Can I Find Happiness With a Sex Addict?

Can I Find Happiness With a Sex Addict?

I just broke up with my boyfriend of almost three years. We had an amazing relationship. He was the first guy I fell in love with. He was my best friend and lover. We had talked about the future and had great relationships with each other’s families and friends.

Now, the problem. I recently found out that he had been responding to sex posts/ads online. When I confronted him about it, he immediately confessed and apologized profusely. He cried and said he’s so ashamed of himself. He explained that it’s a sexual issue/addiction that he’s had for years – even before he met me. He swore that he never actually met up and did anything physical with anybody; he had only exchanged messages. He said he’d go to counseling to get help. He asked me if I could find it in my heart to stay with him and give him a chance to fix himself and be a better man. He said he knows I deserve better.

I feel so betrayed, sad and angry. But a part of me also believes everything he told me, because it’s in line with his character. He had always been honest with me, even when we discussed difficult subjects.

I’m 25 years old and I’m attractive, intelligent, funny, etc., so I’m sure I can find another person in the future. The problem is, I don’t know if I want to. Is my ex-boyfriend “the one”? I’m not the type of person who magically “knows” or dreams about marriage, but being with him made me start thinking about the possibility of marriage. Does he have great character, make me happy and help me to be a better person? 100%. Did he hurt me? Yes. Do I think I can trust him again? I don’t know.

Like many people with addictions, he may be a good man with a pure heart, but if he can’t control his own actions, he fits the profile of a high-risk partner.

My rational side tells me that breaking up was the right thing to do and that I should never look back. My emotional side tells me that I should give him a second chance, but only once he’s made progress through counseling. What do I do? I don’t want to do anything stupid. I don’t want to fall into a bad case of clouded judgment due to loss of first love. Unfortunately I don’t have enough experience with love to know. I need your help. –Zoe

Dear Zoe,

A very thoughtful letter and a very tricky situation.

And, to echo your sentiments at the close of your email, unfortunately I don’t have enough experience with addiction (much less sex addiction) to be able to rightfully guide you.

A quick trip to Wikipedia is informative, however.

While sex addiction is not listed in the 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is pretty much the bible for mental health diagnoses, it’s still prevalent enough to have been studied extensively.

One short description on the page sort of leaped out at me:

Whether it’s a choice or a disease doesn’t matter. He can’t control his urges.

“Jennifer P. Schneider, MD, PhD identified three indicators of sexual addiction: compulsivity, continuation despite consequences, and obsession.”

In layman’s terms, that sounds like some serious shit.

Like many people with addictions, he may be a good man with a pure heart, but if he can’t control his own actions, he certainly fits the profile of a high-risk partner.

In other words, would you be remotely surprised if you got back together and he told you in one year that he spent $5000 on online porn that year? Or maintained a Craigslist “Casual Encounter” ad?

It sure wouldn’t shock me. And even despite that, I wouldn’t doubt that he truly loves you. He’s just an addict. Whether it’s a choice or a disease doesn’t matter. He can’t control his urges. As such, you’re taking a highly calculated risk that he doesn’t backslide.

The one thing I can weigh in on with some measure of authority is this:

You WILL fall in love again.

You’re 25. You don’t seem to lack for attractive traits or self-esteem. You’ve been able to maintain a three-year relationship. You had the confidence to walk away from a boyfriend that you love whom you don’t trust. These are all signs of a highly healthy young woman.

Listen, I believe in second chances as much as the next guy. Hell, if my wife cheated on me, I’d absolutely give her a second chance to make it right – because I know it’s anomalous and not part of her character. Unfortunately, Zoe, your ex-boyfriend’s behavior is not anomalous; it’s chronic.

If anybody is going to give him a second chance, it’s going to have to be the next woman who finds out he’s a recovering sex addict.

As for you, I think you should get back out there, date a bunch of new guys, and see who surprises you. My guess is that he’ll be everything that your previous boyfriend was – without the addiction and trust issues. Keep us posted.

