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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  1. 1

    It seems really scary that you could be with someone for three years and just now find this out. Good for her that she’s only 25, but what if she was 37 and looking to start a family only to discover such a deal breaker? How could a problem like this be detected earlier? Were there red flags? I ask all this because at 28, and having been single for many years, the next guy I get in a relationship with I would hope we are on a path to marry, I don’t have time anymore for deadends. I don’t know what I’d do in this situation.  

    1. 1.1

      I hear you! Im 26, single mom. Just had to leave a 1 year relationship after discovering my partner was just finding out he is a addicted to porn. The signs? They are there. Trust your gut. The first time I met my partner something felt a little off. I made it clear porn was a line for me in relationships, but there were things that always bothered me. Little things. Like, his usernames. He had perfectly legitimate reasons for them but who really has an email account like Moose Cock and doesnt think about having a large penis, even if it is an inside joke. It was little things….we met online and he never deleted his profile. Had never had a deep, emotionally intimate relationship – which we chalked up to   having trouble finding the right person. He read a lot of comics, but I quickly found that he gravitated towards ones where there was a lot of “fanservice” or the women were hypersexualized. Some of the video games he played, had some sort of sexual aspect to them – either by interactive porn or the females being really attractive. Taken out of context, it was easy to explain them all away. But once I step back and look at the big picture… has shaped his personality. Its in his perspectives about what is considered beautiful, why women are attractive. Its in his choice of media (Game of Thrones). Its in the way that despite knowing I considered looking at porn cheating, he could not even comprehend how staring a drawing of a girl with huge tits and a sexual look on her face, laying on her back in a bikini, was cheating. It was in the way he blamed me for not being thin enough, attractive enough. It was in his reaction to me telling him I considered looking at bikini calendars cheating….getting mad at me because he couldn’t look at hot, half naked girls without me feeling betrayed. I don’t believe a partner needs to do those things if he’s truly happy with us.

      I could go on and on but I hope you get the jist and that my unfortunate experience can shed some light on all the little markers that point to someone who is quite likely a sex addict. Again, one at a time may be acceptable. When they all add up…..the signs were all there. Trust your gut if they come.

      1. 1.1.1

        Hi Kelly,

        I hear what you’re saying and can relate.   My BF (or soon to be EX-BF) I believe might have a porn addiction.   We RARELY have sex..I always seem to initiate it and it’s so mechanical it’s not even funny.   He doesn’t look me in the eyes, say anything or touch me anywhere except “the one spot”..he has to watch me touch myself to get excited..I feel so used.   I caught him with porn on his computer when we first I questioned him about it.   He actually admitted he used to watch it and do it 5 times or more a day if he was bored!   I tried to incorporate it into the bedroom thinking it would be a good turn on for both of us..well..he basically just watches the TV (looks AROUND ME at the TV), and that’s how it’s done.   When I say there is no intimacy to our lives, I’m not exaggerating!! We’re actually on the way out anyway (we live together now but it’s really not what I want or need ((angry, no communication type of man) but I am here for the next month. We’re civil but act more like roommates.   Haven’t had sex in months.   Today I found porn on our ipad and I HATE IT!! I feel so bad, thinking he doesn’t want me or to repair “us”.   I can’t stand it.   Did I mention he said once he had more than 100 sex partners??   That might mean a sex addiction too, right?!?   Tell me I’m crazy for still feeling so bad about this relationship ending!! Where did my self esteem go?? It was so much higher before I met him a year and a half ago. 🙁

        I SOO should have trusted my gut in the beginning.   There were constant red flags. I just kept thinking we could fix them. 🙁

        1. Kellie

          Hey Carly,

          What you are describing is how my guy was….before I even met him. He realized then he had to chill out with it and Im still having trouble with it even after he felt he “regained control”. Unfortunately, I dont think an addict (speaking as a non-sexual addict myself) can ever truly gain control. They just learn to ride the urges better until it no longer interferes but Carly…..they have to want to. They have to want to more than anything. Giving up an addiction is losing a best friend. Someone who has always made you feel better and someone who dont want to admit is destroying you.


          In my humble opinion, yes it absolutely sounds like your guy is a sex addict. It hurts, I know but you cant fix it on your own and if he wanted to fix it you wouldn’t be where you are. Even IF he sees a problem AND connects it to porn, if he wanted to do something about it he would be. He would have. The problem with porn goes so much deeper than just porn. It affects intimacy, relationships, Ive read that porn addicts will even substitute with things as seemingly innocent as bikini galleries – because to them its sexually explicit enough to stimulate their addiction pathways.


