A sizable number of couples stay together through the upheaval of sex addiction. According to my educated estimate about half of all sex addicts in sex addiction recovery are working with a partner to try to repair the relationship.

By the same token many sex addicts end up losing their partner following the disclosure of sex addiction and the ensuing crisis. I have found that there are complications for recovery in both situations.

If the sex addict’s partner chooses to stay in the relationship, then the sex addict has certain advantages. The presence of a partner (and possibly children) very often provides a strong motivation for the addict to follow through with treatment and recovery. No matter what the addictive behavior, internet porn, prostitutes, hook-ups, etc. the married sex addict has a lot to lose by failing to get “sober”.  Also the presence of a partner adds a level of accountability. If the addict is truly engaged in recovery, then he or she will be committed to transparency and honesty with a partner and in general. Agreeing to tell all can help to give the addict a reason to be more conscientious about avoiding situations that might lead to relapse.

But what happens when the addict comes clean to a partner, becomes sincerely engaged in recovery and then the partner or spouse leaves? I would like to share my observations as to the impact of divorce on sex addiction recovery; both the negative impact and to whatever extent, the positive impact as well .

Negative impact of break-ups

  • Apart from the loss of motivation and accountability that was connected to the relationship, separation and divorce add serious emotional stresses to the situation. The end of any relationship, even a bad one, is experienced as a loss. This means that even for a person who was not struggling with addiction and recovery, there would be grief and deep feelings of abandonment.
  • As I have discussed elsewhere,  sex addicts tend to be highly co-dependent themselves even though they have lead a secret life outside their relationship. They are insecure and tend to base their self worth on the perceptions of others. The rejection of a break-up only reinforces their feeling of unworthiness which in turn can derail any new found sense of strength in recovery.
  • The turmoil surrounding a separation or divorce can become a serious distraction from the addict’s recovery routine. The mechanics of leaving familiar surroundings, finding a place to live, arranging to see their children if there are any, and dealing with the legal process of impending divorce proceedings can sap the addict’s energy and resources.
  • Addicts in a break-up will be experiencing a great deal of emotional pain and distress. Their typical way of dealing with negative emotions in the past was through escape into their addictive behavior. Thus the added emotional distress of shame and rejection increases the motivation to reach for their “drug”.
  • Most sex addicts have a problem dealing with boredom and loneliness without wanting to act out sexually. Isolation is not helpful to sex addiction recovery and the fact of suddenly being on their own can be a big risk factor, especially if break up has left them feeling less motivated to engage with supportive people.
  • The addict can become obsessed with the partner who has rejected them, thus leading them into destructive fantasies and delusional thinking. They may fantasize that they can win the partner back, or they may ruminate and become angry and resentful. They may also become obsessed with finding a new partner immediately in order to bolster their damaged sense of self and restore parity with the person they have lost. All of this obsessing and emotion pulls the addict away from reality and from the need to address their own recovery and growth.

Is there any upside to break-ups?

Obviously there may be advantages for the spouses and partners who feel that moving on is in their own best interests. But what about the addict? I believe that after the immediate crisis of the break-up and its impact on sex addiction recovery have subsided, the addict will be in a better position to assess the intimacy problems that almost certainly characterized the relationship. I contend that practicing addicts are drawn to partners and styles of relating that do not demand. In that sense, I think the practicing addict promoted a sort of dysfunctional situation both because it was somehow familiar and because it provided a situation that at once allowed and was an excuse for sexual acting out.

In sex addiction recovery, the divorced or separated addict has a chance to recover from the addiction and to learn a new kind of relating built on intimacy and trust.

Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource

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30 Comments

  1. Do sex addicts in general choose to remain with their spouses if the spouse is willing to work on the marriage, or do many leave (perhaps to avoid the work, intimacy, pain from guilt/shame, wanting a new relationship with a “clean slate” whatever motivation)?

  2. What if the addict is the one that chooses to leave. I found proof that he was having an affair after 20 years of having no proof he was acting out and being made to believe I was crazy. He refused to admit to any wrong doing and decided to divorce me even though I wanted to get help and save our marriage. He still insists that he’s just dating this woman and that they are not having sex….yeah right, unless he’s being sexually anorexic with her now as he did with me for years.

