He’s A Sex Addict! Should I Stay Or Leave?

Should I leave a sex addict?

When I started my first website a decade and a half ago my mission was to offer women who were in a relationship with a Sex Addict the information and resources that I did not have when I made my Discovery. Information that would have helped me decide if I should stay or leave my sex addict.

I made decisions (mostly bad ones) without facts or reality, decisions that would have been very different if I had been allowed all of the information I deserved and had a right to know.

As time went by and the staggered disclosures, and my trauma continued along with the misguided advice from tens of thousands of dollars worth of professional counseling, I swore that I would do everything in my power to give as much and as many facts and resources that I could find to women who found their lives shattered by Sex Addiction. Facts and resources that would help them make informed decisions about their future.

It turned out to be many years for me, struggling with concepts that had no name, dealing with continued staggered disclosures, being fed hope after blind hope by counselors who did not understand what Sex Addiction was, in fact most had never even heard the term.

I remember my first encounter with a therapist over Larry’s behaviors. This happened before we were married.  For a second time I discovered his online chats with numerous women. Sexual discussions, suggestions to meet and arrogant bragging about his ‘abilities’. We were living together at the time and I told him to leave and I moved on with my life.

He started seeing a MD psychologist.  He contacted me, told me of his new understanding of his ‘problem’ and asked me to come with him for a joint session to see the psychologist. It was here that I first mentioned that I thought Larry had some sort of ‘addiction’. I had never heard the term Sex Addiction, but it only seemed logical that if someone was doing something harmful to a relationship that they swore they wanted, and yet could not stop, that it must be some sort of uncontrollable compulsion or addiction.

Well, that idea was poo-pooed right out the door. The psychologist had all sorts of reasons for Larry’s behavior, and convinced me that Larry just adored me; had just gone through a ‘bad phase’ and that we should resume our relationship. Larry’s adamant pleading and promises of never ‘doing it again’ swayed me into compliance.  Several months later, during a second trip with Larry to the psychologist’s office, I was told that Larry had worked through his issues and was ‘just fine’. This psychologist told me that I could not ask for someone who was more devoted to me than Larry and that I should ‘put all this behind you and marry this man’.

The rest is history.

I eventually realized that Larry lied to the psychologist and was seeing prostitutes during the entire period of counseling and throughout our engagement and after our marriage.

How much different would my life have been if I had all the facts?

How much different would my life have been if I had the option of a full disclosure with a polygraph?

What would my life look like today if I had been allowed to make an informed decision about the rest of my life instead of being dismissed and deceived? What would my choices have been then?

My choices would have been very different.

That’s why I started my websites. The first one, almost 15 years ago, languished and was finally retired after a year of loneliness on the web.  Thirteen years ago I started the Married To A Sex Addict site and now the Sisterhood of Support site, with the private forums, eBooks and Wellness Coaching has been online for almost eight years.

So, what do we need in order to make an informed decision about our lives and our future? I think it varies from woman to woman, but I also believe that we have certain rights that have been, and still are, ignored and violated when it comes to hiding information from us. Not simply personal rights, but legal rights.

A legal contract is not binding unless the parties signing it are doing so with ‘informed consent’. That means exactly what it sounds like. Without all the information we cannot make an informed (or legal) decision and if we do enter into a contract, written or implied, that decision is null and void.

I think we need to know all the ‘facts’ first. Some women may choose to not hear or know all the sordid facts. They may not want all of that information and that is their choice. But these women must understand that they will always live under that fog of denial, never quite seeing the relationship clearly and never knowing what may be lurking beneath their veil of false security.

The facts, using my journalism background, are the What (what behaviors did he engage in?), Where (where did these things happen?), When (when did they happen–yesterday, last year?) and Who (someone you know, a family member, a minor?). You may or may not want to the the How.

Forget the ‘Why’. Asking why is futile, and, when you think about it, it really doesn’t matter why.

Seriously, can you think of any reason, any reason at all, that would justify this type of manipulation, abuse, hurt, trauma, betrayal and deception?

I can’t.

It seems as if we only start to make excuses for it when we start to doubt ourselves. When we start to listen to the counselors and therapists who tell us to give it a year. When we start reading all of those books that minimize, rationalize and paint glowing pictures of recovery.

What really matters is that it did happen and it did impact us and we can only make decisions about what we want to do if we have all the facts.

Understanding the behaviors and why they occur will help to distract us for a while, and it may be important to some to understand why someone we thought was trustworthy and deserving of our love and our lives, was someone much so different.

But, understanding why, or thinking that we understand why, does not change the what, where, when and who.

Only when we know all the facts can we make solid, informed decisions. It may take us months, or even years to make those decisions, and we may change our minds once or several times, but we will be coming from a point of truth and our decisions will have stability and soundness. We will know that we made our decisions based on reality rather than building our future on the slippery slope of fantasy and fiction.

And, we may decide, after having all the facts in front of us, that we want to stay. There certainly are compelling reasons for many women to stay. And, if they have made an informed choice, and have all of the facts–the real facts–not fantasy, then they will be at peace with their decision.

In that case there should be no expectations about who their husband can or cannot morph into, or that he will never lie or betray you again. There should be no expectations that he will ever be the man you thought he was or could or should be and there can be no expectations that your life will not blow up into physical, emotional and financial chaos at anytime.

The real fact is, he is who he is.

He is not who you desperately want him to be. He is not who you thought he was. And, he is not who you have been told he will magically transform into after a few weeks or months of intensives, counseling, 12 steps or after reaching that amorphous ‘rock bottom’ .

He is who he is. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If you stay with expectations of anything else you will be disappointed. I guarantee it.

If you have all the facts and can live with reality, you will not be blindsided when you see that his spots have not changed. Yes, some men may be able to stop jerking off obsessively to porn  or spending the family’s retirement savings or the kids college funds on hookers.  But, most cannot or will not. Either way the underlying reasons for the behavior will always be there.

If you can live with that, then all is well. ~ JoAnn

Here are a few of my posts that might interest you:

Is There a 5% Recovery Rate for Sex Addicts?

