Can He Change?

Another story of a sex addict husband using prostitutes and a wife who wonders if he can change.

Hi, I feel at a loss right now and would massively appreciate the support of anyone who has been in my situation. I found out last June that my H had been using prostitutes. I saw the numbers on his phone and then the cash withdrawals from our joint bank account.

He broke down and admitted that he had seen prostitutes 8 times. He said he started to watch porn at work in January for the thrill of being caught and in March he then started to use prostitutes.  I was devastated. We have a child together – he was 9 months old when I found old.

I left him straight away and moved in with my parents. I went through every emotion, anger (a lot!), hurt, sadness, grief, feeling like it was my fault. My F&F (I only told a few close people) supported me but after 3 months they were keen for me to make a decision on whether to go back to him or not. I just couldn’t, I felt paralysed, like my whole world had fallen apart and I was trapped in this state of purgatory.

I then decided in the October (so 4 months after I found out about the prostitutes) I would move back in with him half the week so he could see more of our son and it would give my elderly parents a break from having me and my son there. I made it clear to my H that coming back was not us getting back together.

He decided to go to a counsellor to get some help. He went for about 8 sessions. I also suggested that we go to couples counseling as when we were talking about it we just kept having the same conversations and weren’t getting anywhere. Again, I said this doesn’t mean we are getting back together, it’s a way to explore whether we can discuss what has happened and take it from there.

My husband started to see another counsellor within this time period also. He went to his brother’s for Christmas and me and my son stayed with family. I struggled through Christmas, missing him loads and towards the end of December I said I would give it a try to stay at the house for longer than 3 nights – I decided I would stay for a couple of weeks to see how we got on.

A couple of days later I checked his phone and saw that a payment had been made to an old bank account that he told me he had closed. I asked him about this and he said that he never closed the account and that actually he is in nearly £2K debt. He then revealed that he also used that bank account to pay for prostitutes. So telling me he had only used them 8 times was a lie. It seems he went quite a lot – sometimes 2 or 3 times a week  for about 7 months. It seems that he managed not to use them when me and my son returned part time to the house – for about 2 months and then he had a bit of a relapse and went and got a massage at a dodgy parlour.

This revelation then shattered my trust again in him. I thought I knew everything and that he had been honest with me but then I find it was worse than I thought. I should also point out that in June I did a little digging and found out that he had a fling with a work colleague in the months leading up to our wedding (2 years ago) (no sex but flirty emails and texts and kissing) – he even invited her to our home the night before our wedding which just kills me. It also transpires that 2 years after we met he had a flirty relationship with another colleague at work although I’m not sure whether anything physical actually happened.

I guess I’m wondering whether you think he has a Sex Addict? I put it to him but he said he hasn’t seen a prostitute in 8 weeks and if he had an addiction wouldn’t he be having withdrawal symptoms? IS that a thing with Sex Addiction?

He seems to be responding well to his counsellor and told me that he decided that whether I decide to stay with him or leave him, he is committed to changing himself and the way he handles stress and negative emotions – that to me sounded positive.

I have been in utter turmoil for the last 9 months about whether to stay or leave and our couples counsellor said we really need to make a decision so we can move one way or another so I decided to give this relationship another chance. Since I made that decision I have been feeling really panicked and edgy and feel like I’m shivering all the time (I know that sounds odd!). He sounds very genuine in his intent to change but I have this feeling that he might be ok for a few months, maybe even years but then someone might happen and he will go back to this other world of prostitutes.

Could anybody who has been or is going through something similar shed any light on whether you think he has a SA and if so, whether these men ALWAYS relapse or whether this could have been a short episode of addiction which is very possible to break and move forward with? I feel like at the moment all I do is think about this. I want my son to have a stable, happy and healthy life (and Mum) and I question whether that’s possible with my husband, or whether that’s just fear and mistrust taking over my brain! Thanks so much – I would really appreciate any thoughts/words of wisdom/advice.

Responses

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  1. My heart aches every time I get an e-mail or hear these types of stories in the forums of the Sisterhood. Each and every woman’s pain is unique, unfortunately the stories are not. The lies, the betrayal, the staggered disclosures that the man swears is the last and final and complete truth. The hope, trying again, the eventual realization (that always comes) that the hope is baseless.

    I wish I had better words for these women; words of hope for their relationships. But, after over a decade of living my own pain and trauma of shattered hope and, after hearing thousands of stories from women who have also realized that the only hope lies within themselves and how they cope with the situation, I cannot offer false hope that these men can change.

    The behaviors that these men engage in is not an addiction, these behaviors are traits of personality disorders. To name and treat these behaviors as an addiction does a great disservice to these disordered individuals as well as their families and the people they abuse. These behaviors are abuse.

