If you have arrived here because you have a loved one who may be struggling with a sexual addiction, you are likely asking yourself "What do I do now?" Know that, in NLP, you have found a place of acceptance, understanding, love, and support. It's not an easy journey - here are some common questions and answers to help you get started.
We like this definition from Recovery Nation: "Sexual addiction is nothing more than a continuing pattern of unwanted compulsive sexual behavior that has had a negative impact on an individual's personal, social and/or economic standing."
In many ways, it doesn't matter what you call it! If his behaviors are affecting your life (or his) in a negative way, then there is cause for concern, regardless of what label you put on those behaviors. And that's probably why you are here!
However, if it is important to you or to him, to have some direction, here are some questions that may help you decide whether sexual addiction could be a problem in your family:
No. There is nothing you did or didn't do that caused this. It's hard to accept but this is not about you and it's not even about sex. It doesn't matter how beautiful, caring or supportive you are, or how often you have sex. Roots of this addiction often can be found in childhood, before you even met him.
In NLP, we often refer to the three C's: I didn't Cause it. I can't Change it, I can't Cure it.
One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself. Learn about sexual addiction. Read books, ask questions, seek professional help, or a local support group. As you start to understand sexual addiction, what it is and what it isn't, and how you are responding to it, you will be better able to make wise, healthy choices.
There are numerous books available by Dr. Patrick Carnes, Dr. Mark Laaser, Dr. Doug Weiss and other leaders in the field that explain in great detail the patterns of sexual addiction. Many of these are included on our Recommended Reading list. There are also web sites (see our Online Resources guide) that contain loads of information, links to local groups and additional materials.
Partners of addicts are often both! Many partners exhibit classic PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) symptoms, especially shortly after the initial discovery, continuing disclosures or repeated traumatic events. Co-dependency can be seen as obsessing over another person, or attempting to manipulate another, in the hope of controlling that person's behavior (e.g. initiating more sex in the hope of stopping his other activities). Or, from another perspective, taking ownership of another person's addiction in an attempt to fix it yourself. (Remember the three C's above!)
Sharing with others is one way to begin to heal. You might participate in our email conversations, locate a face-to-face group near you and/or seek professional help.
We are free to choose how we react. We can choose a healthy response or an unhealthy one: to become bitter or become better. In the beginning, it is typical to feel hurt, angry, betrayed. But in the long run, we have to decide what to do with those feelings. This is where professional help and support groups, like NLP, can often help.
It may help to keep your focus on Christ, not on your loved one. Accept the concept that the only one I can change, with God's help, is me.