Are Sex Addicts Really Addicts?

Serial Recovery?

 

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  1. Thanks JoAnn. I think the hardest fact to accept is the last one you listed. They are who they are. All the other “facts” are just wasted energy.

  2. Dearest JoAnn,
    I personally can’t thank you enough for sharing your story and information on SOS and beyond. Like you my xh was going at this SA long before I married him 34 yrs ago. For me the WHY was the end to the end. There was no answer to that.
    F.U. beyond repair. I finally accepted that his behavior had absolutely nothing to do with me. He simply “chose” a safe and convenient place to hide. He didn’t give a shit what he was doing to me. EEEEWW! WHY would I want to be in this relationship any longer. Secrets make you sick (I was sick from hiding HIS) problem. Leaving is the ONLY answer IMHO. I lingered for 31 yrs with SAxh and its broke my heart, mind and finally my body.
    I still remember finding your site 4 years ago. It was SOS that finally made sense to me as I moved beyond such a creep. Never turning back, forever healing from this abuse on my precious life.
    XOXO

  3. Dear JoAnn, I am grateful for your website and your posts. I feel less alone because of it. No one I know has been through this, but I know I am not alone when I read the stories and blogs here. Also, it was an agonizing decision to leave, and so I get comfort here as well about that decision. My ex, who is a therapist specializing in…… get ready…… sexual problems and addiction!!!!….. was a full blown addict when I discovered this and left him four years ago. He was visiting BDSM dungeons at least once a month during our 18 month marriage, and I had no idea he even liked that type of sex. Anyway, he is remarried now. I tried once to reach out to her, but she did not read or accept my Facebook message to her. I wish her luck.
    Thank you again for your work.

  4. Hi
    So the bottom line is there is no chance of change and learning to recognize the belief system so warply embraced by my spouse will do no good.
    Dianna

  5. Hi Dianna,

    You ask, ‘So the bottom line is there is no chance of change and learning to recognize the belief system so warply embraced by my spouse will do no good.’

    Basically yes. I have heard tens of thousands of women’s stories over the last decade and a half and the stories are always the same. They support, they learn all about personality disorders, childhood trauma, shame, etc, etc, etc. They hope, they trust and they believe that their husband/boyfriend is different. They give up years, often decades only to learn that the ‘recovery’ was a lie and the activities and deceit either only stopped for a while or never stopped at all.

    It’s up to each partner how much they want to gamble on their lives, their health and their future.

  6. I have been married for 26 years and was slapped in the face with this awful addiction 10 years ago. I feel like I have wasted the last 10 years of my life waiting for change but the empty promises always lead to more hurt. I have also found that the behavior only escalates. We are separated but I still find myself wanting to believe that he can be the husband and father I once thought he was. The more I read the more I realize that leaving was the best thing I ever chose to do. I now need to start healing myself but not even sure where to begin. So glad I stumbled across this group and any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Theresa

  7. My career is in medical research, so after discovery…or rather, after I pulled my shattered self back into something resembling a somewhat functional person, I began to research. The recovery figures are well-hidden, but here is what I learned: the chances of your husband making a successful recovery (no more acting out or lies) are around 5%. You have better chances of survival facing ebola or cancer.

  8. 5%!? That’s a very scary statistic for me:(. My SAP has been so supportive, doing all the right things, telling me I am his “only one”, supporting me, etc., etc. However, that’s what I thought he was for 30 years. On D Day, my life and heart imploded. Then for another eight months….staggered information. Coming from an abusive and violent childhood, I had handed this man my heart. No one else had that privilege, not fully trusting was my armor. Now what? I do love him, I don’t believe he is a horrible person, I can forgive, but I can never forget. They keep telling me I can, but I know in my heart that the trust I gave him has been obliterated. I warned him early in our marriage, that if he was going to step out of the marriage to just leave me. I knew this was not something I would “get over” even as a young adult, yet he chose to sleep with high end escorts because “he was sad”…..That man doesn’t know sad or neglect! I know I have to go. My health has suffered so much. He even did this while I was going through breast cancer, all the whole pretending to be the supportive and afraid of losing me. He loves me he says. That’s why he screwed high end whores. No connection. Just transactional. Whatever. Everyone thinks he walks on water…….I now know he does not.

  9. After 31 years of marriage and being together 6 years before marriage I have decided to leave. I stuck around for kids, but all are grown now so I don’t see the point of carrying on. He is very unhappy with my decision even though he acted out just last week. Porn on phone and prostitutes massage parlors and I am sure a lot of other stuff that I don’t know about. I have been verbally, physically, financially and emotionally abused enough. I took my vows seriously and hate divorce, but I am beyond caring and trying now. I do feel guilty for not wanting to try anymore. And feel sorry for him(although he didn’t think of me while using prostitutes) He says it’s not right to be alone and he promises to stop, because he loves only me etc… Heard it all before. He is almost 60 so I don’t think change is possible. Hope I am doing the right thing.

  10. Dear Fellow Survivors,
    First of all, I want to thank you for sharing your heartfelt (and heartbreaking) stories. I have been separated from my husband of 20 years for nine months now, and will hopefully be free in May or early June of this year as my divorce becomes final.
    It has been a devastating experience to realize I have been living with a stranger, but I know that there are good men in the world, and I have not given up on the idea that I might one day find true companionship and affection (although being in my mid 60’s, I have no desire to ever marry again).
    Hang in there…there is life after the Tsunami of emotions and physical torment. Take care of yourself first. Listen to your instinctual engine, and work to find your inner warrior. You can and will survive!!!
    Gretchen

  11. Can you share where you found that statistic? I’m curious. I’m dating someone who is a sex addict and he’s seeking aggressive treatment now via therapy and self help books but I can’t tell if I should stay with him.