    Personalities are formed at a very young age and are composed of a complexity of genetic and environmental factors. We cannot change the core of who we are no matter how much we want to. Yes, we can make significant changes in some of our behaviors but our core values are fixed.

    The ability to lie and lead a double life; the capacity to use and abuse others for personal gratification, without empathy or concern, and the lack of conscience and controls over impulses are not traits of a normal personality. ~ JoAnn

  2. I’m not convinced sex “addiction” exists other than as an easy out for someone who likes to indulge beyond marriage or a supposedly committed relationship. I’ve had male friends say “that’s just the way men are”, and a psychologist tell me “it’s just masturbation with a female form”. Also, in my experience, they don’t stop what they are doing and they don’t stop lying about it. If it starts at the beginning or early in a relationship, it seems clear to me that the relationship means very little to him (or her). Miracles do happen of course, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    1. I don’t expect to convince you, but SA most certainly does exist. I am a recovering addict. I was addicted from about age 10 to age 30. I was cheated on by most girls I dated, but I never once cheated on any of them. My SA took the form of pornography addiction, rather than real sexual activity. Everyone is different. Just because some hide behind the term, please don’t dismiss those of us who actually do suffer from it.

  3. I would have to agree that after many years of hoping and going to counseling and him going through many sessions of of trying to beat this that it I’ve never heard it before call the Personality Disorder .so it was a reassuring that he did is something that was developed at a very early age this pattern and eventually we divorced and now it’s dealing with the aftermath. but I don’t want to discourage women but the reality is it’s painful either way to live with someone and be hurt over and over again vs. The amount of energy it takes to leave that person. it’s I can tell you that going through that dark tunnel that it is worth going through to finally see who you are and make sense out of what happened

  4. Hi. I have been reading all your stories over the past few months since I discovered my partner of 2 years had continued to use online dating websites, meet other women and register onto various casual sex websites – the latest being granny sex (he is 73). He has lied continuously, even swore on the life of his disabled son that he is telling the truth and that he was “only curious” . When confronted with evidence and backed into a corner he has blamed me for not being interested in sex – well I was until I met him! Hie lies and deceit, his excuses and explanations echo those of all of you.
    I have been confused and felt lost and like the writer above at times I felt paralysed as I couldn’t make a decision to leave or stay. My instinct of course was to leave but a part of me wondered – what if I’m wrong about him? At times I felt sorry for him. I think quite simply the reaction is one of shock and disbelief. Over the past few months with the help of this excellent web site and reading all your stories I am now ready to start over and dump him.
    I have come to believe that they do indeed have a personality disorder, they will never change their behaviour and they do not even have a conscience about the destruction they cause. He has never once said that he is sorry, only that he does not want to lose me.
    As many others have said, the term sex addiction is unfortunate as it does not explain that this is a mental illness.
    I wish you all well and hope you can recover from the shock and trauma, you have certainly helped me see the light.

  5. The commonalty of our experiences with these men are, to me, just unreal, uncanny. I just roll my eyes cant believe there are so many other women affected by this. Thank God for this support group. I highly agree with Joanne, that these men chose us. We are smart, independent, beautiful women, that these men chose to hide behind.
    I will take responsibility for many a time where I didn’t hold him accountable

  6. I really like Joann’s response. I am going through this with my husband now of 14 years. I do think it is more of a personality or mood disorder vs an addiction. He has been able to basically lead a double life…. great father and husband… then meeting up with co-worker’s or strangers for sex. At times building intimate relationships that are emotionally and Sexually involved. My question is guess is the Same? Can these men change? For the first time my husband has agreed to get help from a sex addiction therapy center. I feel very traumatized and I don’t know how to ever rebuild any trust with him. They become great liars and manipulators. I have filed for divorce 3 times already. I having done anything this time because I want to make sure I’m making the right decision and not acting out of emotion. He really seems like he realizes his problem and the destructive path that follows. So many people and children hurt…. I am trying to decide idea when enough is enough and when is it time to move on. I keep thinking I’ll know, but is been 40 plus days and I’m still feeling lots of anxiety and hopelessness. I feel depressed and his behaviors have brought me to be someone I am not…. I feel worried and paranoid a lot because I don’t know if he’s being truthful or not. He has offered to let me see his messages etc…. but not from the past. He says it’s embarrassing and would only be hurtful. I know that is true, I just want to know if he has really broke his connections off or not. I hesitate to contact these women to even ask. Any suggestions on whether to move forward or what to do? I don’t think I can continue feeling this way as it is a depressing and dark place.

