Who Is The Sex Addict?
These affairs are committed by individuals who have an ongoing pattern of sexual betrayal, such as frequenting topless bars or adult bookstores, viewing pornography, compulsive masturbation, prostitution, repetitive encounters with sexual partners, and other behaviors that are destructive to both the individual and to the marital relationship.
Even though they're in a committed relationship, have never been able to find complete fulfillment from their relationship. Rather, they are enslaved by a drive to satisfy their longings.
Driven by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, they are powerless over their extramarital attachments to behaviors, people, or objects like pornography. These individuals look to these extramarital attachments to meet their need for love and acceptance instead of allowing their mate to fulfill these needs.
Interestingly, this category of affair is not about the marriage, and often these betrayers don't want to lose their marriage. Most likely, they would have pursued the same behaviors regardless of whom they married.
The fear and shame associated with this behavior perpetuates the dual life of an addict, propelling the destructive behaviors. They often feel hopelessly trapped by these behaviors, but are afraid to come clean because they don't want to lose their marriage or give up their addictive behavior.
This type of betrayal is especially difficult for the spouses because their suffering is not just from the betrayal, but also from their inability to understand their mate's behavior. What the addict has done seems so foreign the spouse cannot comprehend it. Or they are in shock when they discover the sheer magnitude of the compulsive behavior (like a man who has visited more than 20 prostitutes even though the betrayed partner never refuses sex).
Characteristics of Sex Addiction:
- There is a habitual pattern of extramarital behaviors that are either sexually-related and/or relational.
- Typically, the betrayer wants to save the marriage, but still has a compelling drive to look elsewhere to meet his or her needs.
- Often these behaviors began before the marriage, stopped after the marriage, and then began again after the addict realized that the marriage couldn't meet the need in the same way as the addictive behavior could.
- It is common for the betrayer to have made past efforts to stop the behavior and to have actually been successful for a season, only to relapse after believing things were better.
- The betrayer frequently has a deep sense of shame and guilt.
- The sex addict needs to be in individual counseling for their addiction. Being remorseful will not cure a sex addict. You need to go to a therapist who specializes in this. Affair recovery is not possible until the betrayer gets the help they need for their addiction. I say that because unless they get the help they need it will happen again and again until this is dealt with directly.
What You Can Do Now
First, you don't want to diagnose your spouse. You need to let the professional do that even though you have a strong hunch.
Couples therapy can be really successful especially when coupled with individual addiction counseling. The best way to find a good addictions therapist is to start with couples therapy. Let the therapist diagnose the type of addiction and then give you a referral of a trusted sex addiction therapist. This ensures that the clinicians can work together and support you better.