A person that is addicted to sex will spend most of his day thinking about sex to the point of disengagement of his surroundings. The only way to change this situation is to recognise the existence of the addiction and start treating it. There are 4 warning lights that can help you identify it.
Becoming addicted to hyper-sexual drive and constant engagement with sexual content damages the quality of life of a growing number of ‘normal’ people. The purpose of treating this addiction is not promoting sexual abstinence but to regain control over one’s life. The majority of referrals for treatment for sexual and porn addiction is from the addict’s partner and not the addicts themselves. This can be explained by some anonymous quotes (for obvious reasons of discreetness):
“We’ve been married for a couple of years. In the last few months he keeps on making comments about my appearance and suggests plastic surgery. Initially I didn’t understand why he’s putting pressure on me to do certain sexual things I’m not comfortable with. Also, I’m not sure if I should be worried about it, but sometimes I find him watching porn on his laptop”.
“We’ve been married for 15 years and we have 2 adorable kids. My husband is warm, supportive and charming. The only problem is that he needs sex every day, sometimes twice a day, and he can get really hurt if I’m not in the same mood. I understand that he has needs that I cannot satisfy. What can I do?”
“we’ve been in a relationship for a couple of years and marriage is being discussed. I notice that he constantly tells ‘white lies’ especially regarding his tendency to disappear for several hours at the time without me being able to contact him. When I ask him about it he always avoids answering. Recently I’ve lent him some money for some business venture, but I have a feeling that I will never see my money back. I’ve also noticed that he keeps on changing his mobile phone number every few months. Should I be worried? How can I help him without disturbing our relationship?”
These quotes demonstrate that the partner is also a victim as a result of the addiction, it’s not just the addict. The only way to reduce the suffering is to acknowledge the condition and to start treating it. However, because the majority of us lack the tools to identify this type of addiction the following 4 behavioural patterns can help detect the condition and included are some tips on how partners of addicts can make is a little easier for themselves.
Denying responsibility – Frequently, an addict’s partner will invest a lot of energy in trying to help the addict, fix their problem and save them from their predicament. The partner will search for self-help books, contact support groups or therapists. Often a partner will be inclined to lend money to the addict in order to rescue them from their addiction. □ □ □ In my opinion, you should not try and help cover debts that arose from a partner’s addiction. Many relationships and indeed families were completely destroyed financially because of such efforts. There is no sure way to get anyone to seek professional help. Recovery is something that needs to be desired by the addict. However, often the risk of losing a relationship is an incentive to seek treatment.
Emotional detachment - The mind of someone suffering from sex addiction is constantly busy with sex. They will be constantly planning their next encounter, contemplate past activity and generally fantasise about sex between sexual encounters. Such a person can still manage their daily activity well – working, looking after their kids, shopping and even make love to his partner. However, this person’s mind will be elsewhere. With time, their partner will start noticing that they are living side-by-side which brings about a feeling of loneliness. This kind of feeling can cause friction leading to arguments, feelings of inadequacy as well as taking extreme steps to get their partner ‘back to reality’. For example, join in watching porn, or undergo plastic surgery to please the partner. □ □ □ The problem is that in this type of situation of emotional detachment, complaining, nagging and anger not only are not going to help but there are also likely to drive the addict away. Even partner’s attempts to please by undergoing plastic surgery won’t pry the addict away from watching porn or paying for sex (escorts or online).
Snowballing financial instability – Addiction can often lead to financial disasters. For example, compulsive gambles can acquire huge debt. Sex addicts can easily find themselves spending massive amounts of money on acquiring different types of sexual services. In addition, the constant engagement in the behaviour can interfere with their work, risk their employment or their businesses. The problem can go unnoticed for a long time, sometimes until it’s too late, because in many cases the partner is not involved in the financial running of the household and often the extent of the problem is found out when demands start coming in by post and phone calls. Sometimes it can be as bad as a house repossession. Therefore it’s highly recommended that partners get actively involved in the financial running of the household. It’s important to be aware of incomings and expenses, as well as consider separating accounts and in certain cases put the house solely on their name.
Lies and insincerity – Usually addicts are aware and ashamed of their behaviour. They’re constantly busy with concealing their problem from their surroundings and special effort is placed into keeping it hidden from loved ones. Often, when a partner becomes aware of the addiction they start helping the addict hide their bad habit or try to explain or justifying it to others. This could lead to the partner’s isolation from their social circle and bring about even a greater lonesomeness. It’s important to realise that as long as the addict does not “suffer” from the addiction any more than they benefit from it, they are unlikely to seek change. Therefore, helping the addict justify or conceal the addiction only makes it easier for them and allows them to continue enjoying their actions. Despite the fact that ‘coming-out’ requires a lot of guts, at the end of the day coming out will not only help the addict but will also be a relief for their partner.
If any of the above patterns seems partially or wholly familiar to you, you should not postpone seeking professional help. It is unlikely that addicts will recognise these patterns on their own. Therefore, their partner is likely to be the first one to realise the severity of the problem.
If you have any questions or just need to talk about this issue, don’t hesitate to contact me.