My Partner Has a Sexual/Pornography Addiction What Does This Mean For Me? One of the most difficult things to deal with is watching someone you love suffer and struggle with painful life experiences. Whether it is your partner, your child, your parent or your best friend. Being a support for someone who is struggling is difficult anytime, but it is even more challenging when the suffering involves addiction. Watching your beloved continuing to make choices that hurt themselves and others, while you have no power to stop them is terrifying. It can also be infuriating and leave one feeling hopeless and powerless. If your partner or loved one struggles with pornography or sexual addictions, that might be some of what you are feeling.
There are a variety of emotions involved with loving a person who is dealing with sexual addictions. There are endless questions about what to do, where to turn and how can I help fix this situation? As a partner of someone struggling with an addition, it is not your job to”fix the situation”. The addict is the only one that is responsible for the addiction, and the only one who can recover from the addiction.
Recovery form sexual addiction is not an easy road, but it is possible, rewarding and well worth the effort. It requires much hard work, patience, grace, and usually help from a higher power and/or the support of an addiction professional. The recovery can be grueling, fraught with setbacks, relapses, and emotional ups and downs. During the recovery process, while the addict is focused on their work, the partner may feel a greater burden in holding the relationship together or maintaining stability on the home front. They may feel alone, betrayed and confused. Addictions hurt everyone involved, especially the partner.
When an addict is active in their addiction, they can become selfish and self-absorbed. The partner may feel ignored or disrespected. I have heard, “he/she cares more about the addiction that me”. This same sort of self-absorbed behavior also plays a role in the recovery process for the addict. In order for the addict to recover from their addiction, they need to put their recovery and sobriety first. They may not be available for you as you deal with your own hurt and betrayal from their behavior. There can be a disconnect with your expectations about what you need from them to heal the relationship, and what they are able to give while they are dealing with their own healing process.
Partners of sex addicts often feel intense grief, and loss. You might be feeling feeling loss of trust, loss of the relationship as you knew it, loss of security, safety or your “best friend”. Other feelings that partners share they have experienced include feeling responsible, or somehow to blame for their partners behavior. They feel shame and guilt for their family. They may feel anger or despair, or even relief to finally know what their partner is dealing with. As painful as this experience might feel at the time, there is hope for everyone involved.
Partners can heal with or without the relationship staying in tact. If a partner decides to stay in the relationship, they can create a new, different relationship with the addict over time. If a partner decides to end the relationship, the trauma and the betrayal are still there, and do not automatically disappear with the termination of the relationship.
Your feelings matter, and deserve your attention and compassion. We can help.