Dear JoAnn,

l would like to share my story about my boyfriend’s Sex Addiction and get some feedback. The past two weeks in my life have been very hard and I have been ping ponging emotionally.
This November, if we make it, we will be my four year anniversary with my boyfriend. We met, dated a month and then I moved to another city. We dated two years long distance seeing each other one week a month up until January 2011 when he got a good job near me. I felt that was a blessing from God because I wasn’t sure we were going to make it if he hadn’t gotten the job close to me.
I am not an avid dater and it took me about 3 years before I was sure I wanted to marry him and we started talking about marriage.
This February he told me he thought he was a sex addict and had been spurred to recovery by a sermon from our pastor about sex addiction in october of last year. If he had not told me I would never have known. He told me it was internet porn and I asked him if he had ever physically cheated on me and he said no.
I guess maybe i’m naive but I had expected him to be masturbating and using porn while we were apart. I now understand how it was an emotional crutch and becoming a problem, internet porn on its own though is not a deal breaker for me. So I thought that knowing he hadn’t physically cheated on me was all I needed to know. Physical cheating to me was putting my physical health at risk and that is unacceptable to me.
Then in April he told me he had gone to a strip club, which confused me since that is not his ‘drug of choice’ if you will. This was confusing, but again was not something I had learned as wrong, boys will be boys, right? I now see why I was so wrong. I had not accepted him as an addict at that point I thought ‘he has a problem’ but to me that was different than an addiction. Then a week later he told me that in addition to going to club he had spent a $1000. This additional revelation was hard and like having to deal with the situation over again.
This past month has been rocky and we have been fighting a lot and it came to a head two weeks ago, we almost broke up over politics, of which we claim affiliation to different parties. We have never had such heated arguments over politics before and I could feel him shutting down. Then during the fight the sex addiction came up and I pushed disclosure. He had been telling me that he wants to figure out his first step and have disclosure before we could move forward and be married. I told him if I knew everything and we had a good relationship why was disclosure so important and why was it taking so long?
That’s when I found out that I didn’t know everything and that our arguments and the lack of forward motion largely stemmed from the fact that he was sure I was going to leave him so he was trying to put disclosure off. He also said he might have¬†subconsciously¬†been trying to sabotage the relationship to avoid disclosure all together. He then told me that during our relationship about a year ago he had started to have phone sex with his ex-girlfriend, he said he couldn’t remember how many times it happened, more than 10 less than 20. He stopped on his own and blocked her. Even though we lived in the same city at that point with his job at the time he was often gone 10 days, home for four. Not that, that is an excuse but it did make me feel better even though rationally I feel like it shouldn’t.
I saw the pain and emotion while he told me and I was able to forgive him and we moved forward. I realized right away that what I needed was complete honesty from him, so the more we talked about it the more I pushed honesty. I told him “I can deal with a lot but if you lie to me I can’t deal with it at all” and that’s when he told me had signed up for adult friend finder while we were still long distance. This disclosure triggered a week separation. I was hurt and confused and felt that though he had never put up a profile or emailed anyone that he was moving closer to my line of physical cheating.
This past saturday we met and I had a list of the things that I needed in order to remain in the relationship. I again pushed honesty and told him that I needed to know EVERYTHING, no more of this tid-bit here tid-bit there, or what I call breadcrumbs.
He thought about it and shook his head and I repeated I needed to know everything.
He then told me that two years ago while he was drunk at a party he tried to kiss a girl. This sent me into a tailspin. I had already begun forgiving him and now I had something new to process. For some reason this was the worst for me, some might think it would be the ex-girlfriend, but it wasn’t for me.
This new revelation was like my heart had been stabbed again. I’m sure the relationship is broken but I think i’m still trying to figure out if it is dead. I told him that I do not want to see him until he has finished his first step and disclosure. I can’t see him, I can’t pretend everything is alright if I don’t know everything. This breadcrumb stuff is killing me and slowly I think our relationship. Our four year relationship is now broken and I’m sure even if we decide to pick up the pieces, will still have some cracks, but am I re-piecing something that will only get broken again?
I am now more poised to leave him than ever before but I did not make the decision that I loved this person lightly. I have not been a big dater, have not wanted to date someone or let someone in as close as my boyfriend. It took me a year to think I loved him and another two before I thought I would marry him, all before I found this out.
This issue started before me and though has nothing to do with me it will directly affect me. I have finally put him in the addict box but still find it hard to lump him in with the stories I have heard about other sex addicts.
What scares me most isn’t the sex addiction but the part that it could all be a lie, all an act, all manipulation. Could this person I love be such a monster? Could those tears be fake? Would he do this again?
I find it all comes back to trust because I know that I will never be able to see it if it happens again, how could I? I missed it the first time. There is no way to know if someone you trust is lying to you without driving yourself crazy.
Are all sex addicts unrecoverable? Will they all lie again? Is there a spectrum? Is this just the beginning or the end?
At the moment i’m still playing emotional ping pong and i’d really like to put my racket down…