Sex addiction is possibly the most misunderstood addiction. It is a complicated and difficult to treat addiction, and its effects can be life-altering, and often even life threatening. Many people hear the term “sex addict” and think that it describes someone who likes to have sex, has sex frequently, or has multiple sex partners. I know I looked for excuses everywhere when I learned of my husband’s sexual exploits. Is this the result of him being abused as a child? Are these lapses in decision making due to drugs? Are we having problems in our sex life? Is my husband secretly gay? I looked for answers everywhere, but eventually realized none of these would be the cause.
I remember the day my feelings about my husband would be forever changed. This absolutely ground breaking discovery was the start of the downfall of my marriage. Until this one moment, I believed I was in a happy marriage. I had no suspicions of my husband’s intentions, I didn’t cringe when he touched me, I didn’t double check his stories, I didn’t fear for my life, and I didn’t fake a smile. Our love was as real to me as it could have felt, and I believed we were happy. I knew that he had some issues from his past, but who doesn’t? I can replay the beginning of my relationship a million times, and I’m positive I would not see any sign of what was to come. I’m confident I will never again feel as blind-sided as I did in this very moment.
I was aware of some of my husband’s early addiction stages, although they didn’t appear problematic. Early in our relationship, I had caught my husband continuing conversations on dating sites. I could not conclude from any messages that he had actually met with anyone, and he seemed genuinely apologetic when confronted. He convinced me that he felt like he needed to flirt to raise his self- esteem, and that he was only reaching out to others to receive the positive affirmation and flirtation back. We discussed this as an issue, and he agreed to put a stop to it, and I believed that he had. I later had some concern about his growing need to watch pornography. I would find, from his website history, that he had been watching porn in the middle of the day in the bathroom at his job. This was now problematic, and no longer a mystery as to why he was unable to maintain a job (certainly not the only reason). This had become a coping mechanism…an addiction…and I didn’t see the ugly truth of it at first.
I wish I could remember what exactly I was doing at the time, but my memory is clouded by the events that followed. I believe I was completing a search in my husband’s email, looking for a resume, to send to him for his employment search. He knew I had access to his email, so I’m sure he believed he had covered his tracks well. As I typed in the search bar, it would bring up emails that had been re-categorized, refiled or even deleted, but not from the trash bin. That’s when I saw the many responses to craigslist ads that my husband had sent out. The filthy words... the dirty pictures... my heart sank... and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was so betrayed. I was so broken hearted. I was so shocked! And then I saw it. The one thing that would never change for me, and that would forever haunt my mind. As I scrolled up, through one gut wrenching message after another, I noticed the craigslist response category in each email…t4m…or m4m…MY HUSBAND WAS SLEEPING AROUND WITH LITERALLY ANYONE WILLING TO LET HIM!! I was sick to my stomach and didn’t know if I needed to cry or throw up. My entire marriage had been a lie and I didn’t know this person at all. It felt like the worst thing that could possibly happen…and now I wish that had been true…
Sex addicts lack appropriate coping skills, and seek to numb the pain they feel in life by initiating a temporary euphoria. Very similar to a heroin addict. Their actions are not an acting out behavior, but rather an addiction seeking behavior. And similar to a heroin addict, their addiction will often require more and more of their “drug” to feel the relief they seek. While a heroin user may be able to increase their relief by using more, or using more frequently, the pattern is different for sex addicts. Sex addicts may start with more minor actions such as watching porn, or visiting dating websites. These habits can quickly escalate into more dangerous actions such as sex with strangers, unprotected sex, or group experiences, in order to continue feeling the needed “high”. To be fair, Narcissists aren't actually sex addicts...but moreso child-like in that they are pleasure seeking, and feel entitled to do what they want when they want, especially if it makes them feel good. Either way, it affects their partner the same.
But my husband wasn’t just a sex addict, he was a narcissist. The undeniable truth that I had to accept was that every other person on the planet was interchangeable to my husband. We were all just objects to support his needs or desires at the current moment, and no one of us was more important than another. He was unable to create meaningful emotional attachments in relationships, which meant his feelings for me, our child, his mother, everyone, could easily be replaced by feelings toward another person willing to give him what he was seeking at the moment. There was no sentimentality behind it. This continued to be the hardest jolt to my core being as a person, as I realized my life with my husband had been a lie.
Looking back now, I can see that this one lie... this one huge lie... was what kept my husband stable in life and in our marriage. His ability to keep this secret hidden from everyone who knew him is what allowed him to live as though it didn’t exist. The happy life we lived was part of the lie. He looked me in the eye, and he saw my love for him. He saw my adoration for him. He was able to pretend that other part of his life did not exist. I would never get the chance to experience the loving husband I knew again. He would never return. This one accidental outage, would break the story for him... and from this point forward, he would look into my eyes and see that I knew the truth. He felt embarrassment and shame and guilt when he saw me... he was forced to admit this reality to himself, and I would be connected to this pain and shame from here on out. I became the enemy. And so it began..
Recommended Read (just keep in mind not all psychopathic traits ring true for narcissists, so be careful no to confuse them.)
Psychopath Free (Expanded Edition): Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People
Get it here: https://amzn.to/2XKBd8e