    1. Really sorry to hear you are going through this too. It was me who posted the original email. I decided to move myself and son back in with him as he has agreed to see a sex addict therapist. He doesn’t think he has an addiction but he knows I need this for my peace of mind.

      To be honest I’m finding it very difficult living with him again. When someone has lied and manipulated you so much and pretended to be a happy family man whilst using escorts, it’s hard to really know when he is genuine so therefore difficult to see a shift. This whole thing has brought me so much anxiety and depression, I don’t even look like myself anymore. I am also questioning whether I love him now. I think because what he has done has been so horrific, he feels like a stranger to me. I would say I question my decision to be back with him every 5 minutes and don’t know whether I should have just cut all contact back in January. How are things with you now? X

    2. Hi Stephanie, I am in the very same boat you are. 75% of sexual addiction stems from some type of PTSD. My husband is a (emphasize Early) Child Abuse Survivor and turned to sex to relieve past pain, like alcohol or drugs. In his case he dissociates. We call it his 15 year old. This “part” of him goes through amnesia. He knows he is doing wrong and I get “I am sorry” all the time. He is trying to find help. Went to sex addict group sessions and he flashbacks. Bad. Still trying to find a therapist. This does NOT excuse anything what he put me through. I am getting help myself through therapy and Co-dependent group. He wants a better life. I am going to stick it out and see while being kind to me and the kids. There is no black and white here. Happy he shows you the phone. My husband struggles with that. Yes I know he contacts his sex partner, but know it’s less. For the last week and a half he has been accountable on his whereabouts. His progress is going in the right direction. There is no cure, but if they want to do the work, they can recover. Its a long road. Lots of resources here in San Francisco Bay Area(usa) What kills me is the amount of recovered folks are therapists. Lol thanks all for this site.

  7. Do you have any idea of how many people have this disorder.?
    Are there any studies done or being done?
    All the treatment centers and psychologists for this disorder, do they really think it is treatable, do they even acknowledge it falls into the category of a mental illness?/personality disorder?
    What would the treatment be? Castration? Would it be in a similar category as a paedophile?
    Is it alright to share these stories with others, to help them understand the illness, give insight to what you have been living with for years. I guess a validation that this actually happens and there are thousands affected and how manipulative and destructive it is?
    Thank you for this site. Literally a life saver.

    1. Personality disorders are not curable. What is called ‘sex addiction’ is a trait of personality disorders. Sex addiction is not a legitimate diagnosis.

      Any professional who calls these behaviors sex addiction and who claims that it can be cured is a charlatan.

      charlatan [shahr-luh-tn]
      noun
      1.
      a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.

      1. I would have said it’s an addiction in so much as they can’t stop if they want to but as i’m sure there is virtually no recovery with it i will bow to JoAnnn’s expertise. I would like to learn more.

  8. Hi. My fiancé of 4 years whom a captain in the Air Force, has been caught a few times chatting online via Facebook, instagram and text messages. He recently left for his second deployment and I was able to get into one of his email accounts. What I discovered has left me speechless. It’s like something you only see in the movies. While going through his sent emails, I found numerous responses to Craigslist ads dating back to 2011. Usually when he goes on a TDY I eventually accompany him for a few weeks. I found that he had been using Craigslist for escorts, massages, and God knows what else. He gets their numbers and ask them to text him and swap pics. I also found him on multiple dating sites responding to 40+ women in a day. He also pays for Skype sessions where he masturbaes to these women. He also emails the pictures from his phone to his email. He is deployed at the moment and I’m not sure how to handle this at all. Please help me. I’ve called help lines and all they want is to admit him to an inpatient rehab facility and all I need right now is someone to help me because honestly, I’m close to going to a therapist.

  9. Hi ,

    I am feeling very lost and confused , hurt and betrayed and worthless . I have been with my husband for 7 years and we have a 5year old . I recently found out that throughout our whole marriage he has watched porn daily . I don’t know how to process the emotions I am feeling right now . I feel very let down . I am questioning what my purpose is in this marriage as I don’t understand what I am doing wrong if he has to look at images for personal gratification . I don’t know where to go from here . Do I see my gp ? . I asked him as I have come in to the bedroom and he had a look on his face like I had caught him doing something he shouldn’t , so after a few months I asked him if he was watching porn and he said daily . I then told him how I felt but he made me feel like I am being ridiculous . Any help would be appreciated right now .
    Thank you

