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Living with a sex addict(37 Posts)
Hi, DH and I have been having counselling for a while due to relationship problems, largely caused by his utterly emotionless attitude to sex. We have what we both describe as an 80%/20% relationship. 80% of it has been great - we are great at parenting together, we have been excellent friends, we get on very very well. But the 20% (sex) has been a disaster - he has basically spent the past 16 years treating me like a piece of meat, and I have put up with it, because he had no understanding whatsoever of what the problem was, and so I had to choose to put up with it or leave.
Through counselling, DH is beginning now to have some understanding of this. He has realised he is a sex addict - he has had a huge addiction to porn and has an addiction to being aroused as though it is a 'high'. He is devastated by this realisation (he had no idea he wasn't 'normal') and is appalled at the damage he has done to us. He would do anything to save us, to learn how to make love - as opposed to screw - someone.
But I am also devastated. I think I coped for many years by denying to myself it was happening (I did this so as to survive). I am so so hurt by what he has done and I feel I can never never let him anywhere near me ever again. This is not like any other addiction - it has implicated me and destroyed something in me as well as something in him, and I feel like I can never ever be attracted to him ever again.
And I am so so sad, because he has been my best friend and we have four children and I cannot see a way forward for the marriage under these circumstances.
Is there anyone out there whose relationship survived sex addiction?
By "16 years treating me like a piece of meat, and I have put up with it" do you mean "16 years of me having to sex with him when I didn't want to and when I didn't enjoy it because the consequences of saying no would have been so bad?"
Consent under threat is not consent.
By "relationship survived sex addiction" do you mean "woman started feeling sexual attraction and love towards her live in rapist"
Yes. I have heard of that. Stockholm Syndrome.
That came across harsher than intended. Sorry. You are obviously struggling to accept your situation. It was probably unhelpful to you.
Are you both seeing a relationship counsellor together? Is the counsellor experienced in abuse?
I think you need your own counsellor who specialises in the after effects of long term sexual abuse.
Do you mean he sort of makes you have sex when you don't want to?
Or he makes you do things during that you'd rather not do, because he isn't capable of considering you are another human that he loves while he's having sex with you?
Oh gosh. I can quite see this is a huge thing to come to terms with, regardless what you choose to do in the future.
I have googled 'healing from husband's sex addiction' and these come up.
You aren't alone with this. I do feel for you
It sounds like sexual abuse has been reframed as sex addiction here somehow OP.
Of course you feel this way. You're coming to terms with the fact that you have been sharing your life, and yourself at your most vulnerable and intimate, with someone who essentially didn't view you as a full human being.
You are a full human being - with feelings, and deserving of respect - and anyone who doesn't treat you like one does not deserve the pleasure of your company.
He needs help from a specialist in sex addiction. However, it sounds like your pleasure or satisfaction has never been a concern of his.
Can he change that?
Do you want to be with her?
Is the love still there?
Some sex addicts can be cured. Most tend to have affairs, but that isn't the case here, so you do have a chance of making it if you want to give it a shot.
I think that you need counselling for yourself.
I also would advise you NOT to listen to MN on that one. It will be impossible for people on here to know whether it was sexual abuse or not. Anyone would need much more details than anything you will be posting on here (or dare to because this will be very personal) to be able to pass a judgement.
Fwiw I haven't been in that place but I have had sex with DH when I didn't want to. I did it because I was convinced I had to to be able to keep my husband (so maybe quite similar to what you have done).
It was damaging (I just didn't wantvhim to touch me at all)?but, slowly, very slowly, we gave rebuild our sexual relationship.
We started with cuddles and kisses. Touches during the day etc (ie NOT sex).
I would assume that fur you, there will be no moving forward until he has really understood what is happening and changed his ways.
I'm hoping you dont have sex anymore atm? If you are, my first step would be to stop
It's simply plain abuse.
OP, I am so sorry you have suffered at his hands, I hope you can make a life for yourself without having to carry him any longer, you can still be his friend but you don't have to stay married to someone that has this issue, sorry but it sounds to me like he has been abusing you.
For those saying this is not abusive, there is something I don't understand about this being called sex addiction.
In theory, you can be addicted to sex and still gain full active consent from a partner. You do not need to force someone / coerce someone into sex because you are addicted to sex, that just makes you an abuser, not 'just' an addict.
