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#298799 - 08/11/09 12:08 AM sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions
honey girl Offline
Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 245
Loc: Midwest US
Hi, everyone.

Definitely a difficult period for many of us--realizing what we *thought* we could count on wasn't really there. Or else realizing that what we thought we could do without, was far more important than we ever believed.
On the other hand: we're still here, still sticking up for ourselves. That's essential.
I know there are a lot of threads out on the Survivors' forums about Sexual Addiction (and the various forms that "acting out" can take, especially sexually). I've looked at a few and will continue to search back. There's a lot of good information available! But I am launching this one in the hope that others will add observations on both ends, and that perhaps others will find this useful.

These are some of the red flags I noticed, but (mostly) chose to ignore, over the course of five years of increasing intimacy between my BF and me:

--quickly closed chat windows, with suggestive conversation
--someone else's sexy underwear in his briefcase
--many unannounced and unexplained absences, sometimes for days at a time
--habitual secrecy around his phone use and web/email use
--denial of visiting porn sites when they popped up on my computer
--excessive intimacy with alleged exes, in my presence
--excessive flirtation (also in my presence) with unknown women
--unexplained and excessive expenses, after we were sharing finances to some extent
--consistent expressions of being "unworthy" of me
--MONTHS and MONTHS of low libido, even outright refusal of sex (18 months at one stretch)
--condom wrappers (both unopened and opened) after we had agreed not to use them with each other
--disappearance on a holiday with a bogus excuse--so that he could spend it with an "ex"
--a laundry tag on a shirt with an "ex's" name on it
--discouragement of my presence at certain public events so that I would not encounter an "ex"
--general compartmentalization of his social circles, and definite exclusion of me from some of his oldest ones (except for family)
--chronic mis-remembering of details that I had told him about me, and a patchy memory about our life together
--persistent reluctance to acknowledge me and our relationship in public to match what he was telling me in private

This is a pretty discouraging list, I see, and though I was aware on some level most of the time that things were not right, I also rationalized much of this away.
--I believed his explanations and accepted his excuses.
--I did not take advantage of opportunities to confirm his story, or to call him out on discrepancies.
--I did not insist on consistently loving and respectful behavior toward me--not changing according to the audience or context.
--I did not insist on better communication about our sexual distance, feeling that he needed "space" and I didn't deserve more attention in that regard.
--Even in a couples' therapy context, I was too timid to raise the chronic concerns that I had--some of them for years!--because I was not sure what I would do in response to any answer.

Now, I am beginning to figure out, slowly, what I was "gaining" in response:
--diversion from attending to my own issues
--distraction from my own frustrations and feelings of failure
--to some degree, satisfaction in being the "stable" or reliable one
--to some degree, I hate to admit, a measure of validation of my own deep-seated belief that men are "like this"--that is, they typically treat women badly--and that I didn't deserve any better than this anyway.

None of this is fun to look at. But it IS better to acknowledge it and to come as clean about it as possible.

It is a mystery to me now and probably will always be--how much of this is "mutual". On the other hand: we are both, separately and together, getting better at long last--precisely because I finally had the courage to accept the opportunity that he made available to me, consciously or not, and I said Enough. This must stop--or we are done forever. And (ironically) also precisely because we had already struggled through so much together, and had become stronger almost in spite our ourselves. We have a reasonable chance of surviving this upheaval, together (and if not together, then no real worries either), which would not have been true even a few months before the disclosure. We wouldn't have been able to stay together, and our separation would have been far more challenging for each of us to endure.

It's not hopeless, dealing with sexual addiction. But it is seriously hard work.
Comments? Additions to these observations? All welcome, with my thanks.

Peace,
HG





Edited by honey girl (08/11/09 09:57 AM)
_________________________
I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger, a million miles away from home.

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#298848 - 08/11/09 01:29 PM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: honey girl]
DJsport Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1742
Hi, HG.

As you may or maynot know I am survivor. I have been both married and with a male partner. I am currently single. I have been on both sides of the fence as the male partner.

I give you a big pat on the back for enduring this.

Having been a formerly married man who did all of the above activities and wrong hurt my ex-wife, I would say haven't you been through enough.

As soon as my ex-wife found out and then confronted me, I could no longer continue the lies.

My ex-bf freaked out when I started having the flashbacks and left. I wanted/needed him to stay but in hind site it has been better - but this is another topic.

Kudos to you for sticking this out especially if you and him are getting better and are in "love". If you two are at peace with each and have fun together.

Peace,
DJ

_________________________
Live to your fullest potential

Never make someone a priority if your only an option

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#298907 - 08/11/09 10:43 PM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: DJsport]
honey girl Offline
Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 245
Loc: Midwest US
Dear DJ,

Thanks for your reply and for the good wishes. I appreciate them.