  3. My husband found someone else and divorced me instead of the other way around. So where does that leave him?

  4. I think sex addicts sometimes walk just because it is *easier* for them to do so. I mean think about it. Here you have a person who has probably spent the majority of your relationship running, hiding, avoiding, dismissing, and minimizing. When the poo finally hits the fan, walking (or running) is just a different form of their typical behaviors. The funny thing is that when that situation doesn’t work out for them, they can stand there and honestly look confused and have no clue as to why their life is the way it is. Its as if they can’t mentally relate to actions having consequences. The dots just don’t connect.

    If they boomerang back to you later, (which they just might because you’re nice, easy going, willing to let it slide, been together forever, because you have kids, because they groveled hard enough, etc.) shut the door. Addicts love to go back to the people who allowed them to get away with their behavior before. Can’t say as I blame them – it must make for a great life *for them*. Thankfully, *you* do have a choice in the matter! Use it! They are either going to change or they aren’t. Once it gets to this point, there is no room for fence sitting.

  5. I am a recovering sex addict, and a text book example of the above article, reading it is a revelation and it also hurts as its a slap in the face for my reality but one i have to accept! My ex-wife discovered my Pornography addiction around July 2014, separated 2 weeks later and filed for divorce in March 2015. We are now divorced since august and she’s petitioned for annulment since. I loved my wife in my way and I still do, I wanted to work it out but no opportunity ever came – im still deeply traumatised by the ferocity of her ending of the marriage.

    So one must imagine how hard it is to want recovery but being completed stressed and emotionally drained from the get go.

    Yet in all im sure her pain at betrayal loss and mistrust was just as acute. Us addicts only see the hurt for ourselves.

    I tick yes for all of the above, i swing precariously between resentment and yearning fantasising etc etc.

    I dont blame her as she had a choice to make and she bet the future without me. I wish her all the love and happiness – I must do it otherwise i will destroy any recovery with resentment and anger.

    I owe her amends as i destroyed her image of the life she thought she had.

    I am a good person – And besides my Moral weakness and dishonesty i was good to her. i just made bad choices that ruined the good choices. I feel pity that we didnt try to work recovery together or that a chance to was never given – even for our daughters sake. I’m now a recovery sex addict Single Dad.. My daughter needs a healthy Dad and staying sober one day at a time is all that matters. Ive seen what recovery can do for long term members of my fellowship, i know its there.

    I hope my ex-wife finds happiness in the future but right now thats a tough image for me to surrender as that guy was once me. So kudos to the article as it vindicates what i have been feeling for some time.

    • Hi Karder,
      Thanks for the kind words. Please feel free to submit a guest blog for my PsychCentral column (650 words + or -). Your brothers and sisters over here could benefit from hearing you.
      Linda – linda@montecitonet.com

      • After a certain point with a sex addict, you do realize that life with him is Krazy. He’s lowered your expectations to the point where you realize you have to return to normalcy. No matter what. I’ve learned two things from being with one over several years: he’s not invincible, and your stronger than you think. So now, every time I’m “tempted” to keep this going? I pray, and am reminded I’m a full and complete person on my own. The “no contact” rule is BS. The more you reject him, the harder he tries. It’s been better for me to concentrate on my strengths and his weaknesses than the other way around. Finally, just realize it was “a beautiful lie.” And it’s much easier to move on.