  12. Hello ladies,
    My husband is a sex addict and hit his “rock bottom” a year and a half ago. He was addicted to porn, reading erotica, browsing sites where people post xxx photos (Flickr, Twitter etc) and the like. He did this behaviour at work and at home. A woman he had dated for a year in university (over 30 years prior) stocked him on social media and over the long weekend in September of 2018 they spent 4 days reminiscing and exchanging sexual fantasies via text messaging. They did not exchange photos or speak to each other, but they had plans to meet for lunch the next week, and I’m quite certain that things would have developed further. I knew something was up with him the entire weekend (my spidey senses were tingling) and walked into our ensuite just as he sent an explicit text. He was busted and he knew it. Our two teenage daughters heard the drama unfold and were, like me, traumatized. He knew that he either had to get help, or our marriage was over. I was done with his lies, deceit, secrets and betrayals. Watching porn, fantasizing and masturbating to images of other women IS cheating.

    Thankfully, he did what he should have done decades before and sought the help of a Sexual Addiction Therapist. He also began the 12 step SA program which he is truly committed to. While I know it’s only been 18 months, he has made very good progress in the program. I think it has helped him even more than the therapist, who he no longer sees. Look, I am going to be positive about the road that he is on, he has completely changed as a human being. For the better. While I don’t yet forgive him and I certainly do not trust him, I am pleased about the progress that he has made and the steps that he has taken to be a better husband, father and human being. I believe that anybody can change if they want to, and he has proven that. The group that he attends regularly is smaller than most groups and the majority of the men who attend have been sober for several years. There is hope for him and he sees that.

    I’m no fool…I know that time will tell…but right now he has to be 100% transparent and honest with me. I have access to his phone, emails and messages. I run his LinkedIn page. We have installed Covenant Eyes on our electronics, and he has to answer any question that I ask him. If I call him, he must answer immediately or message me when he is able to. I can see exactly where he is at all times of the day. And he has embraced ALL of this.

    I know the pain that you have all gone through with your spouses/partners as I’ve been there. I was lied to and gaslighted for 22 years of marriage. I have hope though and I believe that many people struggling with sexual addiction do want to be free of that addiction. Staying or going is completely up to the individual, but if your husband is really committed and trying his hardest to recover from his addiction, I hope you decide to stay and give him one last chance. If he continues to act out or screws up his recovery and show little to no remorse, then I guess it’s likely time to go.

    I have witnessed some very positive things from my husbands recovery and I want to express that there is success as well. Not just failure.

    I wish you all peace and courage.

  13. My husband is a sex addict. His choice of poison was escorts, massage parlours etc. My D day was nov 7 2018. He got into trouble with the law because of his addiction and was arrested on july 2019 and still acted out in july. He is still dealing with the legalties to this present day. My world is shattered, living in the eye of the media now. My heart is broken. You cant glue back shattered glass. My husband of 12 years is now a stranger. I worry every single day and yet i stay. We have both been committed to counselling. He is in a SA group. 2xs a week. His words and promises and sorries fall on my deaf ears. And im still here. Actions speak louder than words. He has shown change and growth. Even as far moving his business to our hometown. I believe we will be ok once the dust settles. I go through my emotions and use my tools daily. I just pray that i.will be loved the way i deserve to be. He says he has not acted out in 7 months. He says he doesnt ever want to go back there again. Time will only tell. People say im brave and strong. I.dont think so, i just fight for what i believe in and i dont give up easily. I know his heart and we can work to help his mind. ❤

  14. I discovered my husband’s sexual addiction a year ago. Within the year he promised change, committment and honesty. He has continued to lie to me, our counselors, his SA support group and he even started up a sexting affair with an ex I never knew about (and I found out he had sex with her in the past, I never knew this woman exsisted and he has been hiding her throughout our relationship of 4 years). He has never told me the truth, I’ve had to discover everything time and time again. I am so distraught and an emotional wreck. We have not even been married for 2 years. Aren’t I suppose to be happy? We seperated in December of 2019. During that time he said he figured out what he wanted and he wanted our marriage. He is going to his own SA counselor and is planning date nights but I just don’t trust him or his intentions. He has a polygraph here in a few days and I’m hoping I’ll get the answers I deserve. He insists he never slept with anyone and that it was all talk and over the internet but there is evidence that points he met up and slept with other people. I’m praying the polygraph will let me know the truth but man am I nervous! I love and hate this man and I don’t know what to do. I want my marriage but not with the SA. I am so incredibly crushed and lost in this. I just joined a Women’s Support Group for the Sexually Betrayed which is providing me hope for myself, but not my marriage. Maybe I’ll leave, maybe I’ll stay. I just wish he could tell me the truth for once.

