Am I in a Relationship with a Sex Addict?
Do you wonder if you are in a relationship with a sex addict? Here's a quick questionnaire to help you find out. Developed by Patrick Carnes et al. (2012), this test, called PATHOS, helps quickly identify whether or not your partner has problematic sexual behaviors. Answering "Yes" to 2 or more of the questions below may indicate that you partner has problematic sexual behaviors and you are in a relationship with a sex addict.
If you answered "Yes" to 2 or more of the questions below, you do not need to suffer alone! Your partner's problem impacts you greatly. Below is some information on what you are likely going through as a partner of a sex addict and how to get help and support.
1. Does your partner often find himself/herself preoccupied with sexual thoughts? (Preoccupied)
2. Does your partner hide some of his/her sexual behavior from you? (Ashamed)
3. Has your partner ever sought help for sexual behavior he/she did not like? (Treatment)
4. Have you been hurt emotionally because of your partner's sexual behavior? (Hurt)
5. Does your partner feel controlled by his/her sexual desire? (Out of control)
6. When your partner engages in sexual behaviors, does your partner feel depressed afterwards? (Sad)
Do you feel broken? Or feel that your heart has completely shattered? Are you questioning just about everything and feeling so much pain that you are not sure if you can handle it much longer? Let me help you find healing -- even if you are not sure that this will ever be possible. It is! There's healing and hope! Let's talk! Also, here are some facts you should now about your situation as a partner of a sex addict.
Partners of sex addicts experience extensive emotional and relational pain and trauma. They often feel intense difficult emotions, including anger, abandonment, rejection, loneliness, sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, worry, shame, and/or guilt. They often feel like their hearts are shattered when they learn of their significant other’s sex addiction, and feel betrayal trauma. Partners of sex addicts often consider themselves “victims of interpersonal relational trauma” (Corley, Schneider, & Hook, 2016).They often feel “less than” and concerned about their body image, personality, and sex. If you are feeling this way, than you are experiencing partner trauma, also called betrayal trauma. There is help and healing available for you, too -- even if you feel that your heart can't possibly be put together again.
If you are struggling with partner trauma -- or betrayal trauma -- you can benefit from therapy support. Research shows that therapy support can help partners overcome betrayal trauma (Corley, Pollard, Hook, & Schneider, 2013). Counseling is a safe place where you can talk openly about your emotions and thoughts and have support. The ultimate goal of counseling with partners of sex addicts is for the counselor to be a support to the partner in a difficult time and for the partner to eventually get to a spot where the partner is emotionally healthy, not dependent on whether the addict spouse or partner has become emotionally healthy or unhealthy. Group counseling is also highly effective for treating partner trauma. I highly recommend it.
If you are a partner of a sex addict, you do not need to suffer alone. Let's talk. Let me help you find healing!
Safeguarding the Home
It is important to safeguard your home. If a family member has a sex addiction, there is greater risk for the children in the home to become addicted to sex later on or become a partner of a sex addict later on. For this reason, it is important that you safeguard your home and teach healthy intimacy to your children. Read my handout on safeguarding the internet. If you have questions, feel free to contact me to schedule a session to discuss this important issue. Let's talk!
Carnes, P. J., Green, B. A., Merlo, L. J., Polles, A., Carnes, S., & Gold, M. S. (2012). PATHOS: A brief screening application for assessing sexual addiction. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 6(1), 29–34. http://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0b013e3182251a28
Corley, D.M, Pollard, S.E., Hook, J.N., & Schneider, J.P. (2013). Impact of disclosure of relapse for self-identified sexual addicts,
Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 20(3), 157-170.
Corley, D.M., Schneider, J.P. & Hook, J.N. (2016). Sex addiction, the partner's perspective: A comprehensive guide to understanding and surviving sex addiction for partners and those who want to help them. New York, NY: Routledge.
Do you have a specific question about partner trauma or treatment for partner trauma? Ask me.
If you are in an emergency or crisis situation, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.
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