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Comments:

  1. 91
    Kay

    Zoe, I have been married to a sex addict for 22 years and I didn’t realize or fully understand the evil until 20 years in – after multiple affairs, prostitutes, money stolen from our family to pay for the prostitutes, and an escalating porn addiction that ventured into such defiling things I didn’t even know existed.  Please take it from a destroyed mother of three, the betrayal will always be one temptation away and the lies and chaos will rape your mind and spirit – thank goodness you do not have children to add to the daily terror and abuse.  As the sexual addiction escalates, his treatment of you will begin to be more and more abusive, i.e. silent treatment, rage, demeaning, degrading.  Leave now young one, run away before the love you have for him turns you into his prisoner.  I’m so sorry, I know the hope you have doesn’t want to hear these truths.  Hope for my children and marriage kept me a hostage for two decades.  If only I had a chance to do it all over again and give my youth and my love to someone who truly loved me and deserved me.  Run away as fast as you can!

  2. 92
    S

    I dealt with this too. My ex is a former alcoholic who came down to Florida for treatment. He was 3 years sober when I met him on a plane. I had no idea about his porn addiction nor that he had an account on a website just to sext. It all sounded plausible to me though because he hadn’t dated in 3 yrs – since he was sober. However when I did discover it, before we were exclusive I felt hurt bc we were dating. However he said he would take it down and not engage in it. That should have been my warning sign to run. But like all of you said, I felt he was sweet and I liked him. Good heart and he seemed genuinely interested in me and I was very attracted to him. He was also the first person I felt attracted to in months since my other ex, who was also a cheater. But that’s another story. Anyway, he did well for a few months and we were exclusive. Then I dunno why but I looked to see if anything was online and if he was doing anything and I saw something that looked funny. Mind you, given our agreement, he knew porn and messaging would not be part of our relationship. I found out pretty much every night I wasn’t there, he’d watch porn AND he went back on the messaging. But just once bc I had found it and confronted him – he tried to lie but then I threatened to log in and he told me he used it once. I broke up with him then and there but he cried. And then I said to myself why would he cry if he could do this. I didn’t understand sex addiction but I knew I didn’t want this. I needed to understand why I wasn’t enough for him. I felt so absolutely horrible about myself and the relationship I thought was so great bc this guy adored me. He really did. But I wanted him to make it up to me. And that was the wrong move. I should have just ended it and learned for myself that this wasn’t about me. So for months more, I montitored him and wanted to prove myself to be a woman that it was worth changing for. But really I don’t even think I wanted him to change bc I don’t think I could have accepted it. Because like some of you said, there is always the risk of back sliding w this kinda addiction. Some you can just avoid and not engage in but sexuality is everywhere. It’s not like drinking where you can just not have a taste.  I’m worried that he would rationalize any type of “cheating” and if he couldn’t or didn’t control his impulses here then what is to say he wouldn’t take that to another situation. Men will find other women attractive. Just like women will find other men attractive. That’s fun. But if you act on it, that’s not. You want to be with someone who has the same values as you in relationships. And everyone has different ones. It’s ironic bc he’d get frustrated when another guy looked at me. Let alone, he was sexting and saw not much wrong w that. It’s convoluted to me. But he was a hypocrite in that way. And at the end of the day, I should have left at that point bc I knew it was over. I still think of him sometimes and bc he had such an amazing heart and was so kind it can be hard. But I know lack of trust is a deal breaker as well as the impulsive behavior. It does make for a very high risk partner and it’s not what’s going to make me a better person or a good partner to someone else. I envy your strength and I wish I had had the same resolve you do to walk away in the beginning of knowing. You’re saving yourself a ton of heartbreak. You will find someone you love who you can trust. Give yourself time to get over him. For me it’s only been months. But don’t talk to him. Addiction is serious. And I don’t think he’d throw around that word if it weren’t true. No one wants to admit to that sorta thing. Especially a guy. Listen to him when he gives you background bc that’s the thing I should have done – inquire more. He gave me partial truths about his past w this and looking back I now see it bc he gave me more whole truths later. My best advice is respect yourself.

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