Have you recently learned about your partner’s sex addiction?
Like a bolt of lightning, the revelation of it has probably left you in a state of shock.
You’re trying to figure out how to carry on, but life as you know it holds a different meaning for you now. It may feel like you’re just going through the motions just to get through your daily routine.
Your partner may seem like a different person or like a stranger to you since the big reveal.
As disappointing as it may be, what you’re feeling is normal. Describing these emotions as “normal” may sound a little crazy, but take comfort in knowing that you will get through this.
In looking for ways to cope, consider the following.
Find Yourself an Experienced Therapist
Most likely, you’re feeling some strong and overwhelming emotions right now. Being the partner of a sex addict is nothing short of difficult. It can feel like a big mess that you have no control over.
The best thing to do is find a therapist who is experienced with sexual addiction. He or she will be familiar with your current state of mind and can help you navigate through the complexities.
Practice Healthy Detachment
While there are unhealthy ways to detach, there are healthy ways to do so. Rather than completely shutting down, healthy detachment is taking a step back from the situation.
The purpose of practicing detachment is to give yourself some space. You need this space to be able to set appropriate boundaries and take time to heal. No matter how you reacted upon learning of your partner’s sex addiction, detachment is being able to accept and embrace whatever it is you’re feeling right now. I know what you might be thinking, "Accept? Embrace? Why the hell would I want to do that? I shouldn't accept this!" To clarify, you aren't accepting the unacceptable behavior. It is your understandable hurt, anger, and confusion that I'm hoping you allow yourself to experience.
Avoid Focusing on Your Partner
For some, this is the most difficult coping technique. It’s the only “DO NOT” on the list, though.
Do not focus solely on your partner’s sex addiction. It will consume you. Furthermore, it will not help you heal or recover but could rather serve as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
When your mind starts to obsess — and it probably will for quite some time — do your best to redirect your attention back to caring for yourself. Focusing on yourself might seem counter intuitive. After all, they are the one with the sex addiction. At the same time, you’re dealing with a traumatic blow. You need and deserve gentle care and attention.
In addition to being physically active, you need to get socially active, as well.
Spend time with your circle of friends who feel safe. You don’t have to tell them exactly what you’re dealing with, but do socialize. Socializing has a powerful way of putting a balanced perception on your life.
In addition to getting together with friends, find a trusted confidant that you can talk with. You can unpack and process your experience your therapist or cry to your friend. Most likely, you will find both types of support to be invaluable.
Focus on the Healing Process
Aside from focusing on your own well-being, hone in on the healing process itself. This is a multi-faceted process.
It’s possible you’ve chosen to heal the relationship and, of course, you want to mend all the painful emotions you feel. For each stage of this process, there will be new coping mechanisms and new ways to recover. Pay special attention to those unique phases of growth and progression.
Now is a time to reconnect with yourself on a new level. Some people even find it helpful to lift themselves up on a spiritual level. This might mean using meditation, attending church, or enjoying a simple inner quietness. Rediscovering yourself is one key in recovery.
Casting blame will most likely come naturally during the first few initial shock waves. You might blame your partner for being addicted or you might blame yourself for being blindsided.
More importantly than who you feel like blaming, focus on withdrawing the blame and redirect your attention to the core issue.
Why did this happen?
The bottom line is that there are complicated underlying issues at the heart of your partner’s sex addiction. A therapist will be able to help identify these issues. Moreover, they will help you understand the dynamics of this sex addiction and how to cope with all its complexities successfully.