Dating Someone With A Sex Addiction: Help And Advice
Sex addiction can be complex when it impacts your interpersonal relationships and dating life. Learning different scientifically supported strategies and theories around sex addiction may be a step in living healthily with a partner who has this addiction. There are several co-morbidities and contributing factors to sex addiction and supportive strategies to help both partners experience a higher quality of life.
What is sex addiction?
Sex addiction is not a referenced disorder in the most recent edition of the DSM-5. 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 several ways and is a personal experience. Understanding this range of possible symptoms and experiences can result in a more validating experience for those with these symptoms.
Navigating sex addiction: Supportive strategies
If you are dating, or married to, someone who experiences sex and/or relationship addiction, you may feel overwhelmed, objectified, or frustrated. Conversely, you may want to support your partner and not know how to begin. Reminding yourself that your feelings are valid and others may have them too can be valuable. Several supportive strategies, including the following, are available to try as you continue your relationship.
Talk about sex and what is happening 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. Talk about how their behavior affects you, framing the conversation from a lens of wanting to support and understand them better.
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 dating a person with sex addiction may push their feelings to the side to preserve the integrity of the relationship. However, suppressing emotions isn't necessarily healthy and could encourage unhealthy relationship patterns and frustration. In addition, studies show that emotional suppression can harm health.
It may be possible that both partners in the relationship feel emotionally hurt by the circumstances. Either person may feel guilty, angry, insecure, or "stuck." These feelings can be valid, and validating each other may offer a bridge to connection.
Note that you can love your partner or spouse while still feeling a deep sense of hurt. Overcoming events that may have happened because of sex addiction may not seem possible right now. However, it may be possible after speaking to a therapist and maintaining open communication.
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 seem difficult to talk to others about what is going on in your relationship. However, having someone you trust who isn't your partner can help you release painful emotions.
You may consider choosing your support system carefully to encourage healthy patterns and support for both partners. If you are looking for support outside of close friends or family, therapists can be an effective option for venting and processing your feelings without the risk of embarrassment or unhelpful opinions.
Consider your boundaries
Setting boundaries may be a healthy step in your relationship. Doing so might help you communicate more effectively, and allow treatment to be more efficient for both individuals. Try to define what matters to you the most in a relationship regarding emotional, sexual, and physical connection and communicate these areas to your partner.
Establish sexual boundaries
While all boundaries can be crucial for a healthy relationship, sexual boundaries may benefit you and your partner. For example, continuing to partake in sex with your partner may not feel safe. It is always importantto attend to sexual needs in ways that are mutually respectful and healthy for both of you.
You may consider requesting certain safety measures be put in place should you continue sexual relations during support and treatment, such as contraception, STD tests, or related requests. Open and honest conversation can support both or all partners in a relationship in getting their needs met and staying safe.
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 a comprehensive approach of multiple healthcare providers. You may choose to make an appointment with a doctor to discuss what has been happening in your relationship and verify both individual's physical safety and well-being. A psychiatrist or psychologist may also be helpful.
Some people may seek treatment for sex addiction in a rehab facility or via inpatient treatment. In addition, some who live with sexual addiction can also face other forms of addiction and may benefit from rehabilitation.
If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.
Alternative support options
Sex addiction can be a difficult experience for all people within a relationship. If you face barriers to in-person therapy, online counseling through platforms like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples may be beneficial. Online therapy can be useful if one or more partner feels nervous or ashamed to meet a clinician in person. This form of therapy is convenient, and you can use a nickname when speaking with your therapist if you'd like to remain discreet.
Modalities like internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have been indicated as effective for those experiencing sexual addictions as in-person therapy. Other forms of helpful therapy may be available to you in an online format, such as couples or group therapy. One study found that couples preferred online therapy due to its comforting approach and the distance between them and their therapist.
Are sex addicts capable of love?
Sex addicts are capable of love, but their struggles with compulsive sexual behaviors may impact their ability to express love in healthy ways. Seeking support through therapy, support groups, and trusted family members might contribute to a more beneficial approach to love and relationships.
Can sex addicts be faithful?
Faithfulness can be challenging for sex addicts due to compulsive behaviors and potential struggles with mental illness. However, with proper support, treatment, and a commitment to recovery, sex addicts can work towards rebuilding trust and practicing faithfulness in relationships.
How to date someone with hypersexuality?
Dating a sex addict or someone with hypersexuality often requires open communication, understanding, and support. Seeking professional help can be beneficial for addressing the concerns and challenges associated with hypersexuality so you can foster a healthy relationship between honest and open adults.
Are sex addicts insecure?
Sex addicts may experience underlying insecurities that contribute to their addictive behaviors. At times, sex might be used as a coping mechanism for underlying feelings of insecurity. This is similar to the experience of substance use disorder (sometimes called "substance abuse") for some people, where drugs and alcohol can be used as an attempt to escape mental health challenges.
What attachment style do sex addicts have?
Like most people, sex addicts may exhibit various attachment styles, and many factors can influence which attachment style they have. Seeking support from mental health professionals or local organizations offering services like free group therapy might help individuals with sex addiction explore and develop healthier attachment styles.
Why do sex addicts get angry?
Anger in sex addicts may stem from a range of factors, including frustration with their addictive behaviors, not wanting to accept or face underlying emotional challenges, or struggles in relationships. Addressing these issues through therapy or support groups can be essential in managing and understanding the source of anger.
Do sex addicts have regrets?
Sex addicts may experience regret for their actions, especially if their behaviors negatively impact their families, relationships, or personal lives. Processing and addressing these regrets alongside a mental health professional may improve the effectiveness of recovery efforts.
How do sex addicts manipulate?
Some sex addicts may engage in manipulative behaviors to conceal their addictive actions or avoid facing the consequences of their actions. For example, a sex addict might try to say that their cheating and unsafe sexual behavior is their partner's fault to minimize or deflect consequences. Recognizing and addressing manipulation is often beneficial for fostering genuine change and accountability.
Do sex addicts have a personality disorder?
While sex addiction does not mean someone has a personality disorder, individuals with sex addiction may have underlying mental health struggles. Seeking professional help can address both the addiction and any co-occurring mental health concerns.
Can a sex addict experience recovery?
Yes, with the proper support and a commitment to recovery, sex addicts can make positive changes in their lives. Involving family members, seeking therapy, and participating in support groups can contribute to the effectiveness of the recovery process for sex addicts, addressing concerns and fostering a path toward healing.
- Previous Article
- Next Article