  15. Dear Jo Anne. Your insights are priceless. This is a lengthy comment and touches on a type of inifdelity not regularly addressed, but it is all over internet porn sites and “soft” dating sites: Swingers.
    D-day for me was 9/23/2019. I found vouchers for cash used at a local nudist/lifestyler resort within 10 minutes of our home. My husband is a sex addict, addicted to sex with couples ( Swinger Lifestyle). He was so captivated by the lifestyle that he had compartmentalized me and our son out of his reality, almost destroyed our business and spent thousands on resort mememberships and alcohol.
    I had a traumatic brain injury in 10/2018 and was in neuro ICU for 3 weeks. I had 2 brain surgeries and was not expected to survive. I only have memories of the last 2 days of my ICU experience and my husband told me he was with me every day. He canceled all his appointments and surgeries for 3 weeks ( my husband is a surgeon and I am a medical professional, as well). My sister verified what my husband had said, saying he only took a couple of days off from hospital duty with me to get some rest and she stayed with me those days. She told me my husband was an amazingly devoted husband…. I think he was just playing the part of the good husband so he would continue to be adored by my family.
    The day after I got home my husband said he needed to talk to me about something important. Still in my hospital gown, I took my walker and walked to the kitchen table where he informed me that if our relationship did not get any better in the next year he wanted a divorce. For the past 2 years my husband had been unberabearable to live with and employees were quitting from our business because he was treating them so poorly. He was constantly angry and nothing could please him. He had also started saying cruel things to our autistic son ( think Sheldon on Big Bang Theory). After D-Day he said the stress of leading a triple life ( husband, business owner/surgeon, Swinger) had been really getting to him during 2018 and 2019. It had become so bad that in 2018 and 2019 my son asked me multiple times why I stayed wth his dad. My son told me to stop being a victim and get psychological help or divorce his father. What amazing wisdom from such a highschooler. My plan was to get our son established and secure in a college before pursuing a divorce. I could not let whatever was going on with my husband ruin our son’s life. Long story , short. I got my son off to college and he is secure, has freinds and is on the Dean’s List. To my knowledge he does not know his father is a sex addict and that is good! ….the happy part of this story
    During my recovery from my TBI my husband was completely emotionally absent. When I returned home, I still had severe headaches, severe nystagmus (affecting my vision), my left leg and arm were not performing well, my balance was poor and I had urinary and fecal incontinence. During my recovery my husband offered me no support whatsoever or assistance at all and would become irritated when I tried to engage him in a conversation about my brain function or therapy. I had to rely on friends to transport me wherever I needed to go. I had severe brain “fog” and would just sit alone during the day staring at the wall. I did not have the ability to read at that time because my short term memory was severely affected. I fought like hell alone to get my life back….and I did 85%! Not once from November 1, 2019 to D-day 9/23/2019 did my husband ever text me ( yet he texted his “”friends”” regularly during the day and from home in the evening, along with telephone calls to them .
    He would call me, though, almost every Thursday or Friday to ask me what he could bring home for dinner. He passed restaurants and grocery stores on his way home from the Lifestyle Resort….. he did not realize that I could get copies of calls and texts (used a software program to retrieve erased texts that he had made. The phone bills include tower location of the incoming call ( resort was in a diferent city than we lived in).
    On D-Day my husband told me he was a swinging lifestyler , that he had been involved with one couple for 18 months and had sex with the “hot wife” while the husband watched 5 or 6 times. Usually on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday. His first disclosure .I did not believe what he said and pushed him and he said 17 times and that he never saw them when I was in ICU.He also said he did not see them around holidays like Christmas, those were special family times and “family and friendship” come first in “the lifestyle”. He said he had sex once with one of his friend”s girlfriend in January 2019 while his “friend” watched and also with one of their female friends (my husband’s friend and the friend’s girlfriend were 84 years old at the time!!…my husband was 49 and I was 64. He also confessed to never stop looking at “lifestyle” dating sites as “soft porn”. I had caught him doing it once when I was pregnant and he said he’d never do it again and it was just a “guy thing”….and I believed him..silly me! This was his second disclosure.
    With full disclosure of texts , phone calls, his personal bank statements etc, I found out that he had spent thousands of dollars on his ‘”hobby” and that he was swinging with the couple on an average of 3 time a month( vs 1 time/mo). Some months he was with them as often as 6 times during a month. He had had sex with the couple once while I was in ICU and two days before Xmas 2018 and 2 days after X mas. He had also had sex with the couple 2 days after our 25 th anniversary. I gave him a Rolex watch for our anniversary and he gave me “Oh, something went wrong with the flower delivery, it will be there tomorrow” . I also found that he had been calling his elderly “friend” and his “friend’s” elderly girlfriend at least twice monthly since 2014. When asked, he revealed he had sex with the girlfriend while the friend watched and he had watched his friend have sex with their other female friend and enjoyed watching. Just when I thought I was getting my mind around the horror story, the 3rd disclosure.
    All the betrayal and lying destroyed all of my trust, probably forever . The lingering disclosures is tortute. It also made me question the validation of our entire marriage…what a farce. He had always been “too busy ” and “tired” to do anything with me. He also complained that I worked too much. I thought I worked as much as he did . What I did not know was tht he had changed his schedule to be off at noon on Thursdays and Fridays and he wasn’t actually “working” on Sunday. I was working a lot more than he was…and he had the gall to complain about my working. Guess he wanted the lifestyle and me, too.
    I asked him multiple times if there was more to disclose and he always lied, as he had been doing for years and said “no “. I knew there was more, I just did not know what is was. I told him the only chance he had of keeping me was to come totally clean. He then, in his 4th disclosure , told me he had been picking up couples in Swinger Lifestyle clubs for anonyomas one night stands from 2003-2014. Never the same couple twice. Our son was 2 years old at the time he started.
    My Huband is a sex addict.
    We went to a sex therapist/ marriage councelor who said that he was “hotwired” for couples sex from mastubating to Hustler magazine with couples in them when he was a young boy of about 10. That he was not a sex addict. She said that anything consenting adults do sexually is OK.. According to her, the only thing that my husband messed up on was not telling me or asking me if I was OK with it …REALLY!! True story.
    When I asked my personal psychologist ( without whom I may not be here today) she said “hardwired” IS sexual addiction and the fact that at 49 he was having sex with 84 year olds is “nowhere near normal” and she believed there was more going on in his childhood. Turns out, from reading a confessional letter from his mother before she died, he was likely sexually abused by his grandmother …no mention of grandfather, so where does the “voyer” husband/boyfriend come in? It was also revealed that husband’s mother had been sexually abused by her uncle multiple times while her parents knowingly ignored it. Also as a child my husband acted out sexually by playing “I’ll show you mine , if you show me yours” with his female cousin (at times fondling her breasts) for 4 years (age 10-14) . He also acted out by sexually fondling his younger sisters multiple times
    My husband is a sex addict and based on his childhood, came by the sexual urges innocently, but as an adult NO ONE put a gun to his head telling him to act on his urges. He knew that his behavior was morally wrong and broke our marrage vows… yet, he did it anyway. He said he could not maintain an erection at times because of his shame while he was having sex when he was swinging; yet he contiued to do it.
    My psychologist and our new sex therapist who does intensives, also recommend waiting a year before deciding to divorce or selling our business. I love my husband dearly and he is the father of our child but when I think of the 16 years of betrayal and lies, I feel anything other than divorce will be betraying myself. I deserve so much better than this! And I dont think I can bear a repeat story years for now. My husband says he is a reformed man. That D-day pushed him into his adult, that he was living in his child our whole marriage …and I believe that I, in fact, was a parent to his child …and now we are connecting as adults. But can someone with so much childhood trauma ever be truly “fixed” …5% sounds reasonable to me.
    My psychologist said something very wise to me our first session. I said “He is the perfect husband now, better than I ever hoped he would be . It seems to good to be true. ” My psychologist pushed her chair right in front of me, got total eye contact and said “Mindy, if it seems too good to be true, it really is too good to be true”,
    Oh , one last interesting tidbit. When my husband met the couple he was acting out with for 18 months( at the bar at the resort) they initailly lived 1.5 hours from our house and the Lifestyle Resort. My husband said the couple believed he would be “theirs ” forever. He said it was like being in a cult; he was totally drinking the kool-aid and loving it. The “”hot wife” and husband purchased a condo in the Lifestyle “compound” ( that’s what the couple called it) shortly after meeting my husband because they went to the beach house every weekend and that meant my husband would be “working late” at least 6 hours on Sundays. Then they sold their beach house, but kept their sex condo, and bought a bigger condo with 3 bedrooms, so they could have “guests” sleep over. The condo is 2.5 miles from our house. My husband and I have to pass the road that goes to their house every day going to work. The couple, btw is 67 years old…more appropriate for a 50 year old “stud”, or “stallion”, whatever they call him in the “lifestyle”, than the 84 year olds, at least.
    Supposedly lifestylers just have sex for one end …orgasm, with no emotional attachment. I believe this couple lost track of the non- emotional attachment part of the lifestyle …. just as a warning to other spouses who lose their spouses to “The Swinger Lifestyle” beware, the members did a lot of ” brainwashing ” with my husband about how important the “friendship” was. My husband had emotional issues giving up the “friendship” because it was so important. My psychologist said that the time spent talking and drinking as “friends” is a form of foreplay in the lifestyle since there is not true sexual intimacy, just goal oriented sex. Entertainment with a feel good ending, like going to a movie, but better. Lots of friends with benefits. But interestingly, my husband never did anything with his “friends” other than drink and talk prior to sex…no going out to restaurants, no movies, no going to the theatre or athletic events. Doesn’t sound like a friendship to me. Beware if your spouse is searching Swinger Lifestyle sites.

