Upon experiencing the trauma of finding out that your partner is a sex addict, you will likely be grieving the loss of your relationship as it once was. You may have feelings of emotional numbness.
At other times, you may feel rage and sadness. The important thing is to seek help from a therapist experienced in treating sex addiction, as well as to connect with other partners who are able to relate to your experience, either through group therapy, or a 12-step group such as S-Anon or COSA.
Detachment is an important skill to learn. This does not mean that you put up walls and defenses. Instead, you take the time and space to heal from what has happened, by setting boundaries and focusing on yourself.
Detachment does not mean that you don’t care anymore; in fact, quite the opposite is true: Detachment is about learning to embrace having your reaction to the situation, and then responding in a way that evidences your self-care and healthy boundaries.
Placing the focus entirely on the addict and avoiding caring for yourself is an unhealthy coping method, though it can be a normal first response to discovering that your partner is a sex addict. With addiction, placing this kind of focus on the addict is not helpful for the partner nor the addict. It will allow the illness to consume both of your lives.
In recovery, we focus on ourselves and the healing process, while developing new, healthier coping tools. Finding your center and connecting with your spirituality in a supportive environment is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Engaging in healthy behavior patterns by cultivating positive activities and behaviors in your life is an achievable goal.
Addicts manipulate and shift attention from the behaviors they wish to keep secret when they are in active addiction. Over the course of time, these manipulations can be damaging to your self-esteem.
A major step in recovery is understanding that the addiction your partner has is not about you, and it is not your job to manage his or her recovery. In the recovery process, we learn to stop blaming and controlling others, risk trusting, and grieve our losses in a way that promotes emotional wholeness.
Whether you choose to stay in or leave the relationship, it is important to look at the addictive dynamics and the underlying causes that are present in the partnership. Being kind to yourself will be your greatest ally in recovery.