Coping with Your Life and Relationship When Your Partner is Living with a Sex Addiction

How to deal with a partner’s sex addiction

The journey of healing from realizing that your partner has a sex addiction to healing can be complicated, confusing, and overwhelming. The focus of a lot of sex addiction treatment is on healing the addict. However, the impact that addictions can have on family members is critical regardless of whether or not the relationship is salvageable.

In the past, a lot of sex addiction treatment focused on helping addicts manage their behaviors and healing. Partners who had been betrayed simply got left behind. There was a second wave of treatment that started focusing more heavily on partners, but this also fell short because the primary focus was on treating partners to help the addicts’ relationships, rather than helping partners heal themselves just for the healing’s sake.

Betrayal trauma can have long-lasting effects on you and your relationships. The damage that it has on the relationship can last for years. Sadly, partners of addicts often face a long road of being gaslit, blamed, criticized, and neglected in their relationships. This can have a serious impact on self-worth and trust.

It’s common for partners of addictsto feel burdened and even responsible for making changes happen in partners who aren’t ready to change. In fact, this effort can lead people away from focusing on their own boundaries and needs.

As a partner of an addict, you can’t force your partner to change; your focus should be on your self-care. Even if it means that you have to let your partner know you may need to walk away if your boundaries aren’t respected.

Setting boundaries with a sex-addicted partner

Establishing boundaries is a crucial part of recovery. It’s important that you first understand your boundaries, so that you can effectively communicate them in your relationships. A good first step is that you identify the deal breakers that would push you to leave the relationship. To get a clear grasp on this, I suggest discussing your boundaries and concerns with a couple of close friends who aren’t necessarily close to your partner. I understand that this can be difficult, but there are reasons for this. Finding a more neutral party can help you sort through thoughts that you’re having, many of which may be contradictory. At the same time, if you talk with someone who has less of a relationship with your partner (positive or negative), you’re going to get more unbiased opinions and feedback. This can be extremely helpful, especially after a period of gaslighting. These friends can help you see things you haven’t previously considered.

Get feedback from multiple friends if you can. This can help you get more of a consensus on what you should do.

As you think about your boundaries, you may realize that you’ve been gaslit to believe that there was no problem at all or that you’re somehow responsible for this. If you’ve been gaslit, it can be difficult to identify your boundaries and needs. In these situations, I recommend you consider finding a therapist who is skilled in working with partners of addicts. Fortunately, there are a couple of really great resources out there for people looking for these therapists now. IITAPand APSATS both have a great list of therapists who have training that is specific to helping partners of sex addicts deal with the trauma that they’ve experienced.

Gaining clarity for yourself about your boundaries is a significant step in your recovery journey. It’s possibly even more important to share these boundaries with your partner. If you’re wanting to make the relationship work, let them know the exact lines that they’re crossing that aren’t workable for you. Remember, holding to boundaries isn’t just about stating them, but also about following through with the consequences if they’re not respected. This approach ensures that your needs are addressed and helps in fostering a healthier dynamic in your relationship.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery and Focusing on Yourself

Self-worth, self-belief, self-image, and self-esteem are all impacted by betrayal trauma. It can be really difficult to reorient to who you are. It can difficult to see yourself and treat yourself with kindness. Brené Brown defines self-kindness as talking to yourself as you would talk about someone you love. You also want to get empathetic support. People who will focus on understanding your perspective without judging. These are people who you can ask for support.

Navigating Relationship Dynamics Post-Betrayal

Life changes after a betrayal. Whether you’re contemplating staying or leaving, understanding that the dynamics have changed is essential. The relationship has different dynamics and goals. Individually, your perspective and goals can change as well. The experience of betrayal trauma alters your perspectives and your goals. Thus, it’s important to give yourself time to adjust to these changes.

Whether you’re remaining in your relationship or leaving, things have changed. There is a lot to reorient and groundto. After being gaslit, it takes time to trust yourself and your instincts again. This means you have to reorient to your values and needs. You also have to reorient to the word “trust.” Identifying who, what, and when you should trust again is an important, but difficult part of the recovery journey. Regaining trust in your instincts is a vital part of the healing process.

Be patient with yourself. Find and utilize support because it will take time and practice to learn new things about yourself and your relationships after there have been abrupt changes in your life. Little by little, things will feel clearer, boundaries will become firmer, and you’ll be more on your way to living the life that you deserve.

The Most Important Thing is to Take Care of Yourself

Engaging in Mindfulness to Help You Heal

Traumas can disconnect you from yourself. One of the main symptoms of this is that it can disconnect you from your feelings and emotions. All of the gaslighting and manipulation can make it very scary to start trusting your gut feelings again. Mindfulness techniques and strategies can help. These techniques can help you reconnect with your feelings, release trauma that is help in your body, and reorient to safety. Somatic Experiencing (SE) is one therapeutic technique that can help you identify feelings and sensations again, while also helping you release that trauma that’s help inside of you. Beyond therapy, you can also work on things such as breathing exercises that can help you support yourself in calming down.

Support Can Be There for You

Thankfully, there are great support networks out there of other partners who have been through similar situations. All situations are obviously different. All relationships are different as well. However, you can find support groups of people out there who will empathize with you. These groups can also be very helpful to bounce your concerns around with. Other betrayed partners can also be very good at helping you assess your own boundaries.

Physical Activity and Engaging in Your Interests

Filling your life full of meaningful interests can help you cope and heal. It can be very difficult to engage in these things while you’re hurting. However, engaging in interests can keep you involved in making yourself physically feel better. One way that you can do this can also apply to the mindfulness that was mentioned above. Physical activity is highly correlated with better mental health. It’s also a great way of connecting your body and mind.

You don’t have to only engage in exercise though to start connecting with meaningful hobbies. You can try things you’ve always wanted to try. You can get back into some of the hobbies that you’ve left behind over the years. And even more importantly, you’ll probably build some positive new connections with people who can distract you a bit, support you, and help you add to your quality of life.

Get Betrayal Trauma Help

Finally, consider professional help if you’re unsure of your boundaries, if your partner says that they are unreasonable, or if you’re having difficulties coping with the trauma that you’ve experienced. It’s not easy to ask for help, but remember there are resources out there for you. This includes therapy.

If you’re in the Dallas area and you’re needing a therapist who specializes in betrayal trauma, please feel free to contact us.

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