  16. I am facing the same choice my husband began sharing unwillingly in Valentine’s Day after I had hard evidence and cornered him. My further investigation thanks to google allowed me to see every step and location he had been to as well as all his searches. Despite him clearing his history. I was able to go make and see it from when we met in 2015 thru our marriage now. It has been shocking how many escorts at hotels were had during his lunch in middle of nights when either of us were away for work. I also saw every time at least on this cell as he had burner cells too , I saw how all day long he would go online looking at or for escorts. It’s all he thought about from the first thing he woke up during an email break at work in the bathroom even right next to me.
    I’m sick to my stomach I’ve lost 12 lbs in 3 weeks ( the only good thing so far).
    He’s in AA and SA groups seeing our counselor, has given himself back to God, and now with sex addict counselor and he reads all the books. Supposedly hasn’t drank or had sex since Feb 14. As with all here he swears he is changed and will never drink or stray again.
    So what do I do? Waste more time ? I’m 52. Oh and he gave me herpes I just found out. So I will be great dating material right?? I’m trapped in CA no family and friends only with him as he’s military and my job relies on being transferred with him. I have 5 years left for ny full pension.
    Currently I’ve spoke to Atty’s and I’m writing up a postnuptial with my terns and a financial settlement for what’s he’s done. At least I will set the ground work to divorce at anytime.
    I just can’t get the images of the hundreds of escorts and tinder hook ups he has had. The sick thing is we had good sex a lot and I’m not an unattractive person.
    Cheryl

  17. Dear Cheryl and Jenn,
    Please consider how happy they were with their lives BEFORE you found out. If change was something they were interested in, they should have searched out help before. The depth of their betrayal is way beyond the physical acts they took part in. They used your trust, will now play on your empathy and compassion (as they are the victim, not you) and they were comfortable with playing Russian Roulette with your VERY life! This is not a person who understands the meaning of LOVE. The priority in their life is what they want, be damned who it hurts or kills. I think of it like this:

    When they says they had no choice but to do their penis activities, be it “addiction” or compulsiveness, you need to remind them that they DID have a choice. They made a clear and conscious choice to use, abuse you mentally and emotionally and risk your life. The other choice they will not acknowledge, was to admit they had a problem and leave. You don’t take the people you love into the depths of hell. You push them away to protect them. They HAD other options. They did not HAVE to abuse you. They chose that. Their character allowed them to choose abusing you to get what they wanted. It’s all about their wants and needs. Power/control and centrality are the most important things in their lives.

    Do you really want to be with someone you can’t trust? Someone who puts an orgasm before your life? These are hard facts and even harder to accept. I know. All Sisters on SOS know. The reality is that YOU ARE IMPORTANT AND WORTHY OF LOVE AND CARE! Do the best you can to put yourself first for a change. Get a trauma therapist for yourself, go alone. Don’t go to marriage counseling. They lied to you for years, they will lie to the counselor. Why should they be honest with them if they wouldn’t be honest with you. They can lie like we breathe air. It is guilt and remorse free. Love yourself more than allowing someone to use you and treat you with such disrespect. It’s abuse and it’s unacceptable in an adult mutual relationship. Read the forums. There is so much insight and wisdom from the Sisters who have gone before us. It’s life saving and sanity saving!! Hugs to you both! Take care! There is only 1 you!!

  18. Hey. I got married to the love of my life in September. At Christmas, I found out he’d paid a sex worker and met her in a hotel.. and that he’d done this 20+ times with his ex wife, I knew this because he’d been leaving REVIEWS of the women, every time he went. They were all there in black and white, times, dates, everything. He said it was because I’d been through 2 years of chaos and abuse due to heavy drugs I was on for my bipolar, which made me, to be honest, completely insane. I would have 2 or 3 day episodes, maybe twice a month, where I’d break from reality and run around waving knives, throwing things at him, trying to attack him, he would end up locking himself in the bathroom, crying, it was horrific. He stayed with me through all of this, but – as i later found out – was getting erotic massages on the side, to “cope”. This last part I only found out a few weeks ago. I just had a gut feeling the “one time” with a sex worker wasn’t the only thing he was hiding, why would it be, when I’d been so sick and crazy for two full years… I still love him so so much, we JUST got married!! My heart is broken and I guess I’m just wondering if it’s possible to beat this addiction.. if people ever overcome it… 🙁

    Like everyone else here, there were soooooo many lies, from the start. He even bought us a massage bed recently, which I thought was great at the time – I didn’t know he’d been getting secret sex massages at the time though, did I !!!?