          Im sorry 🙁 I wish I had encouragement to offer you but my heart has been shattered into a million pieces every month for the better part of a year standing by him every time he says he thinks he can deal with it this time…only to turn around and blame me. Please, you deserve better than this. I deserve better than this. Its heartbreaking to be sure and I think you know what I mean when a part of your heart just wants to believe the addiction will go away and leave behind the one we love so dearly but we can’t keep doing this to ourselves. If he wants to get help and make a true recovery, wonderful. Try to set strict boundaries and be a friend. But an addict can’t hold you up and you deserve that – he’s just trying to fill a void in him. We cant fix other people Carly, they have to do it themselves. No matter how accepting and supportive we are we have to make sure we take care of ourselves and our happiness first. Put your oxygen mask on and do what you need to do to make you happy.

          It’s been a week since my final contact with my ex. This is the longest we’ve ever gone. I feel like there is a hole in my chest and it hurts so much but at least Im not flying around in the tornado anymore. The only thing we have control over is ourselves, our choices. Dont let him drag you down with him.


          If you like Linkin Park, I strongly relate to the song Lost in the Echo right now. I find it gives me strength <3 wishing you all the best.

        2. Jessica E Deras

          He needs to help himself first. I know it’s really hard for you to move on but you have to. It’s not healthy I tired helping my partner with his addiction but was killing me inside. I lost who I was in the way of trying to help him. I let him go because our relationship was not healthy and it didn’t take him 2 months to get with someone else. I know he still love me and she’s a rebound because his craving that love thru sex. Look sex addict goes way beyond of just having sex it’s way deeper. I should know because I been knowing him for 10 years. Look be there as a friend if you deeply care for him and if you see progress than you might try to give it a second chance is your risk to take. I did take that risk and I don’t regret it. Even though we are no longer together I know I help him somehow. It made me stronger give it time for you to heal first. Don’t judge him so hard, even though your going crazy.

      2. 1.1.2

        Dear sweet Jesus how insecure are you that VIEWING DRAWINGS OF WOMEN IN BIKINIS is cheating?? Are you not allowed to go to the beach cuz babe he’s gonna see some bikinis. His other behavior is absolutely inappropriate but you need to recognize that trying to control what a person SEES and subsequently categorizing it’s a cheating is a pretty big issue as well. I’m not equating your behavior to his but I’d suggest you both have things to work on

    2. 1.2

      There are signs. Unfortunately love can be blind. I for one didn’t know. It took me 7 years to find out. What made it it harder (and at the same time should have been a big clue) is that we were both raised very conservative. No sex before marriage. I was 24 and he was 27 when we met. We had no sex whatsoever in our 7 year relationship and it was not for a lack of trying on my behalf. I love/loved him. He was kind, gentle, respectful, he was the first man that could touch me that would not freak me out, he was funny, he was my best friend. There were good reasons why I stayed with him for 7 years. After I thought we were meant to be and I figured we were not kids anymore so I brought up birth control and he said no. That we were not going to disrespect my parents. I felt so ashamed! Looking back I was always the one to initiate making out but he always fell asleep, or said he was tired. If I wanted physical contact I would have to put his hands on me. But he would quickly remove them. There were many times that I tried to take things further in our intimate relationship but he always pushed me away or would bring up “what would your parents think?” . I would fall asleep with tears in my eyes because here was the man that I loved who should be loving, instead in those moments where I wanted to be intimate I would end up feeling ashamed, dirty and unattractive. Or I would just ask, so when we get married you wil make for all of these times we can’t be intimate right? And he would just hug me, kiss me gently and nod his head yes. We are not married. Early this year after my 32nd birthday I had a mini life crisis. I realized we were not close to being married, he still had a student part time job (at the age of 35) he was nowhere near close to finishing his undergrad classes (he has been enrolled in cc since he was 18) to transfer to a 4 year college, he still lived with his parents and still didn’t know what his career goals where. So I confronted him and asked what is your plan because I can’t keep going like this. He didn’t have one so we we broke up. We both cried and he agreed to change and make things up for me. Well I didn’t last a whole week before I contacted him. We talked. I brought up why he never let me touch his phone and that’s when he said “I sometimes looked at adult content” I was like okay… Well after we hanged up all these memories came back. You see, my intuition told me that he was hiding something. I always thought that it was him talking to some other girl at work so once in a while, especially after being rejected I would check his phone. Most of the time I found nothing, then I found some adult pictures but I figured it was dirty jokes between guy friends. The last time I checked I found shemale porn and my mind automatically disregarded it as a guy joke once again. Why? Because why on this earth would my respectful boyfriend look at such a thing. So after I hanged up I texted him my confession, how I looked at his phone and found those pics and the last video. At first he was upset that I looked at his phone, then he confessed. He has a porn addiction. My world fell apart that night. But my mind was quick to find answers and solutions so I said that as long as he got help we could work through this together. We got back together, he went to his appointments with his therapist but I still could not heal. Everytime I saw him all I could think of is, you preferred your screen and hand over me? All those times you pushed me away and rejected me, made me feel dirty and ashamed it was you who had the problem all along. Now I don’t know if I could ever get over the hurt, the lies and the rejection. Addicts relapse, what if he relapses after we get married or after we have kids? What if our kids find out about his addiction? If we have a girl, will he look at her differently? Most of the research I have done just deals with the couple and not the effect it can have on children. Those few articles I have found indicate the kids feeling the same type of betrayal and sometimes develop a similar addiction. So for that last reason, having the fear of a relapse affecting our kids led me to break up with him. During our last conversation before I said we should break up he said he was sorry and that he was trying to get help. But me telling him how much he hurt me was hurting his progress. He said his addiction was very serious, something he had not told me before. He said he could not go more than 3 days without watching it. He had this problem before he met me, he has had it for over 20 years!!! That’s when I said it was over. So if you feel it in your gut that something is not right you should find out why you feel that way. Don’t be afraid of finding out. If I would have listened to my gut, I wouldn’t have wasted 7 years of my life.