You said,
"As soon as my ex-wife found out and then confronted me, I could no longer continue the lies." (sorry not to format)

That's the raising-the-bottom idea in action, it seems. Once she drew the line, you responded. And it is in many ways the lying that's the worst--because I do realize that fundamentally the betrayals weren't about me. The lying that he did to me, did to himself, was the most damaging part of it all.

We are (all of us) worth the truth. We all deserve respect and encouragement to be our best selves.

We are all on this journey to learn and to grow, and we need all the support we can get!

Peace,
HG

_________________________
I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger, a million miles away from home.

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#298910 - 08/11/09 10:53 PM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: honey girl]
honey girl Offline
Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 245
Loc: Midwest US
I am thinking that I buried my "lede" with my original post. My goal was not to produce this long list of how I was mistreated to complain about what I suffered--but to point out that I did tolerate a lot of stuff that really is not healthy to have tolerated at all, because something in me derived some satisfaction from it.

This is of course part of what several of the long-time commenters have been gently suggesting, also: if we really want to have a good and nurturing relationship, mutually beneficial, then we the F & F need to look at ourselves to see what's amiss in our own behavior and attitudes.

I'm not at all saying that I (or anyone else) somehow deserved to be treated disrespectfully, or that I contributed to his acting out. I am saying that there were ways in which his behavior was--painfully and ironically enough--just what I expected from someone who would be interested in me. My sense of self wasn't so great to begin with, in other words, when I started this relationship and my ideas about what "life" is supposed to be like were very pessimistic. The really, truly odd thing is that I am more solid now than I ever was...thanks in part to my relationship (as imperfect as it most certainly has been).

I hope this clarifies my original intent. I should add that to some extent I am responding indirectly to a post by Zinnia in the Introduction thread, asking why it is that the F & F don't often discuss what the underside of recovery can entail for the partners. It's not at all neat and tidy.

Peace,
HG

_________________________
I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger, a million miles away from home.

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#298964 - 08/12/09 09:56 AM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: honey girl]
MPackard Offline


Registered: 12/09/08
Posts: 43
Loc: MS
Honey...wow, great topic!!! It seems that you've come such a long way! I'm working diligently with Al-Anon and my T to go that far, I congratulate you.


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#298967 - 08/12/09 11:19 AM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: honey girl]
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
Quote:
if we really want to have a good and nurturing relationship, mutually beneficial, then we the F & F need to look at ourselves to see what's amiss in our own behavior and attitudes


honey girl! recovery in the f&f forum!? whodduh thunkit?

your list imho should be made sticky at the top of this forum so people who come here can, upon looking into it, immediately recognize the face of deceit, and save themselves a lot of wasted time, pain suffering and self-delusion, and begin right away to take the steps necessary to end the life of lies that came about as a result of the experience of having been sexually victimized.

f&f do have un-equal responsibility when it comes to determining deal-breaking behavior, and your post reminds people to become aware, sooner rather than later, of their own portion. but it takes courage to face the truth as you have done here. recovery is not easy for either side; it's a two way street. but so often we see good people dragging their feet to delay the inevitable in order to save both face and a**.

who wants to become the next statistic in an ever growing list of dead relationships? the threat of loss of lifestyle and comfort is far too daunting to risk, and so people just keep hanging on or in, sometimes pretending that things are not as bad as they seem, or that things will get resolved sooner or later somehow, someway, and everyone will live happily ever after 'one day'. in the meantime all the peripheral characters involved suffer the starving loss of real nurture and trust, while lives plough forward on automatic, driven surreptitiously by regulatory patterns into a proverbial brick wall.

i, like dj, got married, believing, what i had been spoon fed all my life, the notion that marriage was the cure all for selfish living. my own problem at the time had been misdiagnosed, and of course i sought to hide in marriage, thinking that to focus on the family was the supreme act of self-sacrifice, and such heroics would ultimately eliminate all personal distress. 'the two shall become one'. but that can't happen unless each of the separate individuals involved are whole within themselves in the first place. children are brought into the situation and take focus off of the dis-ease between the couple and eventually both become color blind to the red flags that, as you pointed out crop up at every twist and turn.

this was my legacy of abuse. and the ones who suffered the most, were the most innocent, the children. there came a point in the miserable 7 years of 'marriage' that i realized that the relationship we were modeling for them was not good, and so i left the relationship, and chose to deal with my own dis-ease personally without any further collateral damage, and freed my [ex]wife to go on and try to pick up the pieces of her life while she still had time to build something significant. it was not easy to do, but i am glad i did, because now my children, who are now adults, and i have a very good relationship and a level of love and trust that i think anyone who had survived a destroyed marriage would be grateful and proud to have. and most importantly, they no longer have to drag around the ball and chain of 'WHY' in their own lives. my history no longer affects their future.

