4 Things to Do When You Discover Your Partner is a Sex Addict

4 Things to Do When You Discover Your Partner is a Sex Addict

Despite statistics that show there are 12 million sufferers of sex addiction in the United States, it is one of the most commonly misunderstood mental illnesses. Of course, not everyone experiences sex addiction in the same way. Sometimes sexual addiction is accompanied by other mental health concerns, like posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. But what about when it is accompanied by someone else? That is, you, the partner?Any addiction introduces a whole host of problems into a relationship, hitting you both where it counts the most: communication and trust. Even after the behavioral addiction ends (though like other addictions, it is prone to relapse!) your relationship will still be impacted by these problems for some time. So what do you do when you find out your partner is a sex addict?
1. Take care of yourself.You’re in for a wild, bumpy ride. There’s a lot of stigma associated with sex addiction, perhaps more so than with any other kind of addiction. Whether you choose to stay with your partner or not, this sudden change in your lifestyle and emotions can be very traumatic. Make sure to take care of yourself during this time, even though it will probably mean pushing yourself harder to do what’s right for your mind and body. Try your best to get enough sleep and to eat proper, balanced meals. A healthy body is your best bet for getting through this emotionally taxing time.

2. “It’s not me, it’s you.”

Try to sort out or recognize your own feelings. It’s the ruptured trust that’s bound to leave you stunned, blindsided, and in a daze. Whatever your feelings on learning your partner is a sex addict (whether he or she has been unfaithful to you physically or through consumption of pornography), you have the right to feel the way you do. You are not to blame.

3. Take a look at your finances.

Sex addicts get very good at lying and manipulation to cover up their behavior. It’s part of how the addiction works, so try not to take it too personally. But make sure your finances are going to be okay. For example, does your joint bank account have a lot of unexplained cash withdrawals? The sex industry is very discreet and doesn’t like to leave a paper trail. These withdrawals at ATMS are very likely to be used for adult services or media. See if you can secure your funds, while you and your partner work through his/her addiction.

4. Get help.

“Why do I need therapy? I’m not the one with an addiction!”

If your partner’s the addict, why is therapy so important? Partners of individuals with addictions suffer a lot too. What your loved one is going through does not undermine your own emotional needs. Financial problems, and trying to cover your partner’s strange behavior in order to save face, are only some examples.

The emotional trauma (not just the aforementioned trust issues, but self-blame and chronic stress as well) is probably even more important where your own well-being is concerned. If you found yourself covering for your partner during his or her addiction, you likely have developed some maladaptive coping mechanisms. That means you developed techniques, perhaps even subconsciously, to make things seem better in the short term that are actually damaging your mental health.

So even though therapy may seem scary, expensive, or one more thing to fit into your busy schedule, you’re worth the commitment.

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