  10. Like many others on this site, my peaceful yet timeworn 30 year marriage and family was upended when I discovered my husband of thirty years had been leading a double life for many decades — one with our family where he was a good father, husband, and friend, and another secret strange world starring a large and changing cast of tall, young smiling naked ladies (Sadie, Nikita, Iiana, Lauren Love, Celeste Star, etc) who he collected like golf clubs to meet his needs and fantasies in ways I never would. These “objectified” women were easily found and procured (as even I dug them up and tracked them down) at favorite places such as The Review Board, Eros, slixa.com, backpage, craigslist, twitter, the neighborhood bar. There is an internet strip mall of fast sex food out there and guys are gorging at the all you can eat buffet completely under the radar of most of the female population. He had his systems for siphoning off cash and sweeping away checks for his habits. My lack of involvement in our household finances was a real mistake. This was the world he was captivated by and captive to and completely in command of and which he had built a great wall of lies and deception around.

    Then one day I discovered his world and it was thrust upon me, like vomit while he stood by feeling shame, pain, and as if he were helpless, hopeless and sick. Isn’t it ironic? My peace of mind has vanished, I’ve been infected with the mirror of his problem every day since then while he is relieved of the burden of the secret he kept and progressing forward as fast as he can.

    Upon discovery, it was as if a film of my now mysterious life ran in slow motion in reverse and a cascade of missed clues and events came to the fore and the ending was me getting bonked on the head with a hammer. Was the fact that I missed all this going on right in my midst my denial, my naivite, my commitment, or his mastery of lies and manipulation for his own self serving needs? My husband has a very high IQ and I now believe he chose me for my dupiness. It doesn’t really matter in this kind of calamity of errors. Just get on with it.

    There is no doubt his pursuit of pleasure via lying and cheating and stealing was out of control. He admitted sex addiction immediately as something he truly had knowledge of but also perhaps as a get out of jail free card. Was his remorse about his condition or for the fact he had been found out? Was it his sense of entitlement and an admired privilege of patriarchic appetites at work? He said it was cultural, that having sex with prostitutes isn’t considered bad in Asian culture. I wish he had told me that before we married. Was it a discomfort and inability to be engaged with the real world? He blamed it on his mother at times. He blamed it on me too. I think we were interchangeable in his mind.

    Maybe he was obsessive and chemically his brain craved ultra pleasure inducement and was intolerant of pain and stress but bbbj and sex with strangers was his chosen path after he gave up alcohol and put on a good show about that sacrifice. He definitely had a personality disorder. The mind and heart of these men is an unfeeling, devil may care place sadly. And they are attracted to women who don’t know any better, can balance it out, or meet their needs. I felt like a pawn in his chess game.

    I struggled for two years to decide about whether to give up on the situation hoping the W. I knew and loved and trusted would spring back into full form without the weighty backstory. But it became clear his road was long, uphill and the road was strewn with many potholes. I struggled to leave him alone with it while trying to just be encouraging. I was depleted from the years of other addictions and this one cut too close to my bone. I need care and feeding but he is too preoccupied with his own shit. Even so getting divorced after thirty years felt like I was hanging from a cliff sawing off my arm. I loved my husband even if I got frustrated with him at times because his idea of love for me put me in the safe box of mother of his children while he roamed free. Long ago he seemed to abandon me as his best friend. In the end I decided that if in my few remaining years on this planet I want to get my laugh back and love life and other good people again including some day even my wasbund. I need to get on level ground and give myself a chance to dance with a partner who didn’t jam his heels on my toes and step on my neck.

    A unique trait of humans is our prospective ability i.e. to envision and plan for a future. The future is different than the past even if the past feeds into it. Exercise this ability in your own life to the best of your ability and you will do fine. Learn and move along. Recognize and accept that you are in a groundless perhaps submissive world with this person who claims addiction to sex. Trust your instincts and gut.

    For myself the decision to leave came knocking on my door when my husband and I were having tea and talking about how things were doing. He was offering a window into his world of SA meeting and seemed to be making good progress on his recovery I was hopeful, skeptical a bit yet felt myself drawn back into the comfort of our marriage. But when I asked him what he was spending the $100.00 of cash on each week and questioned whether he was buying pot with it, he responded by saying he had nothing to do in his apartment and he was going to “sleazy” bars and didn’t feel comfortable using a credit card. I grew quiet as I ached and was haunted because he seemed to be asking for me to react, he was sending me a message by saying “sleazy” which was making me queasy, and I listened to my gut and said to myself you need to take care of yourself because this man is still throwing body blows and does not know yet how to make good choices for himself. My gut is my second brain, or maybe now it’s my first since my real brain got fried in this whole traumatic mess. Finding peace of mind is my priority and that means keeping a safe distance from my struggling husband and believing he is doing the best he can. If he chose to go to sleazy bars late at night, that was his choice. He can take care of himself. I will go for a run. And the only way forward is to leave him behind.

