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. 61

    You obviously have a personal grudge against some people.   As Karl R suggested, take it up with them.   You’re going to place blame on everyone for some bad things taht happen in the world, really?   People die of starvation in some countries, probably some in this country too, so you better not be going out to any fancy restaurants to enjoy yourself.   Your argument is whacked.   Take your bitterness out somewhere else.
    Just because some women were taken and forced into sexual slavery, doesn’t mean I am never going to watch porn or go to a strip club again.  

  2. 62

    I fail to understand how my saying that the sexual exploitation and treating as property of women and children are systemic and societal issues on a global scale and offering to introduce Karl R. to some of the women and children I represent (for free on my own time – somehow my comment got added to Cat’s comment), so that he can hear their stories personally and tell them to their face to contact the individual who sexually exploited them and treated them like property…makes me the holder of a grudge and bitter?
    I’m pretty sure it means I’m educated and experienced on the subject, and that I consider the freedom from exploitation of women and children a vital social issue, so much so I spend my own time and money to help individuals and hopefully make some changes in the system.
    And, for the record, I have also represented males who have been the victims of violence and sexual exploitation.   Only one of them was an adult male who was the victim of domestic violence.   I would represent more men, but they are not victimized at as high a rate as women and children, and when they are, very few of them come forward.
    Most of the males I have represented have been children (including babies through teens), who have been physically and/or sexually assaulted by their caregivers.
    So, as you can see, I hold no grudges nor I am bitter against anyone.   I do, however, have a problem with societies and systems that do not recognize the extent of and their own role in the perpetuation of violence and sexual exploitation of women and children, and I am not afraid to stand up and say so…and to donate my own time and money to try and make that come about.   I, put my money and time, where my mouth is.
    I also do the same with Veterans organizations, and with a scholarship fund set up in memory of my sister.
    With respect to your comment about eating at fancy dinners, the last time I ate out was last week.   It was at the Country Buffet where I took the boy I represent (as a volunteer) who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by his father from the age of 8-12 before being removed from his home.   Does that count as a fancy dinner I should be ashamed to have eaten?

  3. 63
    Karl R

    Cat5, (#59 & #62)
    Of all the exploited women and children that you’ve met, how many involuntarily appeared in legal, commercially produced porn?
    It doesn’t matter whether I quote half a sentence or your three posts in their entirety. You still haven’t  showed a link between the two.
    I know a couple people who have “acted” in porn. I know several others who were strippers. None of them claim to have been exploited or abused … and that includes the one who hated the job and only did it for the money.

  4. 64

    That’s just it Cat5.   There is no correlation with most porn stars/srippers and the people you talk about.   If there is on rare occasion it is beyond the realm of my knowledge or control.   I am not going to quit something just because there is a small chance someone in the porn I am watching is there against their will.   If you think I should then I also think you should stop buying clothes because they could be made by forced child labor and you should not have any 401K investments because some of that money might be invested in places like China or countries that are not friendly towards ours.   Your logic fails.

  5. 65

    @Locutus…with every subsequent post you make, I cannot help but think you have a hang up with porn yourself. If any woman makes a comment about it not being good, you jump on them. Remember, every one that posts has their own opinion, that doesn’t mean you have to some how convince them that they are wrong. I know personally some women that have been deeply hurt & their relationships ruined because their S.O. was abusing porn. With that said, I still don’t think porn use, in moderation, is a bad thing. But another friend of mine does think that porn is the “devil” because of the effects it had on our other friend.   You can debate with Cat5 for the next 100 years & my bet is her opinions will not change. So why labor over & over trying to argue? It seems that you are trying to make yourself feel better about your porn use by arguing all it’s great qualities etc. with the women that post contrary to that. What my or Cat5’s opinions of porn are have absolutely no bearing on your life/use; how much you use it, how it affects or doesn’t affect your own relationships etc. So why work yourself up so much about it?   My personal experience has been that the less my husband uses it, the better he is in bed, honestly. When he was single & we first started dating, he used it probably twice a week with us having sex another 3 or so times a week. And I had no problem with his use.   In the last year, he’s probably “used” it maybe 3 times & the sex is so much better. Markedly. Just an FYI if you’re an “avid user”. It probably affects your performance more than you know/think. There is no vagina on earth that can match the tightness of your own grip & there is no way your body can match the rhythm of your hand thru intercourse – i.e. the “jack hammer” effect, which for women is no good! Now….with ALL that being said, I still think there is a time & place for porn, solo & couples. And again, this is just MY experience & opinions. No need to argue with me now, I’m all for porn!!

  6. 66

    This is bizarre.   I was originally arguing with Cat and then Cat5 jumps in and unloads a load of BS on me.   Then I respond to Cat5’s attack on me and now Cat comes back to scream at the way I responded to Cat5.
    Cat, now you are diagnosing me?   I am not hungup on porn.   I can watch it for 3 hours or 3 minutes, doesn’t make much difference to me.   It doesn’t rule my life by any means.   Sometimes I watch it 3 days in a row, sometimes I don’t watch if for over a week.   Your responses are highly assumptional and downright crazy as you even take a stab at describing how I might get off to porn.   My own grip???   Is that the way I do it?   You have no clue.   Porn is mental stimulation for me.   And no I do not masturbate by ‘simulating’ intercourse.   Wow, amazing how you could possibly actually think you know what is in my mind.   How arrogant.   I already tried to explain to you how your remarks were generalizing, but yet you insist I have some hang up.   You couldn’t be more wrong.   Seems you think you know everything- even what is inside a person’s mind.  
    You are arguing for Cat5’s case?   You agree with her that porn should not be watched because of the plight of a few who are forced into sexual slavery?   That is what you are defending if you are backing Cat5.  

  7. 67

    it,s a blog with a comments section. People are gonna butt in, that,s how it goes. It,s not just you who gets random responses.  

  8. 68

    Really MaryMary?
    No kidding.   My statement had to do also with both members having almost the same username- Cat and Cat5.   That is what contributed to the confusion.   Also, Cat5 attacked my original response to Cat as if my rebuttal had been directed at her.   Almost leads me to believe they are the same person.   I dislike when other members attack you about what you said to somebody else.   That is silly.   They should address my actual stance on the issue because they do not know the full story about my original comments to a different poster nor do they know the real intentions/feelings of that particular poster.   But sometimes they thow in suppositions about how that poster might feel- that is just dumb to do.   That is why it is ridiculous.

  9. 70

    @marymary..thanks for sharing the article. I do have great concern about our youth & their access to porn as well. I have children of my own at that age, one being a son. It’s one thing for grown people to have access to it so easily, but for young kids to have such easy access is scary. I agree with the article that it’s affecting our young boys & girls negatively. Something needs to change on how porn is delivered & accessed, but that is another blog. I still think there is a time & place for porn use (for adults), however, I believe it needs to be off the internet…..that is the only way we will ever be able to protect our kids from it, until they are of age. Either that, or charge for anything to be viewed online – making it very difficult for kids to access. I monitor my kids’ use of the internet, however, there is so much they see just at school that I cannot stop. Kids with Iphones etc. I have read several articles also discussing the rising cases of porn induced ED, even in young men! It can be a true problem for SOME men (that was for you Locutus)!   Thanks again for sharing the article.

  10. 71

    I have a few things to say to you.   The first being that Cat and I are not the same person.   Why on earth would she or I use two different users names?   Evan (or his website administrator) would be able to determine we were the same person because we have to provide e-mail addresses, which can be validated, to make posts.   Even if we gave a different user name and valid e-mail address, the IP address of the computer or computers posted from can be traced and the individuals IDed to determine if we were in fact one and the same person.   I have seen Evan comment on it before when he has banned someone who tries to post again (and on other websites also.)
    Secondly, I have not “attacked” you, unless you consider the time I called one of your responses childish.   For me, calling an individual’s response childish is not the same as calling an individual childish.   There is a difference, and I understand the difference.   I hope you do also.
    Thirdly, you appear to perceive many of the statements made, questions asked or scenarios presented that you don’t like or disagree with as a direct personal attack.   It is not.   You are posting on a public website where people have different opinions and would like to discuss various issues, and the right to express them and respond to various statements regardless of who made the statement or where they originated.   If you would like to have a conversation with one individual, then you should take it to personal e-mail or IM, and not post it on a public website.

  11. 72

    marymary @ #69
    Thank you for posting that article.   It is very interesting, and part of the larger point I’ve been trying to make but seem to have been doing so very poorly.   The issues arising from and surrounding the use of pornography are just one factor in the much larger systemic and societal problems of women and children being treated as property, and subjected to violence and sexual exploitation.   When people focus on one thing, in this case pornography, and say that as an adult it’s my choice, it’s harmless and tell others they are just being prudish, the big picture is missed.

  12. 73
    Karl R

    Locutus, (#68)
    If I disagree with what you say (even if it’s directed toward another person), I’m going to feel free to voice my disagreement. You may feel that it’s silly, but it’s not against the rules of the forum.

  13. 74

    Karl R. @ #63, you asked: Of all the exploited women and children that you’ve met, how many involuntarily appeared in legal, commercially produced porn?
    I think that is a bit of a pointless question because obviously child porn is illegal, and I wouldn’t be representing the women or children if legal action was not involved.
    But I will say the following in answer to your question:   Approximately 30 years ago, I did some modeling, and I was offered, on more than one occasion, significant sums of money to do porn – both pictorial and video.   I chose to pass on those offers because IMHO, whether a person will voluntarily appear naked in pictures and video for any amount of money…is a matter of character.

  14. 75

    Go to an open meeting of SAA, Sex Addicts Anonymous and if your ex wants you back, maybe he would be willing to work a program of recovery in SAA. If he doesn’t get help, he will likely continue his addiction, or it will morph into another addiction.   I was married to an alcoholic and sex addict and did not know for years. SAA AA and Al Anon gave me the info and tools I needed to make good decisions. I wish you the best.

  15. 76

    Hey hon,
    I’ve been married to a man for 15 years and he has struggled with sex addiction for the last 30 years. He is currently is therapy and attending 12 step meetings and doing well in recovery. You should know that he is NOT being honest with you. They never are right away. It took years for my husband to come clean. He most likely has met up with other women and been unfaithful. It’s the nature of the addiction. I was 22 when I first found out. Thought we were on the right path but recently found out he was still living the double life. I’m now 36 with two children and a whole lot more to fight for. Would I have stayed back then? No. I wouldn’t. You get one life and you do not want to be where I am 15 years later. You are young and just beginning. Require more from your partner and for yourself! It’s not an easy road. It is filled with heartbreak, mistrust, and hurt. I’m in it and yes, it’s better but it has not been fun. Good luck!

  16. 77

    Zoe, I’m not sure when you posted this thread, so it might be very old by now… here goes anyhow:   five weeks ago I ended my 3.5 year (good!) relationship with a man whom I discovered was a sex addict.   If I had to choose one guy who had extremely high moral values, integrity, ethical values, and whom I could completely trust and respect for the rest of my life, then it would’ve been this guy.   So to say that the discovery was a tremendous shock, would be a complete understatement.   We had a good relationship and I know he loved me, but one thing you have to keep in mind is that his number one relationship is with his addiction.   You will ALWAYS come in second, unless of course a complete miracle occurs in his life and he is able to (with God’s help) stay “sober” for the rest of his life.   Do some research on this illness, especially books written by Patrick Carnes, and you’ll find that it is usually wonderful men who fall prey to sex addiction.   Just like any other addict, he will have relapses – it is part of the recovery process, and I don’t know about you but I am not prepared to go through the same devastation as I did five weeks ago when I found out my ex cheated on me with prostitutes since the first six months of our relationship.   And I DO love him more than life itself!   I hope you will make the right decision for YOU, and that you’ll find love with someone whom you’ll be able to trust completely for the rest of your life.   I am in my late thirties now, but if I were you I wouldn’t hesitate at all about what to do… good luck, I know it hurts an awful lot right now, but I know that it’ll get better for both of us!  

