For most sex addicts, blaming a spouse or partner for a pattern of sexual acting out behavior is a predictable part of the denial process .  Even when they are devoted in many ways to their spouse and family, addicts may still feel that their behavior is caused by something in their situation.

Like all denial mechanisms, this is partly a matter of wanting to avoid feelings of shame about the behavior, as well as wanting to explain it away.  This “shame dumping” as it is sometimes called can be conscious or unconscious, overt or covert.  It is like saying “I’m really a good guy; I only do what I do because of such-and such.”

Your own problems and addictions are usually hard to spot and/or admit to.  But it is always easier to see what’s wrong with someone else or what’s wrong with your life.

Feeling abandoned by a partner with the birth of a child

It is very common for an underlying sex addiction in men to really begin to take hold following the birth of a child.  The problems with the addict’s intimacy avoidance, their addiction proneness, or their lack of emotional maturity were most likely there before.  Often they were masked by the newness of the relationship.

The birth of a child takes the mother away to some extent and puts the emphasis on someone other than the addict.  The addict may flee the new demands and seek to escape into acting out.  In this case the addict may feel unconsciously that they have been rejected or abandoned by his wife and thus feel justified in acting out behaviors like going to strip clubs, prostitutes or sexual massage parlors.

Self sacrifice and overwork

Self sacrifice and devotion to their partner may paradoxically be a setup for the addict to begin to feel like indulging the urge for a separate secret life of acting out.  Many sex addicts are prone to work too hard and try to be the hero for their spouse or partner.

Later they come to resent it and feel that they are owed something.  Instead of being able to practice the intimacy skills of stating their needs with their spouse and letting go of being the hero, they take refuge in a very self indulgent secret life which they feel they deserve.  You will sometimes hear addicts in recovery say “I had to shoot my white horse.”

Sexual dissatisfaction

Sex addicts often feel that their sexual acting out whether in porn use, serial affairs, or any other sexual behavior is a direct reaction to something that is missing in their marriage.  They may say that the problem is that they “want more sex than my wife” and their reasoning is that if that is the case then they are justified in going outside the marriage or relationship to get sex.  After all it’s his/her fault.  If their partner were meeting their needs then they wouldn’t have to seek sex elsewhere.   But in reality it’s apples and oranges.  What the addict wants is an addictive high, a dopamine rush that is the result of a secret sexual behavior.  This is not just a case of needing more sex.  And it is certainly not the partner’s fault.

Lack of investment in the relationship

Most sex addicts who have partners and who are active in their addictive behaviors are lacking in the ability to be fully invested in their relationship.  Even if they love their partner very much, they have chosen a relationship and a way of relating to a partner that sets the stage for the compartmentalization and deception that go along with sex addiction.  They often feel that they didn’t really want to get married or commit to the partner in the first place.

All too often sex addicts have no idea what a good devoted primary relationship should look like and they are unable to bond effectively.  They expect little of the relationship and of their partner and so are free to put their eggs in several baskets.  They may think consciously that their partner is just too busy with work or that their partner will be likely to betray them anyway.  But it is not their partner who can’t make the bond happen it is them.  Their addiction (and intimacy dysfunction) is not an effect, it’s a cause.

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21 Comments

  1. I actually never found myself blaming a partner but I can see how it could happen. Either way another interesting post. Im happy I found this blog!!

  2. My porn-addicted husband has blamed me and a plethora of others for his behavior and choices. He did have an extremely dysfunctional family life and a mother who acted out with the kids sexually while their father avoided acknowledging the situation. However, rather than get help with healing from his childhood traumas, my husband chose to develop, escalate and continue acting out while blaming both his ex-wife and me for it. This level of denial and lack of responsibility is a major barrier to wellness and to healthy relationships. I think that if he had ever taken full responsibility without needing to blame others and had admitted to the extent of his behavior without diminishment, it would have helped me be more empathetic and supportive even though he has hurt me terribly. It would have been about his behavior and not about me and my failings.

