And while I’m on the topic…

Looking for something else, I came across this approximately five year old Newsweek article regarding sex addiction, which I had seen oh so many months ago.

The Sex Addiction Epidemic

In re-reading through the article, I had an “aha” moment.

Honestly, in the case of me and Blue Eyes, post discovery mid January 2014, I found myself wrapped up in obsessively searching the internet, but I quickly lost interest in generalized articles with provocative photos, salacious stories of libidos run amok, and the mention of Tiger Woods. Maybe as a diversionary tactic, or maybe because we were receiving so much in-person therapeutic information on sex addiction, I lost interest in searching about sex addiction on the internet. In my brokenness, I became obsessed with why women cheat with married men. I started reading mistress blogs, and researching why people cheat in general, and then I became so disheartened by what seemed to be a complete loss of morals, integrity, and dignity in this world, that I spiraled into a place of not wanting to look at anything or go anywhere or talk to anyone.

I wrote my journal entries and tried to keep my sanity while traveling with my husband, the newly diagnosed sex addict. I was also dealing with the barrage of phone calls from the stalker, and a downright legitimate fear for my safety and the safety of my family. I can hear the old whore cackling right now thinking about how she messed with my mind.

So, as I am glancing through this old Newsweek article, it became obvious to me how much power an article like this has on people who have no other exposure to sex addiction. The article has a photo of a guy in cowboy boots with a gal, in fishnet stalkings, on his lap. Provocative photos are very common in articles about sex addiction. Instead of making it clinical, they want to make it sexual because… yes, you got it, it garners more readers. The anonymous stories in the article are about people who are clearly way out of control. They bring up Grindr and Ashley Madison. They talk about the movie, Shame, and I quote: “However powerful and queasy Shame’s odyssey into full-frontal debasement may be, the film only begins to tap into the dark realities connected with sex addiction.” They quote Robert Weiss as saying, “They end up losing relationships, getting diseases, and losing jobs.” Which is absolutely true, but what they don’t say is that there are also guys out there who are medicating old wounds with sex, who are coping with their lives with illicit porn, masturbation, cyber chat rooms, etc… who do not lose their jobs and who keep it a complete secret for decades. The reality of the situation is there are all kinds of sex addicts, but what is fed to the general public is this idea that the addict is out of control, which is exhibited in over sexualized out of control behavior like having sex with a prostitute in a dark alley, or publicly getting a blow job in a gay bar, or ending up destitute on the street on food stamps, and people get it in their heads that anything less than that is a lie. That rich guys with jobs are just using sex addiction as an excuse for cheating.

And here we go again with people talking about Tiger Woods (from the article):

Here’s what the experts will tell you that sex addiction is most decidedly not: a convenient excuse for sexual indiscretions and marital truancy. Chris Donaghue, a sex therapist who hosts the show Bad Sex, says Tiger Woods, for example, does not qualify as a sex addict, despite his well-documented sexcapades and treatment at a Mississippi rehabilitation center specializing in sex addiction. “Because he didn’t honor his integrity and marital boundary does not make him an addict,” Donaghue says, adding that people will say, “ ‘Because I get in trouble, because I cheat, I’ll just blame it on sex addiction. That’s my get-out-of-jail-free card.’ ”

Contrast Woods’s wild-oats sowing against the experiences of Harper, an Atlanta-born television executive who found himself caught in the grips of sex addiction for four years. After joining an online dating service, Harper fell into a pattern of juggling multiple relationships, sexting incessantly and focusing almost singlemindedly on hooking up. He discovered he could usually get his partners into bed on the first date—sometimes within the first hour of meeting. “And these weren’t desperate women,” he says.

