What Are Your Rights As a Partner of a Sex Addict?

by Tia Strong, LPC, CSAT-Candidate

Your mind is reeling and overwhelmed, possibly even resistant to letting it all in. Your spirit feels as nauseated and gaping as your stomach. The alternating waves of fear, pain, and anger have induced a persistent experience of survival that you are certain has disintegrated what is left of your nervous system. You are the partner of a sex addict. You feel ex-communicated from what you believed was your life and you feel entirely alone. You are experiencing shame and a sense of inadequacy. Perhaps you even feel duped. However, you are not alone. This path has been walked before you, will be walked after you, and has other travelers on it just like you seeking recovery.

Those who value monogamous relationships will understand a spouse’s desire to separate from a partner who simply cannot commit to monogamy. However, if that partner’s infidelity stems from a disease ― specifically, sexual addiction ― many spouses feel conflicted by a competing desire to help his/her partner find help and to leave the partner who has been deceptive and unfaithful. This discord often leaves spouses of sex addicts feeling guilty and powerless, but the truth is that partners have just as many rights in their relationships as their addict partners do.

Like many other journeys, this one too will include pits, valleys, roads less traveled, and mountains. You will encounter many emotions- some you are familiar with and others not so much. You will encounter decisions – some that will inspire growth and healing and others that will challenge your spirit (but still lead to insight and growth). Nevertheless, you are not alone and you still have rights that belong to you.

At this point, maybe you are curious as to what it is you have left, let alone what you have rights to, or maybe a wave of anger is present and you are thinking, “Ohhhh, I’m going to exert these rights with more conviction than I have for my constitutional ones!” So, what are they?

” You Have a Right to the Truth – Authenticity with yourself and with your partner.
” You Have the Right to Be Angry – Something you value is being challenged and the authentic you feels anger. Anger can be healthy and healing.
” You Have the Right to Cry when you are in Pain – Cry! If crying aligns with what you are feeling allow yourself to feel and sob if you need to. Vulnerability is not weakness, it is the courage to be human.
” You Have the Right to Stay.
” You Have the Right to Leave.

In order to navigate these rights, it is important to surround yourself with a support network that will help you navigate them in an unbiased way. That said, a friend partial to you exiting the relationship or your partner who is invested in their own operations is most likely not someone able to provide you authentic support. It may not feel safe to share with family members whom you fear may judge you or your partners if you choose to stay in the relationship and pursue a process of recovery together. Having unbiased support during this time is crucial to your wellbeing and recovery – this is where individual counseling, group therapy, and 12-Step recovery can be not only a lifeline in such a solitary experience, but also an empowering gift when you feel powerless.

CCIA offers individual and weekly group therapy for Partners of Sex Addicts and those whom have experienced Infidelity. All therapists at CCIA are Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSAT), certified by the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). You can find more information about meeting with and scheduling an appointment with a therapist on our website at: http://cciadallas.org.

We also highly recommend COSA, a 12-Step support group for Partners of Sex Addicts. In our area, there are three meetings a week sponsored by the 12th Step Ministry (https://twelfthstepministry.org). Meetings are held at the Center for Spiritual Development on Northwest Highway in Dallas.