  3. When the issue was first caught it started a series of arguments that led us to be distant to each other. At which point it just kept cycling the more it happened the worst it would get. He tells me it’s all my fault if I hadn’t been here he would not have hurt me. The trouble in that line of crap is he had a problem long before he met me. I am starting to believe he truly likes this behavior and he doesn’t want to change it.

    • Wow- my heart goes out to both of you wives. I have been married to my current wife for over 30 years and although I have never been physically unfaithful to her I have been addicted to porn that whole time. I am in recovery now and realize how much pain and misery I have caused over the years because she “didn’t meet my needs” (which had nothing to do with my needs but rather my addiction). I hope and pray that your spouses will realize their sickness and seek help. A great place for them to start is this website and I would highly recommend http://www.yourbrainonporn.com
      I wish you both the best

    • Wow I can totally resonate with your post.

  4. My husband of one year constantly holds porn over my head. When we first started dating he told me you’re so perfect & everything I want, I don’t even have to watch porn anymore. He told me he did with all his exes because they were somehow not up to his “standards” for a lack of better words. I didn’t pay him much attention but looking back hindsight is 20/20. I am now always finding myself listening to his pathetic excuses of his justification of why he watches porn all the time. Not only does he disrespect me on a daily basis, I AM THE ONE NOW WHO IS GETTING ACCUSED OF TERRIBLE ACTIONS. To add insult to injury he erases his history but leaves papers EVERYWHERE of detailed discriptions of the videos he watches. Lately he has locked me put of the office and threatens me with watching it if I don’t give it to him. I am so devastated, broken, and left feeling inadequate. I have become bitter, antisocial, and depressed. I don’t even know how to heal, I know in my head it’s not my fault but my heart is so hurt and left wanting answers that I will never get. Please someone tell me how to start the first step of coping and healing.

  5. I am divorcing my sex addicted husband after interventions, intensive therapy with an “expert” in the field. After an Affair with a stripper, tens of thousands of dollars spent on hookers and strip clubs and his putting his penis before everything else in life. We got into an argument last night about him forgoing parenting time to spend the night with his new girlfriend (we are still legally married) which resulted in having to reschedule our sons 504 plan meeting with the school. His response, “I’m done letting you tell me who I am! My therapists says I know who I am and what I need to do.” Seriously? I don’t think having someone deny the reality of who they are is helpful in any sense! Missing parenting time and an appointment for your child in lue of a new girlfriend must make him the greatest guy on earth – he’s now so committed. How the heck does he twist this stuff in his mind? So it was my mind control techniques (because I was telling him who he was) that made him do all those things, but he’s better now because he’s not listening to me any more? I’m really starting to think this man is delusional! I am frustrated beyond belief. I know I have to let go of trying to fix this, but when my kids are affected it’s so hard to just let it go! He shows up with gifts and lies as to why he couldn’t be there, takes some manufactured pictures to post on FB and he transforms into dad of the year! Uh, how do you co-parent with someone like this!

    • I am a husband and father who just got caught, I am glad she found out. I hope she gives therapy a chance. This is a terrible sickness. I have been in a haze for years just barely getting by. Your husband has Copt out, and isn’t ready to admit he has a problem. I knew I had a problem just didn’t find help until recently. Stay strong and do what’s right for you kids. I don’t think an addict can get help until they are willing and and will accept help, if your husband was serious he would not have a girlfriend. That thought crossed my mind many times in the last two weeks. But if I don’t stop now how will I ever?

      • I’m in a two year relationship with an addict who puts his penis and love for prositutes over everything else. He has been caught before and fessed up that he suffers from sex addiction but denies that he’s still acting on it. We haven’t had sex since May and that was only because I broke down crying when he rejected me yet again. I’m an attractive, intelligent woman but yet he would rather seek low rate hookers than be with me. We just moved into a home recently and while my dad, his dad, and I are working on the house, he’s out texting hookers. His number is now on a website called demand tracker. This web site posts decoy ads and then stores the numbers that text the ads. It’s a non profit company that runs the ads and the data base in an effort to stop human trafficking. His number has 8 hits since Aug with the most recent being this last Sunday. I love him but I don’t know how much more I can take. Not only is he jeopardizing our relationship, he’s also jeopardizing his career. His phone and phone number is registered to his work and now it’s on a website for texting fake prostitute ads. I have an appt with a therapist next Wed. She deals specifically with sexual addiction and its victims. I can only hope she can give me some guidance.

