Q- The books I’ve read for partners (or wives) of sex addicts claim that he did not act out because he was unhappy, with either our sex life (which I always thought was good) and/or my appearance. Therefore, they suggest that I keep the focus on my own healing and not those other things. As a sex addict yourself, do you agree with this?
Answer: Yes, this is generally true. The basic nature of this addiction is that it is an intimacy disorder, or, how we attach to others, starting in early life. In the beginning of my relationship with my girlfriend, I would see my partner as a source of feelings of joy, wonder, erotic and sensual delights, perceiving her almost as an Aphrodite or Venus figure. After her discovery of my addiction and the resulting arguments and turmoil, she would then be perceived by my psyche as someone who brings me deep despair and trauma, almost like a Medusa. This obviously does not bode well for romance.
Then, the addict who isn’t in recovery would potentially be lured to where the “positive” projections (joy, wonder, sensual delight, etc.) are still alive for him, like internet porn, strip clubs, etc.
It is the addict’s responsibility alone to undergo their own transformation of their relational disorder, which is very difficult and should be worked under the direction of a trained professional. For ease of explanation, we could say his healing has to happen in two parts: stopping the acting out, and then rebuilding a healthy sense of self and intimacy which his relationship with you will be an extension of.
Until that happens, it’s best not to try and read meaning into his actions. Interpreting his seeking out others as a statement on your own unattractiveness not only damages you terribly, but it also signals a lack of understanding about sex addiction. It truly is not about you! I like to say, you could be the most beautiful and sexiest woman in the world, but if you’re with a sex addict, it’s only a matter of time before he compulsively seeks his high elsewhere because of what I’ve described about projections above. Try to feed yourself positive self-talk and take some time to familiarize yourself with “Healing Path for Partner” under PoSA Recovery.