Sex Addiction: Is My Partner Addicted to Sex?

« Back to Blog Overviews

Are you right? Is there really something wrong?

Has it seemed like the emotional disconnect between you just gets bigger and bigger?

You bring it up and say you feel like he or she is always somewhere else. It’s like he’s never really there. Always in his head.

He tells you  he’s “…been under a lot of stress” or he’s “…been working a lot” or maybe he just says that

“Nothing is wrong at all, …why do you ask?”

But your intuition knows that something is wrong. It’s like you don’t even know him or her anymore.

Maybe the sex you used to share and enjoy – the sex that left you both feeling close and connected – is now just about getting him or her to orgasm.

Intensity has become the rule and real intimacy and connection the exception.


When you have sex, it may feel love-less or even exploitive. Or maybe you just stopped having sex.

You feel lonely and depressed. You might feel a little crazy since he or she always says you’re wrong, or over reacting, or just a nag. But you can’t shake this gut feeling that he’s no longer in the relationship. Where did he go?

You may know more than you think you know … and you are not crazy.

Your partner may be out of control with sex.

Sexual dependency is different. You won’t recognize it like you would if he or she were an alcoholic or chemically dependent.

He won’t be impaired in those more obvious ways. But if she is a sex addict, then eventually she will get caught.

Every sex addict gets caught. Either the secrets are disclosed or a discovery is made.

The sex addict’s “drug” of dependency is arousal – that wonderful, pleasurable, and for many, addictive storm of “feel good” chemistry that fires off in the reward centers of the brain.

The sex addict carries this drug literally between his or her ears. They can fix with a thought.

Imagine a drug addict who never needed a dealer, but who could “score” with a thought alone.

The result is a man or woman constantly scanning for sexual hits over much of any day. The sex addict may have little awareness of what he or she is doing, barely noticing how much of a dissociated haze has settled in on his mind. For the spouse or partner, it can be like living with the walking dead. He has literally “…left the building.” 

What is it like for the Spouse or Partner?

Discovery of the sex addict’s betrayal can feel like your whole world no longer makes sense.

What you thought was real was not.

Who is this person you’ve shared a month, a year, or most of a lifetime with?

For someone who says she loves you do such a thing is truly traumatizing. Make no doubt.

Sex Addiction often results in a traumatic injury in the Partner’s sense of self and world view, both before and after discovering the addict’s acting out.” Silvia Jason, LMFT, CSAT

The obsessive thoughts then are a kind of trauma reaction.

“Who was it? What did you do? How often? Where? Are you lying now?

How can I ever trust you again?”

The questions turn inward too. What does it mean about me if this is what he really wants? You’ve told yourself that if “…anyone ever did that to me, I would be gone” and yet it’s not so easy.

Maybe if you know enough now, you won’t be “fooled” again.

Who can you tell? Who can you lean on with this? Once you’ve told someone, you can’t “un-tell” him or her later.  You’re left with the raw pain, the terrible fear, the shame, and especially the anger.

What can you do?

You can ask for help. Find someone who understands and acknowledges just how traumatic discovery or disclosure of sexual betrayal really is. Get the help you need for you.

You can set limits.

You can learn healthy boundaries.

You can come to your own aid.

Trust your intuition and ask for the help you need.

Confront what you see and speak your truth. Watch for actions. When words can’t be trusted, only actions have value. Take the time you need.Listen to your instincts and be safe. The shame the sex addict carries can lead to anger and sometimes rage.

What next?

The sex addict must be willing to do all it takes to recover. Whatever it takes. This is his work and he can and should be accountable, however, but you can’t do his work for him.

Your work is to take care of you and there are people who can and will support you. Whether family, friends, communities, or counselors, you do have people you can trust and who you can talk to now.

Countless others have been where you are now and by doing certain things they healed old wounds and often healed their relationships.

With help, there is every reason to be hopeful.

People can and do recover from the wreckage of sexual addiction and you can place trust in a process of recovery when you can’t trust the words.

Give yourself the gift of caring for you. You are precious and valuable and nothing you have done or not done can ever change this essential truth. Honor the little girl or little boy inside who hurts so badly with nurturing and love. The kind that only you can give him or her.

Best wishes as you trudge the rocky road of recovery…


Jeff Schultz, LPC, CSAT, is the owner and founder of the Sono­ran Heal­ing Cen­ter in Phoenix, Arizona.

Make a therapy appointment today.

See available therapy appointments