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.”
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.