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Couples who make it work generally take a three-pronged approach, says Hall.

“First, the addict goes into recovery on their own to work out causes and develop relapse prevention strategies.

“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.

“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.

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.

Also providing a haven of hope is the small, but growing, number of support groups.Second, the partner has to feel stable again, as well as understanding the addiction and working out what they want the relationship to look like in the future.Third, the couple works together on the renegotiation of the boundaries in the relationship.” While some sex addicts move on, other partners must recognise that they’ll be living with someone in recovery for the rest of their life, says Hall.Traditionally, most partners of sex addicts have been treated as co-dependents, says Hall.“The presumption is that the partner knew at some level what was going on and was ‘enabling’ it, which is frankly an insult.

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