I don't understand why being a sex addict makes him abusive.
It sounds as if he is both a sex addict and an abuser.
But the 20% (sex) has been a disaster - he has basically spent the past 16 years treating me like a piece of meat, and I have put up with it,
This is a form of abuse, or do you call this a normal happy functioning relationship?
OP, if you really want to be with him tell him to come back to you once he has sorted out his major problem of not being able to treat another human being with any respect.
Ok, so -
This wasn't abuse as such because DH didn't know any different. He has been addicted to porn, to sex and arousal as a 'high'. Crucially, for him sex/arousal IS affection - he doesn't understand intimacy outside these parameters.
Because he doesn't understand any different, he doesn't know another way to be, it hasn't been abuse or coercion. He genuinely thought I felt the same way and genuinely thought he was being affectionate with me.
Now after many years of me trying to explain he has, through counselling, finally understood that he has an issue, and he is devastated by this, it has rocked his world and his opinion of himself to the core. He is appalled at the hurt he has caused me. He desperately wants to mend things.
At the same time I feel shut down. I cannot imagine ever having any physical relationship with him again (we have not had sex for a good while now). How can I ever find him attractive again?
And he has been my best friend and I am so hurt and so angry at life for visiting this upon me.
So I suppose I am just asking if anyone out there has been in a similar situation, and did they feel the same as me?
I spent a long time attempting to explain and attempting to show him but we spoke a different language - he thought he was showing love and affection and didn't realise he wasn't.
The point at which it all stopped was the point at which I told him I just couldn't have sex with him any more. At this point we went to counselling, and a couple of months down the line (after much discussion) he finally understood.
So - as far as the concept of abuse goes - and to be honest, the debate of whether it was or wasn't isn't really the point here, but:
He never intended any harm at all, quite the opposite. And, in retropsect, the way to get through to him was to stop having sex with him, and so long as I continued he didn't get the message that what he was doing was not ok.
But the effect on me has been probably fairly similar to someone who has been abused, and I think it may take me years to get over that. I just want to curl up in a corner somewhere and give myself a hug and never let go. I don't know how to heal.
"I spent a long time attempting to explain and attempting to show him but we spoke a different language - he thought he was showing love and affection and didn't realise he wasn't."
Oh, Maggie please read that back to yourself. He didn't listen to you. He ignored you. He abused you.
I am sorry but I cannot accept an adult who treated another like a piece of meat for 16 years had no idea they were not doing anything wrong.
I think you merely became so used to it you accepted it and have been making excuses for his appalling behaviour ever since.
Up to you OP, but there are men out there who don't treat women this way, addiction has nothing to do with showing respect for your fellow human being. You said yourself you have been putting up with it, you don't have to anymore, it's your life, you don't have to live it through someone who `supposedly` has no idea how to actually treat another person with love, kindness and respect, who would want him?
You sound incompatible, sexually speaking. End the marriage.
He sexually abused you for 16 yrs and you put up with it because the rest of the time he was great. He ignored your efforts to talk about it. Don't you think if he really cared about you he'd have listened to you in the first place? Yeah I bet he's 'devastated'. Devastated that you won't have sex anymore. And not as devastated as you, nowhere near. And now you're just lining up excuses for him! Is he the kind of person who's 'great' when everything's going thier way?
Do yourself a favour and find a partner who respects you.
Hang on, in your OP you state that you both agreed 20% of your marriage was a disaster and that that 20% was sex. So he KNEW the sex was wrong and still carried on! Jeez!
Who has diagnosed this so-called sex addiction? Why did it take the form of abusive sex? He could have wanted/needed sex very frequently without it having to be such a degrading experience for you. Why are you so convinced it is an addiction and not just the fact that he liked using you for sex?
Op, maybe you should ask your therapist if they know any forums/ help groups where you can seek opions from people with similar experiences - seems to me the posters here, rather like your husband, are not listening to what you want.
You tried over and ove to tell him his behaviour wasn't right - but you also say he didn't know for 16 years?
I'm sorry op - he was choosing not to listen to you. He knew - or he would have known if he had listened to you and treated you like a human equal. It was sexual abuse. Sorry.
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