By: Zuleida Herba
Women who find themselves in the wake of betrayal by their sex addict partner have a serious and complicated journey to navigate. Partners who choose to stay with the addict can find themselves caught in a painful tug of war. They may vacillate between extremes of emotion – one minute putting on a strong front and the next, feeling like a complete victim, and a failure in relationship. When the partner of a sex addict is feeling strong, she may plan to help encourage him to continue in his recovery in the hopes of salvaging the relationship she’s invested in. In this case, it’s important to remember that how to love a sex addict may look very different than what love looks like in a relationship without sex addiction. For the partners of sex addicts, here are three important points on how to love a sex addict well:
1. Don’t accept less than recovery – Do not stay in relationship with a partner who refuses to go into recovery. Accepting anything short of recovery means that you are in danger of future betrayal, and your partner remains at the mercy of his addiction. It is not enough for your partner to say “I’m sorry” and then have no action to back it up. Recovery means that your partner admits he has a sex addiction, feels sorry for the pain he has caused you, and then submits himself to treatment. A sex addict in recovery should attend a specialized retreat or treatment center for sex addicts, participate in a counseling program, and submit to a 12 step program with a sponsor. Remember that it may be you walking away from the relationship that causes him to ‘hit bottom’ and seek help.
2. Recovery is not your responsibility – If your partner enters recovery, realize that you will not be able to make or motivate an addict to stick to their recovery. Don’t try. Let them work their process. Let them show you how much they want recovery, and let recovery be the proving ground for whether or not they want to remain in relationship with you. In the meantime, you take care of you.
3. Take care of yourself – Sex addicts put their addiction first, and everything else last. If your partner is in the process of recovery, their primary responsibility is to that process. Whether your partner has chosen to be in recovery or not, make sure you are getting the help, support and the care you need. Join a group where you can receive support from other women who are going through the same circumstances, and where you can begin to rebuild your life. Be kind to yourself during this time. Exercise, eat well, dress well, go out and be social, get rest.
Partners of sex addicts often feel alone and that they have no one who can relate to their struggle. At Life Counseling Solutions, we offer a group for women called “Haven – A Safe Space for Women Facing Heartbreak” for the partners of sex addicts. For more information or to sign up, please contact the LCS office at 407-622-1770.
Call today to find out more information about Orlando Marriage Counseling Services at 407-622-1770