Have you ever had a secret? Something you knew that no one else did? That one thing that if found out, you feel like could change people’s opinions of you, your relationships with them, or challenge and threaten to destroy everything you’ve tried so hard to build.
Sex addiction affects your entire world as a partner or spouse of a sex addict.
As we talked about in our last post, “Discovering Your Partner’s Sex Addiction,” knowing the person you love is addicted is the biggest, hugest thing in your life. Your sense of betrayal is painful and traumatic.
The emotions of loneliness, isolation, and grief are overwhelming. Knowing about the sex addiction changes your life forever. Dealing with it is a hard and long-fought fight.
Sex addiction is one of the best kept secrets that most people aren’t sure what to do with.
Because of this, there are many “what ifs” surrounding sex addiction. What do you do when you find out about it? Who do you tell or confide in? Who can you turn to?
These are some of the questions you need answers to in your journey of living with the realities of addiction.
Who you reach out to can change your story and impact your life.
Taking Care of Yourself
You need to take care of yourself first before you can properly fight the sex addiction in your relationship.
I want you to know that you are not cause the addiction. What happened was the cause of someone else’s choices. It was not your fault. It was not your responsibility to keep it from happening.
I have worked with thousands of partners of sex addicts and have found that the sex addiction usually took root long before your relationship was created. It was already there. You are just seeing the addiction and its affects now.
Your responsibility now is to take care of yourself for your own sanity and emotional safety.
Think about your favorite hobbies or authors or things you do to escape from the world around you. Create some “you time” to do those things or read those books and take your mind off of the current situation for a short period of time.
Taking your mind off of the mountain of sex addiction you are facing will help you stay more emotionally grounded and clear headed to make the best choices for your future.
It will help you keep things in perspective.
Now, let’s talk about who you can and should tell about your partner or spouses sex addiction.
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Sex Addiction: Who Should I Tell?
Talking About Sex Addiction with Family
Your first instinct might be to reach out to people close to you.
This includes your family and your spouse’s family. This can be a bad idea because of the stigma attached to the sex addiction. You can’t control their responses and how they will react to knowing about the addiction that is affecting your relationship.
You might forgive your spouse for their unfaithful actions, want to work on your marriage, and turn things around for the better, but your family might disapprove.
Telling family members can be a complication because they might think you should have ended your relationship, divorced that sex addict, or left them a long time ago.
The sex addiction would justify their opinions and disrespect for your partner or spouse.
Family members are not the best people to tell at first. You could bring it up at some point in the future if the opportunity presents itself, but not now.
Sex Addiction and The Kids
Kids need to be protected when it comes to knowing about sex addiction. They don’t need to know, and the less they know the better.
This is because their sexuality and understanding of it needs to be protected. Any undue influence from sex addiction can create emotional trauma in their lives that they are not able to understand or cope with.
Children may have to have age appropriate information if they are the ones who found the pornography, the affair, or the addiction.
If you are ending the relationship or filing for divorce, you may also have to give the kids an age appropriate reason for why it is happening.
However, the kids don’t need to know everything for you to heal and recover. Limit the information they are exposed to when it comes to talking about sex addiction.
Telling Your Friends About Sex Addiction
Next, you might want to tell your friends to get support.
Be careful which friends you tell or if you tell them at all because you will probably lose the friends you tell about sex addiction.
Sex addiction can be an extremely polarizing topic and word travels fast. People also want to share shocking or exciting news because they know about it! Confiding in one friend or acquaintance you think of as a friend can end up with many people having that knowledge.
You can potentially share with a few close friends that you really trust, but make sure you take some time to sort your feelings and emotions out first while praying and being mindful about it.
The worst thing you can do is to just emotionally tell someone about the sex addiction because you are having a bad day, you want to get even, you are frustrated, or to show that your partner is the problem.
Sharing About Sex Addiction In Partners Support Groups
Partners support groups and twelve step programs are one of the safer places to talk about your situation and struggles.
These groups exist to provide support for you during your time of crisis and allow you to receive feedback from the group as a whole.
Almost everyone in these groups has personally dealt with the effects sex addiction in their own lives, has experienced what you are feeling, and can help you cope in your time of need.
Professional Sex Addiction Counselors
Sex addiction counselors are the safest people to start talking to about the addiction.
These counselors have the specialized education, the experience, and the resources to get you the help you need and lead you through your situation wisely.
They are also bound under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to keep your disclosed information confidential and secure.
If you need help finding a counselor who specializes in sex addiction, call Heart to Heart Counseling Center at 719-278-3708. We offer phone counseling and in office counseling in Colorado Springs, Colorado and can help you get the support you need.
The Bottom Line When Talking About Sex Addiction
Sex addiction can feel so hurtful that you want to lash out, get even, or try to release the pain and pressure by talking about your situation.
Make sure you talk about your struggles and the addiction with the right people.
Never lash out or emotionally spill all of the details. Make sure you take time to care for yourself, take care of your emotional needs, and develop some safety and structure around you first.
Then talk to the right people.
Douglas Weiss, Ph.D. is the founder of the Sexual Freedom Class and author of the Lust Free Living book. He is the president of the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy. He is also the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs.