“One confident businesswoman recently told me that the discovery that her husband is a sex addict turned her into a ‘screaming banshee – I’ve become a stranger to myself’,” Hall tells me.
Hall believes these partners need help of their own – hence her book, which is essentially a self-help guide, covering three broad areas: understanding sex addiction and why it hurts partners so much; repairing the damage it has caused to the partner; and finally, helping the partner to work out whether the relationship can survive and, either way, how to move forward.
Couples who make it work generally take a three-pronged approach, says Hall.
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“It could involve sex with a partner, but it may also mean activities such as viewing pornography, masturbation, visiting prostitutes or using sex chat lines,” it explains, claiming that while for most people such habits don’t cause problems, sex addicts are unable to control these urges and actions.
Causes can of course be more complex, while for some – a fast-growing number, according to Hall – it’s simply opportunity-induced.
“These guys, and it is mostly guys, are on the whole loving husbands, yet they did this right under your nose, leaving you unable to trust your partner, or even your own judgements,” she explains.
No wonder many partners suffer trauma, which can lead to depression, anxiety and panic attacks, rage or utter dissociation.
Eight years into her marriage, Rachel started to wonder if her husband had lost interest in sex.
“He’d always go to bed later than me and often made excuses when I brought it up,” explains the 41-year-old.
Sex addiction for a partner brings up feelings of ‘I’m not good enough’ and ‘He doesn’t want me’, but it’s not about the sex, it’s about the dopamine fix.
Once they understand the nature of the addictive drive, sometimes they’re able to move into self-care.” Rosendale’s anecdotal research reveals that a third of those partners seeking help decide to stay in the relationship, while a further third leave and the final third “remain stuck”.
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