        • Needed to hear that today…thank you…

    • Karder,

      No, you were not good to her. If you were good to her, then you wouldn’t be where you all are. Maybe it’s easy to think you were because part of the personality of the addict is an amazing ability to compatmentalize. It is not that way for mentally and emotionally healthy people. A half lie is a whole truth so any attempts to ease your guilt are seen as just that. No one should have to settle with giving their love, trust, and respect to someone and only expect selfish acts of kindness used to disguise shame in return. What you did is abuse! You can’t say you abused your wife’s love, trust, loyalty, commitment, and respect and still think you were good to her. You are very much in denial! Maybe she saw that denial on top of the abuse and decided to no longer be a glutton for your level of abuse. Your betrayal tormented her mentally, emotionally, and spirituality and I’m not even touching the damage done to your innocent daughter. Two innocent lives ruined and unless you stop deluding yourself into thinking, “Hey! I’m not that bad!” then you’ll only hurt them more because you are not holding yourself to the level of accountability you desperately need. You’re entire marriage was a chance at recovery and reconciliation. There were countless chances she gave you and you neglected and rejected your family each and every time. More than likely there were many other issues that drained the life out of her. Your ex-wife had been working on her marriage with you the entire time and even now you don’t appreciate her efforts. Even now, you shift blame as if reconciliation was not possible because she gave up. No! You gave up and she eventually became fed up. Your addiction was the icing on the cake and in her discovery she learned all the problems in the marriage were symptoms of something greater. You wore her down to where she almost had nothing left to give to her daughter or herself. She chose to salvage what was left because her daughter doesn’t deserve to lose both parents. She made the best choice with what little options you left her and she chose to do what she needed to do and become what she needed to become with what little support available to her, all for the sake of her daughter. You can never say that to your little girl and good luck trying. You abandoned your vows of commitment and your family and continued to selfishly neglect them. These are the consequences of your actions and no one is above consequences. You ex-wife and poor child get to share the burden of actions and their consequences for the rest of their lives just as you! That’s what you have sentenced them too. Innocent lives damaged! Don’t blame your wife! She protected her daughter from suffering more consequences that you weren’t willing to do. She possibly saved her from becoming an addict herself, or ending up in an abusive marriage, or becoming some other kind of addict. For your daughter’s sake is why she left. Her concerns are greater than you or herself! You owe your ex-wife more than an apology. You owe her a thank you for being strong enough to do what you selfishly couldn’t! Think about that as you continue on your journey becoming a healthy dad.

      • I cant stop my tears after reading This !

      • Amen to that…

    • Karder, great share and lots of vulnerability and acceptance in your words. You are describing my life..I am a sex addict. I also have a daughter and now an ex-wife.

      Don’t let people like Christine shame you. It is abuse…you abused your own brain’s dopamine and glutamate reward system to bypass intimacy for a high. You are a good person with bad behaviors, a sex and porn addict, and there are alot of us (30 million or so)… thanks to the Internet.

      Statistically, Christine likely is married to one, was, or will. A Google data scientist discovered in his PhD research that 100% of men queried porn at some point on Google and that (gasp!) 20% of women (and growing) now engage in some form of virtual porn (chat rooms, cams, hookup sites, etc) searches as well. This is a growing epidemic that needs to be brought into the light, discussed openly in churches, schools, and in the home…without the shaming…Christine.

      The world’s largest porn provider said that of the 14.7 visitors they got annually in 2013, over 52% came from.smartphones. Do more kids have smartphones in 2017? How about working a positive awareness campaign to make a difference in young lives….Christine?

      This is a progressive disease, and if you don”t get a good CSAT, maybe a rehab, and work a really rigorous 12-step S program like your life depended on it, it gets much worse. I eventually got into some very serious legal trouble, so its either death or prison if my recovery does not come first. I also put my ex-wife through hell, but my daughter is doing great knowing I am in recovery and sober today. Kids are very resilient and as long as you work your recovery, that recovery DNA passes on to your kid, so stick with it for her sake. She needs her dad. Christine, a daughter without a father actively in her life is astronomically higher at risk for negative behaviors…are you wishing this on Karder’s child? As evidenced in her rant, people like Christine need recovery as well…CODA, COSA, along with therapy.

      Karder, I encourage you and any other addicts out there to watch the YouTube video…Your Brain on Porn…very good on explaining the brain chemistry side of Why and How.
      Be well and be sober brother!
      GB/,
      Dave, recovering sex addict

