This article references the book, Mending a Shattered Heart, edited by Stefanie Carnes
Finding out your partner has been unfaithful is devastating. If the behavior proves to be the result of a sexual addiction, there can be even more overwhelming feelings of shame, confusion, loss, and pain; sometimes there are symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), such as hypervigilance and intrusive thinking.
Sex Addiction Criteria
Following are ten key criteria for sex addiction. If someone meets three or more of these ten criteria, he or she would be considered a sex addict. These criteria need to be present over a prolonged period of time (e.g., six months) and not be part of a major mood swing, such as in bipolar disorder.
1. Recurrent failure to resist sexual impulses in order to engage in specific sexual behaviors
2. Frequently engaging in those behaviors to a great extent or over a longer period of time than intended
3. Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control those behaviors
4. Inordinate amounts of time spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experiences
5. Preoccupation with sexual behavior or preparatory activities
6. Frequent engaging in the behavior when expected to f...
This article on help for sexual addition references the book, Ready to Heal, by Kelly McDaniel.
Love and sex addiction is a double bind. If we seek a relationship, which we are all designed to do, we will experience pain. If we then avoid relationships, which seems logical when we’ve been hurt, we will also experience pain – usually the pain of being isolated. When we are lacking healthy role models in our formative years, we may arrive at adulthood without the tools to navigate pain.
With repeated betrayal in relationships, we may end up with some of these feelings:
- I am not at “ease” or at peace.
- I rarely know a moment of comfort in solitude.
- I have difficulty being alone or still.
- I have disordered eating, sleeping, and/or spending patterns.
- I grow increasingly confused and tired.
- I have difficulty trusting people.
- I become more isolated while pursuing sex or romance.
- I lose interest in friends, hobbies, family, and work.
- I can’t seem to identify or live within my value system.
- I experience more and more episodes of irritability, rage, and restlessness.
Shame sets in when we can’t seem to free ourselves from choosing destructive...
Most people who struggle with sex addiction appear outwardly as normal in vocation and lifestyle as anyone else. For instance, many sex addicts are doctors, lawyers, writers, pastors, priests, teachers, and successful business people. They occupy trustworthy vocational roles all over the world. Sex addicts can also be very committed husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends. They often also have very high levels of spirituality and concern for others. So, why do many sex addicts cause so much damage in their sexual and relational acting out? That is a really good question that can only be answered as each addict processes and works through their own life story and discovers what helps them to be safe and caring towards themselves and others throughout their life.
Sex Addiction and Issues of Intimacy
Most individuals with addiction issues generally struggle with intimacy, and with building and maintaining a healthy relational attachment or connection to someone significant in their life. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the key struggle of the sex addict is concerned with healing, establishing, and maintaining intimacy, and with healthy attachment or connection. This is where most of the therapeutic work is focused. Many people who stru...
Porn and Power: A Christian Counselor Explains
Part 3 of a 4-Part Series
I’ve positioned the solution-oriented parts of this series (Parts 3 and 4) at the end – on purpose. Because waiting, and holding the tension of waiting, is critical to healing soul, body, and brain.
Many guys are already prone to a quick “fix-it” persona that conveniently bypasses the need for a deeper, more disciplined attentiveness to their inner life, to the emotional core Self. As men, often we want a 5-step plan for efficiently calculating and conquering the problem (or concealing it).
But that’s what made porn so appealing in the first place: it’s just a few pre-packaged steps or clicks towards “managing” an anxiety that’s often unnamed, even unfelt.
The Brain on Porn
Pornography hijacks normal brain functioning by artificially stimulating a neurochemical cocktail. Naturally interacting levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and oxytocin become highly combustible when experienced outside of relationship – profoundly restricting our emotional bandwidth for genuine connection with another person.
The brain’s delicate reward-gratification circuitry goes haywire, which can lead to numbing depression, anger, anxiety and decrea...
Cybersex, Part 2 of a 3-Part Series
In my previous article in this series, I introduced the phenomenon of sexual addiction, and outlined its effects on both men and women. This article builds on that discussion by providing a vignette of a first-time visit to a therapist by a couple who have been affected by sex addiction.
The following transcript is a compilation of what may typically occur in therapy. It describes a first-time appointment for a couple who are struggling with pornography use by one of the partners, in this case the husband as that is the most common scenario.
Sex Addiction in the Counseling Room
Therapist: Why are you both here?
Sally: We came because I am angry and can’t go on any more like we are. He spends hours on the computer looking at who knows what. He never initiates sex. And he’s distant to the kids.
T (to husband): Why are you here? Now I know why she is here.
Phil: It’s really not that bad. She’s exaggerating. Yeah, I spend some time online, but I’m doing okay.
Sally: Do you really think that…?
T: Let me interrupt for just a moment. Phil, it’s obvious she is extremely frustrat...
By Chris Chandler, MA, LMHC, CSAT-C , Seattle Christian Counseling
References “Wired for Intimacy” by William M. Struthers and “Out of the Shadows” by Patrick Carnes
All people long to bond with others. We want someone to share in our joys and support us in our sorrows. As Romantic pianist and composer Frederic Chopin said, “It is dreadful when something weighs on your mind, not to have a soul to unburden yourself to. You know what I mean. I tell my piano the things I used to tell you.”
How Sex Addicts Distort Intimacy?
Unfortunately for sex addicts, they share this longing for companionship, but cannot have it. For them, every relationship must be sexual. And their fear that someone will discover their addiction makes them keep everyone else at a distance.
Most sex addicts are sexually abused as children. Parents teach their children how to approach relationships. When a parent introduces sex to that relationship, the child assumes all relationships have to be sexual. (Carnes 59)
“As a child matures, there begins a search for what is dependable–something that you can trust to make you feel better. When a child’s exploration of sexuality goes ...
By Eric Gomez, MS, LMFT, Seattle Christian Counseling, PLLC
Pornography is a deeply painful reality. In my experience as a Christian counselor, I have rarely seen a phenomenon that is as destructive to the life of an individual or a marriage as pornography. I have heard countless stories from men describing the immense misery, shame and guilt that their pornography use results in. These men generally know how destructive pornography viewing is. Yet they often struggle to put a stop to such patterns, especially when they reach the level of a pornography addiction.
It is also difficult to describe the utter betrayal the spouse of a pornography viewer feels. I often hear these spouses speak of wrestling with deep hurt, and with insecurity about their own value and worth, when their partner's pornography use is disclosed or discovered. They cannot understand how and why their partner would betray the sacred sexuality of their marriage.
Feeling Miles Apart
When married couples find themselves in these positions, they often don't know how to effectively resolve the pain that each member is experiencing, or how to work toward mending the wide em...