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Sex addiction for a partner brings up feelings of ‘I’m not good enough’ and ‘He doesn’t want me’, but it’s not about the sex, it’s about the dopamine fix.
Once they understand the nature of the addictive drive, sometimes they’re able to move into self-care.” Rosendale’s anecdotal research reveals that a third of those partners seeking help decide to stay in the relationship, while a further third leave and the final third “remain stuck”.
Nobody is suggesting partners should stay, she stresses. But even then, they need support with rebuilding trust and reclaiming their sexuality.” Rachel agrees.
“Much as my husband tried to stop his behaviours by understanding the nature of sex addiction, he wasn’t willing to delve into the cause.
Eight years into her marriage, Rachel started to wonder if her husband had lost interest in sex.
“He’d always go to bed later than me and often made excuses when I brought it up,” explains the 41-year-old.
“So when he sat me down one day to tell me he was a sex addict, I actually laughed – although I soon stopped when he disclosed night upon night of watching pornography for hours on end and numerous short-lived affairs.
My life fell apart.” Sex addiction hurts partners in a way that no other addiction can, says Paula Hall, who has written a book on the subject.
No wonder many partners suffer trauma, which can lead to depression, anxiety and panic attacks, rage or utter dissociation.
“The reality of the Western world today means you can find anything you desire easily and anonymously.
Indeed, you can find a whole load of stuff you don’t desire, but get hooked nonetheless,” she says.
Rosendale starts each 12-week support group by educating the women about sex addiction.
“One of the points of this group is to depersonalise it.