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A cover picture of the topic Relationship with a Sex Addict

So you’re dating a sex addict.

You likely already know that sex addiction can take its toll on both the individual who is addicted and any romantic partners involved. Unless your partner decides to seek help, it can become highly destructive for everyone involved.

If you believe that you’re in a relationship with a sex addict, then read on.

We’ll cover everything from understanding sex addiction to how to talk to and help your partner, addressing your feelings to different treatment options available.

What is Sex Addiction?

Contrary to what some people think, sex addiction extends far beyond simply having the desire to have sex often. It’s not an excuse for bad behavior and infidelity, but rather a common form of behavioral addiction that can quickly deteriorate an individual’s quality of life.

What is normally a harmless, pleasurable act can become a compulsion for some people. Similar to dependence on substances like alcohol or drugs, the individual is constantly preoccupied with sex and compulsively engages in sexual acts.

It’s also important to note that sex addiction and addiction to substances frequently are seen together as well. This is because, like most addictions, it is fueled by the desire to escape emotional discomfort.

Not only is sex addiction harmful to a person’s mental health, but it can also take over their life, leading to numerous other problems both personally and professionally.

When it spirals out of control, sex addiction can result in job loss, debt, neglected relationships, and even trouble with the law.

It’s often difficult to diagnose since it can manifest itself in a variety of different ways. This can include excessive use of pornography, exhibitionism, performing sexual acts in public, excessive masturbation, or soliciting prostitutes – among many others.

The truth is that the signs can be hard to recognize, especially since most men won’t admit they have a problem until they’re caught.

However, here is a summary of signs you should look out for:

  • Engaging in risky or inappropriate behaviour (sex with prostitutes, unsafe sex, public nudity, etc)
  • Falling behind on responsibilities with work and/or around the house
  • Neglecting their social life and favourite hobbies
  • Signs of anxiety, depression, or shame around their sexual urges
  • Cheating on their partners
  • Excessive masturbation

Other common behavioral addictions include gambling, shopping, and food addictions. Despite what even some doctors still believe, sex addiction is no less valid. For someone to get relief from the addiction, they need to receive treatment just like they would with alcohol or drugs.

What Causes Sex Addiction?

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what causes sex addiction – sometimes there is no single cause.

Some people use sex as a way to cope with early trauma, such as sexual abuse. Others may have a co-occurring disorder, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive or relationship disorder.

The truth is, some people are already more vulnerable to addiction based on their brain chemistry alone. In the end, any time there is a pleasurable activity, addiction is possible.

Is Sex Addiction the Same as Love Addiction?

Love and sex addiction are different, however, they have many similarities.

Love addiction is another form of behavioral addiction that manifests itself when the individual acts out by compulsively seeking the feeling of romance, seduction, and falling in love.

While this may sound harmless to some, the emotional despair that comes along with it is extremely harmful to both the individual and any intimate partners they get involved with.

Despite desperately yearning to find “the one”, love addicts find it difficult or impossible to do so.

This is because they’re more attracted to the intense rush that comes with seducing someone and falling in love rather than committing to a healthy, stable relationship.

Love addicts often resort to guilt, manipulation, and using sex to seduce a romantic partner because they can’t bear the thought of being alone.

However, once that euphoric feeling of “the chase” wears off, the love addict immediately starts to seek romance elsewhere.

Can A Sex Addict Love Someone?

For people who know or suspect they’re dating a sex addict, one of the most commonly asked questions is “Can a sex addict love someone?”

This is understandable since one of the most common misconceptions is that sex addicts aren’t capable of love. However, if you’re in a relationship with a sex addict, you’ll be happy to find out that’s nothing more than a myth.

Despite frequent intimacy issues, sex addicts are perfectly capable of loving their partners. It’s important to keep in mind that, while many sex addicts can have loving relationships, they will still act out with unhealthy infatuations and often engage in risky encounters.

Online Rehab Program For Sex Addicts

We offer a 4-week intensive virtual program help you & your partner:

Online and At Your Own Pace
A Virtual Circle of Care Team Supporting Your Recovery
12 Individual Therapy Sessions
Specialized Group Therapy
3 Family Therapy
4 Partner Support Therapy
Accountability / Mentor Support
Discharge Planning
24-Month Continuation of Care
Lifelong Aftercare

A New Alternative to Residential Treatment.
And yes, it works.