So, Chris Donaghue decides he is qualified to pass judgment on a man without ever having met him, without treating him, without knowing what was going on inside Tiger’s head when he left his gorgeous wife and two adorable children in his mansion to go have extramarital sex with a stripper or a waitress in the front seat of their pick up truck in the parking lot of a dive bar? Mr. Donaghue does not actually state why he thinks Tiger is not a sex addict. I can only assume because Tiger is wealthy and a celebrity, that he doesn’t get the same level of compassion. But why? If anyone grew up in a fucked up house with absolutely unreal expectations of him, it was Tiger (in my opinion). I don’t see how this guy’s contrasting story proves that that guy IS a sex addict. These articles are shallow and designed to get people to read about something that is at the same time titillating and disgusting. We are all so much better than the people in these articles, right?

You see, diagnosing a sex addict is a complicated process. I can speak to it because I watched Blue Eyes go through it, numerous times, over weeks and weeks and with multiple specialists. Pages and pages and pages of questions about his childhood, his habits, his feelings, his behaviors, his beliefs. Multiple questionnaires and in-person diagnostic appointments with trained therapists. His regular therapist, who came free with Blue Eyes’ bar fees (so there was no real incentive for him to diagnose Blue Eyes with anything… he could sit in his office alone all day and still get paid), and who had seen Blue Eyes for years, since his brother’s suicide, had started directing Blue Eyes gently towards sex addiction materials even though Blue Eyes had divulged very little about his sexual acting out. As he got to know Blue Eyes, he could see that there were compulsive behaviors being used to medicate old (and new) wounds.

So what was my “aha” moment? I realized after reading this article that this is what a lot of people are educating themselves with regarding sex addiction and it hurts more than it helps because this article is designed to get readers, not to really educate people. Therefore it lacks the substance needed to help people understand the addiction. Don’t get me wrong, there is good information strewn about in the article, but the stories are a very small sampling of what a sex addict really looks like. I have received comments on my blog about how Blue Eyes doesn’t sound very much like a sex addict, but merely a run of the mill cheater. Mainly because he didn’t lose his job (well, he is self employed), he didn’t lose relationships over this (he came pretty damn close, still might) and he is not destitute on the street. Now I realize where all this is coming from, not from real life, but from one off articles strewn about the internet.

I can assure you, after speaking with numerous wives of sex addicts and after Blue Eyes’ involvement in a 12 step group for over two years, that the people left destitute on the streets living on food stamps, is a distinct minority. There are men in huge debt from mortgaging their houses to pay for prostitutes, but most have lucrative jobs. Most of these men are comfortably middle class and were able to keep their secret lives secret for many many years. Their drug ranged anywhere from obsessive porn viewing, online chat rooms, one night stands (usually while traveling for business), prostitutes, massages with happy endings, to full blown affairs. What drives each individual sex addict is unique, but the underlying commonality is that they kept their addictive lives secret, they lived with guilt, shame and regret. They thought they could control it, they would never do it again, but they kept doing it despite the potential, or actual, consequences. They knew it was wrong, but they just couldn’t stop, until they admitted who and what they were, and they got help.

12 thoughts on “And while I’m on the topic…

  1. This is quite interesting. Makes a person look at this differently. Thank you. My spouse has a lot of past wounds to heal. He has had a problem since 8 years of age. Sex was his security blanket, his coping mechanism. And you’re right, 30 or 40 years ago. Even 20. There was no such thing as sex addiction. Thx for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would think that sex addiction would cross all socio-economic groups, not just wealth people who HAVE homes they can mortgage. Sex addiction certainly can’t afflict only the wealthy. So I would guess some do end up in the “gutter” as with any other addiction.

    I personally have a very hard time dealing with addictions of any sort. I greatly admire your fortitude Kat. Don’t know if I could have done it. I’m hesitant because I don’t want to be judgmental because I really don’t know that much about addiction and have never been exposed to it or the repercussions of it. Reconciling after infidelity has been hard enough. I agree I’ve read too much. There’s just too much hurt and sadness so I’ve closed myself off and have very little to do with people other than my employees for which I have not other choice. Otherwise, I prefer and choose solitude.