  17. 78

    Our western culture is very quick to adopt the ‘drop ’em and run mentality’ if the man turns out to be less than perfect, which is ultimately what every human being is. We have been fed years of media garbage that there is a prince charming out there who will treat us like a princess all the time and save us from all our problems. But the problem with that is just that- IT’S NOT REAL.
    Every human has flaws of some kind, and incidentally enough the western psychological culture has labeled EVERYTHING as UNHEALTHY and as some kind of disorder. As someone who has spent years living in the Eastern part of the world and who has studied psychology and health and healing for years, almost EVERYBODY, unless they are heavily involved in some religious duties, has SOME life affecting addiction. Maybe it is the telephone, or the internet, cigs, or alcohol, the point is that: this young Zoe found someone who she loves who loves her back, which is HARD ENOUGH TO DO nowadays at all, with someone who actually ADMITS to a problem and agrees to get help. WHY SHOULD SHE THROW THAT AWAY? Our culture should adopt more to stay and love someone rather than run and divorce seeking for some other person to live up to what we think should be someone better…ultimately what is unconditional love? It is about selflessly loving and being more concerned about the other than you are for yourself. A mother has the perfect love for her baby. Now matter what, that mother will do what it takes to help and care for that child. This is the kind of love we should adopt into our man-woman relationships.
    I just broke up with a man who I was one day away from marrying because I realized at just the right minute he was a sex addict. I would have stayed and married him but he did not even have the capabilities to communicate emotionally with me the situation which happened, or to take responsibility or even apologize for how he behaved. Such a person will not be capable of getting help, and unless they get real help outside, there is no way they will ever change. I would have stayed if he was capable of admitting to his problem and agreed to get help,. Why? BECAUSE I UNCONDITIONALLY LOVED HIM. But some with this addiction have a certifiable personality disorder called NPD, Narcissistic personality disorder and these ones will almost never change.
    I believe that if Zoe’s guy   is serious to change than she should consider being there with him through it, KNOWING FULL WELL that he will probably disappoint her and most probably cheat her. But if she can LOVE HIM through that, and commit to him while he commits himself to change, then they both win by experiencing the pinnacle of what real love should look like. (yes, she has to be careful and watch carefully that he is serious because sex addicts often lie) She will have to be totally selfless. To learn this kind of love, study the great saints of our time like Mother Theresa and Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi who is alive now. They are examples of how we should love others. We should be more like this, instead of reject and run away. We say we are looking for love, but most of what we are doing in relationships is actually not real love. Good luck Zoe, may you find your right path.

  18. 79

    Obviously you didn’t have a “great” relationship if he was hiding things from you.   Regardless, I have dated a “sex addict”.   I think this “addiction” takes many forms, but basically it is how they cope with stress and their lack of ability to have intimacy. Mine was not a good relationship.
    I would advise the following: 1. IF he is willing to go to therapy, join a 12 step program and be completely open with you….consider it. However, this is not without risks.   2. If he says he will ask yourself if this is REALLY something you want to deal with regardless of how much you love him.   Personally, after my experience I will not date any kind of addict/ex-addict. It doesn’t mean they are bad people, it just isn’t something I chose to deal with in my life.     Life is a risk, the question is whether this is a risk you are willing to take. No one should tell you what is or isn’t right for you.

  19. 80

    part of the reason he was sweet and thoughtful   and friendly was to keep the addiction secret.
    Many of these kinds have a real hold on the individuals affected.
    I hope he gets real help and overcome this issue.   

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