Excerpt From The Book ‘Married To A Sex Addict’

Everything You NEVER WANTED TO KNOW About Sex Addiction

woman at computerOkay, you know all the definitions and, like myself, you may even wonder if Sex Addiction is a real disease or just a convenient cop out for bad behavior. But, semantics aside, the problem is very real, so let me put in my two cents and tell you what I think Sex Addiction is.

First, let me clarify that for lack of a better term, I will continue to use the term Sex Addict for the person who engages in behaviors that are addressed in this book.

My definition of Sex Addiction is that it is a set of compulsive sexual behaviors, outside of our social norms, that have serious negative effects on the person engaged in the behaviors, and everyone who is associated with that person, including  family, friends, employers, employees, intimate partners, and just about anyone within their social circle.

Personality Traits
Sex Addicts have eerily similar personality traits and childhood experiences that leave no doubt that the two are correlated. Almost every woman I have talked with describes conversations and behaviors that sound as if she were talking about my husband, not hers. Here are a few of the most common personality traits of Sex Addicts.

  • Lead double lives
  • Engage in compulsive lying
  • Lack empathy
  • Unable to form intimate bonds with partner
  • Lack coping skills
  • Feel overwhelming shame and guilt about themselves
  • Use sex to medicate their emotional pain
  • Trust no one
  • Socially isolated
  • Emotionally immature
  • Lack self esteem

Why They Are The Way They Are

So, let’s look at each of these traits and try to understand why our Sex Addict spouses are the way they are. Notice I said ‘understand’, not forgive, not justify, not accept or rationalize, but understand. This understanding is for you–not them, and it will help you make sense of the crazies, restore your sense of reality  and stabilize your emotions.

They Lead Double Lives

It only makes sense. Sex Addicts are engaging in behaviors that are secretive, shameful and ridden with guilt. So, out of necessity, they hide their secret life from their partners or spouses, employers, clients, friends and family.

Sex Addicts come in all sizes, shapes, colors, ages, professions, ethnic groups and religions. On the surface they appear as normal as soda pop and often are quite charismatic. But underneath that very normal persona is a troubled, complex personality whose actions are devastating to everyone close to them. And we, who become their casualties, are forced to deal with the insult and trauma.

Watch for more excerpts from ‘Married To A Sex Addict’.

Take care, be safe and remember:

Sorry is as Sorry does. ~ JoAnn

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  1. For me, the personality issues you outlined above- especially the lack of emotional intimacy- is by far the most painful part of being married to a sex addict. Don’t get me wrong- the infidelity hurts, too. But those tend to be discrete events that have a beginning and an end and usually some time in between. The personality stuff never ends- it comes into play every second of every interaction we have. We can be making small talk about the most mundane things, and he will suddenly withdraw, become upset, and accuse me of being mean to him. Or if I tell him something is bothering me, no matter how trivial, he erupts like I have unjustifiably accused him of something horrible. He is constantly defensive and reactive and cannot put it aside to show any feelings for me. I am hoping that recovery will help this, but I am also worried that it he will end up the same person who just doesn’t cheat and use porno.

  2. Teri, I wish I could be there and let you talk with me face to face. I do know how you feel, and you are right about the lack of emotional intimacy. What I found with my husband is that there were so many things that had to be changed if we were to make it, that it just seemed overwhelming. First and foremost, he had to truly commit to recovery. Then, he had to commit to making our relationship better, and this included working on traits that weren’t necessarily addict traits, but personality traits that are common to addicts; like the lack of communication, sexual issues between us, his defensiveness, lack of trust and the anger issues that he carried around from his childhood.

    The most important thing he did was to go to a counselor who addressed his childhood anger issues. He feels that he could never have been ready for recovery without that. He says that you have to deal with the causes of your addiction before you can recover, and I agree.

    I understand your frustration and fatigue with the whole situation. Maybe it’s time to quietly get all your finances in order, start a bank account for yourself and plan for a separation. He will have to contribute to your support. Standing up for yourself, taking charge and being proactive is courageous. Remember, courage is feeling the fear but doing what you need to do anyway. Take inventory of your relationship, make a list of positive and negative things about your relationship and then make a decision. It will never be 0-100, but I think 70-30 is enough to leave. But, you don’t have to make a permanent decision now (or ever), but a physical separation, living totally apart is almost necessary for a couple to recover–it helps you get over the co-dependency issues. You can remain legally separated forever (I know women that have done just that) living apart but still eligible for health insurance, pensions, life insurance etc. as you are still his wife. Let me know if you need more information on that.

    Good luck, keep in touch and above all be safe.

  3. I have just had a very painful and devastating separation with my partner of 4 years after discovering some things which led me to question my trust for him and the relationship.

    I feel as though I am still in shock and cannot stop crying most of the time although I am functioning on a day to day basis.

    I questioned him about some concrete things that a friend had seen and some other things which had been playing on my mind and his reaction on this occasion told me that he had been rumbled. He originally got sarcastic, then told me that it was obviously not going to work (all defence mechanisms), and then became completely silent as I disclosed more details and asked him for an explanation. He told me he had no explanation. This made me silently mad and I went on to disclose other things and ask for explanations. He kept saying he didn’t haven any and at this point I knew. I went on to say that I had no idea what made him think he could be with me and have that as well and went on to tell him in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t have a secret life and a relationship with me or anyone else for that matter. I told him he really had deceived me and then left. He didn’t try to stop me but he knew me well enough to know that it was over because he knew how I felt about this kind of betrayal. This makes me feel worse.

    Basically all the evidence pointed to him regularly seeing escorts in his own home as well as visiting them on trips away and asking them to carry out various fettishes that he liked. It was perfectly obvious that he had lied to me about things that I had previously questioned him about.

    It’s been 2 weeks since that night and we haven’t spoken (we lived separately). Looking back over time I can see that there were problems all along, which I overlooked. Part of the reason I found myself dismissing initial worries about things was because I had had a very bad 8 year relationship in the past which I knew made it very difficult for me to trust. I kept telling myself that his secrecy, his dishonesty about sex and how he felt (inc porn, prostitutes, one night stands, past relationships etc) was because he was private and not because anything sinister was going on.

    In the time I was with him he told me he didn’t watch porn, agreed with me re my moral and ethical views on fidelity, agreed that sex was a very intimate thing, had never slept with prostitutes, had had a one night stand once etc etc. Over time I discovered that he had a whole box of porn, regularly ordered porn, spent a lot of time on a laptop that he apparently didn’t have (which also had internet connection), and discovered that he had visited escorts on numerous visits abroad and even videod himself with them. I told myself that the porn was normal for a male, that he was embarrassed to tell me about it and that if he was single prior to me then it was up to him re visiting escorts. It didn’t ever occur to me that he would be unfaithful.

    During our time together I found numerous things that didn’t add up and his explanations didn’t ever quite add up to the extent that I always felt he was hiding something from me. Again, I put this down to my own baggage from my past and disregarded it. He was secretive about his time and also defensive and on meeting his “friends” discovered over time that none of them were very close with him or knew him on an emotional level (a couple of them told me this). He always seemed like a closed person who found it difficult to be intimate. I on the other hand am the opposite and very open and honest.

    I have had no explanation from him, no appology no nothing and this is what I am finding really really difficult. I feel let down, dissappointed and quite devastated. I keep thinking that the person I loved wasn’t real. It’s over but I feel so upset and shocked I don’t feel like I can move forward.

