How Does Sex Addiction Affect Relationships?


A sex addiction can have devastating consequences on a relationship.

Though there continues to be a debate as to whether it is a legitimate addiction, its effects can be traumatizing.

One partner may begin to notice suspicious behavior in the other. Perhaps he or she is spending more time away from home, neglecting family relationships and becoming distant from loved ones. As communication begins to deteriorate, so too does the relationship.

The partner may begin to notice signs of a sex addiction, including excessive masturbation, anonymous one-night stands, violent sex, arrest or other legal consequences. Like all addictions, these symptoms will not disappear without taking proper action.

Seeking help

According to Elements Behavior Health, many partners turn to couples’ therapy in order to deal with sexual addiction in one of their partners. During therapy, partners will address topics such as denial and avoidance, shame and guilt, resentment and anger, betrayal, managing loss and rebuilding trust.

Many couples also turn to treatment centers for help. Depending on the severity of the addiction, the extent of treatment can vary. The process begins with an extensive interview and assessment of the individual, followed by a customized treatment plan. Treatment also seeks to “fully explore and reduce symptoms of any prior trauma and abuse,” states Elements. This can also involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as part of the treatment plan.

Following treatment, Elements recommends both partners join 12-step support meetings. For the sexual addict, these groups may include:

  • Sex Addicts Anonymous
  • Sexual Recovery Anonymous
  • Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous

For the partner of the sexual addict, Elements suggests the following support groups:

  • COSA-Recovery
  • A Woman’s Healing Journey

Elements also suggests Recovering Couples Anonymous for both partners to attend together.

The healing process is far from easy. Partners must seek new ways of relating and communicating in order to rebuild trust and intimacy.

Source: Elements Behavior Health

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