    He tried to put it all back on me. It was because of my behaviour. Even though he’d been doing this long before me, with his ex. Oh, but with her you see, it was because she was an alcoholic. Because she cheated on him. Because she was never at home..there’s always a reason, and the fault is never his.

    Mostly I’m worried I’ll never trust again. If I didn’t see this at all, in 5 years with him, how can I know I’d ever see the signs in anyone else? He has destroyed my whole life and stolen 5 years of fertility from me. I’m now in my mid 30s. I love him. But I think I hate him.

  19. I’m so thankful to come across a positive post. I know from personal experience, that recovery for any addiction, is possible. I’ve only been married for 6 months. He told me he was in recovery for sex addiction, before I married him. It turns out he wasn’t. It has been extremely difficult to say the least. I figured out, by week 2 he wasn’t in recovery. Viagra kept going missing. We tried very hard to abstain from sex before marriage. There were 3 times we weren’t successful, but for the most part, we were. So imagine how hurt, and unattractive I felt, when here I am basically new to this man and he’d rather gratify himself to images. The lying OMG. So much lying. He has taken steps to get help. He has the accountability apps on his phone. He has a sponsor ( who has a lot of sobriety) he stays in contact with. We both have an app on our phones so that we can see where the other one is, at all times. Because I’m in recovery myself, for drugs and alcohol. I know for a fact that if someone wants change, they can and will change. It is definitely possible. For an addict to want change, the consequences usually have to make them very uncomfortable. Now granted, some addicts, will not change no matter what the consequences. But, there are rooms full of recovering addicts and I mean years of recovery, all over the world. God can do anything! For anyone who wants it. Like your husband, mine is very transparent. I have access to all of his stuff. Hes become an open book. I know relapse is possible. I’m not naive. It doesn’t have to be a be all end all. If he wasn’t taking the steps he is, I’d definitely be gone.

  20. First, there is no such thing as sex addiction. The behaviors that these men do is a sign of a much deeper disorder. These men make choices and, as adults they are responsible for their choices and the consequences of what they do.

    Do not waste another five years of your fertility and certainly do not have a child with this man.

    What could any woman love about a man who treats her so poorly? If you want the rest of your life to be what the last five years have been, then stay with him. If you know that you deserve better, which I think you do, it’s time to make that difficult decision for yourself and move on. Yes, if you leave the future is scary and unknown, but if you stay, you know exactly what it will be.

    Sending you hugs and courage. ~ JoAnn

  21. Hi
    I’m really nervous about posting on here so excuse me if I drivel on!! I found out only yesterday, by accident that my partner has been viewing porn daily and masturbating the minute I leave the house. I leave at 3pm to pick up the kids, he was on it by 3.01. I searched back as far as I could go on his phone and it’s almost every day back to July 2017. I feel sick. Hes done it downstairs when I’ve been in bed awake waiting for him to come upstairs. Just yesterday it was while I was still asleep. Why not just come and wake me?? I obviously don’t do it for him anymore.
    I dont know as yet if there has been any other women but I wouldnt be surprised. Hes like a stranger to me now. I had no idea any of this was going on. I feel totally worthless, betrayed, inadequate the lot. I told him I need complete honesty, but no regret this as when I ask him a question his answer makes me feel like I’ve been kicked in the guts. I knew something wasn’t right for a while as he didnt seem interested in sex and when he did he couldn’t perform but I never ever imagined in my wildest dreams that this was the reason why. What a complete and utter fool I feel. I really don’t understand what has went wrong. I don’t think he knows how to tell the truth. I feel like the last 6 years of my relationship has been a big lie. I don’t have anyone to talk to about any of this. I feel so alone, worthless and unattractive. I don’t know where to turn. I’ve already smashed up his phone and cut up his favourite football top which made me feel slightly better but that was short lived!!

  22. I track him on his iPhone. I apologize for taking so long to respond. He never had physical contact with a prostitute, escort, person he chatted with online etc. Didn’t visit massage parlours and always remained anonymous. He was big into fantasy. They all are, he just hadn’t progressed to physically stepping out of our marriage to meet up with someone, but his exchanging of text massages with a long ago girlfriend and then making arrangements to meet her for lunch was taking that next step, crossing that next boundary, whatever they want to call it. Had I not busted him, I’m quite sure he would have ‘reminisced’ with her in person, at her house in the crappy town she lives in. He is still doing well in recovery. We have long discussions all the time about his behaviour, where he is in recovery etc. He is 100% transparent and that is the only way I will have it. I think it’s the ONLY way any partner should have it. And if they can’t give you that, I would seriously consider seeking legal advise and getting my ducks in a row to leave.

  23. Hi Anne,

    Thanks for sharing your difficult story. I sincerely hope everything works out, but I would suggest that you get all your ducks in a row now. If you don’t need all the financial documentation and at least an hour of attorney advice, then no harm done. But, if you don’t have everything it may be too late if you do need it. He already knows that you are on to him. This leads many men to hide assets, change insurance policies and wills and ‘surprise’ you with divorce papers as he walks out the door and into the arms of his younger, new and shiny plaything. Just keep yourself and your future safe. ~ JoAnn

  24. Depressed , confused ,angry & exhausted from absolutely no sleep after finding flirty text messages my 50 yr old husband was sending to his 25yr old co worker on our family get away recently . I started doing my CIA work & found many years & many days of watching Porn & found many google searches of escorts near his work . After I confronted him he said I’m crazy & it’s just a co worker & the escorts are just pictures . So after more investigations I found proof of actual phone calls but now he swears it’s every once in a blue moon & he doesn’t have an addiction . We have been together 33 yrs and have 2 teenage kids . He is still lying about everything my gut knows it . He finally confessed at 2am this morning the massage parlors & escorts have been going on for 16 yrs … I know there’s more to the story but he won’t tell me a thing only after I find proof . I made him join that a support group I think it’s SA anonymous . I’m in so much pain almost suicidal .I don’t know what to do