    I go about my daily life and then it hits me like a bolt and I feel like I’m drowning. I dread the day I might bump into him because I don’t feel like I could face it. I think even if he got in touch and just told me he was sorry it would mean something to me and allow me to move on but obviously he doesn’t even feel he owes me that. I think if he did at least I would know that he respected me and cared for me a little despite the problems he quite obviously has.

    I know that he would never admit to this or even consider that this is his problem as he has always been slightly narcissistic and superior.

    He portrays himself as a respectable fairly quiet man who has a responsible job and cares for others. I was duped. I just feel so depressed.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. Seren, my heart goes out to you and I will keep you in my thoughts. Please, for your own sake, find a counselor who can help you get through this crisis. Anyone who is a casualty of a Sex Addict’s behavior experiences trauma much like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You will also go through all the stages of grieving for your many losses such as trust and self esteem as well as for the relationship itself.

    You are a very strong person for doing what you did, you knew your boundaries and had the integrity to fight for your self respect. Unfortunately Sex Addicts tend to be hyper sensitive to their own emotions while being totally insensitive to others. Your partner may contact you with an apology, but there is usually an agenda connected with it rather than true remorse or caring. Please be careful.

    Thank you so much for sharing, keep in touch and let us know how you are doing.

  5. Pornography, which is especially the problem of men, is the second main factor in the life of a sex addict. This can mean porn magazines, films or material on the Internet that is used to seek for satisfaction. For example on the Internet general headwords concerning this issue are … By them people seek for satisfaction.

    One problem with pornography is that it does not bring long-lasting satisfaction to us. These magazines or films kind of promise that you will find the erotic picture you have always been looking and longing for, but the satisfaction does not last for long. As time goes by, many may experience the same as alcoholics and drug addicts: they need more and more powerful stimulus to experience the same stimulation as before, because the amount of pleasure diminishes.

    More info:

  6. Thank you so much for your kind reply. It’s 5 weeks on and I still feel bad.

    There has been no contact apart from an incident last week where he followed me and flashed me to stop my car. My heart was beating and I felt sick but I stopped, wondering what he was going to say. He came to my car and proceded to tell me that he had been meaning to call and that as I was going on the hol we had booked together this week he could change the hire car details to my name and that I was welcome to take his credit card which was needed as a security deposit. That was it. What a saint! As for me I couldn’t even bear to look at him and stared at the sky while he spoke. I was very upset after this. What’s wrong with me!

    I think he’s trying to make himself feel better about everything that’s happened and trying to make everything normal when it isn’t.

    He’s since e-mailed once and texted twice to give me updates on progress re the hire car thing (which hasn’t worked out) ending his last text today with a token “have a nice holiday”. I have ignored everything – I don’t think it’s doing me any good to have him contact me at all.

    I am wondering when I will start to feel better about everything really because I am finding it so difficult to move on and often wake up crying. I can’t sleep, find it difficult to motivate myself about anything and am wondering how I can get past this. I meet with friends and spend time with family but I am just pretending that all is ok when it’s not.

    I feel a deep sadness in me and know that I need to grieve but I’m not sure who or what I’m grieving for because what was real to me quite obviously was not to him. It’s like my perception of him was all wrong so therefore my feelings for him were not real – but they were to me at the time. How could i have been so wrong?

    I’m so angry! And I feel confused about how I’m supposed to heal.

    I hope that time will make things better and I can get back to my once normal happy self. I hate this and I hate how I’m having a negative effect on my immediate family.

    I was in love with him but “he” wasn’t him. I miss him and I hate him.

  7. My dear Seren, I know it sounds trite, but I do know how you feel. My grieving went on for years, and is still a work in progress. The difficult part of grieving over the death of a relationship rather than the actual death of a person is that the death of a person is final. You must move on eventually, although that person is always with you in many ways but you have to face the fact that they are in fact dead.

    Grieving the loss of a relationship is so intangible, abstract and lacks the finality of death. It’s especially difficult if the other person engages in passive/aggressive behavior by making contact with you. Every time you hear from them the wounds are ripped open again.

    Don’t feel guilty about misjudging him–be happy that you are a normal, trusting person who just happened to be taken in by an unscrupulous, lying, cheating lowlife.

    The fact that you are angry is good. Never try to bury that emotion, you must deal with it before you can heal. Vent it any way you like, scream, yell, beat on your pillow until you collapse, write him a nasty letter (but don’t send it) or just cry until there are no more tears, then cry some more. It will help.

    It does help to get into a new relationship–not something serious, just something fun to reestablish your self esteem and confidence and allow you to have fun again. It may not feel right at the beginning, but just fake it til you make it.

    All Sex Addicts put forth a persona that is totally false. You are right, you were in love with someone that didn’t exist. Now go forth and exorcise the bastard from your life. Good luck and keep us posted on how things go.

  8. Hi. “..go forth and exorcise the bastard from your life”. That made me laugh. I’ve been away and am now back and do feel a bit better. Before I left I received a text from him to say that he’d tried everything he could to fix a problem with the hol (that he was no longer coming on). How commendable I thought. I didn’t reply immediately then decided I couldn’t go on without letting him know exactly how I felt. So I did. By text. I told him he’d devasted me, that I wished I’d never met him and that I didn’t deserve the way he’d behaved before and after “D Day”. I told him he had problems and had caused me so much pain and that he never deserved me and that it was obvious to me that he had never cared the way I thought he had. I went on to say that I accepted that I would never get any closure from him and told him to walk in a different direction if he ever saw me around. I then switched my phone off and hours later got a call from him. His voice was trembling and he told me he didn’t know what to say and that he’d replied to my text and that he was missing me terribly and that he hadn’t been in touch because he didn’t know what to say but he’d never been unfaithful?! He went on to say that he wanted me to still have a good holiday and asked me, if it wasn’t too much to ask, could I let him know how I got on. He then asked if we could talk when I got back. I replied with monosyllable yes’s to all his requests but was aware that he really didn’t know what to say. What can he say. His text said that he was missing me so much but there was nothing he could do. Poor, poor man. What I notice is the complete lack of any understanding of my pain and how he wants to let me know how HE feels following our break up. Of course, he was used to his double life. I wasn’t. It’s nothing new to him. The only new thing is he is now exposed to me and doesn’t know what to say. I sent him a very short comment about how the holiday was very nice and let him know in no uncertain terms that the only reason I did so was because he’d asked, I’d said I would and I don’t like going back on my word. I am now back and will not be approaching him again and am doubting he will get in touch for “the talk” as I’m inclined to think that perhaps he thought we could reconcile and has now realised that I have no intention of allowing this to happen so therefore what is the point. I was hoping that some small part of him would take responsibility for the impact his actions have had on another person – me – and that he might realise that I need an explanation and an appology so that I can look at him without wanting to headbutt him if I ever see him around. I want him to know – in simple terms for him – the consequence of behaviour like this is losing a person that has been a big part of your life. Like a child that needs to be taught how behaviour has consequences in a way. Can you teach a person by doing this and can they learn and will they develop a conscience. Or is a conscience something that has to develop in childhood. I have this huge need to try and make sure that he regrets his actions and is sorry and that this is why he has lost “us”. God, sorry for rambling but as you can see although I’m feeling better I’m still giving a lot of time and energy to thinking about everything and still feel sad and upset and have a cry sometimes. But not as often. I’m also worried now, that if he does get in touch for this “talk” that he’s going to think it’ll mean us having a chance and I’ll have to tell him we don’t, in which case, he’ll decide there’s no point and I’m left in exactly the same place. I’m still so hurt so I know seeing him will upset me but also I want to scream and shout and tell him: “how dare you let me welcome you into my life and give you my whole self and my honesty and share with you my friends and my family and let me fall in love with you without giving me an opportunity to decide if the real you, the one that has problems and lies and uses escort services was someone I wanted”. “How fucking dare you not let me have that choice”. “Because you knew I wouldn’t, you selfish bastard”. If I can get it out of my system perhaps I’ll be able to pity him for what he’ll never have and forgive him. I can’t bear to feel so acidic towards someone I thought I knew and loved.