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Dating A Sex Addict: Can it Work?

If you’re dating or in a relationship with a sex addict, you likely have concerns about whether or not the relationship can work out in the long run.

Despite often having the best intentions, many sex addicts find it hard or even impossible to stay faithful to their partners.

Love addiction and affairs also go hand-in-hand because the individual may engage in frequent unhealthy passion-related behaviors. For that reason, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with someone who has a love and sex addiction without them seeking treatment.

However, it’s important not to jump to the conclusion that someone you’re dating is or will be unfaithful to you.

Many sex addicts will find other outlets and are therefore able to stay committed to their partners without having multiple lovers. It’s important to not make assumptions about your husband or partner as every situation is unique.

The excessive use of pornography, in a relationship is a perfect example of a different avenue a sex addict may use rather than cheating on their partner.

That doesn’t mean that the relationship will be free of other problems, such as lying, neglect, or recklessly spending money to fuel the irresistible need for sex. You need to assess whether you think the relationship is worth continuing.

If you do a quick Google search for “partners of sex addicts resources” or “dating a sex addict relationship advice”, you’ll discover how common it is to be dating a sex addict.

Since sex and love addiction is so complicated and misunderstood, education through online resources or support groups can help you get a better understanding of your partner and what fuels their behavior.

The Pros and Cons of Being With A Sex Addict

If you are still having trouble deciding if a relationship with a sex addict can work, continue reading to compare the pros and cons and see if the positives outweigh the negatives for your situation.

Pros:

  • Treatment is available for sex addicts and recovery is possible
  • You and your partner will both change and grow in the recovery process
  • If you are still in love and both willing to work on it, you can salvage your relationship
  • Your partner, once in recovery, may become very aware and respectful of situations that could be uncomfortable for you
  • Your relationship has the potential to become stronger in the end

Cons:

  • It can be hard to regain trust in your partner
  • You may experience lingering effects of the trauma
  • The road to recovery from sex addiction is ongoing
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be a concern if there is infidelity
  • Sexual intimacy may need to be taken off the table for a while altogether for your safety and to help them recover
  • Without treatment and recovery, you and your partner may both be at risk

How to Help Partner/Spouse With Sex Addiction

One of the greatest hurdles of learning how to cope with a sex addict partner is learning to forgive.

By no means does this mean that you have to forget their actions. However, holding onto bitterness in your heart will do nothing for fixing your relationship or helping them in recovery.

The good news is, sex addicts can change. However, they have to be the one to make that decision. If and when your partner is ready to get on the path to recovery, one of our highly successful sex addiction treatment programs can help. Our inpatient program is based in Ontario, while our Virtual Outpatient Program is available for residents across Canada.

Helping your partner or spouse with sex addiction can be an extremely touchy subject. Not only is it important to show your support, but it’s also vital to seek help for yourself if you’ve been struggling as well.

Help for Wives of Sex Addicts

Have you felt overwhelming feelings of anxiety and stress since you figured out your husband has a sex addiction?

Being married to a sex addict can be extremely challenging and damaging to a relationship. If your partner has kept the addiction hidden from you or started developing unhealthy habits surrounding sex later on in the marriage, it can lead to feelings of betrayal and resentment.

However, the weight of the commitment to stay with your partner is often stronger in a marriage as opposed to a relationship.

Some women who discover that their husband has a sex addiction even develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since infidelity often goes hand-in-hand with the compulsion for sex, you may find yourself constantly wondering if he’s betraying you at any given moment.

Remember that it’s perfectly natural to feel anger, rage, confusion, sadness, and a wide spectrum of other emotions when learning how to cope with a sex addict partner.

In addition to the treatment for the sex addict, there is also help for wives of sex addicts available such as PTSD treatment. The truth is, much like with addiction to alcohol or drugs, sex addiction never fully disappears.

So if you’re struggling with your spouse’s addiction, don’t stay in silence. speak to a therapist, counsellor, or join a support group to connect with other wives of sex addicts. One of the best things you can do as the wife or girlfriend of a sex addict is to join a support group yourself, such as S-ANON.