      • Laughable criticism from a sex addict who goes by “Double Dip Dave”. Out of all the selfish, self pitying, enabling BS you dished out, you were right on one thing. I am married to a sex addict and I am very well versed on the nature and psychology of sex addiction, which is why I can see you and Karder’s BS for what is. Sex addicts will blame everything and everyone except themselves. Always the victim or the hero who can never take full responsibility of their actions and lacks insight, remorse, and true empathy for the suffering they have caused others!! Deceptive and manipulative to the core, you sex addicts can make the smallest amount of accountability turn into a pity party where you are now the victim. PATHETIC!!! I have a dad, a-! I needed and deserved a healthy, loyal, honest husband who cherished his wife and family who was capable of giving what he got and then some. Children need parents, but not damaged and destroyed sick parents with evil behaviors that will inevitably damage and destroy their children!!! What a narcissistic joke you are! People like you leave nothing but destruction in your wake! It’s your narcissistic thinking that tells you you can be what your children need when you can’t even be what you need for yourself! Your response proves the lack of understanding, empathy, and remorse piece of s- sex addicts like yourself inflict on people. It’s an insult to injury!! Amazing how you expect empathy and understanding for yourself from everyone else, but are completely incapable of showing any! You both should be ashamed!!! You’ve destroyed people who only loved you!! You exposed the people who loved you to unspeakable things and left them vulnerable to not only psychological trauma and torment, you’ve exposed them to possible health threats that could literally KILL THEM!!! Not to mention the developmental damages done to the children that will ultimately cause a cycle of problems for the rest of their life!!! If you’re not ashamed and holding yourselves fully accountable, then you’re deluding yourself if you think you’re in recovery!!! If kids and/or people are so “resilient” as you say, then how come neither of you were resilient enough to cope with your own issues in a healthy way and prevent becoming sex addicts!!! Try learning to take full responsibility and accountability for your actions and stop blaming everyone for being too broken to continue suffering on with you when you were the ones who broke them in the first place! Stop expecting people to suffer the consequences of your actions and be the one who learns that taking responsibility and accountability means suffering your consequences youself. Stop punishing those you’ve damaged for not want to and not being able to suffer anymore! Good luck with recovery. Clearly you have a long way to go.

        • Christine,

          If you “double dip” in 12 step, it means you share twice in group, not sure why you would make fun of that on a counseling blog.

          So question… if you are so well versed in sex addicts, their BS, the insanity, the perpetual damage, the horrifying effects on children, then….why are you still married to one?

          Why don’t you leave?

          Is it because you said you “need” and “deserve” a healthy husband and God owes you that? And so yours was an arranged Middle Eastern wedding or did you actually date and choose this man, your sex addict?

          That is amazing, I missed that guarantee for my life. My wife and kid missed it as well. Where is the return counter? I want to exchange my difficult, messy, real life, plus I demand interest and a $50 gift card. Its not fair, its not right! Deserving Lives Matter!

          Now we all understand on here why you are in this hateful spiral. You are angry… at God, at men, at your life, at your dashed dreams, at addicts, at your marriage, at yourself. You curse addicts, spout profanity, and mock recovery. You perhaps are mad and hate yourself more than anything else.

          I feel sorry for you…I really do. I also feel sorry for your spouse, because he has very little hope of recovery in this type of relationship.
          That said, this is a counseling website, for people to get better, and for people to learn recovery…. not an addict bashing site.

          Just out of curiosity, are you bipolar? A lot of sex addicts I am in 12 step with seem to be magnetically drawn to bipolar women for the exciting mania and impulsive run-on-sentence drama. My ex is as well.

          So, I am ashamed of what I have done. I don’t blame anyone but myself for this. I am very honest. I am in recovery. I have been celebate for one year. And I am doing better. Thanks for the well wishes in recovery! I will take every one I can get, and yes I do hopefully have a very long way yet to go…I have to do recovery the rest of my life.

          May God bring Peace to you.
          Double Dip Dave

  6. I was in an on/off “relationship” with a sex addict for about 2 years. The first year and a half he left me hanging for some girl he went off to see in another state and told me we were never together. Then he came back to me months later and said he still loved me. I always felt like I wasn’t really in a relationship with him, he never posted photos of him and I together online. We didn’t live together so that made it all that much easier for him to live his fantasy life.
    I only caught him because I accidentally picked up his phone early one morning to check the time and saw notifications from google voice numbers and replies from Craigslist. I was disgusted. Aside from that he stayed up late at night texting and emailing people arranging casual encounters (I believe he does get with men as well). He grew distant and some nights didn’t even touch me before he went to sleep. I was broken. We stopped having sex because he gave me an STI. I no longer felt like a woman.
    I attempted to work it out with him since we are expecting a child soon but after I have known for 2 weeks I can’t take it anymore. He hasn’t even taken the steps to get help but says he will. I have no trust left for him. When he doesn’t contact me and stays out late I start to think he’s off somewhere getting his fix. Not to mention I do have early morning Uber receipts as proof of his cheating. He is reckless in his pursuits.
    I’m so torn. I do support him and hope for his recovery but not at he expense of my sanity. I had to leave.

  7. I was with a man for over 2 years . Found out he cheated with 5 others as far as I know . Skype sexing at work and home , always watching porn cause he said he was bored . Thousands of pics of women Is this a sex addict ? He left me for another woman . I am devasted . How do I get over the heart ache ?