  9. It’s good to hear from you again Seren,

    Thank you for sharing your struggles with all of us, I hope that by writing and sharing you are able to see the issues a little more clearly and hopefully find answers. To address a few questions you asked, here are my thoughts:

    Can you teach a person by doing this and can they learn and will they develop a conscience. Or is a conscience something that has to develop in childhood. I have this huge need to try and make sure that he regrets his actions and is sorry and that this is why he has lost “us”.

    In time that need to know that he regrets his actions will go away–we all have that feeling, but, unfortunately very few Sex Addicts ever come to that realization. Will they ever learn to have a conscience or develop empathy? That’s debatable. These traits are developed during a critical learning period in childhood. My husband tries, but he very honestly says, ‘I really don’t know what that feels like so I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel.” If I ask him a rhetorical question by turning the tables, such as, ‘How would you feel if I did that to you?’ he can’t answer because he lacks that sense of empathy, the ability to put themselves in another’s place and imagine how they feel. Some would categorize this as the trait of a sociopath , and it may well be, but, as with everything in this world there are gradients. Now, my husband would never go on a mass killing spree but he does have serious psychological deficits.

    “How fucking dare you not let me have that choice”. “Because you knew I wouldn’t, you selfish bastard”. If I can get it out of my system perhaps I’ll be able to pity him for what he’ll never have and forgive him. I can’t bear to feel so acidic towards someone I thought I knew and loved.

    Anger is good. As I said in my post on grieving you will not heal until all of your anger is expressed. You do not have to express it with him, or get closure from him, you can do that yourself. Do you have a friend or counselor that you can talk with? Role playing works very well–even if you have to do it with a chair. Place the chair in the middle of the room, put a pillow in it, name it and tell him what an asshole he is. Yell, scream (as long as you won’t have the neighbors calling the police) and get it all out. Tell ‘him’ that he is not off the hook yet, that you will be back the next time the anger surfaces. Another trick, shared by a woman dealing with her husband’s Sex Addiction, is to get in your car and drive to a safe, remote area. Close all the windows, turn your radio up full blast and scream at the top of your lungs until you are exhausted. You can’t imagine how great you will feel afterward. Beats a crying jag every time.

  10. Hi Joanne

    I’ve done the screaming in the car bit. Absolutely loads of times, funnily enough weeks ago. This was to stop me actually ramming his parked car which I pass most evenings. I think my anger phase is ending but I’m going round in circles. I’m now back to just feeling exhausted and so so sad. I really miss the relationship but can’t grieve properly. I’ve cried solidly for hours every night this week. He did get back in touch. To thank me for letting me know how I got on on hol and to tell me he received the message late because of problems with his phone, and to let me know he was very glad that I’d had a good time. There was then a half-hearted attempt to say that if I was still into a meet-up we could arrange it at some point. I have ignored this. I’m not going to reply. I can sense he doesn’t want to face me and my ability to cut straight to the point. I will never get what I need from him regarding closure and regret and responsibility. I know this but I feel so deflated. I take responsibility for allowing this relationship to happen, for ignoring my gut instincts over the 3 years, for thinking that his adoration for me and his thoughtfulness over gifts and doing things for me, was love, for ignoring issues that were there from the start with sex, for not thinking of my own happiness above someone elses, for putting my needs second and for thinking that taking a leap of faith in this instance was the right thing to do. Maybe it was. Maybe this experience has taught me a lot – I just can’t see it yet. The only closure I’m going to get is from me. I just need to find a way to let this go and move on. It’s so hard. I feel like something inside me has died but I’m fighting it and pretending to be happy in the hope that I will be happy again and not be so upset when no-one is watching. I don’t want to lose that free spirit in me that says that you should always take a leap of faith despite the possibility of getting hurt. I’m 35 and I’ve had a marriage and a relationship that have both ended badly for different reasons. Somewhere along the line I made the wrong choices. I don’t want to lose my faith in good relationships. God I really hope that things start to feel better soon. I’m sure they will. I know they will. I suppose time is the only thing I’ve got really.

  11. Yes Seren, time is on your side, and please remember, it’s what you do with that time that really matters. You are doing all the right things, now you just have to allow the process of grieving and healing to happen. It’s painful, but it’s also a learning process. Two relationships that ended are not a sign of bad choices, they were simply experiences that you needed in your journey through life. I always remind myself of Mick Jagger’s famous line–‘You don’t always get what you want–you get what you need.’

    The pain is shitty and tough while you are going through it, but you will get through it. While I was in my darkest days of grieving over my second divorce after 23 years of marriage my doctor talked with me for an hour and a half trying to convince me to take anti-depressants for a while. I refused because I really believe that if you numb yourself to any of life’s experiences you miss the richness and depth of the feelings and also miss the opportunity to gain strength and wisdom.

    Feel your pain, grieve and be sad, allow yourself to heal properly and you will emerge with courage and integrity rather than a truckload of baggage.

    You are in my thoughts, keep in touch.


  12. Thank you JoAnn. I’ve been better the last couple of days. Sort of. Thing is I think what I’m realising is, that what I thought I had in the relationship with him, was what I thought I needed. Him idealising me, him trying so hard to make me happy, in ways that he thought would. BUT. What I never had was intimacy – just glimpses of it – or emotional understanding. I think if I’m being completely honest, I really thrived on what I was getting regarding his disbelief that he was lucky enough to have someone like me in terms of looks, social confidence and internal honesty. I think that despite the fact that I’m socially very confident, am told I’m exceptionally attractive and even beautiful, that I have friends that want to be like me, that I have friends who think so much of me and respect me, deep down I have never thought I was good enough and deep down I have always thought that I am not really very attractive inside or out. I am digging deep and thinking that deep down, despite the picture I paint to the world, I don’t actually think very much of myself at all. I know this is wrong but all I’m thinking is that perhaps I leaned on a relationship for confirmation of my worth but I know deep down I feel that I’m worth nothing. I know that admiration of beauty and appearance is nothing without respect and mutual understanding and a love of the core of that person but perhaps I just clinged to all the bits I was getting and that’s why I ignored my needs and a whole pile of other stuff. I can see that even without the SA that still shocks me – even now – our relationship was not what I needed and that I was a co-dependant in so many ways. Ignoring. Making excuses. Believing what I wanted to believe without seeing that people are made up in different ways and that my perspective and insight is not necessarily someone elses. God. I need to get a grip and move on. I have also realised that still, even now I think I need confirmation that he loved me, that he’s missing me, that he’s miserable (he’s emailed me – think he’s trying to engage me in a conversation but I’ve ignored it). And that’s ridiculous because he would never have behaved in a way that he knew was 100% guaranteed to lose me, if he felt towards me any feelings of respect, love and tenderness. I know that I played a part in beginning this relationship, taking it forward and accepting all of the things that I would advise anyone else not to. So many things. I have weaknesses, I know when I feel sorry for something I’ve said or done and I know that in relationships sometimes there is no right or wrong. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. I think it might not have worked anyway. I just wish it hadn’t ended like this.