Listening and talking to other like-minded people in a similar situation will help you find peace and heal from your partner’s addiction as well.

Up until now we’ve covered men and sex addiction but you may be wondering if women also experience sex addiction. Keep reading to find out.

Can Women Be Sex Addicts?

“Do girls get addicted to sex?”

If you’ve found yourself wondering that lately, the answer is yes.

Just like men, women can also develop an unhealthy compulsion obsession with sex. So why is it that sex addiction is primarily viewed as a male problem in our society?

A major reason is because of the way men are portrayed in the media – male celebrities cheating on their wives, men going to strip clubs, men hiring prostitutes, and everything else you’re bombarded with in the news.

Yet, despite female sex addiction rarely being talked about, it’s equally as real and devastating.

Female Sex Addict Definition

Female sex addiction is much more than a woman who enjoys and has a lot of sex. Female sex addicts will find themselves obsessing over and engaging in compulsive sex to achieve a “fix”, similar to the feeling an alcoholic gets from having a drink.

For women, compulsive sexual behaviour is often about control, power, attention, or seeking more intimacy. However, men often have very little emotional involvement when it comes to sexual acts. In fact, it’s often used to avoid intimacy.

At the core, female and male sex addiction is the same. Regardless of gender, the person experiencing it obsesses over sex and fantasies, engages in dangerous and destructive sexual acts, may experience a decline in their physical and mental health, and is unable to stop despite the consequences it has on their personal or professional life.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms My Wife or Girlfriend is Addicted to Sex?

If your wife or girlfriend is a sex addict, there are signs and symptoms you should look out for, such as:

  • Obsessing over sex, with little time for other activities
  • Engaging in multiple affairs outside of your relationship
  • Consistently engaging in online sex, phone sex, or sexting
  • Compulsive masturbation or viewing pornography
  • Lying to cover up her behaviour
  • Mood swings or anger when sex isn’t available
  • Shame or regret surrounding the sexual acts
  • Experiencing negative personal and professional consequences
  • Inability to stop the compulsive behaviour

As mentioned previously, men can also have these signs present when they develop a sex addiction. There are many similarities even across genders, because at the core they are all experiencing sex addiction.

“My Boyfriend/Girlfriend is Sex Addict”

Numerous women and men have come to us saying “My boyfriend has a sex addiction” or “My girlfriend is a sex addict. What should I do?”

If you believe your partner is a sex addict, the first step is to sit down and have an honest conversation with them.

If infidelity was involved, do your best not to act out in anger, despite any devastation or rage you may be feeling. Like any other addiction, your partner may feel completely powerless over their actions to an extent.

While you may feel angry, hurt, and resentful, the first step is to try to support your partner as best you can.

Inevitably, both partners suffer within the relationship. Despite the pain that the addiction causes, partners of sex addicts must realize that it’s a serious condition.

If you need help with managing your feelings surrounding your boyfriend or girlfriend’s addiction, speaking to a therapist or other professional can be beneficial for you as well.

How to Talk to Your Partner About Their Addiction

If you’ve discovered that you’re in a relationship with a sex addict, you’ll never be able to help them recover if you avoid the topic. With that said, sitting down and talking to your partner can be difficult.

They may feel guilt or shame surrounding their behavior, causing them to act defensively or lie to cover up the extent of the problem. The best way to avoid this is by not directly placing blame on your partner.

During the conversation, it’s equally as important to share your feelings with your partner. If you feel betrayed by their actions, you have the right to express that.

At the same time, acknowledging that you understand your partner is going through a lot can be vital to moving forward together.

You may want to simply take your partner’s word for it that the compulsive sexual acts won’t happen again, however, together you should aim to create action steps to take to move toward a healthier relationship. This may look like speaking to a sex or couples therapist, joining support groups, or seeking addiction treatment.

If your partner is willing to get help for their sex addiction, there is an opportunity to salvage your relationship. However, if you’re unable to get over the destruction of their actions or they are unwilling to change, then separating or divorcing is okay too. Remember, there is no wrong decision – there is only what feels right for you.

Continue reading to learn tips on processing your partner’s sex addiction and exploring your options whether you decide to leave or stay with your partner.

