Hi Eliza & Rena I feel for you both, it is crappy being a partner of someone who is addicted, and it is crappy being an addict. Addiction is very ********** I once heard Paula say something like "Addiction is a compulsive habit that goes against your morals and principles". There is a lot of truth in that, and it is why addicts hide what they do because they are ashamed, it is why they have such low self-esteem too. Their deeper true selves are moral but many have this pain deep in their soul that they often don't know how to comfort accept through something that is immoral. That doesn't excuse them of wrong doing, although many do rationalise their behaviour and excuse themselves in some way - often blaming others when they should be taking responsibility for their wrong doing. In saying this, whilst I think your understanding (I want to say empathy but I am not sure that is quite right...) of 'us addicts' is important, I would encourage you to be morally clear and firm. Don't lose your moral compass in the games we play, the self-deception that has to happen to allow us to compromise our own moral principles. Rena - so glad you are looking more to your own needs, putting in boundaries and your own well-being. That is obviously vital for you (seriously) - and it is also important for his recovery. We addicts can't do this on our own, we need partners who won't make allowances, who can despite our dysfunctions, function in a more healthy way. I couldn't have done this without my wife.
Hi In Despair Wow - he isn't in a good place if he denied it and make you feel like you are going mad. That sounds very tough. I presume he has now left? It seems to me that you need to now focus on your own recovery from this, and the recovery of your children. I would recommend you get as much support as you can through this period. I wish you well.
Hi Anon89 I have just read your post. Such things are terrible to discover. "Devastation" seems to be the word that comes closest to the experience of many partners. My wife was so devastated that she suffered symptoms of PTSD. Sex addiction is awful - awful for the addict (seriously) and awful for partners. There is definitely hope but one has to very uncompromising. I can talk from my own experience and perhaps draw out some essentials. 1. I reached rock bottom. I decided that the road I was on lead to destruction. I wanted find a way out. Your husband is the only one who can decide this. It is up to him. He has to be desperate to get out of addiction. On my course, which I will tell you about, Paula said, 'your recovery has to be more important than your marriage' - I took that to mean it had to be more important than anything and everything. It makes sense - if you don't recover, you won't have a marriage (in normal circumstances), and if you do, then you might have a marriage. 2. I contacted Paula and had some counselling. That was good but she really sees the intensive recovery course as the most effective therapy, and I now see why. In fact, just a few weeks before my intensive I saw two sex workers despite something like 8-10 sessions with Paula. Since the intensive I haven't looked at porn, seen a sex worker etc etc. I would recommend he/you get specialist counselling from Paula or one of her associates. 3 I did her 5 day recovery. It was amazing - I had wanted to recover before, but on the course I finally had the tools to recover and I made the decision that I would recover at all costs. I also decided to tell my wife of 20 years. Paula's courses are advertised on her website. 4. I told my wife some weeks later - it was awful. It was a strange path we then took - I was feeling a whole load better because I was beginning to recover into a vaguely normal person, she was devastated, and that is an understatement. She had specialist counselling with one of Paula's associates and went on the partners course a few months later. 5 My wife was amazing for a number of reasons. Firstly she didn't pretend it wasn't important. She didn't collude in any way. Many partners of addicts are 'co-dependents' which means they collude and compensate. My wife didn't. If she could have done she would have thrown me out of house for some time but for various reasons that wasn't possible, but she did kick me out of the bedroom. In other words she asserted boundaries, and I needed them. You need to be uncompromising with him. To do otherwise won't do him any favours. 6 Your husband will only recover if he is honest, brutally honest with himself (and in my view with you). Eventually I came to tell some of my friends and my employer - they were all great but I could have lost my job (I didn't and that was a miracle). I did this to recover my integrity - to become the same person on the outside as the inside. I would be very surprised if your husband wasn't also addicted to porn. He needs to be honest about this - indeed about everything. Paula/her associates can help him and you to go through a full disclosure of everything. For us that was critical - to recover honesty and transparency. 7. This addiction isn't about sex and it isn't about you or your sex life. It is about deeper stuff in your husbands mind/soul, pain etc. that it is eased by the sex. It could have sought solace in alcohol, drugs or gambling it. It is important for you to hear that. It isn't about you or your sex life. 8. I abstained from masturbation/sex etc for 90 days (recommended by people in this line of business). When I told wife about my addiction, she then asserted a 90 day period of abstinence. Addicts think they can't live without their hit, but the truth is they can, they won't die. They refer to this 90 days as a reboot - it worked very effectively for me. It was like a system reboot. Weird. 9. I have continued in my recovery using a local Sex Addicts Anonymous group (SAA) - this is recommended after an intensive recovery course although Paula now runs post course groups too now. 9 I am 2.5 years in - I haven't masturbated, looked at porn or visited a sex worker since. For me, intrigue is a big enemy - they talk about it quite a lot in SAA. I still have cravings, and sometimes I watch stuff on terrestrial tv that comes close to porn but haven't gone any further. I have discovered that I need to pursue serenity as much as anything else. (c.f. serenity prayer of the 12 step movement), if I do that then my cravings diminish. I hope that helps. I wish you and your husband well.