  13. Hello JoAnne

    I wanted to add something to this, a missing piece that is not even talked about, cared about, or only spoken of in anger by the partners….
    All I see are story’s about the addiction, the wives, the family’s, but never story’s about the “lovers” the “pray” the “victims “ side, ” a group that is forgotten about, but none the less affected by all of this in the very same way.

    Yes, I call myself a victim, that is the way I look at myself now, a person that has been used,
    taken advantage of, hurt beyond belief, mislead, lied to, made promises too, to be tossed aside like an old rag when she was no longer needed by the predator, the sex addict.

    The love we feel for our lover “the sex addict “ is real.
    The pain is real when we also find out we are cheated upon.
    The pain is real when we find out we are lied to.
    The pain is real when we find out we are not even treated as a human being.. but are just a tool ..
    The pain is real when you know all the words of love were just empty words, so they could have their way with us.
    The pain is real when we find out that promises about a life together were all just that..
    promises…. with no intention of keeping them..

    I too am searching for answers, and finding none
    I too am angry about the way my lover has been treating me.
    I too am hurt, sad, confused, broken inside out, with no confidence left…
    I too am asking myself, what did I do wrong that he no longer wants me, but turns to others.
    I too am struggling to make it through each and every day
    I too lay awake each night, cry my eyes out over him, while I know he isn’t worth it

    Lovers are only people too, with pain in our hearts and tears to cry when they realize what really has been going on.. because we really love our lover

    At least the wives and partners get to keep their other half, they get counselling and help to make a life together possible…while lovers get nothing but the pain, the emptiness the empty arms, and broken hearts….

    They only have no one to turn to, no one to tell their story to, they get no counselling, they don’t get any answers, and they get no closure…..

  14. Oh Pip, I know you feel the same pain as all of us, and you are right, lovers and the notorious ‘other women’ are the lost souls in the media. I never meant to exclude you or anyone else from these discussions, and I do apologize for the oversight. We all suffer as casualties of Sex Addicts.

    I was talking with the wife of a Sex Addict last night and she was truly hurting, but she said that she didn’t understand why it hurt so bad because her husband had not acted out in ways as serious as my husband had. What I told her was that it doesn’t matter how much, or how many or what they do, it’s the betrayal and loss of trust that hurts.

    And not only do you, Pip, have to deal with the pain and hurt of betrayal, you also have the complete loss of someone you love. I do hope you have someone to talk to. Have you tried to find a counselor? If you do find one make sure that it’s a good fit. I went through two counselors before I found number three, who was wonderful.

    And please, never be ashamed of or ever regret loving someone. He or she lied to you, deceived you and hurt you. All you did was love and trust them. Whether you knew they had someone else or not doesn’t make your pain any less valid.

    If you have any questions, or if I can help in any way, just ask.

    Take care and be safe.

  15. Joann, I really love your site!!! I will look forward to your book.

    Seren, I believe from everything that you wrote that your ex (like mine) was not just an SA (hard enough of a sucker punch to take) but a Narcissist as well. That combination is so lethal. You have all of my sympathy and support. If you wish to explore the subject further it may connect the dots for you as it did for me. It does not make it any less painful, but I do like understanding what I was dealing with. Here is a book I ordered from Amazon:

    Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On by Cynthia Zahn

    Based on good Amazon reviews including this one:

    This book is awesome. Totally helped me turn the corner after being involved with an NPD for five months and unceremoniously dumped overnight when I wanted to be inter-dependent and not co-dependent, when I wouldn’t continue to be “supply.” I was stunned. I thought we were actually having a real relationship. This book made me face the fact that the only real relationship a narcissist has is with his false self and God forbid you get in the way of that. If you dare to hang on to your real self and stand up to an NPD, prepare to be tossed aside. They only want “relationships” with people they can control and who will stay on their knees, prostrating themselves to the almighty narcissist.

    I used to worry about forgiving him, but mainly I need to forgive myself. I have been so mad at myself and so unforgiving that I ignored one red flag after another. I almost act like he showed up wearing a large sign which let me know: I am a hot mess that is going to shatter your heart in 1,000 pieces. He did not.

    He came in a very attractive package. He was extremely cute, sexy, fit and passionate. He was smart, well educated, well read and liked all of the same foreign movies that I liked. He was a published author which is something I aspire towards. When he showed up, my fantasies went into high gear and I thought I had found the man of my dreams.

    Why do women date narcissistic men? (excerpted from Chapter Three)

    1: Women generally do not know that narcissists are narcissists when they start dating them

    2: Narcissists have many traits that are very attractive

    3: Women who date narcissists are not crazy

    “Women do not date narcissists for who they are. Instead, women date narcissists for the person whom the narcissist pretends to be. This is not because women are stupid. Rather, narcissists use a standard salesman’s trick—the bait and switch—to sell themselves to potential romantic partners.” ~W. Keith Campbell, When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself
    Once I started to see the cracks in his amour (pretty quickly) I stayed in the relationship because of fear. Anytime you choose a behavior that is unhealthy you are making the only decision you can make based on fears, i.e., I must accept this treatment because on one else is going or love me. Or no one else this cute, sexy, educated and accomplished is going to accept me (this flawed, unlovable and not good enough person).
    We choose unhealthy behavior when fear rules our lives.
    As my therapist reminds me: It is important to move forward and break any connections you have with anyone who does not hold your heart and soul in its highest good. Fantasies and denial only lead to a repetition of past patterns. And one of the problems was that I was relying heavily on him to validate me.

    Of course, my therapist always wants me to bless him for being my greatest teacher. For showing me that when I entered that covenant with him it was because I wanted to clearly see that I was giving away my power and losing myself in the way that I have in many, many previous relationships.

    She gave me this affirmation to say: I will never again lose myself to a person, place or thing. I will never lose myself within a relationship. Also she says that if I would have asked God/the Universe: Is this relationship in my highest and greatest good? I would have always known to step away from it. It seems so simple and practical when she offers these suggestions. Perhaps it is so. By developing a strong connection with my higher power, I can prevent myself from stepping into the quicksand and very slowly drowning in a pool of darkness.

    I hope that helps a little. You are not alone.

  16. What a cathartic web site I happened on!!! Joann, you are an angel from heaven. Bravo.

    I am also the “other woman” (one of hundreds, in this case) but with some variations on a theme. I am a married middle aged woman with 2 children, in an open marriage with a loving man who is a close friend, but we have not been intimate for years. I do have a therapist and some close loving friends who have helped me through my trials.

    I consider myself to be a loving free-spirit, in the true sense of the word.

    This is about a lover, outside my marriage, for over a year — a swinger, actually (theme and variation!) and of course, sex addict.. pathological liar…and the rest.

    The problem is that we enter into something assuming the “playing field” is even and it is anything but that.

    I was deeply attracted to him as to no other man in my 53 years of life, I also grew to love him.. as a friend too; He is immensely handsome, charming, funny, warm, “sensitive”, and “deeply” caring, not to mention incredibly yummy, and we became very close and dear “friends” and we were the most passionate lovers.. After a time, I simply could not screw other men any longer in order to be with him, and he would not see me under any other situation. It was very painful, because after 13 months, it was suddenly as if he was talking to someone he had met the week before. He cavalierly dumped me like last week’s grocery coupons. Over and over and over he LIED to me about so many things and started using me for his own narrow and perverse agenda, without any regard to my needs and how he could fulfill THEM.