    • Hi Karen, there are many books on this such as “Mending a Shattered Heart” and others on my site under suggested reading. Important to get support; there are self help groups for partners of sex addicts and online forums like Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center
      (POSARC).
      LH

  8. For most women i am disgusting and to admirers of hugh hefner to be envied. Becoming a sex addict between 50 and 60 from living in a country where sex with 0ver450 total girls,16,17,18,19.20.21 year olds met near daily in malls, walking,clubs and online meetings is common! Yes, the ladies all received an “allowance”, many
    hoping to marry or at least have a long term atm sugar daddy, but never admitting it..
    After 4 marriages in usa and catching every wife cheating i had given up on finding a loyal american wife though i was 100% loyal!!! I retired at 50 and left usa fairly bitter. In my new country i found a lady and settled down past 60.
    AT 66 I have a darling 2 year old and 11 year old and 26 year old wife i love and found addiction does not stop with just another taste. i moved to dedicated time, viagra and pleasing her and me no less than 3x a week and no x-rated pictures of x-girlfriends or masturbation. So far so good. As a sex addict I miss the old days but the fun of a new family and a true homemaker and farmer’s daughter helping me to stay away from asex addiction lifestyle ..One that foreigners follow to lonely deaths in condos, hotels or staffed by those interested only in money.
    Yes my son and her will inherit their already co owned ocean facing high up garden/farm but not money.
    It is your choice. Follow addiction and enjoy/suffer… or …refuse and create a real life. Will i die in this or the other lifestyle? All I can say is pick a path and take it one day at a time stepping within your chosen path. Stepping off that path is toying with defeat.

  9. Ladies, if you’re wondering what you do if the sex addict wants to leave, the answer, although painful, is very clear. You let him leave. I know the pain is excruciating. It’s and insult to injury. However, staying is no better. Some make it, some don’t, but those who stay continue on their suffering for a long time and find themselves living the same nightmare over and over, which is the definition of insanity. If they leave, eventually you will see what a blessing it was. You cannot force change on someone. You cannot force recovery. Sex addicts have a fear of being controlled and respond with more acting out. The real question is, how am I going to work on myself. If you sex addict is only thinking of himself and you’re only thinking about him, then who is thinking about you? Who is taking care of you? Who is adding value to your life in a healthy and positive way? You need to be that person for yourself. You deserve to be the best version of yourself with healthy supportive relationships with mutual respect, love, and commitment. These things are not attainable from most sex addicts and definitely not attainable from sex addicts who chose to leave. They have chosen their own destruction. They’ve decided to stick with the devil they know. They are broken people who you cannot fix or forced to be fixed. Let go of idea in your head. Let go of the false perceptions they made you believe so they could have you for their selfish needs while keeping their lies safely hidden. Accept the situation for what it is and accept that you now know who they truly are, both good and bad. What are your goals, hopes, and dreams for yourself and your children? What can you do yourself to make those things happen for yourself? How can you get the help you need to cope with the trauma and your children’s trauma? What can be done to strengthen youself and stop history from repeating itself? Please! Make yourself the priority. Give to yourself what he can never give you and accept his limitations for what they are so you can stop hoping and expecting to be and give what he is not capable of. I know it’s hard to let go. I know how much it hurts. The truth is your safer if he leaves. Let yourself hurt. Don’t blame youself for his actions and don’t feel negative about yourself for being deceived. They are great at deception and deceive everyone around them. They have to inorder to hide the truth. You are the real victim, but don’t let yourself continue to be victimized or stay the victim. Get the help you and yours need and become healthier and stronger for your own well being and the well being of your children. You deserve so much better ladies!!! Fight like hell to believe that. Take care of yourself! You matter! Who you are as a person matters! The life long scars you have to cope with matters. Tend to yourself and your wounds. It’s not easy, but you can do it! Love yourselves and please stay safe.

