Sex addiction, like other addictions, is an issue that negatively affects relationships. Oftentimes, relationships are also triggers for addicts to act out. It is very easy for Partners to get sucked into obsessing about their addicted partner’s behaviors and if they are using or acting out or not. It is also very difficult for Partners to focus on themselves and allow the process of recovery to occur. Here are 5 things that Partners of Sex Addicts can do to help themselves, and thus help their addicted partner:
1. FOCUS ON SELF!
Focusing on oneself is so very crucial to healthy living as well as successful recovery from any addiction. It is imperative that Partners of Sex Addicts turn the magnifying glass towards themselves and away from their partner. This is important for two reasons. The first being that the Partner must learn and correct his or her own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that create chaos in her own life. In short, the Partner must take responsibility for how she feels and what life circumstance she is in.
Second, when the partner focuses on herself, she is also giving her addicted partner space to find his own path to recovery. If the Partner continues to harass and criticize addicted behavior or relapses, then the conflict between the couple becomes the focus rather than recovery. A Partner of a Sex Addict must also find her own recovery from betrayal, trauma, pain, fear, etc., and this can only be accomplished when she focusing on herself. This is not to say honest conversations can not occur, but rather it is to suggest that the couple re-learn a healthy manner to communicate concerns, hurt, behavior expectations, etc., by participating in effective couples counseling.
2. Boundaries with Love
If a Partner of a Sex Addict can learn to separate herself from the addict’s hurtful behaviors and still be able to feel love for him, then this is an example of setting healthy boundaries with love. A real-life way this may occur, is if a wife finds porn on her recovering husband’s computer, then she can step away, leave it be, and then go to a meeting, or go exercise, or go find a friend to meet for support. In addition, if the next day, she is able to enjoy her husband’s company at the basketball game of their son, then this would be a good example of benefitting from setting healthy boundaries with love. In short, this practice is about loving the person, but not liking the behaviors. The trick of successfully achieving setting boundaries with love is not to internalize the negative thoughts associated with painful feelings
3. Get a CSAT ASAP
It is very important to get a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist as soon as a Partner realizes that sex addiction is affecting her relationship. CSAT’s are specially trained to work with both sex addicts as well as partners, and CSAT’s can help Partners work through the trauma and pain of being in a relationship and loving someone with sex addiction. On account of the fact that sex addiction intrudes on the expectations and trust of a committed relationship, it is very different than other addictions in some ways and must be treated in a very specific manner. Not only does addiction need to be addressed and recovery be part of the solution, but because affairs, porn or other betrayals usually occur with sex addiction, the training a CSAT has is specific to helping the Partner accept and move through the sexual and intimate betrayals that have happened.
4. Attend 12-Step Groups
One of the main ways a Partner can focus on his or her own self is to attend and work the 12 Steps. Usually a Partner can attend a POSA group, but sometimes there are not POSA groups available in certain areas. In that case, ALANON, CODA, or other well established 12 Step groups can be very helpful to a Partner who is interested in her own recovery.
5. Learn and create healthy ways to ‘Fill the Hole’
Filling the Hole refers to the empty feeling we have when things are not right or when we do not have safe, healthy love in our lives. When a Partner discovers that her husband/partner is addicted to porn, having affairs or living a double life, there is a hole that is felt deep in her heart. If the addicted partner is still acting out and recovery is either not happening or slow to take, then the hole is felt even deeper and the Partner must find other ways to feel better, or fill the hole. Steps 1-4 above begin this journey of learning how to fill one’s hole, or meet one’s own needs. This means finding new ways to feel connected, involved, and loved. Examples of this are renewing a relationship with one’s self, focusing on other relationships (kids, family, friends), volunteering, taking up a new or past favorite hobby, discovering ‘ME’ time, exercising, treating one’ self to massages, spa days with friends, etc., anything that the Partner finds leaves her with a renewed sense of self.
Not only are all of the tips above helpful for Partners of Sex Addicts, many are also healthy ways of living for us all. When we focus on ourselves, not in a selfish way, but in a loving way, we are better equipped to be present with others in our lives.
It is also crucial for Partners of Sex Addicts to practice the above behaviors, because at the very least, they can serve as model behaviors for the Addict. Sometimes, modeling healthy appropriate behavior is the best help a Partner can do for her husband/spouse/partner; and in turn, she is rising above and helping herself in the process.
REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT WITH A BOARD CERTIFIED SEX ADDICTION THERAPIST