    3. 1.3

      I’m really sorry that you had to go through this. I’m a 28 year old man and I’ve recently accepted that I too am a sex addict. I told my fiancee after I got caught  spying on her friend in the shower. We had been going out for three years as well and I had told her about some of my problems but I had never been able to tell her 100% of the truth. I’ve discovered that part of being a sex addict is shame and a lack of emotional regulation. The shame is ridiculously magnified in one’s mind and because of this it feels impossible to tell people what you’re going through. I have always felt like a freak and like no one would understand if I ever told them and this is what kept me quiet and kept the problem growing. Although he may have told you some things he may be keeping other layers and layers of other behaviour hidden. The signs you’re looking for might be emotional distance, ED and a lack of interest in sex… You need complete openness about sex and if you feel that there’s something he’s hiding the there probably is. When I told her, being an honest person, I told her all the things I’d done including having relations with prostitutes and I doubt I’ll ever get her back after this. I’m generally a very honest person but for more than half my life I have never been able to tell anyone about this. I’m now doing the complete opposite and telling all my friends and family about it to get rid of the shame that kept me shackled for so long.

      1. 1.3.1

        Luke, thanks for sharing your experience. I see you are very brave and honest. My 4-year boyfriend is exactly like you, and I just found it out several days ago. He cried and tried to get me back. We love each other too much and if he ever did something in the past (which I’m sure if he did), I can forgive him. But I see no future with him. I have a lot of psychological knowledge by myself, so I know how difficult it is for him to overcome, and how small the possibility is for us to be finally happy. I called a break and now I’m staying alone for some time. Now I’m totally lost and hopeless. I don’t know what to do. Too many memories and sweet days in this 4 years, but no future ahead.

    4. 1.4

      This happened to me. 5 years, a marriage, and two children. There were no signs what so ever until one of the women contacted me. Heverything had his addiction before me, learned how to cover it up with previous partners to near perfection. He slept with 4 other women while we were together and invited women to our house while I was delivering our child. I was completely oblivious. He was charming and loving and seemingly perfect. Then with one message on Facebook my world came crashing down. I can’t tell you what to look or plan for. But many, many men are loyal and aren’t sex crazed animals who can’t control themselves. It sucks that I lost half a decade to this man who never gave me all of him, who spent more time pursuing other women than he did on me. But I’m hopeful for the future and I have enough stellar men in my life to know that not all of them are jerks. Good luck!

