Sexual addiction does not just touch the one who struggles with the addiction. Partner’s suffer as well. A primer on sexual addiction is incomplete unless it includes the partner experience. Partners often get overlooked in the drama of sexual addiction. All the attention goes to the addict. But the partner has real needs as well.
“Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you.” Some proverbs are rather more practical than others. This African proverb is more practical than most. No one wants to be eaten by the crocodile. When we discuss the road to recovery from sexual addiction it is always best to cross the river in a group.
The journey of recovery from sexual addiction includes many challenges. The first perhaps, involves the need to address Denial. Denial is a natural (and mostly healthy) coping mechanism we use to avoid a painful reality. It serves us well when we are confronted with a situation for which we are not prepared. It gives us the psychological space we need to gather the resources and support required to tackle change.
As the addiction advances, it becomes more and more difficult maintain the false front. Negative consequences multiply. Cracks begin to appear in the image he is working so hard to create. The partner will often experience a growing awareness that something is not right. She will not be consciously aware of this at first. The awareness will slowly rise as a deep intuition — a feeling of growing discomfort.
How does the well-trained sexual addiction therapist address the challenge of boundary failure in the life of a person who struggles with sexual addiction? It is not enough to describe the condition. It is not enough to understand how internal boundary failure contributes to a failure to respect the boundaries of others. Just advising someone to change, does not work.
When boundary violators struggle with sexual addiction, they suffer a similar violation in boundaries inside themselves. This make treatment of sexual addiction particularly challenging. People who struggle with sexual addiction experience a significant split in their Mind/Body experience. Rather than knowing themselves as whole people with healthy Mind/Body integration, they become one person having two parts — a Mind and a Body.
Sexual Addiction is a complex disorder that requires specialized training to treat. In this series of posts we are exploring what one element that makes this disorder so challenging. People who struggle with sexual addiction also struggle with boundaries. A “boundary” defines personal space. When we recognize and honor boundaries we accept the simple fact that the other person is worthy of respect.
Media culture influences everyone. It informs who we are and who we become. Many are trapped by our hypersexualized culture. It begins when we are young, long before we have the knowledge to make careful choices in our live. Media culture is a major influence. But it is not the only influence. Each of us become who we are by way of the interaction of three influences that are constantly in play. Think of them as three concentric circles of influence.