    • Thank you, Christine. I agree with everything you have said on the blog. I have witnessed it firsthand. I was unknowingly married to a sex addict/(sexual and intimacy anorexic to me) for 30 years. I learned about the tons of infidelity 11 months ago and I separated from him. I was willing to try to reconcile for my adult children’s sake through recovery programs and therapy. He would sometimes say the right words but they never seemed heartfelt. When he cried, I felt like he was crying for himself and the fact that his mask was gone and his double life was exposed. I don’t think he ever cried for me or our children. He was somewhat remorseful at first, but it diminished quickly over a couple of months time. He continues to blame everyone but himself and has no real empathy for me or my kids. He stopped going to SAA meetings after about 3 or 4 times. He became so angry at me and he punishes me financially and any other way he can for not fixing this for him. He isolated from me and stopped communicating. No matter how kind I tried to be in an attempt at honest and open communication, he would say I was “attacking” him. I once said to my therapist, “he was so much nicer to me when he was an addict. Her reply has stuck with me – No, he was not! Nice was a mask he chose to wear to keep you and use you to hide his double life…The way he treats you now that the mask is down is the REAL man he has been all along. There are not enough words to describe all the emotions I have been through but I am confident in my faith in God. I have the love and support of my family. I feel I have been given no choice at all…. I am in the process of divorcing him. If I won everything he owns in the divorce settlement, it would never start to cover what he has put me through for the last 30 years. I hope one day I can help and encourage other women who go through this.

    • Thank you for this post. This has been very helpful to me. My sex addict fiancé left me and completely cut me off.

    • Oh my. This is so timely. Thank you so much. My fiancé left me and so gave felt awful. I’m doing all the right things – counseling, church, meds, great support network. I re-read this today as I was having doubting feelings about my worth as a woman. God bless you for sharing. I wish you all the happiness you missed out on.

  10. We’ll my story is somewhere in between all this. My husband is a sex addict. I like to think he was a sex addict but I know that he always will be even though he’s doing great in his recovery. For us it took a long time for him to really try to recover. He was able to get clean through a program called “setting captives free” . If they’re still in ministry I would recommend it for the sex addict. Their programs for the spouse aren’t as good at first. I don’t think eihter person can fully recover from the hurt of this without Gods help. And that gpes for the marriage as well. My husband has been clean for about 3 years now. Part of my boundaries were that he will never have a smart phone. Internet capabilities would be blocked by Verzion even to hot spots. Our home computer has Covenant Eyes monitoring software. And I make him send pictures of different random things from where he says he is if it’s a work related outing. This has helped with the trust issues. I have also made him repeat setting captives free program online when their were slips in the beginning. For us, that has worked. But there is still distance in the marriage. My husband says he thinks he sort of froze after he was stable in recovery. Now I am confronting him on working to reconcile the marriage. I’m giving it 6 more months before I start to take away some luxuries of marriage ie. Sleeping in the same bed, having meals cooked for him , etc. I think for the longest time he thought conquering the addiction and time would fix everything but it hasn’t. Something that helped me tremendously is realising that you can’t expect the ungodly to behave in a godly way. Men who watch porn, cheat etc. Are ungodly. So they are behaving exactly as they are. Until they make an effort to get saved get treatment and step to help their wives heal, there is no real hope. I think it’s different for everyone but if you’re a Christian ask Hod what he wamts from you. Yes God hates divorce. But he also hates to see you, his daughter broken and becoming a person He never intended for you to be. For some the answer is to stay. For some the answer is to leave. For others it’s wait and see what happens and then ask God again. Remember He willl never force your husbands to change. That’s the free choice God gives to each person. But he will also never force you to stay in a situation where your boundaries are disrespected. If that’s happening pray about it and consider if it’s time to move on. But consider very carefully if children are involved because the addict may not recover if you split. But you also have to be sane for yourself and your children. I was always violent and in a rage in the beginning and with each discovery of new hurtful lies and the really gross and dirty stuff their into that they don’t want to tell you. But somehow God showed my ways to get into emails crack passwords etc. And finally everything was out. It’s excruciating but you will be able to look at him again. If you remember that he’s ungodly and has to
    want and learn to be Godly. It will help you tremendously to learn how to forgive. You have to forgive even if you don’t stay together or this hurt and anger will eat the life out of you and steal from your future and your kids.

  11. I am the ex wife of a sex addict, together 21 years and married for 16. 10 years into our marriage, the secret life was stumbled on. As a spouse, I cannot explain in words the utter horror of eventually being able to pin point the underlying reason for such deciet, disgusting behaviour (prostitutes and many other unsuspecting females). I could not understand how he had time for this secret life, we done everything together. As it turns out, all done during work hours and via the god damn bloody internet / smart phone.