Hi In despair I have this addiction, although I free from the behaviour for two and half years now. Whilst I haven't been in a 'partner's' shoes, I have seen close up how hellish this is for partners. It doesn't surprise me you are picking up mixed signals, addicts go through cycles - deep guilt and remorse, but at other times obsession and excitement as they start thinking about acting out again. It is a terrible world to be stuck in - both for you and for him. It must be made more difficult for both of you in different ways living much of the time at a distance. There is hope, always hope. I am still with my partner despite my own unfaithfulness and we are on a good, if at times difficult, journey of rebuilding our marriage. All I am saying is that it is possible (obviously many marriages do breakdown after a sex addiction becomes known by the partner). I think for real hope though, you both need to get some help - you can't do this on your own. He needs to plug into a 12 step programme or one of Paula Hall's courses. There are two books, both by Paula which I would recommend - one for specifically for partners and one on sex addiction. Both would be invaluable for you both. I would also encourage you to confide in a friend or two to walk this rough and dirty road with you. Lastly, don't go soft on him. He needs boundaries and consequences. Do come back on here and give us updates.
Hi It is awful finding yourself in this place, many of us have been there before - the sense of shame, fear, self-doubt, disgust and then the uncertainty about the future. The good news is that you have caught this early - many of us who didn't catch this early went far further down an increasingly dark road - looking at increasingly dark porn and for me onto seeing sex workers. It was a terrible road - and one that you wouldn't want to go down. Since addiction tends to need greater hits, you might have found yourself, given time, in a worse place. That is the good news. You have come to a good place in asking for a consultation on this website. In the meantime I would recommend Paula's book on sex addiction. To answer your question - no you are not totally lost, and your marriage can most certainly recover. It will change and for those of us whose marriages survive through this, it can be the stronger. What would I suggest? 1. Never suggest it is her fault. It doesn't sound like you are tempted to do that. 2. Get help. You are already doing that. 3. Be brutally honest - with yourself and your wife. It is the only way trust can be rebuilt. 4. Give it time - you are on a fairly long road. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and rebuild your self-respect. Others have recovered, so can you. I wish you all the best.
Hi PhilippaAnn Unfortunately addicts are very selfish. They have a tendency to use people to feed their habit - sex addiction is no different. Sex addicts talk about being 'in the bubble' - which conjures up al sorts of dynamics, but is trying to describe that they are in their own world, that it is difficult to connect emotionally or empathise. Have you read Paula's book for partners of sex addicts? It might be worth reading.
Hi Mel It sounds like you are in quite a crisis. However the first step to getting over this is firstly to realise that you are addicted and the second step is hitting rock bottom - this sounds like it might be your rock bottom. The rock bottom is where you come to the point you will do anything to get free from this addiction. And that is what it needs. To get over this addiction you have to be totally, totally, honest with yourself and getting free from you addiction has to be more important than anything else in your life. More important than your marriage even - the logic being, if you don't, you won't have a marriage either. The question is what do you do now? It is good that you are getting referred to different professionals - I wonder if that is about your overdose rather than your addiction? There are various places you can get help. 1. Twelve step programmes, like Sex Addicts Anonymous (http://saauk.info/en/) or Sexaholics Anonymous (https://www.sa.org) or Sex and Love Addicts anonymous (http://www.slaauk.org). I go to SAA and it works for me. The one note of wisdom though, groups vary, so if one doesn't work try another. On their websites, you can see which groups are mixed or single sex. 2. Get some personal support from a friend or relative. I know that can be scary, but my experience is that friends really come through. 3. Read up about Sex Addiction - Paula Hall's book is excellent. "Understanding and treating sex addiction". 4. Personally what turned my life around was Paula's intensive recovery course - information on her website. There is hope - things are bad at the moment, but you can recover from this - many have and do. I am one. Best wishes.