f&f people have my deepest regards and sympathy cry who better than survivors know the pain and difficulty, the sheer energy it takes to maintain appearances, while yet secretly striving to get those straw needs met that are part of the legacy of abuse: alcoholism, addictions, obsessive complusive behavior, porn etc. f&f are slow to understand that the mechanics of the substantial life of their survivor has been on pause all these years, and so they do all kind of acrobatics in an attempt to stoke it, forcing the means to justify the end in a futile emotional/psychological game of cat and mouse.

heavenly daze, what a sad state of affairs! luckily for us, you have shown that to admit and accept is both necessary and essential for moving forward in the act of 'recovery'.

all the best,

ron

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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#299002 - 08/12/09 04:19 PM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: Sans Logos]
aam Offline


Registered: 07/22/09
Posts: 9
what a great post, Honey Girl & Ron! i know i try to be very cognizant that i am not projecting my issues onto my bf. very important. and that's why i still see my therapist 2x a month. she's a helpful reminder :-)

aam
xoxo


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#299033 - 08/12/09 08:19 PM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: aam]
riz Offline


Registered: 10/07/08
Posts: 123
Hi,

This is wonderful what you have done Honey Girl, the details of what you discovered about yourself in the process of recovery. You're right. We talk vaguely about working on "our own issues" but you have put it right out there in black and white. That took courage and careful thought and introspection. It will no doubt act as a guide and also give others the courage to see the truth and accept the situation for what it is.

I thought about starting a new thread for what I am about to say next. Don't mean to hijack your topic. I hope it is ok here. I think it is relevant: I just want us to remember that many (most?) of the partners arrive here in F&F in the absolute first stage of recovery, or pre-recovery...that is, still largely ignorant about what is really happening or in denial, desperately trying to keep their minds and lives together to get through the next day. Their recovery is a process, no less than is the recovery of a survivor.

And sometimes that is a slow process. People need to take steps and make realizations at their own pace. I hope you will correct me, Ron, if I am wrong in thinking I heard from you a little bit of a judgement of partners who do not quickly catch on and "just get over it", or worse yet, hang on and deliberately provoke their husbands/boyfriends for their own selfish purposes. Please tell me that is not what you meant to say?!

love,
Riz


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#299037 - 08/12/09 08:51 PM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: Sans Logos]
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16264
Wow! This thread is very powerful in so many ways. Maybe I can add a little as well, I don't know, but will at least give it a try.

To begin I too want to begin with the same quote from honey girl that Ron used:

Quote:
if we really want to have a good and nurturing relationship, mutually beneficial, then we the F & F need to look at ourselves to see what's amiss in our own behavior and attitudes


My wife and I are both CSA survivors. Each of us came into the relationship with a lot of serious baggage. Early on in our dating life it became obvious or should have that there were some deal stoppers on both our parts but neither of us saw them or if we saw them we didn't recognize them for what they were. The point is that now, all these years later with so much dysfunction gone as water under the bridge neither of us can truly say that we had no idea. We cannot truly say that each others problems were a complete surprise because the signs WERE there.

So what was it, what IS it that allowed me to enter a relationship with a broken victim of incestuous CSA? What was it that made me willing to overlook or not
"see" what should have been relationship deal breakers? What was it that caused her to do the same thing where I was concerned?

Is it not our own brokenness that blinds us to the things that otherwise would throw red flags? Without that brokenness would we really choose to enter into a committed relationship that can only bring heartache and pain due to the dysfunctions involved?

So honey girl is 100% correct in her statement. The only real way of mending the relationship begins with addressing our own dysfunctions. We can do nothing about the other person's dysfunctions other than show them love and compassion and that MUST begin with addressing our own shi*. It's just gotta! It's NOT hopeless. It just takes hard work geared toward healing on the part of both individuals in the relationship.

That's how I see it anyhow.

_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#299039 - 08/12/09 08:57 PM Re: sexual addiction? red flags & hard questions [Re: riz]
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
Quote:
I hope you will correct me, Ron, if I am wrong in thinking I heard from you a little bit of a judgement of partners who do not quickly catch on and "just get over it", or worse yet, hang on and deliberately provoke their husbands/boyfriends for their own selfish purposes


riz, i looked through the paragraphs i typed and i could not find reference to the above quote. paragraphs 4 and 5 focused on my own direct experiences. so somewhere in paragraphs 1,2,3 and 6 i seem to have left you with the impression expressed in the quoted section.

perhaps you can enlighten me on what it was i said exactly that led you to interpret my words to in such a manner. i know i can be pretty dense sometimes.....

thanks,

ron

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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