  2. 2
    Grace Pamer

    Wow, tough, tough decision to make here. Addiction is such a difficult issue. He no doubt totally loves you but, at the same time, struggles to control his urges. I’m sure he regrets it totally but how often will he have such regrets in future each time he err’s.
    If he’s aware of the problem and willing to seek counselling that’s a start and one that should be applauded. If you truly love him then by all means be there for him as a friend through the process but keep it on a friendship basis until such time as you can judge how effective the treatment has been.   If you truly love someone then sometimes you have to take the extreme good with the bad.   Only you can decide whether that is something you wish to do, whether you wish to get hurt again in future or whether you believe there is enough good in him and determination to beat his addiction.
    You will be taking on a heavy load if you do get back together, it will be the elephant in the room you try to ignore but which may always be at the back of your mind and there are no guarantees so you need to think it through.   As Evan said you are young, good looking with a great deal going for you and young enough to know you will no doubt find someone else so there are plenty of opportunities ahead of you.   Whether you find anyone you love as much as him is the great unknown but you can’t live in fear of that.   I do not believe you will find others you will love.   As to whether he is “the one”, well, there are many potential “the ones” in life but they come by only so very often so its important to think it through before letting go of one potential such person.
    Good luck

  3. 3

    Great advice Evan. I liked the comment “sounds like serious shit” …

  4. 4

    Break up with him, your too young to waste years of your life with someone with such a serious problem. He may change for a while but it unlikely he will change permanently. Consult a professional on the matter and get their advice.

  5. 5

    I have to say I’m in two minds about the recent fashion for  classifying this sort of thing as “sex addiction.” Whilst its true that there are some people whose sexual behaviour is so frenetic and so high risk that it can be conceptualised within an “addictions” type framework, at the same time I do think there can be a bit of a cop-out in declaring yourself a “sex addict.” What is simply bad/immature behaviour and what is “sex addiction”?
    By declaring oneself an addict, it is as though the person in some way abdicates resonsibility for their behaviour: “I can’t help it, I’m addicted.” “No officer, I’m not a reckless driver, you have to understand, I’m a velocity addict.”
    In this particular case, the boyfriend gets a thrill out of sexy online chat. If as he says he never actually meets up with these women, then this is really only one step beyond oggling cute women in the street. Whilst I understand the OPs concern and hurt, I do think her boyfriend has taken the easy way out (yet at the same time scared her)   by saying he’s “an addict”  , which makes it sound as though he has some sort of medical condition… serious, (aren’t all addictions serious?) and possibly incurable… when   the fact of the matter may be   that he is simply a rather immature guy who has to learn to accept   that you can be single   – and act single – or you can be in a relationship, but you can’t be both at one time.

    1. 5.1

      First of all, all addictions are medical conditions. Regardless of the type of addiction one fundamental law exists: it changes brain chemistry.

      The addict then becomes dependent on the influence to temporarily regulate and/or flood their brains with the feel-good neurotransmitters. It becomes a completely biological urge if left unrecognized. It becomes a compulsion that rises above any morals, values or relationships. Many people with sex addictions have very warped ideas about what relationships are, and what is needed to make serious long term relationships work. The ONLY way to cure addictions is to recognize all the ways the addiction has changed your life, cut it out completely and reshape your life from the very foundation. The addict has to want it for themselves and sadly, most people choose to stay stuck because it is hard work and a neverending path to recovery.

      The addict has used a particular method to cope with their life. Losing it to them is like losing a close friend, someone who has always been there to make them feel good. It takes a LOT for them to stop denying how much its hurting themselves and their lives. Its a tremendous grieving process and most people just cant – or they will only get to a point where they feel they are in control of it.

      Unfortunately, once an addict becomes addicted to something they will likely never get to a place where they can control themselves with it again. They can learn to cope with the urges and make life manageable, but indulging in any behavior that was once addictive to oneself is only giving it a foot in the door and time to justify using it again.

      1. 5.1.1
        Sad girl

        These are all good comments/suggestions. Kellie, your comments really hit home. Yes, I’m reading these bc I am considering taking  my   relationship with my  bf  to the next level.But some of these details are way too familiar… I’ve been struggling with it and trying to be supportive… but in the face of really having him here I’ve decided to force myself to take a real look at what I will be dealing with.

        I’ve read about the neurotransmitters and the dopamine high…   he has struggled and still watches sometimes, like he can only go without it for a few days. Makes me very sad.   But you said, “The ONLY way to cure addictions is to recognize all the ways the addiction has changed your life, cut it out completely and reshape your life from the very foundation.” That hit hard. I told him I wouldn’t demand he NEVER watch it, I mean, I’ve learned almost ALL guys look at porn at least now and then.   But I don’t think my bf can do this.    He even said  as much  once.