Tips for Processing Your Partner’s Sex Addiction

Upon discovering your partner’s addiction, it’s common to go through a period of shock, followed by stages of grief or ambivalence. The range of emotions you feel is completely normal, however, always try your best to not become hostile.

Many partners of sex addicts experience ongoing symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks or re-experiencing the trauma, inability to concentrate at work, numbing their own sexuality, and being hypervigilant or constantly on edge with their partner’s behaviour. That’s why PTSD treatment and partner of sex addict help can be an incredible step to healing.

Also, joining a support group, speaking to a therapist, and confiding in a trusted friend or family member can also help you process your emotions in a healthy way.

When dealing with a sex addict partner, remember that they use sex as an outlet for them to cope with other issues in their life. Co-occuring depression and anxiety are very commonly seen among sex addicts, as well as other forms of substance abuse.

Their behaviour is in no way a reflection of you or of something lacking in your relationship – it’s a coping mechanism to suppress emotions.

Your Options: Staying With or Leaving a Sex Addict

Do you love your partner? If you can truly still picture a future with them, then it may be worth trying to work things out.

Of course, it will depend on the extent of the damage that has already been caused. You also have to ask yourself if it’s possible for them to earn your trust back over time.

In the end, the decision to stay or leave a sex addict should be based on whether or not your partner is willing and ready to get help. Staying with a sex addict who can’t admit they have a problem will only result in more lies, secrecy, and continuing the same destructive behaviour patterns.

Remember, not everyone is cut out to deal with sexual addiction issues in a relationship, even if they do get help. If you decide to leave your partner, this is perfectly acceptable. Never blame yourself for their actions, as it’s important to take care of your own mental wellbeing first.

Remember, You Don’t Have to Go Through It Alone

Addiction affects everyone it touches, which is why we have treatment available for both you and your partner at Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres.

Contact us today to find out how our virtual outpatient or inpatient treatment program can help you navigate the challenges of being the partner of sex addict and reclaim your life.

Options For Your Partner With a Sex Addiction

Even if you decide to stay or leave your partner with sex addiction there are some options to help your partner especially when you’ve tried everything else.

Your partner with a sex addiction can explore both our residential and virtual treatment options to receive a specialized and unique sex and love treatment program that will also offer partner support therapy which can help you heal as the spouse of sex addiction.

Keep reading to explore the options offered at Trafalgar.

Treatment for Sex Addiction

Sex addiction treatment begins first when the addict acknowledges the problem and is open to getting help. At Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres, we treat the patient holistically and address the underlying issues that fuel the addiction. We currently have several options available to treat sex addiction, including residential and online treatment.

Residential Treatment for Sex Addiction

Our residential treatment centre for sex addiction is located right outside Guelph, Ontario. During your 30, 45, 60, or 90-day stay (or more), you will receive the highest level of treatment available from our qualified therapists.

You’ll take part in both individual and group therapy, which will teach you about sex addiction and equip you with the skills to overcome it.

In addition to treatment for the sex addict, additional therapy for family members and partners is also included. We encourage you to take advantage of this since sex addiction affects everyone involved. Residential treatment can be life-changing for both partners.

Online Treatment for Sex Addiction

For those interested in receiving the benefits of residential treatment from the comfort of home, the best place to start is our 4-week intensive online love and sex addiction recovery program.

It’s available to residents across Canada, making it an excellent choice for people who aren’t able to attend residential treatment in Ontario.

It’s also a great opportunity for working professionals and people with family commitments to regain control of their lives from a private and secure virtual platform.

Get in Touch With Us Today to Begin the Journey to Recovery

Even though finding out you’re in a relationship with a sex addict can be devastating, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. By seeking treatment, the sex addict can learn healthier coping mechanisms and begin to leave the compulsive behavior behind.

If you or someone you love is suffering from this condition, get in touch with our qualified professionals at Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres today.

Meet Our Renowned Experts

Your partner will receive Sex Addiction Treatment from the very best.
We have a team of accredited professionals who have many years of clinical and research experience.

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Amber Stephenson, MSW, RSW, CSAT

Certified Sex Addiction Therapist

A photo of Nathaniel Israel

Nathaniel Israel, MA, RP

Clinical Director, Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program

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Allyson Florence, M.A., R.P, CSAT (Candidate)

Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (Candidate)

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