SEX ADDICTION THERAPY
How do you recognize sex addiction?
Perhaps you are positive that your sex life is problem-free. More likely is this: you don’t think you have any problems. Someone that loves you thinks you have a problem. Now you have been tasked with figuring it all out.
Who, What, Where, When, Why, How? Ok, so you may be a sex addict. First, you are not alone. While there is a good chance this problem has been hidden in the shadows of your life and now has become unmanageable, now is the time to seek help.
You have had a series of life events that led you to this place. In the process of therapy, you get to discover what those life events were.
How can you admit to sex addiction?
No one wants to say they have an addiction–let alone a sex addiction. How do you or how should you explain that to your spouse, neighbors, friends, and business associates? You might wonder what they would think of you if they knew how you spent your time and money on your sex addiction.
Maybe you have one or two people in your life who can see that you are in pain. This is the truth of addiction. I have yet to meet a person stuck in the cycle of addiction who wasn’t also suffering from both past and present pain.
Let’s look at an example.
Sam is stuck behind the façade of being a “nice guy.”
Sam is 41, married, and has three children. He and his wife attend the same synagogue where he grew up. He runs his own contracting business. The business is well respected in the community for fine craftsmanship.
Sam often hears envy in the voice of others about his family. He thinks to himself, “If only you knew.”
Sam enjoys tremendous autonomy in his job; he visits five to seven different job sites everyday making sure that his subcontractors maintain his exceptionally high standards. When Sam leaves the job sites, he experiences an uneasy feeling that his subcontractors get tired of his unobtainable standards.
In between visiting job sites, Sam stops in the local adult novelty store to just check things out. Recently, he has been visiting them more frequently.
Feeling the pressure to keep up.
Sarah, Sam’s wife, has been putting a lot of pressure on him to make more money so that all three kids can attend private school. The pressure is subtle in the things that are said–like reminding Sam of their shared desire for a better life than they both had growing up. Their third child will be starting school in two years. Sarah manages the family finances and her husband’s business finances, and she knows there is not enough money available to send all three children to private school.
One day, Sam is feeling particularly overwhelmed by family and work. He stops by the adult novelty store and asks them where he can meet someone to relieve some of his “pressure.” The store manager gives him a few cards, which he nervously grabs and shoves into his pocket. He thinks to himself, “How have I gotten to this place? I don’t want to cheat on my wife and ruin my family like my father did. I just don’t know how to tell Sarah that I can’t handle the pressure of running my business. I have tried in the past, and it hasn’t gone so well. If only she would understand what it is like to be me.”
Exposure: now what?
Sarah is doing the weekly laundry and doing a customary ‘pocket check,’ since it is not unusual for Sam and the kids to leave things in their pockets that ruin the laundry. This week is different; Sarah finds the escort cards in Sam’s pockets, not the usual handful of coins and gum wrappers. She is mortified; she had known that Sam looks at porn on the home computer, but she didn’t know how to address it with him. So, she ignored it. Now this.
Sarah begins to freak out after the initial shock. “How can this be?” she thinks. “I know things are not great, but this is too much.”
Sarah texts Sam and says, “We’ve got to talk when you get home!!!!!!!!” Sam gets the text and knows it’s not good, but he is not sure what it is about. Later that afternoon, he realizes what has happened. He left the cards from the adult novelty store in his pocket and had forgotten. Now in a panic, he does not know what to do. Suicide, running away, calling the Rabbi, what to do? Sam realizes he must face Sarah and figure out what is going to happen.
After a major blow up at home, Sam searches sex addiction on the Internet. He finds several resources and the specialty treatment of sex addiction. While he is not fully ready to admit he has a problem, he checks it out. Sam sees a few pieces of information that make some sense.
Looking for answers.
What stands out to Sam is that many sex addicts have been masturbating to pornography from as early as six or eight years old. While Sam started at 12, he recognizes the pattern they are talking about. Pornography viewing starts with pictures of naked women. Then progresses to naked women having sex, and onto S&M. In Sam’s clearer states of mind, he knows that he no longer enjoys the images he is looking at. He also knows that going back to the pictures of naked college co-eds is no longer enough for him. Sarah has even mentioned that Sam has become more aggressive in their sex, and it is starting to make her feel uncomfortable.
Sam knows that he needs help and takes the brave step of calling. Everything is riding on him figuring this out. If he doesn’t, he knows that he will lose his wife, his kids, his respect in the community, and his own sense of pride. While the beginning stages of therapy leave more questions than answers, he is starting to get a clearer picture of the amount of pain he has been hiding from. His addiction is not a lack of moral character, but rather an expression of buried pain that he does not know what to do with.
Sarah starts to see her own therapist to make sense of this relational trauma. While she is resentful that they must go through this process, she starts to see some benefits for both her and Sam, as well as the kids. Sarah and Sam still have their fights, but they are now more balanced and get to a place of closure and commitment instead of lingering pain and frustration.
The treatment of any addiction is not easy.
Sex addiction has its own unique challenges. There are the patterns that sex addicts follow and the fall out from those behaviors. By working with a sex addiction therapist, you will get someone who can move through the arc of recovery with you, and who will help you navigate the inevitable challenges during each phase of recovery.