  25. I am so sorry JOJO, I understand how traumatizing and distressing it all is. Please take some time for yourself to destress and allow your brain to clear so you can sort it all out. It does take time, but unless you take care of yourself you will not be able to made clear decisions. If you can arrange a short term separation that might help you. Sending you courage and strength. ~ JoAnn

  26. JoAnne I think you are using your one bad experience to discourage women to stay and be hopeful. I go to s-anon meetings and there are plenty of women with success stories. Sure these men are highly disturbed, but a lot of them never seek treatment for what they have. If we don’t give them the opportunity to seek help and try to get better how will we know whether they will or not? Are they so damaged that there is no hope for them? Can’t people change? And isn’t everything on a spectrum and not so black and white? Just because one man decides to continue his addiction doesn’t mean another wont be committed to his recovery and becoming a better person. Right?

  27. Hi Hope,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. My thoughts and opinions on the behaviors that are commonly called sex addiction are based on my own experiences as well as the experiences of the tens of thousands of women who have shared their stories on my websites over the last 15 plus years. I have no problem with women staying and trying to work through the issues. Most of the women on my sites have done everything they could to make their marriage work, myself included–I stayed and did absolutely everything in the way of effort and support for 9 years. I think that is more than enough effort. I see no sense in giving false hope to women when the man gives only lip service to his recovery. When he continues to lie, when ‘slips’ are to be expected and when the woman is encouraged to make all the efforts and offer her trust when none has been earned and when that trust endangers her health and her emotional and financial well being. My advice always is, trust but verify and listen to what they do, not what they say. ~ JoAnn

  28. JoAnn I understand what you are saying, but at the same time is it right to generalize? What if the wives/gfs of men in true recovery come across your website and are discouraged by your posts. After all people are different and some men do change their ways. I understand from your experience and women you have talked to, the men have lied over and over with no true intention to recover. I am sorry for that. But there are men out there who do change and choose to do the right thing. But from what I read on your website, you don’t even acknowledge sex addiction, and call it a personality disorder. Same could be said for alcoholism. Most alcoholics have other underlying issues. No mentally healthy individual chooses to drink themselves to death. Same goes for sex addiction. Yes these men are disturbed in some ways, but doesn’t mean we should throw them in the trash. It is not up to us to fix them, but we must at least believe that they have the ability to change. After all if one of these men were your son wouldn’t you want to believe that there is hope for them?

  29. My mission is not to discourage anyone, but to present scientific facts and probable outcomes.

    As I said, I support any woman who chooses to stay or who holds hope for her relationship and chooses to stay and try to work things out.

    The facts are, there is no fundamental or scientific basis for anyone to:

    1. Compare obsessive, compulsive and destructive behaviors to chemical addictions.
    2. To continue to stay in an unsafe relationship that, over time, is showing no signs of changing.

    I only present facts.

    I offer support for women who are struggling with relationship issues.

    I will never offer false hope or advice that would put any woman in danger. ~ JoAnn

  30. Research on personality disorders is easy to find online. Just search for ‘scholarly papers personality disorders’.

    There is no credible research on Sex Addiction because it is not a legitimate medical diagnosis. It is simply a mix of traits common to various personality disorders. It cannot be classified as a true addiction as there is no chemical dependency, hence no physical withdrawal.

    Because personality traits fall on a spectrum and the diagnosis of a personality disorder is somewhat murky because the traits overlap, it’s difficult even for a professional to determine the severity of a personality disorder. Many of these people we call Sex Addicts have traumatic childhoods and disordered family members. Some research points to a mix of both genetic and environmental factors as causative. ~ JoAnn

  31. So you’re saying they’re not addicted to sex, and it’s hard to diagnose them with a personality disorder? So what do we do with them? …. there is research that shows that chemicals do get released when a sex addict engages in the sexual behavior. People don’t get withdrawal from gambling addictions, are you saying that gambling is also not an addiction? Also withdrawal may not be physical but it can be mental. In any case, even if it is a personality disorder, they can still get help for it and live happy and fulfilling lives without compulsive sexual behavior. I am not sure what the purpose of your website is, but it seems to put a stigma on these men who are where they are with no fault of their own. Is it their fault that they had traumatic childhoods? No. Is it their responsibility to get help? Yes. Is it a women’s responsibility to stay with these men? No. Is it okay to discourage people to not stay with these men and claim that research shows they wont get better? No. Again just because you and the 1000 of women you have met have found that your partners continued to act out and lied to you doesn’t mean that there aren’t another 1000 women out there whose husbands did stop acting out and got help. Personal experience should not be used to spread false information. Also don’t you think the thousands of women you’ve spoken to who have validated your personal experience have been attracted to coming to you based on shared experiences? And the women whose husbands have gotten better are less inclined to come to you because there is no need?

  32. I’m reading through all these stories, far removed from my own—though I have never stopped trying to understand what happened, how I missed the red flags, and how I can help others see them. Reading these accounts brings back the exhaustion of being married to a sex addict (or in my case, a personality disorder where sex addiction was one of the manifestations).
    But I want to offer hope—because I remember a time when I had none. No, my husband never recovered—and I thought for so many years that he would. But once I walked out of his darkness and lies that were shrouding my life—and into the light, I changed and my life changed. I wasn’t confused anymore. Joy and peace returned to our home almost instantaneously. Everything was clear. The mind games ended. My thoughts were no longer consumed with suspicions, fear and doubt. My confidence returned, and a new dream formed.