    Sex addiction was one of the excuses my h reached for on DDay 2. I was frantic and yes all I could think of was Tiger Woods. Immediately started Googling sex re-hab places for him as though this was MY responsibility. I was crazy and frantic. But as we talked more and more I came to realize he was reaching for excuses and he’d read somewhere about sex addiction and well that sounded like a pretty good excuse to him. Of course he should have been reading about assholes because THAT is what he was not a sex addict.

    Look I have no idea if Tiger is or isn’t a sex addict. Don’t care. I have recently learned about the theory of Hedonic Adaptation and I think for some this theory applies to many men and women who cheat and who don’t care if they lose everything as they have so much. But not everyone who cheats is or isn’t a sex addict. If so I will run screaming for the next space shuttle to Mars!!!

    All that said Kat, I don’t doubt that you and BE truly believe that he is a sex addict and that is all that matters to me as your reader. And I respect your take and your healing process. Your writing has been a real source of healing and inspiration. I hope I give some back sometimes. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, TryingHard. I always appreciate your comments. What is so true is that we can only really deal with what is right in front of us, it’s all we should be dealing with I guess since infidelity is such a traumatic source of pain. My only issue with Tiger Woods is I don’t think anyone really understands who or what he is. I wish he had come out and said this is what I learned about myself… I’m a sex addict because of these factors, OR I am a hedonist, but want to change, or whatever. But because he didn’t speak publicly, it leaves it all up for the publicity mongers to pawn over. So, enough about Tiger.

      As always my point is not that all cheaters are sex addicts, of course. Neither BE or I had any idea on January 11, 2014 what sex addiction really was. I had never had the opportunity to think about it other than I stopped watching the show Californication because I heard that David Duchovny was a sex addict and I thought how can I support a show where he exploits gratuitous sex all day while suffering from some addiction. I never questioned whether the addiction was real or not. My point is that sex addiction is sorely misunderstood. And it doesn’t really matter whether people want to label themselves as sex addicts or not. The real issue is getting to the root of the why. Because there is a why. Why did someone cheat? Why did someone cheat repeatedly? Why does someone view porn and masturbate just to get through the day? Do they really feel good about their behavior? Why does someone see prostitutes when they having a loving and willing wife right at home? Are they trying to change their behavior? Are there resources to help them change their behavior? I don’t think it is as complicated or as dire as people would make it out. I think the trauma of infidelity is the same regardless of the why, but getting to the why is getting to the issue and hopefully, if we want to keep our marriages, it won’t continue happening.

      I do believe there are people who hit rock bottom with sex addiction and are living on the streets, just like any other addiction, but in my personal and limited experience it is no way the norm. The article led with such a story and my point was they did that in order to make it seem more “eccentric” maybe. People want to read about something, but they don’t want it to hit too close to home. There is no one in any of the meetings that my husband attends that is destitute from their sex addiction. Generally speaking they are all middle class men. I am sure there are people like the woman in the article. Just not the majority. Most people we have told the truth to have flat out said they don’t know any sex addicts and have never heard of anyone that knows one. That is because people don’t talk about it. If you asked any of my husband’s friends (that don’t know) or business associates I am sure they would laugh at the thought of him being a sex addict. He is just a normal guy, with a loving committed wife, two great kids, nice stuff, a solid business he created from nothing. He’s so grounded, why would he need to slink away with an old alcoholic hoarder and have quickie sex in her little run down house full of crap? We all live in our own little reality world, which sometimes just isn’t all that real. When the Ashley Madison list came out, one of our programming guys decided to take our contact database and run the emails through to see if any of them came up as AM users. They were shocked at how many did and who they were. Again, we cannot even begin to know what goes on with people.

      And I am talking about compulsive sexual behavior here, which my husband had, in spades, not a random mistake. I have been exposed to addicts and mental illness, so although I was so confused as to how my husband could do this to me, after he exposed his secret, I could see more clearly the signs that were there all along.

      I hope, all things considered, life is good for you, TH and that you are enjoying summer. Hugs back. ❤

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      • Awww it’s been a great summer. Going by too fast Went to Cali in June other than that home working like fools!!