    • I know that this comment is from earlier this year, but I had to reply because I am going through a very similar situation. My fiancé (who I share two children with) and I had been together for 7 years. The last three of which were a nightmare after finding out about his sex addiction. After working so hard to save our relationship and stand by him while he got he worked on his addiction (or so I thought) he walked out on me and has been blaming me ever since. He now denies even having a sex addiction. According to him and his therapist, his acting out was the result of me and my need to control him… and my emotional abuse… apparently, by being upset about his behavior I was trying to “use guilt to manipulate him”. I don’t know how it is possible for someone to twist things that much in their mind and actually convince themselves that it’s true.
      And co-parenting with him is a nightmare. He is constantly late in the morning because he oversleeps (from being up until all hours of the night). I shoulder most of the parenting responsibility, and when he does manage to exercise parenting time, he is s Disneyland dad… he takes the kids to do all the fun stuff that I wish I could do with them but can’t because I’m the one who takes care of all the necessary stuff… it’s a nightmare.

  6. I’ve found it quite interesting that some commenters here have the same issue. The ‘therapist’ is, in effect, sabotaging any hope for real change.

    After a 30-year marriage, my husband made a blunder by admitting he had sex with someone years before. That led to staggered disclosures over a time period of 12-18 months exposing a monumental sex addiction starting around the age of 10-12 with his initial porn viewing.

    I was indeed traumatized by this and was subjected to being blamed for just about all of my husbands behavior. It’s been 5 1/2 years since D-day and I am finally pulling the plug on this marriage.

    I don’t believe my husband has had one decent therapist. The one I had the most hope for was a CSAT. This therapist went so far as telling my husband that I was to blame for his relapses! Imagine how arrogant he was when he came home after a session armed with that excuse!

    The therapeutic community is NOT helping these people. They baby and coddle them. None of his therapists have ever gotten him to focus on the abusive behaviors of sex addiction. The harm they’re causing their partners, wives, children and families. The blaming that’s discussed in this article is not addressed with the addict; it’s just glossed over. As if the therapist is afraid of angering the addict.

    After a few years in therapy myself, I have come to learn that no, I am NOT in anyway to blame for his choosing to behave in such a manner. I am valuable, I have worth and the only way to move forward toward any peace in life is to remove myself from this abusive relationship and away from someone incapable of accepting responsibility and being open to change.

    Good luck to you other spouses. Hopefully you won’t waste the amount of time I did listening to untrained, unqualified sex addiction therapists who are NOT helping addicts and their relationships.

    • Well said!! I agree completely and so sorry you have had to endure this awful pain of being married to a sex addict. I hope your life is so much better now I’m sure it has to be there’s nothing worse than living with this! Wasted years on a selfish evil person. well done you are knowing the truth and your worth, may you be complete healed and live your life to the full now. Bless you

    • If an addict can lie to his therapist and support groups he will. My ex-boyfriend said that his therapist positioned her body a certain way when she was counseling him and he got a hard-on. He loves going to counseling with her.

    • I believe it’s okay to tell your addict where he went wrong. He passed through a gate of immorality giving no head to counsel about it. Addicts boast about their own strength and wisdom. They do not Bridle their passions so that they can be filled with love. If you give sexual passion it’s rein it is going to run with you. Very few people have the wisdom and strength to control sexual passion on their own. They forsake the things that they are supposed to be doing in order to do the things they are not supposed to be doing. They go to places where they can get their drug rather than avoid those places. The excuse themselves by saying everyone’s doing it. There are long and short term consequences for their bad behaviord and bad examples! a short-term consequence: They feel bad for what they do. A long-term consequence: addics wives and children will stand as a testimony against them. A short-term consequence: when people see their conduct they don’t believe their words to be true. If a sex addict does not realize that his actions are hellish and almost as horrible as the shedding of innocent blood he is involved in a great crime! He violated moral principles due to the lusts of his eyes. He killed love!