    This is really it, right there. But we are so attracted to them, and for whatever the reason, we will try and justify our need to be with them and to do whatever we have to do, to make it happen. Deep down, we know that if we do not, that it will be over, so we comply, even though we know, in our hearts, that we deserve better. In my case, I kept looking for it, (with other men) but couldn’t find anything even close to the way he made me feel. These individuals are cunning and expert at extracting from women the thing that they need to make us WANT to stay despite the CLEAR signals that we should really RUN fast and FAR in the opposite direction!!!


    Many months ago, I found out through him, who his partner is…as he loved sharing stories (and photos!!!!!!!) about her and the rest of his family and friends. She was on Face Book (with an open profile — imagine the nerve to expose herself like that to all his women – geez what on earth was she thinking!???!) and Twitter, and I started really sympathizing with her..(a very beautiful, talented woman!) and after he continued to do increasingly abusive and hurtful things to me, he summarily dumped me when I got angry at him for doing so.(never get angry at them, for ANYTHING, they can’t handle it, duh.) I could accept being dumped, but he made no effort to try to talk it through or to save any part of our relationship. Truthfully, it was the friendship that I missed even more than the sex because we didn’t see each other all that much anyway. But to him, there was “no attachment”. I was just another in a long endless stream of interchangeable vaginas. He was attached to me, as an alcoholic is attached to his scotch and if it runs dry, he will find some wine or beer in its place. He knows that he is able to “hurt” but he is unable to understand HOW he is able to do so. After-all, he himself is a most unworthy individual, so he is merely freeing me for something better. Which of course, is true.

    His entire life was one immense fabrication of the truth.

    Now, I had his partner’s email address, her cell phone # because she was so again so “uncareful”. It is all so twisted and sick… and I asked many of my friends, both male and female for advice.. and the consensus was overwhelming in favor of “saving her”.

    So, after many weeks of consideration, I made a decision with the encouragement and support of many friends of both sexes and I decided to intervene – as sensitively as possible. I was careful to be sure that it was simply not an angry act of revenge, but indeed a desire to act in the ultimate best interests of all concerned. Of course, to be honest, there was an element of justice being served over being treated so unfairly, but that was not the primary motivation.

    I sent her an email, spelling out the pertinent facts, many IMs (incognito from a “friend” of hers) and left out the dozens of porno films and pics he had online on various sex sites of himself having sex with many, many women. He had taken pics of me which I later found out he had all over the internet to attract new sex partners. He would do anything to get his fix.

    Yes, as painful and horrific as it all is… and as much as I found myself deeply embroiled, and in love with this sociopathic LIAR – sex addict and alcoholic. They were two other human beings here (and of course many many more) and much to consider. His partner, as many victims of sexual addiction, lives in a world of deep, deeply buried denial. They know that something is wrong… but they cannot even begin to fathom the depths of where it lies.. for to do so, would be the end of a dream..and their whole life would be a sham which it was. We do live in FEAR.

    Yes, I could’ve just walked away and gone “oh well”.. but I saw the progression of his illness through our relationship and the increase of risky behavior and he often played unsafely (without a condom) He LIED to her and to everyone in order to get his FIX and alcohol and sex were going to kill him and maybe her too.

    It is a sickness and although very difficult to treat, the only chance is for the addict is to hit ROCK BOTTOM and then hopefully, they will finally SEE that they need help!!!

    She wrote me back and is beyond devastated, and is trying to cope to stay afloat with this massive betrayal and shock. I am grasping at HOW I could ever betray someone who I called my friend and lover.

    It took tremendous courage to betray him, however. I promised him that I never would and I broke my promise which feels unspeakably painful… but what choice did I have? Yes, some would say to “move on”..”forget about it, its none of your business” but I could not do so, in good conscience.

    The hurts go deep and far, but it is better to know the truth now, than some future date when she might discover that she has HPV or AIDS – or worse… All very real possibilities!

    I have since learned that he has checked into a 30-day rehab center.. and so now… still reeling from all of this, at least, there is some hope. And I do pray, that he and his partner will find somehow a renewed peace in their relationship and if not, then at least they both went through the process with full knowledge of the FACTS and can move on with their lives with full disclosure and respect that is the right of all loving partners.

    Sometimes doing the “right thing” is something you never thought you ever would or could do.

    In a disease like this, it is often a choice of choosing the lesser evil.

    Is there ever closure here? Well.. first of all, I don’t believe in that word.. because I believe that even in death, there is no “closure.”

    Rhetorically, did I do the right thing?

    Most say yes and one or two have said no..(depending on their perception) but in my heart, I feel nothing but love and forgiveness, for the wrongs done to me, and for the pain that I have caused as a result. However, my lover is finally getting help.. and so many times, things have to get really really bad, before they can be good again.

    Hopefully, in time, and with help, all of us will heal… Something I have discovered in my 53 years is that there have been occurrences in my life that at the time were devastatingly painful, but then years later, because of that event — something wonderful happened that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, if the first thing hadn’t occurred.

    And maybe, just maybe someone will read these stories, and the lessons that we have learned can help others in need.

  17. Hi Anna

    Thanks for your comments re my situation. I was with him for 3 and a half years, having known him for a year prior to getting romantically involved (although really, I never knew him). You’re right – he has narcissistic tendancies. A lot of them. I always knew this but accepted it, not understanding it properly. Having read up re narcissism and these types of relationships I’m not sure whether he was a fully fledged narcissist or not. He isn’t really someone who I would say is socially confident or charming (but he would say he was – he was a bunch of contradictions), although he is very eager to make good first impressions upon people and to present himself as kind and considerate. He takes his work seriously and doesn’t really brag about himself but reacts very badly (acidicly) to any kind of criticism even if constructive. He doesn’t mind listening to a different opinion but can be dogmatic about his. He definitely likes being boss and in control.

    Despite the fact that I knew I couldn’t, wouldn’t accept his behaviour and took control of the situation and left him, nothing has ever devastated me so much and that includes my previous abusive relationship and subsequent break up with my ex husband. I knew what he was and who he was. He didn’t pretend. I made choices based on facts with that relationship and took responsibility for my part in allowing myself to continue with it. I hold no animosity or bitterness towards him. I’m an adult too. Easy.

    This situation however I cannot really come to terms with. I am feeling better now but I know that nothing has EVER affected me so deeply or profoundly. I still can’t quite believe what happened or that I let it happen to me. I made choices but they were not based on truth. I’m finding it hard to forgive myself. I trusted and was deceived. I feel like I can’t forgive him. I loved him and it took me about a year to let him into my heart. I feel like an empty shell and although I shouldn’t feel this logically, deep down in my core I feel that these are my truths:

    I am stupid.

    I am worthless.

    I never matter enough.

    In order for me to feel better and move on (and it’s only really the last few days that I have really made any headway with myself), I have had to force myself to accept that he didn’t love me when all along I thought he did. This has allowed me to then see that my love for him was meaningless to him. This has allowed my heart to move on and heal a little.

    I am now waiting for the time that I can see him and feel nothing. When I can do this, I can forgive him. That will be my closure. Soon I hope.


  18. Seren,

    Now that I have been involved with 2 narcissistic men… I have also read a lot and have a much better insight as to how they operate.

