Dating a Sex Addict: Do’s and Don’ts

Let’s assume you are a very intuitive person.  Let’s say you are a woman who has just found out her boyfriend is frequently watching internet porn, having online sexual encounters, or engaging in other sexual activities in a secretive or compulsive way.

You have already got a pretty good idea that there’s something not OK about it.  Maybe he wants you to act out a particular fantasy scenario or engage in a 3-way or some other act that may not be in your comfort zone.  You say “no” and he keeps pushing you; maybe he even gets irritated.

The following are common sense ideas based on my own experience in working with sex addicts and their partners.


  • Don’t ignore your intuition.  Your intuition is that little faint voice inside you that tells you something doesn’t feel right.  It is way too easy to ignore that little voice especially in new dating situation when you don’t have all the “information.”  Your intuition has a lot of information, so trust it.
  • Don’t let yourself be talked out of what you are feeling.  If you say that you think there’s a problem and your boyfriend denies it and tries to brush it off you should continue to notice the signs of addiction.  And, if you are dealing with a sex addict, promises to change are worth next to nothing.
  • Don’t blame yourself for someone else’s compulsive sexual behavior.  Even if the person tries to blame you and say you are lacking sexually or some other way,  you cannot and should not accept a guilt trip
  • Don’t “manage” his illness.  Many sex addicts will disclose their behavior but not take responsibility for it.  They may let you be their coach, therapist or policeman.  This never works for either of you and is at bottom a way of dodging the issue.


  • Do set boundaries that work for you.  This means deciding what you are really comfortable with.  It also means being clear about what you want and don’t want, expressing it and continuing to stick to it over time.
  • Do continue to observe and put the pieces together.  Ask a lot of questions, particularly about his relationship history and what he is looking for in a relationship.  You are not being paranoid, just prudent.
  • Do take a critical look at his behavior.  Hold onto the idea that no matter how sexually exciting you find the relationship, there are other very important ways to evaluate a potential boyfriend besides sexual magnetism.
  • Do demand that the person get help.  This is something he must do based on his own motivation but you may be important enough to him to provide that initial thrust. This means that if you take a stand you have to be ready to walk.  “Get help or I’m out of here,” is often what an addict needs to give him the impetus to get some help.

Obviously these are just a few observations and not the whole story.  There are many important aspects to how to conduct a dating relationship in present day society.  And there are many different viewpoints out there as to what is “normal” and what is sexually addictive or problematic so that it is easy to feel confused in an actual dating situation.

Please leave a comment and share your experience and wisdom on this topic!