        I am coming to the heartbreaking revelation that I cannot live with him… I have a teen daughter! And he doesn’t seem able to kick this… I think things from his childhood cause him to escape but this makes me feel uncomfortable at the very least… and kind of sick inside.

        1. Kellie

          Yeah, it makes me sick inside too. Its astounding how many guys have mild – extreme addictions to this crap. Ive since left my relationship with the addict I was dating. I was always second. I will always be second, when there is an addiction at play.


          Im sorry youre going through this. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think we both know the answer is already inside you.


          By the way, my addict also moved in with me and my three year old. It was horrible. His withdrawal anxiety was through the roof. He yelled at both me and my son, he called me disgusting names…..yeah. No fun.

  6. 6

    Wow, Zoe.
    This must have been so very hard for you.   I’m sorry that you’ve went through this.   I’m this has been really painful, confusing and hurtful time for you.
    I think it is very loving on your part to consider continuing in a relationship with your boyfriend.    Because your situation is so much like one I faced several years ago, I want to share my story with you.
    I had a close group of friends in college and eventually started dating one of the guys in our circle.   We had a lot in common, our friends all approved of the relationship, we got along with each others’ family and he wanted to marry me.   We had so much fun together — talking, spending time alone and with friends.   We loved going on “adventures” together and doing generally off-the-wall things just because we were young and carefree.     
    He wanted to marry me and we started going to counseling together to talk about it.   At some point he came to me and told me that he was getting fired from his job at a high-rise condo community in the city.   He had been going through people’s mail because he had found pornography once by accident and compulsively started a habit of opening mail that looked like pornography on his night shift.  
    This was before the internet boom and not many people knew about sex addiction.   We broke up and I didn’t know if I had done the right thing because I missed him like crazy.   Nobody really understood about sex addiction back then.   I just knew that I couldn’t live through this man that I loved so much cheating on me.   I hoped that he would get help and come back to me.
    We both went our separate ways and didn’t talk after our breakup because it was too painful for both of us.   We both married and then went through divorces and got back in touch with each other about ten years later.   What I learned was that he ended   up cheating on his wife.   Not only that, he married a second time and also ended up cheating on that wife, too.   He is still a kind and loving person and I still care about him as a friend, but he is an addict.   He has tried to get help, but it didn’t prevent his adultery.   (An aside:   he seems to be holding steady now, but smokes a lot.   I honestly believe the smoking is keeping him from acting on his sex addiction, but that is not such a great trade off.)
    I also ended up marrying a sex addict whom I loved, had great conversations and sex with.   He still ended up acting on his compulsions and even though he made certain promises and sounded completely sincere in his efforts to change, he still went back to his old ways.   It look a lot for me to get away from him with my sanity.   There was immense pain and my self-esteem and trust levels plummeted.   It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.
    Moral of both stories:   a person can be loving, kind, seemingly sincere and even bonded to you and continue to engage in sexually compulsive behaviors.   Trying to figure him/her out will only result in   frustration.   The nature of addiction is that it doesn’t make sense and people only change when they are ready — you are completely powerless over it.
    Some takeaways:   I disagree slightly with Evan’s assessment that you will find someone who is just as good.   You might not and that might make you want to go back to this guy.   In my opinion, it is not worth the heartache.   Another guy might be a little less exciting, but that will serve you better over time.   Also, because the sex addict puts so much time and energy into sex, you might find that other guys aren’t as passionate and/or as skilled.   However, if you feel basic attraction to them and they are good guys, don’t give up on them.   Open-minded, loving people can and want to learn, so that aspect of a relationship can be improved upon over time.   (This is something Evan really preaches and that I’ve learned to appreciate over time.)
    I also look at my own need for excitement and realize that I’ve gotten it through unhealthy relationships.   I now recognize and acknowledge this and try to get my needs met in healthy ways such as through outdoor activities, dance, etc.   I also look at the guys I’m dating and try to assess if they are “adrenaline junkies” — if they are, do they have healthy outlets for these drives?   Or do they live off monster drinks/coffee, cigarettes, etc?   These are clues to me that they might have a higher need for excitement which is a yellow warning light to me for a possible addiction.
    If you are really struggling, there are support groups for people who have or had partners who are sex addicts.   I’ve found a lot of understanding from these people.    The most common ones are S-Anon and COSA and some have online meetings.   They won’t tell you what to do, but their platform will help you keep your sanity and maintain healthy boundaries in any relationship.
    I wish you wisdom and strength as your navigate this dilemma, Zoe.   🙂

    1. 6.1

      This post breaks my heart.
      I have been with my boyfriend for 7 years, about 4 years into I found out that he is a sex addict. he has never physically cheated on me but since then I have caught him having ‘web can sex’ with a few girls. Each time I confront him and we work through it. He has had councelling and been part if saa and even though, each time he is so ashamed and dust sighted at the thought of losing me, it happens again. Recently he had gone about a year without relapsing but he did, and this time my whole family has found out, the internet and those you talk to over it are not as secret as you may think. My family want us to break up but I just can’t imagine my life without him. We’ve planned our entire lives together and aside from this he is the most wonderful caring person I’ve ever met.

