Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
Dear Stacy: Is sex addiction a real thing? I recently found out my fiancé has been cheating on me. He is begging me to forgive him and saying he’s a sex addict. Is this something curable or is this just an excuse he’s using because he got caught? –Skeptical Fiancée
Dear Skeptical, The short answer is, yes, sex addiction is a real thing. But please remember two things:
First, we haven’t proved that Fiancé is a sex addict. And second, sex addiction is not an excuse for his behavior. It may be a reason behind the behavior, but it doesn’t excuse it. Long story short – if he’s addicted to sex, Fiancé needs help, not a free pass. Like any other addiction, people with sex addiction act out to avoid negative feelings. Sex becomes a coping mechanism and, like with alcohol or drugs, that coping mechanism eventually becomes the problem. There is treatment for sex addiction (and support for partners of sex addicts – let me know when you’re ready, and I can put you in touch with some resources), but it requires the addict to seek it out and follow through. Anyone who has ever been addicted to anything will tell you that there was no chance of quitting until he or she made the personal decision it was time to stop. We don’t stop drinking/drugging/gambling for another person – we do it for ourselves, and that’s the only way long term change will take place.
So please do yourself a favor and recognize that he has his work to do and you have yours. Don’t force yourself to ignore the symptoms or talk yourself out of your feelings. At the same time, don’t offer to become his parole officer, either. Point Fiancé the direction of a 12-Step group and take yourself to a support group for partners of sex addicts. Education is your #1 priority right now.
Stacy Notaras Murphy (www.stacymurphyLPC.com) is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist, practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.