How to raise a sex addict
For years, the best thinking on sex addiction said that the life partner of an addict was by definition a co-addict, or codependent on an addict. This meant basically that the responsibility for the dysfunctional relationship was shared between the addict and his partner. The addict acted out, but the co-addict enabled the addict to act out. Therefore both needed to do deep work, primarily 12-step, if the relationship was to heal.
This model has some merit (and we'll be discussing it in future posts), but it has also hurt many a partner who discovered to his horror that his loved one had been leading a double life, only to find himself being dragged into the therapy room as a co-conspirator: "So what's your role in your partner's acting out behavior?" Trauma plus shaming does not equal recovery.
Things have changed. Dr. Barbara Steffens, a counselor with more letters after her name than a can of alphabet soup, some years ago helped develop a new view of the relationship between a sex addict and his or her partner. (We feature her signature book on our Resources page.) Called the Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model, it posits that the partners of sex addicts are primarily victims of their partner's acting out behaviors. To be sure, Steffens has opened a new vista in the understanding of sex addiction.
One of Steffens' colleagues, Ella Hutchinson, has written a insightful post for our partners at Covenant Eyes about the key ways that children get their start as sexually compulsive persons. We urge you to take a look even if you're not a parent. It may open your eyes as to how you got your start, due to circumstances beyond your control.