        I understand the ignorance around sex addiction. I admit, I’m ignorant. I am NOT however judgmental with regards to such an affliction.

        There’s ignorance around infidelity in general. Everyone likes to blame the spouse that was cheated on. I guess it’s their way of ensuring that if they aren’t “like” us they won’t ever have a cheating spouse. It’s all so stupid.

        For crying out loud infidelity has been around since the beginning of time. When is it going to come out of the closet. Hell everything else has.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know you are not judgmental and I love it when people are inquisitive. Ignorance and judgment do seem to be the name of the game these days and it is difficult enough healing from the pain and humiliation of adultery without the whole world judging us, or better yet, blaming us. I know people are still saying, oh, she wants her husband to be a sex addict because at least she has an excuse for his horrible behavior. Nope. Not an excuse. It is still just as horrible as it was before he was diagnosed. This is merely a path to the resources for him not to be such a broken asshole. But the stuff he did, still horrifying.

          We had such a busy May, we have been pretty much hanging around home and watching the beach house slowly come together. We were supposed go to Austin and Tokyo last month, but too much business at home. That’s okay by me. I like hiding in my house. 😉 xx

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  3. Hi! I enjoyed reading this post. 😊 It was interesting and made me think as you put forward intelligent points. I do agree sex addiction is a convenient label to explain cheating, inappropriately. Different to true sex addiction. You make some good points. I was abused sexually as a child. Do you think my abusers may have been sex addicts? Urges which they inappropriately directed at children? Or were they just power crazed perverts? I know you are talking here about adult sex addiction, but I wonder how much it bleeds into child abuse too. Hmmm. Interesting 👍❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome. Your abusers may have been sex addicts, but they were definitely sex offenders. From what I know, some offenders are also sex addicts (but not all). My husband was sexually abused as was my sister who has been diagnosed as borderline personality disorder. My sister was abused multiple times by different people. I have no education in this area other than what I have experienced through people I know. Most likely the people doing the abusing were abused themselves and carry with them deep wounds, but it still doesn’t make it right. Lots of abused turn into abusers. I think most people are so unaware of the causes of their own behavior and trauma and rationalize and compartmentalize the behaviors and the reasons and the consequences. My husband used compulsive secret sexual behavior to cope with life because he never learned how to cope as a child or a young adult. There are examples in my husband’s 12 step group of men who were abused as children and have in turn abused children. It happens and it is criminal behavior. I can’t think of much worse than sexually abusing an innocent child. I guess the point of my entry is that sometimes what we read in magazines or articles, etc… just frankly does not come close to presenting the real issue at hand. Sex addiction is a complicated psychological beast and is not just about having a bunch of sex. I think some people suffering feel belittled and as if their behavior is a joke and no one else is like them or could understand them and they are humiliated and don’t seek help. Most don’t even realize sex addiction is a real thing. Thanks for your comment. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • What a fantastic answer! Wow, that is really enlightening thank you 😊 I may do a blog post on this topic at some stage so what you have said is good for stimulating ideas in me, fantastic! I don’t know much about it myself, I did psychology at uni but sex addiction and sexual abuse shockingly was not covered! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • Glad I could spark something. Honestly, I don’t even remember hearing regularly the term sex addiction until a few years ago and yet my husband has suffered from it for over 40 years. If he had been found out much earlier, I doubt sex addiction would have even been mentioned. He probably would have talked with a therapist about his compulsive behavior and not told the truth about most of it because it is humiliating and the cycle would have continued. I have commented a few times to people who don’t believe that sex addiction is real because it is not abuse of a substance, that it makes total sense to me. The drug is right there… especially the dopamine hits they get from even thinking about sex. It works on the stress of life that they never learned to deal with. With many people it is not even about the sex act. It is about the feelings they derive from someone paying attention to them, wanting them, and for my husband it was the hunt, some voyeurism thrown in, the grooming, the longer it took the better… the longer he could keep the high. xx

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