    He DID love you!

    That is the man that he was PRETENDING to be, loved you. It is NOT your fault that you could not see the CON!!! Please understand this. The REAL man is simply INCAPABLE of any genuine love for anyone – including HIMSELF.

    He simply sold you a bill of goods in order to extract his narcissistic supply and feed his addiction to sex.

    He actually loathes his true self and anyone who dares to love “him” is actually held in great contempt. In his mind, there must be something wrong with someone who dares to love a “loser” like him, so he then sets out to prove to you that he is indeed as unworthy of you as he, feels down to his core. Mind you, all of this is on a deeply subconscious level. He is not aware that he hates himself, and he may even present himself as being a “giving” person. This is why it is all the more confusing. It simply makes no logic in our normally logical minds.

    Never mind, that you see a deeply sensitive, “loving” “caring” individual. He does not see it as you do and he is simply not capable of seeing it. Again, in time, if enough bad things happen to him, he may get help and even then, he may not ever see himself as you do or completely come out of his pathology. This is the premise of the film, “Good Will Hunting.” In that case, Will did get help and miraculously got his life in order. If only real life was as easy.

    Of course, that doesn’t help your feelings of intense loss… Please allow yourself to feel – Although painful, your pain will take you to a higher place. Learn from each experience.

    Please know that you are anything but “stupid”, worthless, or that you don’t matter. As much as you are hurting… just from your beautiful words, I can see that you are a deeply sensitive, caring, warm, loving woman.. and deserve the love of a WHOLE man. I do believe that there are whole men who are just as exciting, charismatic, sexy and fun as these deeply damaged characters. They do tell on themselves, though and early on, too. You will know that you have a winner when you NEVER have to guess as to his true motives or feelings for you.

    I believe that in order to heal and move on, we must allow ourselves to feel our pain and to grieve for our loss, our hurt, our rage and for being deceived. You did not ALLOW it to happen. Please know that. Please be kind and loving towards yourself. You acted on good faith and love. Remember, the playing field was NOT even. You are a victim of a sick individual. I would go to extremes to avoid any and all contact with him.

    Try to keep busy with people that you know love and care about you. Get plenty of exercise. Get a new hair-do or new hair color. Be kind to yourself and truly know that you did not deserve any of this and much better things are in store for you, down the road. I think that you are terrific!



  19. To Lorraine

    Thank you so much for your kind words. They made me cry. I know you’re right. People think I’m strong because I left him but really I’ve been distraught. I have ignored him on the 2 occasions that he’s been in touch. I know it’s the right thing to do however hard.

    This site has been the only place where I can be honest about me because I don’t want to hurt friends and family by letting them know how badly I’ve been affected and in a way I’m embarrassed, almost as if I should be getting on with life and moving on by now. That’s what everyone expects from me. Because I’m seen as feisty, independent, confident, funny, no problem attracting friends or men so therefore, by now, I’ve got no problem.

    I am feeling better than I was. My children and family and friends hate to see me not myself and hurting and it’s important to me now that I can be there for them more than I have been the last few months. Grief makes you selfish!

    So many strong women on this site and so many sad stories.

    I read your story too. I think you’re lovely.

    Thank you so much. xx

  20. Lorraine, you are so eloquent. You explained NPD perfectly.

    Seren, you are also so eloquent and lovely and in so much pain. Per this:

    deep down I have never thought I was good enough and deep down I have always thought that I am not really very attractive inside or out. I am digging deep and thinking that deep down, despite the picture I paint to the world, I don’t actually think very much of myself at all.

    I must say that everything you have written I could have written about me. The way my freinds view me, how much confidence they think I have. I get this over and over and over: You are the strongest woman that I know. Really? Well then we are all in a bunch of trouble!!!

    But I also never have felt good enough. And I think it is that exact feeling that draws us into these destructive relationships. We attract what we are trying so desperately to fix.

    Anyway, I just wanted to make you aware of this website. It seems that you do not feel that NPD describes your ex, so perhaps this will not resonate also, but in researching my ex who was a TEXT BOOK SA and NPD (bordering on sociopathic), I ran across this website which explained a lot to me:


    I feel like you are my twin when you write these words: This situation however I cannot really come to terms with. I am feeling better now but I know that nothing has EVER affected me so deeply or profoundly. I still can’t quite believe what happened or that I let it happen to me.

    Me too and I hate that after 6 months of No Contact, when I thought I saw his car, I can not stand that I shook and my heart raced for an hour. I practically want to move out of State and he lives 2 hours away and my chances of running into him are very slim.

    I think these dark energies are extremely preverse which is why they affect us so deeply.

    Love to you both …

  21. Hi Anna

    Wow, 6 months later. God, you know I bet I’ll be the same. Mine actually moved to my small town about 2 years ago. To be near me apparantly.

    He’s still here and I have to pass his house and car on my way home every day. I have been parked and he’s passed in the car. I asked him to just drive on and pretend he hadn’t seen me if he ever did and the last 2 attempts he made to contact me I ignored so he’s doing exactly what I asked now. It’s horrible though and upsets me everytime. Maybe it’s better that it’s happening a lot because then I’ll get used to it and work through any emotional trauma.

    I don’t really understand why he’s still here. I wish he’d just go. He could easily afford to rent while waiting to sell so WHY doesn’t he. There’s nothing for him here now. My friends and family might bump into him and on the few occasions he’s seen them he’s apparently walked off with his head down and acted embarrassed after previously being involved with them as friends.

    In fact a few months before I left him, he actually announced that he was thinking of moving in a few years. This is after telling me that he’d moved here to be near me and would never now move again and asking me to move in with him when my children were older. I tried to discuss our relationship with him following this as I was a bit shocked. I pointed out that perhaps his commitment to our relationship had changed or that as he felt differently to how he had felt previously about moving here then maybe we should discuss where our relationship was at. He wouldn’t have it. Said that his mentioning moving had nothing to do with our relationship, that he was entitled to live somewhere else if he wasn’t happy with his house, that no other rational person would think that our relationship and his moving were connected at all. Maybe he does have NPD. On this particular evening we had met up later on that night. I had gone to meet with friends and he had gone fishing. I found out 3 weeks later that he never went fishing, he was seen by another friend going into his house with a female and he had acknowledged my friend when she said hello.

    So why is he still here!!

    I don’t know about you but it’s hard to come to terms with realising that you meant nothing at all to someone that you thought you meant everything to. How do you ever trust again.

    PS I live in the Uk.


  22. Seren,

    Per your: I don’t know about you but it’s hard to come to terms with realising that you meant nothing at all to someone that you thought you meant everything to. How do you ever trust again.

    I do not think we are supposed to trust THAT WAY again. I think it is our part of our lesson, is not to be so foolishly naive, and also NOT to ignore our intuition that is telling us from the beginning that something is wrong, something is off. I do not know about you, but I ignored ***62*** red flags (some of them flaming red flags). I put them all together in a list and it mind boggling how many things I had turned my head at.

    This statement: but it’s hard to come to terms with realising that you meant nothing at all to someone that you thought you meant everything to.