    2. 6.2

      This was a great read. it sounds as though most of us go through these, cycles of dating guys with addictions due to not facing our own issues of self worth and our own past traumas. Why else would we allow these men to have so little respect for us and compromise our dignity and treat us this way?      I’m in a less then 2 yr relationship and found out my sig other is   not only porn but sex addict, resulted from a family history of it and growing up in the blue collar alpha male world, guys who cheat on their wives with parlors and hookers, who objectify and degrade   women in the streets. I look back at the past year now and ask myself if   I’m crazy, not only did I forgive him thinking he only went to a massage parlor, I later found out he had been seeing multiple hookers and even then decided to support him if he went to counseling.    for most these guys, they are not necessarily bad bit just broken inside. For most the extreme sex addictions were formed through childhood traumas of abuse, they grew up with distorted views of love, sex, relationships because   that’s how they were treated and taught, most cheaters grew up in a household where the parent cheated as well.   The longer the addiction the more extreme the actions, my bf went from porn to massage parlors to hookers and Lord knows what else.   I know inside he is not evil and wushes wuth all hus heart he was not like this but he is just damaged beyond repair and until he really hits rock bottom whether it be arrest, std, hiv, etc…   he will go back to what he only knows and staying is only enabling Him and hurting me.   until a man is able to admit to his shortcomings, own abuse, lifestyle, wrongs he’s committed, he will never recover, there will always be an excuse as just the last time.   my advise to anyone on the fence about staying with a sex addict is, if you have   no real entanglements such as children or years vested and families mingled, run the hell as fast as you can at first chance. This disease will distort your own views of self and others, you will have a hard time viewing healthy relationships the same again and people in general the same again, every time you see something sexy on tv or a pretty women on the street it may anger, upset or make you sad, it’s called ptsd!    addicts don’t change until extremes happen, you don’t want to be that wife with two kids who sees the father of your children on tv or newspaer arrested on prostitute charges where your families and friends and you can be in shock, you don’t want to raise a child under addiction circumstances, marriage does not change them, children doesn’t change them because they are emotionally bankrupt and need to come to terms with that before they can get better, which as an addict denial is there only logic so they won’t .   you don’t want to be the women with an std, hiv or dealing with   his knocked up mistress.   no matter how charming the man if he truly loves you he will commit to a serious   recovery plan, all else is just a ploy, excuse and plan to continue his double life.    my bf agreed to counseling, reading books every night, accountability software when this all came to light, he swore I was his life and that he would do everything necessary. 9 mos down this road we’ve had 4 relapses I know of and back to the angry, manipulative etc, blaming person he was when his addiction roared it’s head after 5 glorious loving perfect mos together when I was just a piece of as* to him.   the accountabikity software is,now off,the readings stop and excuses of   he’s tired and working too hard all the time shows up. In other words, His needs for novelty and more drugs for his high is eating at him.   our relationship is mechanical, unsatisfying and actual times makes me angry, sick and annoyed at his constant negative, complaining, blaming attitude.   I can only speak of my own experience and warn that although some guys truly are ready to recover, most are not and they will pull that wool over your eyes each time and more mos, years will pass when yi5u look at where you are and ask, was it worth staying?   was the verbal, mental and even physical abuse worth It?      and the biggest thought- WTF was I thinking!

      I understand through this experience that I stay because I’m codependent, I need him like he needs sex to feel worthy. it’s an unhealthy cycle that if I’m true to myself I must admit that before I can find a healthy relationship I need a healthy view of what I should be treated like, so please, don’t look into what you can do for your sig other to make them better, look at what you can do for yourself and what you deserve, you can not change another person in an unhealthy relationship with a damaged brain and distorted views,, you can only remove yourself and work at your own happiness.   be there as a friend if you must but remember you may be hurting them more by helping continue his cycke with you to lean on.   if you give it a try, demand actions, I firmly believe everything all addicts need a support hrouo, acctblty pattner, routine, therapy.   addiction is a serious disease that only progresses, don’t drown with your SO, let him learn to swim on his own.   I know it’s very very hard, I love my bf too, but I remind myself, I’m allowing us both to drown.   too many chances, too many lies, at some point you have to let go of your losses.   love to everyone going through this, it is so terribly painful and heartbreaking!!