    I am a strong woman with strong marital values and once I was able to pin point a reason (SA), I was relieved…believe it or not…now I could rationalise what he had been doing and why. Like too many of us…i listened to the begging to come back way too many times. I really did think I could help him…indeed I actually felt sorry for him! I have since learnt that strong women stay as we think we can fix them…how silly is that. If I only I knew then what I know now.

    I went through so much trauma for 6 more years…similar to PTSD…each time there was an episode of being caught acting out…usually every 3 to 6 months. Typical SA cycles. He got counselling which turned into him even hitting on the couselleor and he was so ashamed he never went back. My life was in disarray.

    At the beginning I told people but then I got too embarrassed and told no one…i was on my own. We had moved overseas…thinking a fresh start would help….NOT. Was up to his usual tricks before the plane touched tarmac. No-one was safe…no females…they all got a dose of his charms..all my friends, family…even his own adopted sister. Females at his work, anyone who was willing to make him feel wanted. I like to call his addiction a compulsive behaviour. Any attention will do…even enjoyed attention from men and he is not gay (well, not that i know of, but who knows!)

    He was ruthless and non stop…all in secret. I could have left so many times…but i simply loved him and wanted to help. He wanted me to help him…but he couldn’t help himself.

    In our final 1.5 years of marriage I decided to work on myself. Stop the checking of phones, emails, bank accounts…all the usual stuff. The peace was amazing and I slowly returned to the bright cofident person I was underneath.

    Then D Day happened…i uncovered a lie….which manifested into him telling me I was paranoid. I knew I wasn’t. He told me he was leaving as I was too strong willed and totally in the wrong. He said he wanted to be on his own. There was noone else bla bla. He left. I was blind sided…i wasn’t ready. All the other times I would have been…but not now after 1.5 years if peace and slowly falling back into unconditional love for this man.

    I spent months thereafter questioning what I had done wrong and maybe I was paranoid…but deep down I knew I was right, I knew I couldn’t be wrong…i was a super slueth at tracking his activities and my gut was telling me I was right and that there was someone else and he was still acting out. It took a long time but I wasn’t resting until I knew I was right and eventually it came out. He was with a young chick from his work for months before I caught out his lie…she was amongst others no doubt. She thinks she has landed on her feet… little does she know. She is not the type to question him. How another woman can knowingly be with a married man, who is effectively her boss…she just sees $$ no doubt. Obviously doesn’t know anything about girl code. One word…Karma. I could have told her about him…but I won’t. Let her get what she deserves. In fairness.. .I never ever blamed any other woman over the years..i always knew it was him and his lies that snared them. But she is different. She knows he was married and sleeping in my bed every night. Yep…Karma. I will exit in dignity, thankyou.

    She is simply my replacement as all SAs need someone i believe. A good cover really. And so he is at it all over again…still at his complete inappropriate behaviour with zero boundaries. I cannot stress how deep this behaviour runs and if I hear one more person say maybe he just wasn’t happy I will scream. We had the best best best life together. We were best friends.. .the world was our oyster. This addiction is disgusting and ruins good people and it is worse for the spouse…i say that due to having spent half my life as a lie and I never knew it. It’s a tough sentence trying to move on but i will. I know i will.

    If there is anything I have learned in this experience is that there is little to no help out there for spouses. It’s a disgrace. We need more communities and help to put people in touch with each other as talking to understanding people is one of the major ways forward. My friends who I told in the end up and my mother have been so amazing and understanding. I literally owe my life to them. They dragged me through this and kept me somewhat sane.

    I would not wish this journey on my worst enemy. It’s just a sad sad place. I basically got caught up and I would have never left only he left me as he was sick of the hiding as I got too good and caught him out alot of the time.

    If you have a choice….go…run for the hills…get out. You won’t ever fix them…ever. I loved this man deeply but I am learning to live without him and love myself more. You can too. They have to fix themselves. If you stay…get a good therapist for yourself too…this is a long hard journey to do on your own. Don’t make my mistake. Remember…one life…live a true one. Dont be a cover for someone who cannot sit still long enough to help them selves. X

    • Partners should consider Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center http://www.posarc.com/
      And attending or starting a POSA meeting. Many CSAT therapists place an emphasis on treating partners and spouses. This is indicated in their listings on http://www.sexhelp.com or their websites.

