Couples in Therapy

Many partners find themselves overwhelmed upon discovery asking themselves questions: What is sex addiction? How did I miss this and not know this was going on? Is there any future for this relationship? How can I protect myself now and in the future?

In most circumstances, partners find out about the infidelity by accident when a friend tells you that your partner is having an affair, stumbling across many pornographic pictures or websites on the computer, discovering that your partner is having an affair on line, participating in an online webcam chat, overhearing a conversation, finding incriminating phone records, receipts, contracting a sexually transmitted disease and arrests. The partner may notice the addict's unaccounted time and money, late hours, unavailability, anger, irritability, and decreased interest in sexual activities. You may have suspected something wrong, felt some unease and distance. You may have even thought of yourself as being unreasonable or "crazy," at least that's one of the ways that an addict might use to defend his or her lies. Sex addicts may be very convincing and persuasive in creating the world of secrecy and deception. You may have ignored your gut feeling until more proof became available and you could not ignore any longer.

If you are like most partners discovering sexual infidelity, your initial reaction would be to confront the addict. If your partner agrees, as much as you would absolutely want for him or her to come clean about everything, it would be best accomplished with support of a therapist, so as for you to avoid experiencing an even greater level of trauma and pain. The sex addict may not be able to remember at that moment all of his or her past sexual experiences and then you'll run into the problem of "staggered disclosure." A staggered disclosure is when the addict discloses pieces of sexual infidelity in pieces either out of fear or honest inability to recall every account. With the support of a therapist, an addict will be able to provide an accurate account without causing additional pain and further eroding any possible left over trust or hope for reconciliation. So, please, as impossible and difficult as it may seem, please try not to demand from the addict the details of his or her sexual "acting out" until the therapy has begun. Unfortunately, having more information would not provide you with more control. Please wait to have the "formal disclosure" as to avoid experiencing setbacks to your healing.

According to current estimated prevalence rates about 3 to 6 percent of the general population struggles with sex addiction. Being in a relationship with an active addict creates an environment of unmanageability, crisis and chaos. Most partners feel like innocent victims who were betrayed, deceived, manipulated, and/or placed at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Your feelings of disbelief, pain, anger, fear, hopelessness depression, and sometimes shame are real and need to be healed. You are not alone! Please ask for help!