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!
Hi Ali, this sort of thing is devastating and you have good reason to feel very upset. I have come from the otherside, having been married for 22 years, addicted to porn since my teenage years but have now been completely free from it for 2 years now and still married. From my own experience can suggest that you are honest with him about the fact that you know. The only hope he has, is if he faces things honestly and lives in rigorous honesty. This addiction thrives in secrecy and shame. So the first thing is to bring it into the open. Tell him that you know. Secondly, this can only be beaten with help. There is a lot of help on the internet - sites like www.sexaddictionhelp.co.uk. Others on this site may also recommend how he can get help. Keep going, there is hope. People do kick the habit.
Hi, yes, I am now 2 years and a month into recovery and slip free (other than a minor slip at 9 months). Paula tells me that after two years one's recovery is well established. I feel great! Other than my wife, SAA has worked very well for me as an additional support. I would recommend something like that to everyone.
Hi Caron That can't be easy - having sexual need but not fulfilling it in a way that fits with your values. I would encourage you to speak to your pastor/priest - my experience is that very often they have heard it all before (and won't bat an eyelid) but most significantly the power of the secrecy and the shame is significantly reduced. Confide in some trusted friends/family about your predicament.