    My (ex) husband was an avid visitor of prostitutes, constant porn (skipping work to go to hotels), strip clubs, massage parlors, excessive spending, lies upon lies upon lies—all of it. We were in counseling, together and separately. They should have named a building after us we spent so much money on therapy. He did intensive workshops out of town, and supposedly went to SA and AA, had a sponsor, went to another support group for men. I was in a support group of wives for 2 years. But money kept disappearing, and the lies just wouldn’t stop. And I had to come to the point, where I was slapped in the face with it. I had done everything I possibly could, and it would never be enough.

    This was not the life God intended for me. And while I did not want my kids to grow up in a broken home- I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life. I am free. I knew there was a purpose for my life, and it did not involve wondering whether my husband had slept with another woman that day, or had been watching pornography in a seedy hotel room when he should have been at work. This was not a disease, these were choices.

    There were times when it was so scary—standing on my own with two little ones when my tendency has always been to lean on someone else. But standing alone, will make you iron where you once were glass. We were meant to be cherished. To be loved and valued. Not marginalized, manipulated, diminished and abused. That’s not marriage.

    I am in such agreement with what this site stands for and believes about sexual addiction. I wish it had been around on my D-day in 2008. We can spin our wheels trying to make a broken car move—but it will wear you out, until there is nothing left. You have the opportunity to come out of this stronger and better. You have to take hold of it a believe there is a better life for you ahead. Your years of support, and trying, and working hard to keep the marriage together are not wasted years. They are making you stronger than you have ever been. And no matter how old you are—your life is not over. There is good around the corner. You just have to walk out of the dark.

  33. Natalie. Such insight! Thank you so much for taking the time to offer your wisdom to partners. I am sorry that you had to go through all the pain and trauma; but it obviously has made you wiser and stronger. ~ JoAnn

  34. Hi JoAnn. I just stumbled on your page and oh goodness I needed this 20 years ago ! I have been blaming myself from the first date with my xh, always thinking I was not a good wife. I divorced my xh twice, thinking again that I was a failure – could not make this man I loved happy. I’ve been recently going to a counselor for an unrelated problem but after she heard my background she’s convinced that I married an addict ! He didn’t have “affairs” with any part woman, he did odd things i.e… he was going to strip clubs in Memphis TN on the nights I worked in ICU, and pregnant, I caught him by finding wads of ATM withdrawal receipts from TN at Midnight and odd hours. Now I am into this bucket of worms and begging for some support. Thank you for drawing attention to this and I need support to rebuild my self esteem. Please respond ! Thanks, Donna.

  35. Hi Donna. Yes, I know how isolated this can make you feel, that’s why I started my websites for partners in 2005. I remember how alone I felt when I made my discovery…actually the same way you did, by finding ATM and bank receipts. The Sisterhood is all about support, that’s what we are here for. Sending you big hugs. ~ JoAnn

  36. I appreciate reading everyone’s stories…

    I’m not married, but I’m in a relationship with a sex addict/liar/manipulator. For some reason or another I can’t wrap it around my head to leave, I think the deep sense of loneliness keeps me, crumbs are still more than nothing.
    I found texts and calls to hookers in his phone after only dating for 3 months, he lied and said his brother used his phone. Swore on his mom, on God, and his dead Grandma. He was very calm and didn’t get mad that I looked at his phone. A week after that his ex girlfriend that he was apparently dating while talking to me on a dating website but left her for me (against my knowledge) messaged me on social media to inform me of how terrible he is. He himself told me that he wasn’t a greAt guy but my codependent self wanted to prove to him that he’s a good guy and lovable. After the ex hit me up a week after seeing the texts to hookers that he denied was him I put a tracker on his phone and Within a week found more stuff. I found out had threesomes with his twin brother and his sister-in-law (found videos later on). I’m 33, he’s 31, I found out he’s into a variety of things including wife’s in their 60’s. I found a video of a naked woman on his phone and thought it was a joke because she was so much older but found out it was someone’s wife he was trying to arrange a meet with. This morning his phone buzzed and a guy texted him and sent naked pictures and said they basically had phone sex. Of course when confronted he denies. This is a lot, I feel disgusted with sex all together (which makes me made because I enjoy it when it’s healthy and out of love but all this makes it seem like something “dirty”) I feel like I’m so dumb for not loving myself more and to not just leave right now. I deal with depression and anxiety and the way I feel in this relationship makes it hard to just see the point of living yet my loneliness is so loud it drowns me and I can’t be alone. Family and friends don’t fill that need to affection, touch, hugs and kisses. Of course with this type of person, my boyfriend, it’s up and down up and down. The up parts are the crumbs I get for the down parts. And I hate how I’m made to feel crazy, insecure, fed back anger and lies when this is an environment created by my boyfriend and me allowing myself to be in this environment. I pray for strength to leave, to let go of the hope for change because it’s steals my youth everyday. I pray to love myself more than the loneliness and more than the crumbs. I feel shattered and so stupid.

  37. Hi. Married 38 years. The traumatic disclosures started in 2003 and dribbled on for 13 years. I was in and out of denial and ptsd. Then another big disclosure with his/her therapists. 10 months later I find he is at it again. I love him and want to care for him. He is old now, 73. A loving father and grandfather. But I know I must leave. It breaks my heart for him, the kids, me. Now I’ll be a lonely, broke old woman at 63.

  38. JoAnn,
    You have done women with these husbands a justice by having someone going through the same hell to talk to. You are so right. There is no cure for this unless they agree to medication that stops arousal. The side affects of this disorder for them is absolute euphoria. The side affects for us is betrayal trauma and in some cases suicide. The more you find out, the sneakier and more secretive they become. All of this emotional cheating happens in their head. Even though you think you are in control, they have a secret life in their head where they fantasies about every women they see. ( At work, tv, magazines, friends and randoms in the street ) Their having sex with you, thinking about them. The only way to stop it is to take the drugs that work. I personally have no problem with this as I feel that if I can’t have sex with my husband thinking of me, he won’t be having sex thinking of someone else. For those that are optimistic, I wish them luck. Ultimately, in my opinion, unless you are prepared to agree to live with neither of you having a sex life, it will only end badly for you. No one can tell you to leave. You will take yourself to hell and back before you have finally had enough. Every one is different and will tolerate it until they are ready.