For most partners, discovering your spouse’s sexually compulsive behavior spins your world out of control. In a split second your reality is shattered and your sense of safety and trust is gone. It can feel like everything you thought you knew and could count on has been ripped away; leaving you with overwhelming confusion and the heart-wrenching pain of betrayal.
Many partners describe experiencing a loss of self-esteem, stress, depression, inability to trust, a reduced ability to enjoy sex and romance, along with acute stress and anxiety symptoms characteristic of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Typically, this manifested in one or more of the following ways:
Emotional instability, including frequent mood shifts, over-the-top emotional reactions, tearfulness, rage, etc., sometimes followed by feelings of intense love and a desire to “make it work.”
Hypervigilant behaviors (detective work), such as checking phone and credit card bills, wallets, computers, phone apps, texts, and the like for evidence of continued infidelity.
Anxiety, depression, loss of self-esteem, and other mood-related symptoms.
Being easily triggered into mistrust of the cheating partner; common triggers included the cheater coming home five minutes late, turning off the computer too quickly, looking “too long” at an attractive person, etc.
Going on the attack by “lawyering up,” spending money to punish the addict, telling the kids age-inappropriate information about what the addict did, etc.
Sleeplessness, inability to wake up, and/or nightmares.
Difficulty focusing on day-to-day events, such as picking the kids up from school, work projects, maintaining a home, etc.
Overcompensating by trying to lose weight, dressing provocatively, etc.
Obsessing about the betrayal and struggling to stay “in the moment.”
Avoiding thinking about or discussing the betrayal.
Emotionally escapist use of alcohol, drugs, food, spending, gambling, etc.
(Schneider, J. P., R. Weiss, and C. Samenow. 2012. “Is It Really Cheating? Understanding the Emotional Reactions and Clinical Treatment of Spouses and Partners Affected by Cybersex Infidelity.” Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity 19 (1–2): 123–39.)
Links & Resources
'Drained' is a conceptual artistic telling of the story of how a man's addictions can destroy the woman he loves. Directed by Nick Peterson Produced by Nick Peterson & Jon Heder Adam Boalt, Leslie Rose Director of Photography Chris Saul Music by Chris Bacon. Please Note: Some viewers may find the content disturbing. Follow the link to YouTube to watch.