  7. 7

    To be honest, I do not understand whether sexual addiction is high libido, or an actual disease. I mean, realistically speaking one man/one woman is a relatively new thing. In the past (and no, i do not approve, just state the fact) there was one man/many women. Something about men trying to propagate their genes to as many women as possible.
    However since you love him, and naturally it bothers you that he has sexual addiction and will most probably end up cheating on you due to inability to control his sexual addiction, it’s better for you to look for someone else.  

    1. 7.1

      Dina,   I believe it is a true disease. I am very recently going through discovering my now ex is a sex addict and he suffered from erectile dysfunction and low testosterone which lowers ones libido. It’s a dependency in which the person addicted is looking for a fix or an escape. It’s beyond actual sexual desires and intimacy which is the same reasons it is so hard for an addict in recovery to actually enjoy sex as an intimate and loving experience.

      1. 7.1.1

        That’s why I believe my ex would not touch me. Or had any desire to do so. He was so used to the images and that association that I did not provide him with that same release.

  8. 8

    Well said Sarahrahrah, very well said and sound advice.  
    Great post Evan and well advised also.  

  9. 9

    You can always give him a shot if he is serious about counseling, but know your limit.   Or you can take a break, date other guys, etc, with the consideration (I wouldn’t promise) you would give him a second chance.   Or, you can go to therapy with him.   Not addiction counseling, but you should probably also do relationship counseling on your own.
    It’s pretty obvious you aren’t ok just throwing in the towel after three mostly happy years, and I actually think that’s a good thing.   Addicts in general don’t make ideal partners, but I think for your sanity, regret-avoidance is the best path considering you have (mostly) happily hit the 3-year point.   If this man is truly capable of over-coming his addiction, I feel you should see great improvement.
    You do have to know your limits, though, and let him know that you are willing to walk away if he does not overcome this.   1 in 5 people meet diagnostic criteria for some mental health issue.   I think people are coming down on you b/c sex addiction seems like a betrayal.   It’s not.   It’s an addiction and has nothing to do with you.   I say give him a chance, let him discuss his addiction openly and honestly without shame and take your emotions out of it.

  10. 10

    this is kind of what happened to me. the point is that the guy that i experienced was so deceptive, that i didn’t know the extent of his deception until many months after our relationship ended. the point is that this guy deceived zoe for three years and only admitted to  what seems to be half truths (he never met up with any of the women he was chasing) in order to appear honest to try to keep zoe.   the guy i experienced did the same with me. admitted that he had a problem, wanted to get help, but, i found out afterwards,  the reality was so much worse. he never got help.   addicts are so mixed up in the head that they don’t know who they are, they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know how to love and respect themselves, so how can you expect them to be able to love and respect others.   addicts try to keep hold of “hostages” because they struggle even more when they’re alone. if he’s a sex addict, women are objects of his addiction. how is zoe different from any of the others he focuses on?   she’s just the poor women who is his emotional “crutch”.   he is deceptive, a liar, a user and a cheat.   if you love and respect yourself, you will walk away and not look back. if you don’t, and you give him a second chance, you will learn after you have suffered with him for far longer than you would wish on your worse  enemy, that had you loved and respected yourself, you would have walked away from him at this point.   that’s what i learnt from my experirence. life is far too value to waste on people who don’t have your best interest in mind.

  11. 11

    @Angie 9
    Sex addiction is an addiction, but would you marry an alcoholic, a drug addict, gambling addict or an adrenaline addict? When in the throes of addiction getting   the fix becomes the number one priority at the expense everything else (family, job, money and even personal safety). Prioritising an addictive activity over the needs and emotional or physical safety of a partner and family is a more profound betrayal than cheating.
    The partner of an addict will learn that she can’t count on him to follow through and be there in a pinch.   The partner of an addict will never feel safe and supported and secure.
    After three years, it is understandable that you want to suspend things for a while and see if he cleans up. You are young, so you have time if two years from now you are back in the same position. If you decide to wait for him for a while, ask him to document his participation in 12 step programs or counseling, but most important of all make sure he wants to get well for his own sake, not for your sake or the sake of the relationship. Unless he chooses to do this for himself, he is likely to relapse. Your dilemma is you will not be certain why he is in counseling, and even if he wants to get better for himself, he still might relapse. He will always be a recovering addict. You must decide if you can have a happy life with that question hanging over you.