    • Wow what a lightening bolt that just hit me. Like you it has been over 30 years marriage and getting a tad sick and tired of being blamed for him being a porn addict when he said he started before we married lol. I feel a fool. Thankyou for your honesty.

    • Hi Karen, I can really relate to you, and especially about the therapists..
      I live in Sweden and WAS married to a Swede. Same story really, kids , long marriage and then, all that addiction stuff raised it’s nasty little/huge head.
      I’m English and moved here to Sweden when I met him. All in love.,
      Anyway to cut a long story short. After knowing my now X spouse for 24 years I found loads of pics of him with different women on his iPad, having sex!!!
      Some were just of him in weird clothes, sex toys atratched to his penis! and many pics of the dick pic variety.. I was super shocked, devastated.. he was on a sex site. ???

      He didn’t know how to explain these pics so he left the house 3 days later, in embarrassment and guilt probably I think..

      We went to marriage guidance, but that was a waste of time, he only blamed everything on me.. all kinds of stuff that were soooo irrelevant. Basically making him into a total control freak. When he couldn’t control me he had to act out.. etc.. etc…

      He went to some other therapist, but probably didn’t tell HER the truth..
      she just fired him up and made him feel good about what he’d done!!!! Destroyed his family???

      we are now divorced and I just bought a new home to move forward in my life. My kids are pretty big snd my daughter still lives at home. Thank goodness ❤️
      My kids support me alot and so does my mum in England !!
      I can’t believe that this has happened sometimes, but by reading other stories, I guess I find some kind of peace and reassurance in the whole thing. That I’m not alone!
      I wish us all love, luck and happiness!!
      S 🌹

  7. This would have to be the worst description and reasoning I have ever read on sex addiction . These are just a bunch of excuses for a person who clearly has personality disorder narcistic self centred problems. I am sure that if the sex addict is doing all this then the partner is also going without but probably not acting out behind their backs or living a deceitful life like their unfaithful partner sex addict! Because they are more responsible and considerate of their partner. . Oh and the one about the children omgosh how selfish and immature is that!! How do you think the wife feels after birthing the baby getting up every night and then has to be thanked by her husbands sex addiction by him going behind her back having an affair or watching pornography whores to get sexual satisfaction! this is just again a selfish child like irresponsible excuse for a self centred immature man and this article is another enabling thing that keeps people like that in our society. Shame on you.

    • Addicts will lie in a therapy system where they can lie to the therapist who they actually fantisize over as well. Sex addicts crush on their therapists. Especially when they wear Yoga pants and get their clients into doing Yoga with them in hopes to calm their sex addicts stress…ha…give me a break! My exbofriend/sex addict is in love with his therapist!

  8. I only wished I had known about his addiction before we got married almost 20 years ago. His (much later) diagnosed ASD did not help either. As it is, we have not had any form of intercourse in over 2 years. Heck! We don’t even hug or cuddle. But he wanks off at least 3 times a week in the bathroom (he’s told me) and has a “wonderful” collection of nude pics provided by all too willing females. But, somehow, ALLLLL of this is MY fault. I am SO ANGRY!!

  9. Sometimes I feel like a stupid to have believed in my husband for 12 years. He had this addiction from 7-8 years before our marriage. The first time I caught him was 2 years into pur marriage and since then he has been blaming me for something or the other every time I confront him. I tried changing my habbits, left my career, cut all my social ries- even with my own parents and cousins.. but he still comes up with something new. I now have stress related disorders but when I caught him again 2 days ago he kept on blaming my habits and illness, putting on a guilt-free, blunt face. I can’t believe I let myself fall for this person everytime. He has no realisation how hard it is for me to get back to a normal independent life with no work experience and a little daughter’s responsibility. Can’t now stop blaming me myself for being a fool.


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