Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Six Types of Affairs: Sexual Addiction

types of affairs

Category 3: Sexual Addiction

This type of betrayal is an ongoing pattern of sexual behavior such as frequenting strip clubs, viewing pornography, compulsive masturbation, prostitution, repetitive encounters with sexual partners, and other behaviors that are destructive to both the individual and to the marital relationship. These individuals, though married, have never been able to find complete fulfillment from their marriage. They are enslaved by a drive to satisfy their longings. Driven by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, they are powerless over their extra-marital attachments to behaviors, people, or objects (such as pornography). These individuals look to these extramarital attachments to meet their need for love and acceptance rather than their mate.

Interestingly, this category of affairs is not about the marriage, and often the betrayer will state that they don't want to lose their marriage. Most likely they would have pursued the same behaviors regardless of whom they married. The fear and shame associated with this behavior perpetuates the dual life of an addict, which in turn propels the destructive behaviors. They often feel hopelessly trapped by these behaviors, but are afraid to come clean because they don't want to lose their marriage or give up their addictive behavior.

This type of betrayal is especially difficult for the betrayed spouse because their suffering is not just from the betrayal, but also from their inability to understand their mate's behavior. What the addict has done seems so foreign that the betrayed spouse cannot comprehend it. Or they may be in shock when they discover the sheer magnitude of the compulsive behavior (like a man who's visited prostitutes).

Characteristics:

  • There is a habitual pattern of extramarital sexual behaviors.
  • Typically, the betrayer wants to save their marriage, but they still have a compelling drive to look elsewhere to meet their needs.
  • Often these behaviors were present before the marriage, ceased for a season once the marital relationship began, and then were reignited once the addictive cravings and compulsions returned.
  • It is common for the betrayer to have made past efforts to stop the behavior, and to have actually been successful for a season, only to relapse after they believed things were better.
  • Frequently the betrayer has a deep sense of shame and guilt.

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Sex addicts

How can one recover from this?

Verification for sexual addict

What needs to be done if the sexual addict which happened to be my husband, refused to go on counseling because he believed that's "it's not as difficult to recover as I think". He had this for the last 8 years, at least as he claimed to me, until I recently found out in like 6 months ago. I really need help!

Reality

Im in the same boat - I have found overwhelming evidence of his sexual activities with strangers and yet he still denies having sex with anyone else he claims he looked at the ads but didn’t call and that the condom I found wasn’t used with someone else - he’s had two counseling sessions one with me and one alone but then never went back claims he can stop on his own but lately I found pictures on his phone this is been going on since beginning of our marriage I’ve tried everything I know and I no longer feel anything for him if he’s not really willing to help himself I realize that I can’t help him

Sex Addiction

Morning - I can explain the "Affair Due to Sex Addiction" since that's what I've suffered from. As the betrayed spouse, (as Rick stated) this addiction probably was present long before you married him or her. I can attest that my addiction began when I was 13 and had my first dose of hard core porn. Then later I had a somewhat sexual trauma (very common with sex addiction) where I lived for nearly 45 years with a feeling that if you really knew me, you wouldn't love me. My addiction really blew up with the advent of online porn in the 1990s. This escalated to online affairs and then in person affairs with numerous women over a 10 year period until I was finally caught. I got some help from therapy and again as Rick stated, it abated for a number of years until it reared its ugly head again and I was back in the vicious cycle of porn and affair partners. Today I recognize it as an addiction. I really didn't get it after the failure of my first marriage. I've been in a 12 step program (SAA) for the last two years and can say that I am definitely a "recovering sex addict". Meaning, I haven't acted out compulsively in the last two years nor had any affairs. However, I know that I have to be very cognizant of this addiction and take steps to keep myself on the straight and narrow. But your husband MUST WANT to stop this addiction. He needs counseling (CSAT - Certified Sex Addiction Therapist) and to get into a 12 step program (think AA for alcoholics) and STICK WITH IT. I found that Sex Addicts Anonymous has been the life line I've needed.

I don’t know what to do

My husband hid and lied to me about giving money over $5000 in cash for naked pics over a year to his ex and a girl he had a one night stand with before he met me. I’m going to counseling for it but idk if he’s worth staying for either.

lost cause?

This sounds like my husband, soon to be ex-husband. I want to save the marriage but he is in complete denial, even when I confronted him with proof of his affairs, prostitutes, orgies and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is 100% unwilling to even discuss the subject, seek help, talk to a marriage counsellor or find sobriety for his alcoholism. He says I am the problem because my expectations are too high. is expecting honesty and fidelity too much to ask for in a marriage?

Being a formewr sex addict myself, you're so off the mark....