    • Thank you for sharing. My fiancé left me and I have been trying to sort things out. This was very helpful. God bless.

      • Amazing things will happen, you will be thankful for the chance to move on without looking over your shoulder any longer. The peace is life changing. Good things that i thought not possible to happen to me are and i am rebuilding and smiling again. I definately have very difficult low moments but they are getting less. Just keep living for today and looking forward and leave the past behind because that’s where it belongs. God bless you too x

  12. I am a sex, alcoholic, and drug addict. I been using and abusing it every since my seperation with my son baby mother, been to rehab and graduated, and keep going to my program. Relapses are been part of my life every since i started recovery been 5 months, and abstinence. Now like today every time i get rejected any of my addictions, or reservations tend to do things i end up f….d, i live a secret life besides my straight life i just dont know what to do with myself. I want a quality of life with a female/or male i just cant seem to faithfull and continue doing insanity. Dont need a coach, mentor or motivator speaker i need solutions like we. A friend is a friend who will never let you be broke, and a friend who helps you recover till i can do 1yr then i can truly say he saved my life and that priceless before money, pleasure. God is good..i want him to be great with me make sense

  13. I’m the ex partner of a sex addict. I’m gay and I discovered 8 years ago that my partner was leading a double life during our 16 year relationship and his previous realtionships. I tolerated 8 years of hell because I loved him and thought it was a mid life crisis or that the increasing bad consequences of his acting out would finally teach him that it wasn’t worth it. I’d never even heard the terminology “sex addict” until 3 years ago when a google search introduced me to the world of sex addiction. It took a further 2 1/2 years for him to finally admit he was an addict and needed help. It’s sad but to hear those words come out of his mouth after so many years was a relief, finally we could work at repairing the damage that had been done to both of us.
    We shared google realtime locations with each other whilst he said he would look for help but I watched him slip back into denial when the reality of what needed to be done dawned on him and after turning off his GPS location, after an argument, he lasted less than 24 hours before returning to look for anonymous sex in a park (his vice of choice). Luckily I had a backup plan B location sharing program on his phone that he didn’t know about……always have a plan B!!

    At this point I realised that he had no intention of seeking help, he had constant “justifications” for his actions, most of which were to blame me. I asked him to move out and after a complete melt down of an argument, I approached his family for help. They sat him down and let loose on him but the ever charming sex addict managed to slightly manipulate them to his side, so once again I was blamed for his actions, the fact that he had done this to his previous partners meant nothing to them. He then decided that he needed a holiday and went to see friends, admitting to me that he’d already been acting out and would probably do so whilst he was away. Around this time I discovered that he had already started dating the next guy, it took him 3 hours after being kicked out of our house. Strangely this hurt more than all the anonymous sexual encounters. He was still angling for reconciliation with me, dating a new guy and acting out as well. This was the last straw and I told him I couldn’t continue with him, I was destroyed.

    We own a business together and obviously it’s not question of being able to walk away easily. I live in his country and have dedicated my life to building friendships with his family and friends, most of which have turned their backs on me now -the charms of a narcissistic sex addict have given him the ability to appear to be such a great guy, does anything for his friends (at the expense of his partner). I’ve heard some of the stories he tells people about me to relinquish his guilt, all are either imensely exaggerrated or just untrue. I gave up defending myself to them as it falls on deaf ears.

    I’ve read all the stories on here and I can pretty much identify with all of you. The exhausting detective work, the worry, sleepless nights I’ve been there. Living with an addict was an emotional roller coaster with more drops than heights and the hell continues even after. Only now I can see the affects his addiction have had on me, years of gaslighting and crazymaking, threats, arguments, emotional neglect, condescending comments, control and stress have reduced me to the shell of the person I used to be. I don’t trust many people, have virtually no motivation, I don’t sleep more than 4 hours a night and have low self confidence. I have to face starting a new life from scratch in a foreign country, new friends, new work and hopefully at some point a new partner. I’ve started therapy but finding it hard, years of anger and frustration are holding me back but the hardest thing to deal with is letting go of someone I still love. Yes, I can hear you asking “how could I still love him?” but I do, god only knows why.

    If you’re thinking of supporting your partner through recovery I will give you some advice. Unless the addict is actively seeking help you can assume that they are still acting out. Always have a back up plan and trust your gut instinct.


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