sex addiction relationship counselingAs a relationship and addiction specialist, I know how difficult it can be to be in a relationship with a sex addict. Many partners of sex addicts still want to be optimistic and think the best of their partner. If you are wondering if your significant other might be a sex addict, here are some of the most common ways a person learns about a sex addict’s behavior.

Many women find out about their partner’s behavior by looking through credit card statements and finding purchases for hotel rooms, dinners, flowers, jewelry, and gifts that they were not a part of and did not know about. Others find their partner’s Facebook and other social media accounts littered with inappropriate comments and sexual innuendos.

Other tell-tale signs include finding business cards or matches from strip clubs in pockets or the car, second phones for calls and texting, and having accounts on various dating and social hookup sites.

Pornography and Sex Addiction

A number of women have reported finding stashes of porn on their home computer and have discovered that their partner spends time at home alone to compulsively masturbate. Lastly, and perhaps, the worse sign is when a woman reports getting a sexually transmitted disease and having only been with her partner.

It’s important to note and porn addiction and sex addiction can be two different addictions. There are number of ways in which porn addiction differs from sex addiction. For one, sex addiction involves real people; Internet porn addiction involves a screen. Porn addicts are hooked on pixels/searching/constant visual novelty. In contrast, sex addicts are hooked on novel partners, voyeurism, frottage, flashing, risky sex, and so forth; porn may or may not supplement other behaviors.

Sex Addiction and Secrets

Sadly, the list of red flags goes on and on because all addicts are experts at maintaining a secret life. Most addicts know, intellectually, that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, but, because they’re addicted, they cannot stop themselves. Of course, not everyone who engages in the above behaviors is a sex addict. However, if you notice a number of the behaviors listed above and they disturb you, you might want to talk about them with your spouse and even consider couples counseling.

If you find that your partner can easily give up the behavior because he values you and the relationship, he is most likely not a sex addict. But if you find that he tries to stop but cannot or refuses to even try, you might be in a relationship with a sex addict.

If you have been in a relationship with a sex addict for a while, you might be wondering if you are imagining things. This is partially because sex addicts are good at minimizing and rationalizing their behavior. They are usually skilled at deflecting criticism about themselves, in turn implying that you are crazy or imagining things. This is the turning point where you can decide if you want to begin your own recovery process. The process starts with respecting yourself enough to set boundaries and begin taking care of yourself. After that, you can decide if individual therapy and couples counseling might help the situation.

Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.

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Carnes, Patrick (1994). Contrary to Love: Helping the Sexual Addict. Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing.

Carnes, Stefanie. (2011). Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts. Carefree, AZ: Gentle Path Press.

Grant JE, Potenza MN, Weinstein A, Gorelick DA (September 2010). Introduction to behavioral addictions. Am. J. Drug Alcohol Abuse. 36 (5): 233–241.

Irons, R.; Irons, J. P. (1996). Differential diagnosis of addictive sexual disorders using the DSM-IV. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity. 3: 7–21.

Kafka, M. P. (2010). Hypersexual Disorder: A proposed diagnosis for DSM-V. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 39 (2): 377–400.

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