues dating way back to childhood. So although it is experienced as extreme betrayal, it’s also connected to some pretty serious problems. Spouses need to get active in their own support groups and counseling.
      Best wishes to you,
      Linda

  3. Hi, I have just tonight, after 4 months of being seaperated from my husband, realized that I may be a sex addict myself.. I find myself running back to old flames everytime he and I have a problem, and it’s not because I WANT to be with them persay, it’s just something I do.. I can not explain it, I want to stop!! And I WANT to be faithful and devoted to my husband, I have been head over hills in love with him since I was a very young 13. And we have now been married 4 years, with 4 beautiful children to show for it. I’m seeking ALL the help and advice I can possbly get to save my marriage! I have, admittedly cheated on my husband SEVERAL times… And each time, I find myself snapping to reality AFTER it’s all been done, and dying inside because I didn’t again.. He wants a explanation and I just don’t have one, I don’t know WHY I do it.. Tonight, he told me he’s been considering divorce!! I don’t want to loose my husband!! I want these thoughts of being with others to go away!!! Is there anyone you can suggest maybe via email from the baton rouge area?? I’m desparate!!

    • Hi Karla,
      The sexhelp.com and SASH.com websites have listings for certified sex addiction therapists but I don’t see any in LA. Many therapists use Skype, which might be a good option- here’s a link http://www.sexhelp.com/therapist-listing?view=searchlisting . Also you could call Pine Grove Program in Hattiesburg MS and see if they have more info about who is closest to Baton Rouge. You should also go on SAA-recovery.org and see if there is a sex addicts anonymous meeting anywhere near you and also check out the list of phone meetings- you can always start with a phone meeting (like a conference call.) they have them at various regular times during the week.
      Best of luck in finding what you need and thanks for reaching out!

  4. Dr Dr Hatch,

    I am enormously grateful to have found your site – reading your posts has already helped me a lot.

    My ex boyfriend and I split up six months ago after a four year relationship. Around a year and a half prior to our break-up I discovered he was having a virtual affair with a colleague. He begged for forgiveness and for me to come home, he told me he loved me and it would never happen again. And so I did return. But it had planted a seed of suspicion, and I now viewed certain events in the past somewhat differently – he would often tell me about other female friends or co-workers who had declared their love for him out of the blue, and I realised how separate he kept me from his workmates. Ultimately I checked his laptop, and discovered that he had been conducting these virtual affairs for the entire duration of our relationship – there were scores of other girls, some he knew and seduced over time, others were random girls he chatted up on the internet but never met. He would sext and webcam, have IM sex and email pictures. He kept a stash of these pictures and videos in a special file. He was very very angry that I had invaded his privacy – this seemed to be of more importance than what I had discovered about him. I was also three months pregnant at the time and he told me that if I had the baby we would split up. I had an abortion – something I regret every day.

    Our relationship remained stressful, but he did promise to stop messaging other women. Unfortunately, he did not stop, but continued this behaviour. I threatened to leave but of course never did, instead becoming more downtrodden and obsessive, devising increasingly crazy ways to catch him out.

    He is a very charming, handsome and successful, and I suspect his addiction combines both seduction and sex addiction. He admitted that the appeal is about feeling wanted by all of these women.

    However he refused counseling or therapy. He also refused to sit down and talk about it fully. I was already in therapy, though it took me a long time to talk about this issue with my therapist, or to confide in friends and family.

    In the end, the final time I caught him messaging multiple women (he insisted they were only friends, though I suspect otherwise) my boyfriend moved out and we split up a couple of months later. He said that he loved me, but I had made his life unbearable by spying on him.

    I have been deeply traumatised by everything that has happened, and effectively had a nervous breakdown. I had told him I could not be friends with him after we split, which upset him greatly (I know he continued virtual sexual relationships with many of his ex girlfriends). However since we split up, he has made frequent attempts to be in touch. Occasionally he has attempted a sexual conversation, but I have ignored him. In retrospect I think he has tried to get back with me a couple of times, but I was too mentally disturbed then to see what was happening.

    The issue for me is that I still love him, and I still obsess over what I should have done differently. I miss him intensely. I wrote to him recently and apologised for my own crazy and unacceptable behaviour, I told him that I missed him, and that perhaps if he would like we could hang out a little and see how we felt.

    He replied immediately, with an email, text, phone call and then IM. He told me he was not happy and that life had been very difficult and lonely since we split up. He said he missed talking to me and sharing things with me but he also said he did not know how he felt.

    Unfortunately I made the mistake of answering his IM (something I have not done since the split) and in a couple of minutes he began talking about the fact he was aroused, and then sent me a link to a porn site. I stopped the conversation. The next day he asked if we might talk ‘like adults’ about what I had suggested. We chatted again that evening via IM (I am overseas on work for a few weeks). We discussed how we might begin some kind of gentle reconciliation, but then again he turned the conversation into something sexual. He wanted to know how many people I had slept with since we split up and wanted details about the encounters. I refused. He proceeded to tell me about his own sexual encounters in explicit detail, though was quick to say that he had found them disappointing and had not met anyone he emotionally connected with.

    SInce that conversation we have only had a brief text conversation.

    I am more convinced than ever that he is an addict, and that his addiction has escalated since we split. I’ve noticed that he seems to be online on gmail chat most evenings until very late.

    I have no idea now how to proceed. I love him more than I have ever loved anyone and I would like to help him and try to rebuild our relationship. However I do not know how, or whether he is genuinely interested in this. I have remained close to his family, and I have wondered whether I should tell them about his addiction – though I realise that he would probably never forgive me.

    My friends have all urged me to move on, but I still love him and believe in him. While I have dated other men I have not wanted a relationship, and I feel extremely bleak about the future. I still cry most days.

    I’m sorry this is so long. If you have any advice I would welcome it.

    Many thanks,

    Summer

    • This sounds very hard Summer. I can only suggest that you get more professional help for yourself, such as a residential program like the one they have at The Meadows in Arizona. You sound like you are experiencing love addiction symptoms. I agree that he is an addict but that doesn’t help your obsession. Many CSAT therapists also work with partners of addicts. At least connect with one of them. See also my PsychCentral.com article about love addicts who fall for sex addicts. I wish you the very best.
      Warmly,
      Linda

  5. I’m a recovering sex addict as of 2 years now.
    I have scrounged the internet for information on my addiction and found your articles very informative, and they’ve helped me with understanding my addiction.

    2 years ago my wife of 15 years found out about my addiction in the worst possible way/situation.
    We have 2 children, and I desperately wanted to fix the situation.
    We initially went to counseling which was helpful at first, but turned into something that became more educational, and less practical. Neither of us felt it was really helping to resolve the issues.
    I figured i could fix myself, and took what I learned in counseling and tried to apply it practically to my addiction.
    I was able to remedy many of the of the sexual needs I had, but I totally neglected the psychological side. Turns out I didn’t understand the roots of my addiction on my personality. Not just the sexual aspects.

    Cut to present day.
    I have recently discovered that my wife has had an affair.
    My intimacy issues are key to why she did it, and she claims she still loves me, but cannot get over the guilt of either of our actions. We want to work it out, but at this point I’m not sure where to start.
    I truly feel love for this person, but I can’t seem to prevent whatever it is that is preventing me from showing it. I feel like I’m lost. Any practical advice?

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