I’ll be writing in this series about the issues many of our clients who are partners of sex addicts face as they work towards healing from the addiction. I’ll offer some ideas and suggestions for healthy boundaries, some things to do to take care of yourself, and, hopefully, some new insights that help you realize you’re not crazy because of the things you’re thinking. Let’s get started.
First things first: Many partners may not have known about their addicted partner’s addiction and it comes as a total surprise. For others, you may have been aware of some of the issues (he looked at porn before we got together; he said he used to (fill-in-the-blank) but I thought he quit; I know she was promiscuous before we met, but that stopped a long time ago; etc.) but thought that after marriage or as part of a committed relationship those behaviors were behind you. However you got to where you are, one thing is for sure – YOUR PARTNER’S ADDICTION IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
Many of our partner clients don’t always tell us they think it’s their fault, but there is usually some underlying belief, if not an overt belief, that if you would have done something differently this whole thing could have been avoided. It’s just not true. Sometimes addicts will try to blame their partners for their behaviors. Again, it’s just not true that you have any blame, responsibility, or ownership in their behavior.
(The next part of this series will have more specifics for partners on this topic of blame.)
As the partner you cannot take ownership of your addicted partner’s behaviors. Simply don’t own any of it. Inside, where it really counts, don’t let yourself believe that you could have been better or different and saved the pain you’re going through. This is not your fault. You are not to blame.
If you’re in the early stages of dealing with your partner’s addiction the best things you can do are contact a qualified therapist, attend a COSA or Al-Anon meeting, talk to a trusted confidant (make sure this person is 100% safe) and focus on your healing.