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I’ve been with my boyfriend for the past 3 and a bit years. Last April I found a lot of messages on his phone and ever since we’ve had lots of problems. He’s been very sneaky with his phone, denied ever texting any girls (to the point where he called me crazy and asked if I’d imagined them), really had a go at me for not trusting him. This has gone on for the past year with various stuff and different situations.


Today I’ve found out he’s been sleeping with another girl. He denied it vehemently at first but eventually has broken down to me. He’s told me that he can’t stop watching porn and masturbating. He told me that he has slept with this girl. He told me that his is continually texting girls off porn websites, or dating websites, and has been doing since we got together. He said it’s for instant gratification. He cried a lot down the phone, said he hates himself and that he wants to get “better”.


I’m in a state of shock. He sounds like a desperate man who needs help. He said he’s sick of living this double life and always worried about me looking at his phone or going on his computer (to which now I look back, he has always been extremely weird about me being near his phone or computer). On the other hand I’ve been treated like absolute shit for the last 3 years with him making me feel so guilty for not trusting him. It’s so important that he’s trusted. He’s now said it’s because if I trust him, then I won’t look at his phone, then he can relax. I’ve asked him if he still wants to be in a relationship with me and that if he doesn’t or needs time alone then he needs to take it. He’s told me he does.


I’m not sure what to do for the best to help him? Part of me wants to tell him to sod off as he’s treated me so badly but the other part is desperate for him not to feel so low.


Can you please advise on what’s the best way forward to get him some help? Do I need to back off? Is it awful that I'm disgusted with him? And now questioning every time we have sex and what he feels with me?!!!




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That sounds totally heartbreaking and is very sad to hear.

Your boyfriend I think needs to take a long hard look at his actions and what he is prepared to do to clean up his act. This could be a real rock bottom for him that will promote him to change or he could just keep on doing it. He had to be prepared to change. You can point him at the resources here and other sex addiction sites but he needs to find help for himself and do the work which is hard and takes a lot of effort. Having an affair with another person is a whole additional layer of hurt and damage. Honestly, I think the best thing you can do is to explain to him that you won't tolerate that behaviour in your relationship and be prepared to back that up if he doesn't shape up. It's not good for you either. You also have the option of walking away too but that's obviously not a quick or easy decision to make. Ultimately it's up to you to decide though.

The denial is very common in us addicts who will try to minimise and sweep it under the carpet. He has to want to talk about things willingly through recovery but for me personally that has taken a long time and there are still uncomfortable areas.

One warning sign from what you wrote that jumped out at me was him asking to trust him and that this would make everything alright. This is a part of the fog of denial and addiction. Firstly, trust is not bestowed but earned. Secondly his actions have been highly undermining of the trust between you two. You being suspicious of his online activities is perfectly reasonable and it's on him to demonstrate he is trustworthy, not vice versa. For me, that shows some very faulty thinking that he needs to get to grips with.  Perhaps you might even think that you can't trust him again - that I believe is a better place to start from. He has a LOT of work to do.

You sound rightly very angry too at being treated so badly. You don't deserve that at all and it's very important that you look after yourself and do whatever you need to do to healthily cope and be well in yourself. I believe this should be your priority until things become clearer but I don't know all your personal circumstances and the firm of that, how practical etc. Is something you can work out. But above all, please realise his problems are his and nothing to do with you. You will have contributed to the dynamic in the relationship, everybody does - that's normal. But his choice to get hooked on porn and carry on such damaging behaviour and particularly to have an affair is his responsibility entirely and he needs to own it. His feeling low and down at what he has done should motivate him to change because he's done some very hurtful things  - but you cannot control how others feel, only yourself.

Feeling a lot of strong things all together I think is quite common and normal, though unpleasant or even contradictory. It can be overwhelming perhaps. It's all part of you trying to process what's going on. For me, it has got better with time but it can be a slow process. I would like to encourage you to please not judge yourself over your feelings, particularly those you might feel are negative or negative to yourself. But to try and accept them all for what they are and allow them to be part of it, for better or worse. They don't define you in any way and you still have total choice and control over how you act on them, in whatever manner or direction that is.

Finally, I also would say that while I used to continue to have a sexual relationship with my wife I thought everything was fine between us (or rather it aided my denial) . Once that stopped then I truly wasn't getting a key part of the relationship and that helped me realise there were major problems. And in fact, now my attitudes have changed and I don't want a sexual relationship while there are relationship threatening issues abound. For me, it became about my own self respect also. That's just me though.

Peace and kindness to you at such a difficult time.

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Thank you for replying. We had a camping trip booked over the weekend which I decided to go. I wanted to give him the space and time just between us to be able to tell me about his problems which he did. He opened up a lot and was the most honest I've ever known him to be. I really didn't want to make it about myself, I just wanted to offer him support, but unfortunately I realise that was asking too much of myself.

I now feel more confused than I ever did. We have an amazing dynamic when we're together, we just bounce off each other and I found that whenever we weren't thinking about the problem we just naturally ended up like this. To the point where at times I found myself thinking I could stay with him and help with conquer this. It's only now I'm home, and back to reality, I'm starting to wonder whether or not I can. I don't want him to feel messed about either.

I love him very much and when it's amazing it is amazing. But has it only been amazing because he's been happy getting what he really needed elsewhere? If he finishes doing that will I actually be enough? Can he stop doing it? Is it going to be a year down the line I find out that he's been texting girls all over again? I'm worried I have no self respect and I'm a mug for staying with him. I'm worried that what he has isn't quite a full blown sexual addiction, rather he is just highly sexualised, a flirt and a cheat. I'm angry if he feels like he can say "it's not my fault" which he does, to a certain extent, believe.

I have overcome an eating disorder, for the most part, but still suffer with low self esteem. I do understand how hard it is to actually talk about an embarrassing problem. However, with my low self esteem now comes me wondering what's wrong with myself. Is this the most unhealthy relationship ever? Can it actually survive? He says he will do everything it takes to prove he can stop this and that he wants to be with me. And I want to believe him so much, but is that to my own detriment?

Sorry for the most confusing thread and all the questions, but if anyone could reply with any type of advice please do.

Is there anyone out there in a similar situation that stayed with their partner and did it work?


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Also, and I know this sounds weird but I think he finds it very hard to empathise with me.

If I struggle with food or feel ill he very often cant show me much sympathy. If I'm generally struggling with stuff he doesn't like it. He seems to love me when I'm being my best self. I find this quite hard as I can't always be my "best" self.

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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.

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