I have read many things from you in the past, and can agree with a vast majority. On this, I think you're a little "off". I was the guy who ran around on my wife- for YEARS - going to massage parlors and prostitutes. Never ONCE did I feel love for any one of them. In fact, I went to them to feel superior and almost wished I was able to physically abuse them. They were meaningless pieces of meat to be used to make me feel superior and "in control" over them. Love played no part in my process. In fact, it was the complete absense of love.
Turns out, I was raped by a authority figure (second grade teacher) who wooed me and made me feel "safe" while performing sexual acts on me, then she ramped it up to include some guy (I still don't remember who this guy was) who analy penetrated me and licked my belly button. On remembering that encounter later after marraige (I supressed it completley until then) I began to visit massage parlors and prostitutes to make them PAY for what happened to me. Of course they weren't responsible for what happened, but someone was going to be made to pay, and they were easy targets. The feelings of power and control over these women drove me. Not love. Not love or any feeling of closeness or emotional lacking at all. What I find, is with the projected rate of childhood sexual abuse at 1 in 6 (probably higher), new addicts are created all the time. You might want to sit an addict with an addict and let them ask the questions. You'll never get the real truth by asking an addict directly. You think they want to share what it is to be a monster and wish pain and domination on others? I didn't. Addicts lie and therapists believe it. They are exceedingly proficient at lying. One thing that helped wake me up was listening to other addicts reasons and excuses for doing what they were doing. Most of the excuses were utterly insane and foolish with zero basis in any kind of logic whatsoever.
Once I remembered directly the absolute horror and humiliation of being raped, at such a young age, my compulsions stopped and with some "reprogramming" via my genius wife who helped me every step of the way, I managed to overcome completely the compulsion, not just "deny" it and force myself not to visit prostitutes. I don't have the compulsion because I dealt with the ROOT problem. And it certainly wasnt a "looking for love" adventure.

Sex Addiction

Recovery is possible! We are almost 4 years in from discovery. I’m the betrayed spouse and was told early on that to see if the marriage was salvageable, I had to become a black belt in boundaries. I will tell you from my own experience, it is exhausting! It is not fair! It sucks! I didn’t deserved this! Why should I have to put in the hard work he is a cheater and the addict? I’ll tell you why. If both partners are 110% willing to do the work, you can have a marriage much more intimate than you can imagine...much more fulfilling than you could have had if the addiction was not present. One of honesty, transparency, respect and love! However, BOTH people have to choose to do the work of recovery. If I’d have stayed in the “it’s his fault, his addiction, his problem,” I would not have delved into my family of origin issues that showed me how I had been attracted to this type of deceptive, manipulative and abusive person. How I had developed a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior because in the beginning of the relationship it felt “normal” to me. Many of us who marry sex addicts often have sexual abuse and dysfunctional families in our histories. If I had not been faced with the decision to work on myself, I could have ditched the addict, run off and found someone just as messed up or worse because my man-picker was off. I did not come from healthy and therefore could not be attracted to healthy in a romantic relationship. Red flags were everywhere before I got married but I could not see them because of my past.
How do you heal from this? How do you learn to trust again? Well, I did my own individual work: group therapy for partners of sex addicts to begin the boundary work, individual therapy to work out Family of Origin issues and self-worth and body image issues, 12-step work through Al-anon, S-anon and ISA. I learned to recognize when my husband is operating in his functional adult and how to deal with him when he is in a child ego state or in his “addict.” I learned to trust myself and to have the confidence that my higher power will take care of me no matter what happens! The beauty of doing this exhausting work in the middle of trying to homeschool five children, has been that I was able to freely choose to re-engage in the marriage with eyes wide open. Education opens the doors to choices. When one has cancer, you find out everything you can about the disease so that you can take the appropriate steps towards treatment that you feel comfortable with. The same goes for sex addiction! Once I took care of myself and clearly laid out my boundaries and consequences to my spouse, it made it very clear to him what his choices would be: he had to be 100% in recovery following all the recommendations from his CSAT therapist or I was out. That’s what I needed for my safety and security. He had every opportunity to tell me that my expectations of him following his therapist recommendations were too much for him and he could choose to end the relationship. I put the ball in his park. I did not make him put in the effort but I gave him the opportunity to freely choose because my boundaries were very clear. If he had chosen to leave the relationship, I still would have gained a great deal of healing and recovery from issues I didn’t even know I had! When we got to discovery, I had already had 15 years in recovery from alcoholism myself. And all those years, I never touched on the issues I had to touch on dealing with this addiction! As much as I hate sex addiction, I am very grateful for the rewards of working this recovery journey and I am very grateful that my husband chose to put in the effort and stick with the marriage! Not all addicts will choose to do this. We do a disservice to ourselves and to our partners who are addicts when we drag our feet on boundaries! It doesn’t matter how hard the addict works their recovery program if we are not willing to implement boundaries and do our own recovery work. If we do not do our part because we feel it’s too much work or it’s unfair, the marriage has no chance! So, the best chance to heal a marriage is to do your own work in recovery! I wish you all many blessings as you work your own recovery programs and know that whichever way your partner chooses to go, there is hope for you!

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