When the Sex Addiction Model Doesn't Fit
For those of you reading this page our hearts go out to you. You have most likely spent a good deal of time and money on sex addiction treatment for your Betraying Partner with the hope that he would stop lying and betraying you sexually, that your relationship would be better than ever. You may be feeling angry and deeply aggrieved that sex addiction therapy or recovery did not work out for your mate and by extension, your relationship.
You are not alone- the statistics on recovery from any addiction are dismal at an average of 5%, though many recovery resources for partners promote an optimistic outlook not reflective of the reality of the high failure rates in addictions.
Added to all this, perhaps you read recovery books or websites that talked about the rewards of a more-intimate-than-ever relationship as the man's recovery solidified. With no counterbalancing information on how infrequently this “more-intimate-than-ever” actually happens, you may have been one of the many partners who waited a long time for your mate's ever-elusive "recovery" to take hold, with the hopes he would start desiring you again.
In waiting for the 3-5 years that the sex addiction industry tells partners that true recovery takes, you may have taken out a second mortgage, borrowed money from your family or worked overtime to pay for yet one more Sex Addiction Intensive, one more round of therapy for the Betraying Partner, one more round of polygraphs, one more inpatient stay at a costly rehab center....because your mate just never managed to stop deceiving you.
How often we hear this story here.
You may be anxious and depressed as you consider that you just lost years of your life and your entire investment of time, money, your heart, your sexual years. You feel like a disaster zone and maybe even like the victim of a scam. When you speak up, you're told you are bitter, angry and need to get into recovery and/ or therapy of your own. All of this is crazy-making for partners.
We also know that sometimes the result of your mate spending time in specialized addiction therapy, rehab centers, with sponsors and members of some 12-step groups, religious leaders and men's empowerment groups all may have led him (unwittingly or not) to feeling more emboldened or entitled in his abusive attitudes/ behaviors.
Perhaps your concerns were downplayed or overlooked when you shared them with the therapists “treating” your mate in recovery; maybe the therapist saw you as a couple, too.
Frequently, therapists themselves do get hoodwinked by charming, compliant-appearing Betraying Partners who are lying to everyone all along. Then, you may find yourself wondering why these supposed "experts" were not trained to spot and call out the manipulations and deceptions that are the norm with chronic cheaters and/ or disordered people.
All of this can lead to you experiencing strong feelings of powerlessness and even institutional betrayal in many cases. The truth is that the more resources a partner has invested in "waiting it out" to see if her mate will recover, the more her damages will be compounded.
When we use the term resources here, we mean: her time, finances, putting off getting her own therapy because there's only enough money for his, not receiving any sexual intimacy because he can't, won't, isn't supposed to according to his "recovery plan".
She may also be keeping his secrets while she waits patiently to see if his recovery will be successful, lest the family find out. She may have had to keep her feelings inside, unable to share them with him lest he enter a "shame spiral" and he goes back to his sexual behaviors again (for which she will most likely be blamed).
Most partners invest so much into having their mate get “recovery”.
As a partner, your sense of defeat can be crushing at the end of a long period of championing your mate to "recover" when that doesn't end up happening. And worse, if/when he leaves you for someone else after years of supposed "recovery", turns the kids against you, tries to assassinate your character to anyone who may know you, financially ruins you, or gives you a sexually transmitted disease.
These are not outrageous or "worst-case scenarios". These are the stories we hear partners share with us every single day.
And... sometimes, even if he does enter a period of "sobriety" from infidelity behaviors, your concern about his sobriety can end up being secondary to how psychologically/ emotionally abused and broken you may feel after years of deception, being blamed, manipulated, rejected, abandoned, etc.
Yes, this is a seriously depressing list to read, however it helps to remember: naming the abuses is a critically important first step in healing the damages.
And the beginnings of true hope for your own healing can only come when you are 100% honest and open about any anger over these injustices you may have lived with daily.
Many other women just like you have contacted us for consultation when traditional sex addiction therapy did not work. We understand, as partner consultants and coaches, the deep sadness you may be experiencing at your many losses.
In our private session work, we can patiently walk with you through the grief, anger, frustration and disappointment you may find yourself in. You may find substantial healing just from having a trusted other help you carry the burden and steady you as we help you make sense of what feels too difficult to wrap your mind around. We can remind you of your goal to get your stability and strength back so you can come back to your life free of the abuses that may have insidiously slipped in over the years with your Betraying Partner.
We can also help you imagine a new course for yourself if and when that would be helpful.
And if you are still interested in providing help and support to your mate as you wonder about what other healing/treatment routes may be available to him, we will do our best to help you there as well.
If you are hopeless that he will ever change but you feel trapped in your relationship due to financial dependence, your age or health needs, religious injunctions against divorce or any other reasons you may have for staying, we will teach you how best to side-step the constant chaos or turmoil that threatens your well-being.
We can teach you the simplest ways to interact with your mate while you also learn how to protect yourself from further damage by detaching more.
As you learn to detach more over time, you may feel empowered to step into your own life again and start generating your own joy and well-being, no matter what your mate is/ isn't doing. This is not always easy, but it is possible. We share what worked for us in our e-book, Recovering from Infidelity, here.
If you wish to work with us privately, click here to schedule your session with us so we can help you get on course for a better future. You deserve that better future after championing his "recovery" and living with unbelievably difficult challenges for so long.
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild, precious life?"
- Mary Oliver, One Summer Day (From New and Selected Poems)