Over the years, I have sat through thousands of hours of sessions in my office with couples in severe emotional pain. The majority of couples who come for sexual addiction help have generally disclosed some or parts of their behaviors to the spouse before stepping into our office. If you will, the “car accident” occurred outside our office. However, on occasion, the “car accident” happens in my office right in front me, as the sex addict shares and has full disclosure with their spouse. This is very painful to watch. When the spouse hears this information for the first time, it can cause emotional trauma. The loyal spouse will go through the stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and finally acceptance within minutes or the days following.
Full disclosure is what I call the “dump truck effect.” The addict dumping the lies, dishonesty and ways they have acted out is very much like a dump truck, dumping a pile of manure, driving away relieved and feeling a cathartic release. For the loyal spouse, it is the opposite experience of having the manure dumped on you. Growing up on a farm, I have moved a lot of manure in my day, which is not something you want to do for a living.
Unfortunately, honesty is the only way the addict will get better. Like any addiction, the addiction only has power because of secrecy. The loyal spouse has desired honesty since they said, “I do.” In fact, most loyal spouses cannot thrive in a dishonest marriage. Disclosure can be very validating for the loyal spouse. They finally realize they are not crazy, as the things they thought to be true…are actually true.
Before you say, “I do” to that special someone and to avoid “car accidents” and “manure piles”, here are some warning signs I have observed that might help you avoid getting into or staying in a relationship with a sex addict.
PLEASE NOTE: The following list does not guarantee that your son, daughter or you are in a relationship or are about to marry a sex addict; however, if you see 10 or more of these behaviors in your relationship, you should be concerned.
- They lie about little insignificant things.
- What they say does not match behaviors you are observing.
- They drink or use prescribed and or un-prescribed drugs more than they should. They might be known as the party guy or party girl.
- They have unaccountable time during the day or night.
- They carry large amounts of cash, petty cash is missing from the business or accounts do not balance.
- When you ask them about their unaccountable time, money, receipts, or phone records, they become defensive and irritable with you.
- They receive calls, e-mails or texts that are unknown or unfamiliar to you or them.
- They are disinterested in you sexually, not aroused or unable to maintain sexual arousal.
- If they are willing to be sexual with you, they struggle with premature ejaculation.
- Sex is all about them and feels like masturbation, as you are an object. The experience is not intimate.
- You have observed them or viewed search engine history which indicates use of porn, social media, personal ads, dating websites or services on electronic devices. Or, on the other hand, the search history is always cleared or deleted.
- Their personal cell phone is always with them, password protected, and they become defensive when you ask to look at their phone.
- They masturbate to pornography or sexual fantasies.
- They have tried to stop but have not been able to. In fact, porn use and masturbation may be getting more frequent.
- They were exposed to pornography at a young age.
- They began masturbating as a child and never stopped as an adult.
- They were sexually abused or traumatized at a young age.
- They have parents who struggled with addiction or addictive behaviors.
- They have very poor, if any, self-worth and have a difficult time viewing themselves positively.
- They struggle with depression and/or anxiety.
If you see 10 or more of the above behaviors in a relationship, you might be in a relationship with a sex addict.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.