How to know if you are married to a sex addict in 12 easy steps

On any given day, a well-stocked newsstand is likely to have a magazine or two with a preview that reads something like this: “Are you cheating? How can you know for sure?” The signs of adultery are often the same and include a sudden interest in grooming and fitness, long nights at the office, a new cell phone password, and changes in the frequency of your sex life.

But infidelity does not necessarily mean that the cheating partner is a sex addict. While the warning signs of an affair may indicate a sex addiction, these twelve signs may indicate that an affair is simply part of the larger problem of sex addiction.

  1. A crossover with other addictions. Because addiction is a physiological dependency on brain chemicals stimulated by drugs or addictive behavior, the body reacts to drugs, alcohol, or sex in the same way. And because an effective way to stop addictive behavior is to replace it with something else, addicts frequently switch from one addiction to another. So if a person who has had an affair suddenly develops a dependency on alcohol, it could very well be a replacement of one addiction for the other.
  2. Lying. Yes, cheaters band together to cover up their business. But addicts take lying to new levels. If a spouse claims to have ended an affair, but is still secretive and shady and unwilling to be completely transparent with his partner, it might be time to suspect addiction.
  3. Chaos. The first step in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is to realize that life has become unmanageable. A person who loses their wallet every third day, whose car has as much junk as Yankee Stadium after a double header, and who can’t seem to pay their water bill, could be battling an addiction.
  4. inexplicable rage. A husband who loses his temper because his wife forgot to pick up his dry cleaning and doesn’t put dinner on the table on time may feel guilty about his plans to meet her mistress later that night. Or he might be angry that he couldn’t get the dose from her. Anger is a legitimate emotion, and happily married couples will argue and fight. But exaggerated anger that seems to come out of nowhere is often a sign of a guilty conscience.
  5. Absence. Simply put, a spouse who doesn’t see the need to be with family is probably seeing the need to be with someone else. And the absence does not have to be purely physical. A spouse who is emotionally withdrawn is most likely invested elsewhere.
  6. The will to lose everything. A cheater wants to have his cake and also lick the frosting. An addict, however, can get so lost in the addiction that he seems willing to give up everything he loves for one more. Of course, even an addict will claim to love his spouse very much and want the marriage to work. The hard part is looking beyond the lips and seeing what is really in the heart. Rilke said: “A person is not who he is during the last conversation he had with her. He is who he has been throughout her relationship.”
  7. sexual neglect. I probably looked like Charlie Brown, slumped shoulders, banging my head against the wall, when my husband told me this: “You have to give me credit for one thing: I stopped having sex with you when the affair started.” Enough talk.
  8. Blame. Addicts refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Interestingly, guilt is also what perpetuates addiction because we cannot fix a situation for which we are not responsible.
  9. Suspicion. Remember the old playground taunt: “Whoever sniffed it dealt it”? But “it takes one to know one”? It is the same with guilt. Because we see through the lens of who we are, addicts are often mistrustful of others.
  10. Multiple cases. An affair does not necessarily mean that a marriage is doomed. We all make mistakes sometimes. But a second, third and fourth adventure? Serial cheating is an almost certain sign of sex addiction.
  11. Climbing. The nature of addiction is that it requires bigger hits for the same high. If the bad behavior becomes increasingly bizarre, sex addiction is a very real possibility.
  12. Obsession. Obsession and compulsion are trademarks of an addictive personality. Someone who seems to be overly obsessed with one idea or activity one day and jumps to a completely different object of interest the next could have a tendency towards addiction.

Of course, these signs cannot be used to professionally diagnose sex addiction. But being aware of them, especially in combination with marital problems, can help distinguish between an affair and a sex addiction.

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