Clients often seek counselling for issues of sexual addiction when a partner has been ‘unfaithful’. The ‘acting out’ behaviour can be addiction to internet porn, having an affair or multiple affairs which can involve emotional and or sexual involvement, including liaisons over the internet.
Individuals involved with sexual addictions are oblivious of its impact on their partner, often seeing their actions and activities as irrelevant to the couple relationship. Lying is a common way of hiding these ‘clandestine’ behaviours. The effect of addictions is the eroding of intimacy and good will between partners.
In general, feelings of anxiety worry and depression can often be the core issues that fuel various types of addiction. The acting out behaviour can be a symptom of these more serious underlying issues; it is the person’s medication for their anxiety.
Sexual addictions, like other addictions, are often kept secret from the partner. Getting married or starting an intimate relationship does not guarantee that addictions will disappear. The arrival of children in the relationship can drive any ‘wedge in the relationship’ even further. Mothers can get very busy and engrossed with their children leaving the husband feeling neglected and less important. Such issues need to be dealt with in the relationship and should not be an excuse for infidelity.
Lying about the affairs and addiction gives rise to a more serious issue of trust in the relationship. Usually it is the man in the relationship who is ‘acting out’ and the woman who is the victim. Building of trust takes a long time, even when the offending partner is genuinely sorry for their behaviour.
When the man has begun the journey to address addiction, he can get frustrated with his partner for her ‘lack of progress’ in rebuilding trust. Building of trust takes time because wounds of betrayal heal slowly.
Individual counselling for addiction together with relationship counselling, for trust issues, can be helpful in dealing with the two issues separately.