Hi Jo I was seriously addicted to porn and it developed into seeing sex workers. However I faced it, and with a lot of help from people like Paula, I have now been free of both for two and half years, and going strong. Happy to converse with him on here.
Hi Rena I have just read your post from 26th July. What struck me from it was your desire to make your partner feel better. The best thing your partner can do is to face his addiction, tackle it (through counselling, Paula's intensive course, 12 step programme etc) and in doing so develop a health relationship with himself that entails self-respect and self love. In doing so, he will feel a whole load better. Essentially though you can't fix him, only he can do that. A lot of partners of addicts exhibit 'co-dependency'. In fact there is a 12step programme for 'codependents' of addicts. See www.coda-uk.org - they have a self-assessment questionnaire here they might be worth doing: http://www.coda-uk.org/index.php?page=am-i-co-dependent. Might be worth finding a local group, I am sure you would find it very supportive to you in your present situation. I personally have been very helped by a book called 'Codependency for Dummies' - might be worth looking at. The other thing that struck me is your comment on his attitude to women. I am not sure where to start on this but addicts split off a part of themselves. As I understand it, it means they can act in a way that contradicts their values. For me, I believed in monogamy very strongly but the addiction meant I was unfaithful. As an addict, you are so consumed by your selfish 'addiction needs' that you start to use people, and your power of empathy shrivels up. You can still come across as normal and principled but in your double life you act in the opposite way. I hope the above helps.
Hi Anon123 There are many options on the internet. I would recommend two options. 1. Paula's intensive courses. I attended a 5 day intensive and it was very helpful indeed, in fact I would say it was life-changing. 2. Another option is a 12 step group. I attend SAA (sex addicts anonymous) - the advantage of such groups is that they are v. cheap, in fact you don't have to pay anything. There are I think 3 different sex addicts 12 stop programmes in the UK, all slightly different. The groups vary too even within a programme, so if one doesn't work, try another. At the end of the day though, he must desperate to change. What helped me was hearing Paula say "Your recovery has to be more important than anything else, even your marriage". That was a wake-up call but so true. If I didn't sort out my addiction, I wasn't going to have a marriage. If I did sort out my addiction, I might save my marriage. I have now been free for over 2 years, and our marriage (of 22 years) is stronger than it has ever been.
You are experiencing devastation Anon123. It is a devastating experience and your reactions, dismay, self-doubt, anger, confusion, to name just some, are normal. Whilst I have been on the other end, I do feel for you. There is so much I could say but a few thoughts. 1. You aren't alone. There are many who are on this harrowing road. Do reach out to others in the same boat. 2. There is help for you. I would commend Paula's book for partners. Sex Addiction: The Partner's Perspective. Her other book on Understand and Treating Sex Addiction is also extremely good. One of the things you will learn is that this isn't primarily about sex and it isn't because of anything you have done or not done. 3. There is hope. Two years on, I have been clean from porn, masturbation and visiting sex workers. It was awful beyond words telling my wife, but we have got through it - with a lot of help from others. 4. If there is one piece of advice I might give you? Don't go soft on him, don't make excuses for his behaviour - there aren't any. Help him to face up to his problem - don't collude with it. Sadly but inevitably, addicts (especially sex addicts) find it so very difficult to be honest. 5. Oops, perhaps one other piece of advice - tell someone who you know will support you, walk with you on this dreadful road. All the best.
Hi Ali I think it is more complicated than that. Strangely people with sex addiction, are lonely, they want intimacy but at the same time fear it. His pain latches onto sex, but it could have latched onto anything. It isn't really about sex, perhaps surprisingly. It sounds like you have a good relationship - hold onto that. Can I suggest you read Paula's book on Sex Addiction - it will give you a very helpful insight into this rather strange but dangerous addiction? It is called "Understanding and Treating Sex Addiction".
Wow, what a dreadful experience for you Rena. I am coming to this from the other side, as an addict but free of this stuff for 2 years. I think I would say two things. 1. You intuition is correct, for an addict to recover, s/he has to be brutally honest with themself and I would suggest (though some others will disagree with me) honest with their partner. It is painful, but it is the only way to recovery and the only way to rebuild trust in a relationship. 2. There is hope. You can read a short post from me about my recovery in the Success Stories section. People do kick this. Keep going.
I wouldn't be negative about the various 12 step programmes. I go to SAA group and it doesn't 'shove religion down your throat' - in fact there is no religion. Yes a 'higher power' but they are quick to let you define what that high power is. Groups vary a lot, if one doesn't work, try another. Keep going!