    Would very much cause me to think that he is NPD. That is what the do best. They first put you on a pedstal, proclaim you to be everything they ever wanted or needed, then devalue you through subtle put downs. They are always looking for a new form of supply (just like the sex addict) and when you confront them about anything at all (a strike against the illusion of their perfection) they will discard you like a used kleenex. Perhaps you can relate to the following (which I pulled off an NPD board online called WoN for Web of Narcissim). I have learned so much on that board:

    I think one of the most covertly abusive aspects of the narcissistic relationship is psychological and emotional invalidation. When the narcissist has NO reaction to us at all, it denies our humanity. Makes us feel like we’re worthless, invisible, unimportant, irrelevant. It’s so dispiriting we can’t believe it’s happening and so, we try one more time to see if we can get them to respond. If they don’t respond, their silence reinforces the belief that we’re worthless. This is very similar to what a child feels when a parent neglects them and does not meet their emotional needs.

    If the N responds though, we perceive it as validation that we’re living, breathing, human beings. That we do have impact on others even if it hurts us. Even if the N is angry, at least we feel seen and heard and validated. This is the ‘Hook’ we feel when ending an abusive relationship. If the N had never acknowledged our existence, we wouldn’t get ‘hooked’ emotionally. The hook is called Intermittent Reinforcement. We had ALL the N’s attention, dedication and admiration at one point, so we KNOW it’s there. If we can just do things RIGHT, we’ll be rewarded with a response of some kind. The N’s acknowledgment of our existence temporarily fills an inner void that everyone experiences when an important relationship ends.

    The problem with thinking we can ‘earn’ validation (reward) is that we’re blaming ourselves for doing something WRONG when we’re NOT validated. We falsely believe that their invalidation is and was our fault.

    Invalidation is one of the most painful cruelties human beings can experience. Going No Contact is all about healing yourself. It’s not about making the narcissist miss you so much that he acknowledges your existence with a reply. Wondering why or if he’ll respond is still giving him too much power to validate your existence!

    I know this isn’t easy, and we all do similar things until we get through this painful grieving period. Ending a relationship is excruciating for n-survivors because we think we found the answers to our self-doubt and self-worth when we met the N. Then suddenly, we find out they didn’t even see us as human beings. They loved us like people love KitchenAids.

    If we had any ‘esteem’ issues or doubts about our worth and value, the D&D (devalue and discard) intensifies those feelings. It may take years to overcome a dysfunctional childhood after the N awakens fears we may not have known were there. The first step towards healthy self-reclamation is to let the N go his or her merry way and begin a long journey of self-discovery, initiated by our grief. It sounds like you’re feeling the loss right now and it’s probably overwhelming…

    Even years later, it’s unfathomable to me how Ns can pick up and move on as if we never even existed. I will never understand it and I don’t have to understand it. All I have to do is ACCEPT it.

    Remember, the narcissist’s lack of attachment says NOTHING about you. All it says is that Ns are incapable of emotional attachment to anyone. They are NOT suffering, though, Sweetest. We are. So even in the darkest of times when you don’t think you can tolerate another moment of pain, remind yourself how marvelous it is to Feel and Feel Deeply. Even sorrow.

    They will go through their lives literally being alone. Because they cannot truly be a friend or intimate lover to ANYONE. How sad is that? Every second of their lives they are searching and searching and searching. For something to make the pain and hate they feel about themselves go away. But it ain’t happening. So they go through woman after woman looking for the perfect love. Find it for the first month or so and then discover this woman has feelings of her own, is not perfect, does not think everything they say and do is right, and ooops, time to move on to the next victim.

    Keep the faith. Be good to yourself. Thank the lord you got out of that relationship. And remember Karma.

    I lived a life of being told who and what I am…it still happens. The only difference is that now I see it as one person’s connection. One person’s interpretation and that it reveals what other people identify with in terms of them selves…

    [We] should take abuse seriously as in “No Thanks” Hand it back. Pass it back to the generations that have kept the dysfunction and do everything we can do to understand how it works and how no longer

  23. BTW, mine also saw prostitutes and in fact was obsessed with the subject of prostitutes and transvittes (spelling?). I once told him: You have that theme very exagerated in your head, a huge preoccupation with that subject. I was trying to be open minded and chalk it up to cultural differences (he was from another country), when in fact, this is not normal behavior for a healthy man.

    It is deplorable behavior and not just from a moral standpoint, but what about the risk that they are taking with our HEALTH? This bastard left me with a STD, what a surprise when you are regularly having sex with prostitutes.

  24. Hi Anna: “Remember, the narcissist’s lack of attachment says NOTHING about you. All it says is that Ns are incapable of emotional attachment to anyone. They are NOT suffering, though, Sweetest. We are. So even in the darkest of times when you don’t think you can tolerate another moment of pain, remind yourself how marvelous it is to Feel and Feel Deeply. Even sorrow”.

    I know this logically. I also know there is no point spending any time or effort on wondering why someone like that is like that. I feel so much better this week than I did in previous weeks but I was not in a good place and I think I had to sink really low in order to climb back up. Time does help.

    Yes, I ignored all the little red flags too. Loads of them. I think he was into cyber sex and escorts right from the start of our relationship. Don’t think he bothered to even try and stop. I’ll never know really though because nothing was ever explained to me after I confronted him.

    Although something didn’t feel quite right at the beginning of our relationship and I tried to call it off – he persuaded me not to somehow. It still didn’t feel right after, I remember saying to a friend after a few months that although he was saying and doing all the things that would make you think someone was deeply in love with you, somehow it didn’t feel real and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Just a sense that there was no emotional connection or true depth of feeling behind him. My friends and family told me to take a chance and that maybe I was letting my previous bad relationship colour this one in terms of trust issues. God, I think I will definitely go with my instincts next time because I was SO right about my feelings at the beginning of this one. I just told myself that I had trust issues and it was me. I won’t do that again! 3 and a half years I was with him. And I won’t be waiting for 6 years before getting back into dating either!

    The way I see it in simple terms is that he’s a cold man with a cold, cold heart. They all are by the sounds of it. I could never choose to live with it. Life and love shouldn’t be that hard!

    So sorry you ended up with an STD. I got myself tested and all the results came back negative. I think if I had caught anything off him I would have hit the wall, gone beserk, flipped so good job I didn’t. Hope you’re ok now.


  25. Hi Seren,

    Sometimes when I write to you I feel like I am writing to myself, because we seem so much alike.

    I am painfully aware that knowing something logically does not equate to feeling it deep in your heart, or cause the pain to diminish.

    Here is one of the first things my therapist told me: I am very pleased that you understand on a deeper level that fantasy only leads to a repetition of past patterns. (She said that I had built a fantasy in my head about this guy that had nothing to do with what he was all about).

    Whenever any of us, on any level, acknowledge red flags early on – then we must honor them. It is very important to move forward and break any connections you have with anyone who does not hold your heart and soul in its highest good.

    I also felt that things were off and that he was so closed off to me from the beginning. In fact, I used to say to my friends all the time: I do not think he really likes me.

    He lived about 2 hours away and would come to my house every single weekend. All of my friends would tell me: Of course he likes you, who drives that far and comes every single weekend and spend 3 to 4 days a week with you and does not like you? No man does that.

    Instead of honoring myself, my feelings and the red flags, I allowed my friends to influence me; mainly because I wanted to believe it myself and I was desperately seeking validation thru this relationship. I will never do that again. I remember even after my first date that I thought something was off. But we can not go back in time, just pull these lesson forward with us.

    Today I will stop attempting to define myself through the opinions of others, or if I am in a relationship, my education level, or anything other then accessing my true self, my higher self, the best part of me.

