Dating Someone With A Sex Addiction: Help & Advice
Sex addiction can be complex, especially when it comes to dating and interpersonal relationships. Learning different scientifically supported strategies and theories around sex addiction can be an important step in living life well and healthfully with a partner with a sex addiction.
Read on to learn more about possible co-morbidities or contributing factors to sex addiction, as well as supportive strategies that may help both partners experience a higher quality of life.
What Is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction is not noted as a referenced disorder in the most recent edition of the DSM-5 at the time of this publication. However, it is a term that can be used to describe excessive compulsive sexual behaviors and hypersexuality in individuals across the sex, identity, and gender spectrum. Sex addiction can manifest in many ways as it is extremely individual. Understanding this range of possible symptoms and experiences can result in a more validating experience for those who live with this disorder.
Navigating Sex Addiction: Supportive Strategies
If you are a partner to someone who experiences sex and relationship addiction, you may feel overwhelmed, objectified, or frustrated. Conversely, you may want to support your partner and may not know the best way. All these feelings are valid in many people’s experiences. There are several different supportive strategies that you can try as you continue your relationship’s journey.
Talk About Sex And What Is Happening In Your Relationship
Sex addiction can lead to miscommunication and frustration within a relationship. To combat this, open and honest communication is paramount. While it may feel painful or uncomfortable to acknowledge the situation or your feelings about it, it can provide you with a deeper level of intimacy and healing in your relationship.
Your conversation with your partner may or may not be the first step toward them realizing that they have patterns of addiction around sex and intimacy. If you let them know that this is hurting you, and them, and that you want things to change, it could result in faster progress and a mutual understanding of the next right step.
As you speak, you may also choose to identify actions together that represent moving forward and healing, such as getting professional help and attending support meetings.
A trained sex therapist or couple’s therapist can work with both of you to help you navigate the individual effects of sex addiction in your relationship.
Acknowledge Your Feelings Honestly
Some people who are dating someone with sex addiction may tend to push their feelings to the side to preserve the integrity of the relationship. This isn’t necessarily healthy, and it could wind up encouraging unhealthy relationship patterns and frustration.
There is a possibility that both partners in the relationship feel emotionally hurt by the circumstances. Either person may feel guilty, angry, insecure or “stuck.” These feelings are valid across any range or intensity.
We do want to note: You can love your partner or spouse very much while still feeling a deep sense of hurt. Overcoming events that may have happened because of sex addiction may not feel possible right now but may be after speaking to a therapist and maintaining open communication with one another.
Build A Support System
Support systems can be invaluable for both the partner of the person living with sex addiction and the person experiencing sexual addiction. It might feel tough to talk to others about what is going on in your relationship. However, You may need to need to vent sometimes, so it’s helpful to have people whom you can speak openly with.
You may consider choosing your support system carefully to encourage healthy patterns and support for both partners of the relationship. If you are looking for support outside of close friends or family, professionals and therapists are a great way to vent and process your feelings without the risk of embarrassment or unhelpful opinions by people who may have personal ties to the situation.
Consider Your Boundaries
Setting boundaries may be the next step in your relationship. This can help you to communicate effectively and offers the potential to make any attempt at treatment or support more impactful to both or all partners of the relationship. Among the most important boundaries to establish is to define what matters to you the most in a relationship regarding the three major elements: emotional, sexual, and physical needs.
Establishing Sexual Boundaries
While all boundaries are important, sexual boundaries may be especially helpful to both or all partners in this case. For example: Continuing to have sex with your partner may not feel appropriate to you. Conversely, you may want to attend to sexual needs within a more healthful way.
You may consider requesting certain safety measures be put in place should you choose to continue sexual relations during support and treatment, such as contraception, STD tests or other related types of requests. Open and honest conversation can support both or all partners in a relationship to get their needs met.
Treatment Options For Those Living With Sex Addiction
The treatment process for those experiencing sex addiction and those who are partnered with those living with sex addiction may involve different methods and healthcare professionals. You may choose to make an appointment with a doctor to discuss what has been happening in your dating life and verify either individual's physical safety or wellbeing. A psychiatrist or psychologist may also be helpful to either partner during this time as well.
Some people may seek treatment for sex addiction in a rehab facility or via inpatient treatment. As mentioned earlier, some who live with sexual addiction can also face other forms of addiction and may benefit from either inpatient or outpatient treatment.
How Can Online Therapy Support Those Experiencing Sexual Addiction?
Sex addiction can be a difficult experience for all people within a relationship. Online therapy can be helpful to help partners of a relationship to work through roadblocks or previous instances of hurt. Online therapy can be especially useful of one or other partners in a relationship is too nervous or ashamed to leave the home, or who may not see their behavior as a concern. This form of therapy is accessible to most and can be done from the comfort of your home or another safe space.
Is Online Therapy Effective For Sex Addiction?
Different therapy, such as online CBT, has been indicated as effective for those experiencing sexual addictions. Other forms of helpful therapy may be available to you in an online format, such as couples or group therapy. BetterHelp can be a resource to connect you to available online therapists.
Sex addiction is an extremely individual experience. Understanding the range of symptoms and clinical presentation, as well as the implications for those who are partners of someone who lives with sex addiction, can result in a more empathetic and validating environment for all affected. Those experiencing sex addiction may benefit from boundaries, honest conversation, and therapeutic intervention, which can be done either online or in person. If you or your spouse exhibits sex addiction symptoms that are harming your relationship, BetterHelp therapists can assist you.
Dating Someone With A Sex Addiction
Yes, it is possible to get back to having a healthy sex life with your partner eventually after their sex addiction is treated. You both might need some time before this healthy sex life will be possible, but normal intimacy and sexual relations should be a part of your lives once again, if expressing yourself sexually is something what you both want. Work with your sex therapist to help move things in the right direction. Once your partner experiencing sex addiction has better control over the urges that they have been experiencing, it will be easier to return to normal activity. It is absolutely possible to work toward having a happy and healthy future together.
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