  12. 12

    i also wanted to add that even people who don’t have addictions per se, but have characteristics that cause problems in their lives …. have you seen how difficult it is for these people to actually change? even if they really, really want to change, often, as it is happening at a subconcious level, often they don’t change. again, they are wired like this, and the wiring often takes years and years to change.   bruce lipton (scientist) talks alot about this in his talks.   i’ve seen this in my own life. i’ve seen people who actively do 12 step programs take a long time to change.   i’m talking years, not months. and often they really only change when they have lost virtually everything and everybody and have to face the shit within themselves that they have been so successful at running away from all their lives. of course there are exceptions, everybody is different. but i am speaking in generally.

  13. 13

    Zoe needs to run and run fast.   No way would I knowingly take a partner back that confessed an addiction to anything.   Life is hard enough as it is.   On the flip side, if they were married and he became addicted during the marriage, totally different situation. Vows for better or worse have been taken, so you deal with it together.   No vows, no deal.

  14. 14
    Some other guy

    How much would feelings change were the word “Sex” removed from the title?

  15. 15

    Try if you are already married, but remember no marriage is unconditional. As soon as an addiction develops, the marriage vow is broken. The spouse has fallen on the priorities list, displaced by addiction.
    @Some other guy
    How about:
    “Can I find happiness with a drug addict?”
    “Can I find happiness with gambling addict?”
    “Can I find happiness with someone morbidly depressed?”
    The advise is yet to run.

  16. 16

    Sexual addiction leads to behaviors that are both self-destructive and destructive to others.   When the urges cannot be control, it then becomes a character issue.   This is not how tall is he, how much money does he make, etc.   This issue has the power to do some real damage.   Lust is never satisfied.   It will demand more and more.   I submit Zoe is better off to cut her losses and find a healthy partner.

  17. 17
    Michele McCauleu

    Trust is the bottom line; without trust no relationship can be successful.   It’s one thing to love but without trust, you heart will never be fulfilled.   There will be someone else that you find love with and will not have these trust issues.   Be good to yourself and listen to your heart.

  18. 18

    Addict Shmaddict. The guy got caught and he is saying he is an addict so as to make it seem it was beyond his control and couldn’t help himself. Thats all. Everyone here is basing their commentary on a self proclaimed diagnosis by a boyfriend that got caught. If he had a mental health professional diagnose him as a sex addict then that would be one thing. But to have him self proclaim he is an addict as a way of mounting a defense is so obvious. Cant believe that so many people got taken in by that.
    The bottom line is the same- she should dump him. But lets be real. He isnt an addict. Just a lousy boyfriend.

  19. 19

    I think people have a hard time believing that sex addiction is a real thing b/c so many public figures have been abusing the term when getting caught with their pants down.
    But I think people can and are addicted to a variety of things and there is a difference between someone who can stop and someone who cannot.
    Take the word sex out of the phrase and look at any addict.   They cannot put down their addiction even when their entire life, family, job, etc. are on the line.   They will hurt people that they really love.   They will hurt themselves.
    So a gambling addict will blow all of his money and keep digging into the hold, the alcoholic or drug addict will endanger themselves and others, and the sex addict is the person who will do the same.
    I mean, I saw a show of some type where people were talking about it and you had people who talked about   engaging in certain activities to the point where they were injured and bleeding, and people who lost job after job b/c they couldn’t leave the computer at home or b/c they couldn’t not look at porn at work.   And this included men and women since I know that many people act like this is only something men deal with.   One of the women said she would go out, meet strangers, and go places with them which she knew was totally dangerous in a lot of ways.   
    The fact that some people go to rehab to avoid the public eye/deny accountability doesn’t mean that others don’t have a very real problem.   

  20. 20

    I agree with the advice to leave this guy.   I too am baffled she just found this out after 3 years??   Did he hide it that well?
    Just one comment for Eleanor #15:
    Do you have your own version of marriage vows?   Last I checked they included “In sickness and in health”.   Guess that doesn’t mean anything to you since you said you would throw away a husband if they developed an addiction to anything!!!   How many ‘other’ conditions do you put on a marriage?  

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