    There are two people in a marriage so there’s no doubt that we affect each other. I was far from perfect. Self reflection is in order about how I got to this place and how I can do better. Some say that when you marry, you are marrying your partner’s pathologies. But honestly, some are too burning hot for any woman not in the profession to handle.

    1. Susan
      I just read your reply.
      Well written and expressed. Its never too late to start over. Was married 21 yrs. This is the first year of officially being divorced.
      Was the hardest thing to do. But the longer I am away from the madness, the more at peace I am with the whole mess.
      Thankful for each day, now I can see with more clarity.
      Thank God for this site. The similarities are distinct. They are very smart and crafty and not well.
      Wish him the best, but I keep my distance.
      Keep in touch. Lisa Z.

  11. I would really need help with questions
    I have lived with my husband for 15 years and now he is my x man
    When our son was born, He was unfaithful again
    My husband made me think I was crazy and had a depression, because at that point my sister had cancer and our daughter had developed severe panic anxiety
    I believed in him and about to start taking medications when I found the mail that helped me get all the answers
    He lied and he made me think I was sick
    This was September 2013
    In January 2014 he started treatment and therapy but nothing happened, he was active throughout 2014 and I was exposed to new deceit and trauma
    September 2014, I moved and started my own healing and recovered
    I had a dream all the time and the wish that we could continue to be a family
    My x had sex with a woman at his job several times and I asked him to finish his job, he did not it was first in December 2015 and I felt incredibly bad
    My question is whether it is such an unreasonable limit that if I could be close to him, it must be safe around him?
    He had even told that as soon as he saw this woman at work, she got six fantasies and saw her naked
    He went to treatment for 6 weeks on six different occasions in a year but did nothing else, no other therapy or other changes in his life
    I never felt safe but he always flew on me and blamed me, I demanded too much and enlarged too much
    The thing is also that he is a musician and travels in this job, there has been much infidelity during these journeys and he himself said that these environments are hazardous environments for his recovered yet he only took a 5 month break from the music and when I still did not let him came close to me, he started playing again
    My question is simply that I have always felt that he has not recovered but continues to lie and act as an addict
    How do you look at recovered what is required for a sex addict to succeed and how is it possible that they remain in Miller and spend time with people with whom they are sexually involved?

    Excuse my english i’m from Sweden
    Greetings Sus

  12. There was once much talk about the dreadful COSA and the pain it caused us when we attended. I have discovered the only meeting in London has folded ! Hooray ! That tells us something that in a city such as London COSA does not exist.

  13. I don’t think they ever recover. They just become even more masterful at deception. I’ve been playing this game for 20 years now. Left him for a year before. Wanting to keep a family for my 3 kids brought me back. 7 years later, shortly after my father died from a brain tumor, I found myself with a case of fire crotch. He fessed up again. I booted him out, but he’s been making himself cozy here at the house recently and told my 16 year old he was going to get rid of his apartment. I just feel so trapped in this nightmare, like there’s no way out of it.
    Anyways, my advice to anyone is get out sooner than later. Things get very complicated as the kids get older. My job and friends are an hour away, and we’re in his hometown. My middle child has 2 more years of high school, and I’m waiting that out now. My youngest would probably go anywhere with me. 2 years seems like an eternity. Won’t leave my kids though.

    Trapped…

  14. this just all breaks my heart. My husband claims he is a porn addict. He’s seeking treatment in a 12 step. But it’s really quite half assed.

    He seems remorseful when we talk most of the time. But on occasion he puts blame where it shouldn’t be. He cheated on his first wife which I only found out about after we were married. First he told me it was only twice. Now 3 years later he’s adding on to that number.

    I’m quite certain I don’t have full disclosure yet about his acting out. Claims only porn and only pics at that. No videos or chat rooms. To which I say whatever. How stupid do I look?

    I am only 30 days post d date ( the second d date by the way- yes I believed him the first time too) and I am a mess. Yesterday out of the blue I had a full on panic attack in the grocery store. It was sooo scary.

    And he chose to watch football vs talking to me about it. So, I’m just here. Reading everything I can. Planning my exit strategy. Had a phenomenal job interview today for an RN position in labor and Delivery.

    Wish me luck. It pays well. And has benefits which should I leave him I will need.

    I am working on a self care plan. Which is hard. But I’m taking steps to care for me. He doesn’t seem 100% commuted to this.

    Wishing you all peace.

    1. GOOD LUCK with the job. Yes work hard on a self help plan. Let us know how you get on.
      I’m not sure how ell this site works my posts keep saying awaiting moderation .

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