Partners of someone who struggles with sexual addiction often come to us feeling responsible for her partners’ behavior. They struggle with feelings of self-doubt, “What have I done wrong?”
They commonly have a perception that they lack something essential. They think, “If only I had. . . .” The blank gets filled with whatever sense of insecurity that might have lodged in their minds from the misplaced criticism of others.
The truth is that partners of those who struggle with sexual addiction are not responsible for their partner’s behavior. Each of us are responsible for own behavior. We are also responsible for our own healing.
A person who struggles with sexual addiction has become a slave of his own behavior. His partner need not be. She can begin a journey to greater health.
The journey begins when the partner recognizes that she is in relationship with a person who struggles with an addiction. This is not easy.
The partner must overcome a false perception of reality that has been created for her. A person who struggles with sexual addiction invests a great deal of energy hiding his behavior. He projects an idealized image of himself to family and friends. The image he projects becomes the false perception of reality under which the partner lives.
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.
She wants to believe him. But as her confidence she no longer allows herself to accept her partner’s explanations and justifications. His repeated assurances that everything will be alright is no longer assuring.
Thus begins a painful journey. Some women take this journey alone. They either do not know that they can get help, or they feel too much shame to reach out.
Sadly, women who do not get the support they need risk sacrificing their own mental and emotional health. Partners of one who struggles with sexual addiction frequently report symptoms consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They often require treatment for trauma as a result.
Once a woman accepts the truth that she needs to support, healing can begin.
As the partner get the emotional support she needs, she also learns how the sexual addiction can be challenged in more constructive ways. It is common that healing for the person who struggles with sexual addiction begins with the healing of the partner.
Although the journey is never easy, partners have made it to greater emotional and mental health once the receive the support the need to heal.
Image by Kasia