My new e-book starts with the premise that when one person in a relationship is engaging in sexually addictive behavior the relationship will be damaged. It doesn’t matter whom the relationship is with or what the addictive behavior is. Even sexual avoidance can be related to sexual addiction.
It doesn’t matter how the addiction is carried out. The addict may lead a secret double life or may be open with their behavior such as porn addiction, compulsive seductiveness, and pressuring the partner to participate in more extreme experiences. Sometimes the sex addict wants a great deal of sex in their marriage and sometimes they want little or none.
By far the most common experience is the discovery of hidden sexually addictive behavior in a partner followed by a traumatic crisis and upheaval. At this point both partners need a great deal of support. They need to find helping professionals, 12-step groups, books, online resources and spiritual supports.
The fact that sex addiction is considered to be an intimacy disorder means that problems were almost certainly developing in the relationship whether the partners knew it or not. This implies that both partners need to change and grow in ways that will allow them to have a stronger bond based on trust, honesty, and a willingness to be vulnerable.
Partners of sex addicts need to make a journey from feelings of traumatic betrayal to an understanding of the nature and sources of the disease of sex addiction and a level of trust and comfort with a new kind of relationship—either with their partner or with someone else. This is a long process and requires patience and a willingness to tolerate the ups and downs of recovery.
Addicts need to make a journey through treatment, psycho education and support groups to a point of giving up their old way of life and living in integrity. The process is a slow one, usually taking 3-5 years to complete.
The process of recovery from sex addiction in a relationship is a blessing disguised as a catastrophe. It forces both the addict and partner to become aware of and resolve issues in their relating that they have never before addressed. In recovery they become different people. What this means is that the relationship as it existed in the past must be let go. The partners must eventually look at each other anew and decide if the relationship is right for them. If they stay together they will be starting a new relationship. They will have let go of their previous relationship, or of the fantasy of it, and will be living in awareness and reality.