Dating Someone With A Sex Addiction: Help & Advice

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated April 29, 2022
It can be incredibly challenging to experience problems with addiction, especially around sex. If you’re currently dating someone with an addiction, then you might be at a loss for what to do about it. On the one hand, you love your partner, and you want to be able to help them feel healthy and fulfilled in regards to sex. Or, this situation might be impacting your life too.

Understanding The Situation And How To Navigate It

You have to look at the sex situation realistically and really know that you want to move forward with trying to help your partner. If you’re committed to this individual, then the following article can help you learn to support your partner with their sex addiction issues.
talk to a sex therapist if you think your partner is addicted to sex

Talk About Sex And What is Happening To The Addict To Encourage Open Communication

You aren’t going to be able to help your partner recover from what's going on if you avoid the topic altogether. It might be painful to acknowledge this situation, but you have to discuss that you're dating a sex addict. Your conversation with your partner might be the first step toward them realizing that they have a problem. If you let them know that this is hurting you, and them, and that you want things to change, then it could be a step in the right direction. 

However, simply talking about things isn’t enough to ensure that healthy steps toward positive change are taken. Identify actions together that represent moving forward and getting help such as attending support meetings. A trained sex therapist or couple’s therapist can work with both of you to develop actionable steps in meeting the goal of addressing and working through being a sex addict.

Acknowledge Your Feelings To The Sex Addict

Some people who are dating someone with sexual addictions may tend to push their feelings to the side. This isn’t healthy, and it could wind up making things worse in various ways. After all, you both likely feel emotionally hurt by the circumstances. It’s fine to be upset, and it’s understandable that you might even feel some anger about your partner’s behaviors. You can love your partner or spouse very much while still feeling a deep sense of hurt. Getting over what has happened might not be possible for some people, and others might be able to move on after speaking to a therapist and maintaining open communication with one another, as well. Either way, your feelings need to be recognized, and you have to understand that your well-being matters just as much as your partner’s.

Get Support From Friends Regarding Your Partner Who Is Addicted To Sex And Struggling

Support is available if you're dating someone who is a sex addict. If you have a support system to turn to, then you’ll likely have an easier time staying strong through this process. It might feel tough to talk to others about what is going on. However, it’s going to be worthwhile to have one or two friends or family members who will be understanding. You’re very likely going to need to vent sometimes, and so you need people whom you can speak openly with. Choose your support system carefully and turn to them during challenging moments. If you are looking for support outside of close friends or family, professionals are a great way to vent and process without personal ties to the situation.

What Else Is Going On Besides Sex Addiction? Is There Something Else To This Behavior?

It’s also important to note that sex addiction might not be the only form of addiction that the person is dealing with. Many living with sexual addiction may also have substance use disorder issues, whether that’s with drugs or alcohol. It isn’t unusual for those experiencing an addiction to sex to feel ashamed about what they are doing or thinking. Sometimes they might try to ignore the consequences of their actions by turning to substances. This is much more common than you might realize, and drug addiction can be a real hurdle for many who also experience sexual addiction. You might need to look out for signs of drug and alcohol abuse as well as sex addiction. Doing so may help put you in a better position to realize the full scope of what your partner could be going through.

Set Healthy Boundaries With The Person: Dating Someone With A Sex Addiction

Setting boundaries is likely going to be the next step in your relationship. This can be a make it or break it moment for many couples in this situation. Your partner is contending with something heavy, and might not have difficulty with making rational choices at all times. This means that they might continue to sleep with others because of their problem or seek out other forms of sexual gratification in unhealthy ways. You’re going to have to set boundaries while the two of you determine what treatment options to use. The most important boundary to establish is what matters to you the most. These boundaries can range from emotional to sexual or physical.

Physical Boundary Setting With Someone Addicted to Sex 

Continuing to have sex with your partner may not feel appropriate to you. Intimacy and sex encounters with your partner might need to be taken off of the table for now. You might be worried that your partner will continue to seek sex elsewhere if you don’t provide them with it, but this isn’t safe for you. Having sex with someone who is potentially seeking out sex with strangers is putting your health at risk, as is having sex with someone when you don’t genuinely want to. You could contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI), which may cause other health implications. It might feel emotionally painful to have to set a boundary like this, but protecting your body is important. Next, you may want to set other boundaries, such as whether you can keep sharing a house or living space. Another boundary may be insisting that your significant other seeks out treatment while you continue dating.

Getting Treatment: Improve Your Relationship With A Sex Addiction

The treatment process may involve different methods and healthcare professionals. You should make an appointment with a doctor to discuss what has been happening in your dating life. Your partner, if they are willing, should also make their own appointment to treat their sex addiction. It’s possible that your partner may be experiencing other mental health issues on top of experiencing sex addiction behavior.

Some people may seek treatment for sex addiction in a rehab facility or via inpatient treatment. As mentioned earlier, some with sexual addiction can also face other forms of addiction, and it is not uncommon for many people who have sex addictions to also have troubles with substance use disorder. Facilities like this are good at helping people with a variety of addiction issues, and this could be a positive step for your partner. Those living with sexual addiction can receive much-needed support from dedicated facilities.

Treatment Option: Rehabilitation Facility

As means of treatment, the rehabilitation facility may recommend that your partner abstain from sex. Abstaining means your partner will stop having sex or participating in sexual activities of any kind. This may be recommended to help them process their sexual urges and learn healthy coping skills. It takes time to recover from sexual addiction, and your partner may need treatment beyond their stay at the rehabilitation facility. Finding a therapist to continue treatment can be key for maintaining your partner’s good progress. If you don’t think that a full rehab facility is necessary, then you may wish to simply work with a therapist who understands sex addiction.

Work With A Sex Therapist To Improve Your Partner's Condition

Working with a therapist is one of the surest ways to make a difference in your partner’s life. You want to be able to get things on track, and a therapist can help guide things in the right direction. Recovery from sex addiction is a process that takes time, and it isn’t always going to be easy to get through it alone. Even if you’re a very supportive partner, your significant other will still likely need expert help to get things back to normal. Speaking to a therapist can help your partner to get through this time while learning how to cope with how they’re feeling.

It’s also beneficial to work with a therapist because it will be healthy for your relationship. Sexual addiction has likely put your relationship in a difficult place, and it may be challenging to move past. You might feel hurt and betrayed by what has occurred with your partner. These are natural emotions, and you may benefit from working through them safely with a professional by your side. Therapists are able to help people in your situation, and they can work with you as a couple while also providing individual help.

Looking into your options might be helpful for you, as well. Many couples will want to work with a therapist in-person at a traditional office, but others might be more comfortable with online therapy through BetterHelp. Online therapy gives you the same great treatment without making you have to leave your home. If you’re looking for a very discreet and affordable form of therapy, then online therapy might be for you. Either way, you’re going to have a caring, experienced professional to assist you in this recovery journey. It will take time to realize your goals, but you’ll never have to go it alone when you have a dedicated therapist who knows what it takes to help someone experiencing sex addiction.
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