Partners of Sex Addicts May Wonder if they are Crazy or Codependent…But Are They?

  Category: Partners/spouses of Sex Addicts

If you feel like a “crazy,” “obsessive” or “controlling” wife or girlfriend after discovering an affair or any kind of sexual acting out, join the club! And guess what? Therapists working in sex addiction don’t view those behaviors as crazy, insane or codependent.

Trying to control your environment to feel safe after a betrayal is a normal reaction. It is a rational response when you feel your partner is lying to you and you are looking for answers. Misguided 12-step advice and out-of-date therapeutic theories for treating addiction told partners of sex addicts that there is something wrong with them, that they are sick for becoming “detectives” in an attempt to gain control over their relationship.

When you take a step back back and think about it, the purpose of this behavior makes sense. You are “safety-seeking” in response to feeling unsafe and blind-sided. Do these behaviors help to deter another affair from happening? Probably not. Trying to control someone else does not work long term. Ultimately it gives the injured person a false sense of security within the relationship and can also cause more anxiety and hurt. While the behavior is not helpful, it is also not “crazy,” “obsessive” or “controlling” and does not mean you are insane or codependent. It does mean that you are looking for safety. One important step you can take is to find the support of a therapist, group (or both) who will understand and validate your experience.

By Jaclyn Schwartz, MA, MFT,