    I will stop looking for my happiness and fulfillment in a relationship and will focus on conquering my own fears, demons and personal addictions. Instead of looking for a partner, I will work on becoming the type of partner I have always wanted: strong, grounded, financially stable and emotionally available.

    By having consistently chosen emotionally unavailable men, I myself have made sure that true intimacy would not be available in my life. On some level, I did not wish to be completely open or closely examined by another human as I felt I was too flawed.

    Here is something I wrote in 2006: My wounds are so deep that I would never expect that you could possibly see me. I have too stay guarded. I must be on alert at all times. How could you possibly like what I am? You would see me and reject me. And therefore I must keep you at a distance. At a distance is safe. At a distance my vulnerabilities are not so obvious. If I can not stand who I am, then how I can think that you can accept me? Time, I always need time. More time for improvement, more time to get better. Soon I will be someone that someone else could love.

    Those words make me so sad, but If I that is how I felt about myself deep down (I have an extremely confident persona to the outside world) then how could I possibly attract someone that will love and accept me? By not truly exposing myself to another human being, I was not truly in a relationship. It was basically my mask interacting with their mask, as both of us were too damaged and scared to show our true selves. We feared rejection so much that we were unwilling to show ourselves fully to each other.

    I will no longer allow my secrets and my past to shame me. I will focus my efforts on living in the present moment and if that present moment is painful, I will allow the pain to move thru me and released instead of covering it up by eating, shopping, drinking, gossiping or trying to control others; knowing full well that buried feelings never die. I will try to remember to turn my life and my will to God knowing that control is one of the greatest illusions on this planet.

    I will always remember that whatever is happening at the moment is for the greater evolution of my soul (Eckert Tolle) and that whether or not it is clear to me; the universe is unfolding as it should (Max Ehrmann).

    I will wish every sentient being, including those who have deeply hurt me, peace and happiness because it is only by knowing peace within me shall I ever be able to connect with the peaceful.

    I have attempted to give the impression that I am centered and calm, but it is apparent by the extremely chaotic people that I have chosen to pull into my life of the great chaos that has been brewing inside of me.

    I will end this journal post with this writing From the book: Letting go of Debt by Karen Casanova

    Some of us have gone through life unconsciously expecting others to bring us happiness, to make our dreams come true, and to make us feel good about ourselves. When nothing seems to be going well for us, we blame it on the lack of external support – we’re not in a serious relationship, we don’t like our job, we don’t have the money to venture into our own business.

    When we change our perspective – when we know and trust that we are responsible for our happiness, our dreams, and our feelings – we become empowered. No longer is the burden on someone or something that is either unreliable or nonexistent. We’d been giving this power to others; now it’s time to take it back, to make and be responsible for our own choices, to value our opinions, and to respect our intellect.

    It is nice getting to know you … I feel like I have a public pen pal 😉

  26. Hi Anna

    “It is nice getting to know you … I feel like I have a public pen pal”. Yes. I feel the same. x

    You know, although I’m still getting upset sometimes and having a good cry, I’m sort of just crying for me now and my loss rather than crying for something I feel like I valued and lost. I still do miss the “him” that was the picture he painted but that’s getting more grey and distant. Probably it’s taken me this long to get over the shock.

    I still know that I let things happen and have co-dependant issues and deep down don’t feel self worth BUT this is me. I don’t think I want to “cure” me or change how I am and can’t help thinking that really if there are a few out there who could take advantage of that, that’s a risk I’ll take. I don’t want to dissect issues that were there when I was a child because all in all I felt safe and knew I was loved, although I know that not everything was right, and my mother had issues, I can see that this shaped me and made me who I am today and who I am today is alright with me.

    The only thing I will do is grow and learn and what I have learned from this last relationship is not to doubt my instincts. I don’t think there’s any need to. I’m sure it will have an impact on future relationships and hopefully I will still be able to take a leap of faith in love.

    I know that soon I will have my own closure in my own way.

    I don’t have a therapist (I probably need one but we don’t get an awful lot of help with stuff like this in this neck of the woods) but friends and family are good therapy too.

    Now that I’m feeling a bit better I told a very good friend how I had been feeling before and she was upset with me for not being honest previously. She accepted and understood why I had felt so low and I said a lot of things to her that I’ve said in my posts on here and more. I suppose me being me I was saying things sort of apologetically as though I wasn’t entitled to feel that way really and she was so angry with him on my behalf it was really endearing and made me feel like I should have said something sooner. She told me that of course I was upset and that anyone would be and that I am her friend and have coped so well with all this because of course I would have been traumatised and shocked and who wouldn’t have been.

    She was so kind and sincere and said we should go out to eat with other friends and said that I should choose where we go. I said I didn’t mind and she said I quote “no, you choose, where would you really like to go and we’ll go there”. She then said: “I feel like I’ve been deceived too, he came here for food and talked and we all got on so well and I was happy for you because you seemed happy and content and he seemed like such a nice guy. I know it’s not the same for me as it is for you but I really feel like he’s deceived me too. I can’t really believe it and I can see how much you’ve been hurting and I’m shocked too. God, I think you’ve had a lucky escape. Thank god you’re not still with him”. How lovely is that. My lovely friend.

    I hope you have friends like that too. xx

  27. Hi Seren,

    I love that you are OK with who you are. I think that is super healthy. And I agree that people that take advantage of others are few and far between, at least that has been my experience in life.

    For me, this attracting the ‘wrong’ type of man has been a very big issue for me. It has been a constant in my life. Every single one of the men that I have been heavily involved with (by this I mean lived with, engaged and/or married) have been completely emotionally unavailable.

    The SA/Narc has hurt me in a way that no previous man had before, but the core behavior (me trying desperately to get attention from unavailable men) is a long lasting pattern for me, and it I feel I have to address it, or when will it end?

    I do have many wonderful friends that have held my hand and my heart during this most trying of times. I truly do not know if I could have made it thru this trial without them, but thankfully, they were right here when I most needed them.

    I am happy that your friend was right there in solidarity with you, friends are priceless and invaluable in our healing process.

    Many blessings to you and I wish you continued and complete healing.

  28. The CoDA literature committee is working on a new piece of CoDA literature that addresses this topic, which is just beginning to be addressed in the therapeutic community and in recovery circles.

    From the Counter-Dependent’s Point of View

    I should avoid emotional closeness, because it leaves me vulnerable and open to hurt. I will adopt an attitude of aloofness and indifference to keep my partner from getting a piece of me. Besides, if I let my partner get into my head, I will be under her rule and will be smothered. I will lose myself. To prevent this, I will subconsciously and consciously distance myself from my partner to keep her from overtaking me, while giving her fleeting moments of tenderness to keep her near me.

    Here’s how I’ll go about it.

    I will put off her requests for closeness, for talks and for time alone together. I will interrupt her and dismiss her opinions. I will show little interest when she wants to share an insight or a story from her day, and I will not share mine. When she hears me share something with someone else and asks. “Why didn’t you tell me that? I will say.” Or “I didn’t think you’d be interested” or “I forgot.” I will pretend to be interested, but internally, I scoff at her interests as well as her choices and habits. Also, I will make sure I don’t miss a chance to point out with a tone of superiority and rightness– how opposite or different her choices and habits are from mine. This helps prove that any attempts at working on our relationship will likely fail, since we are so different and thereby gives me more reason to distance myself.

    I will spend my time at home on house projects, watching TV, reading magazines or playing on the computer or working outside, anything and everything to leave no time for us to have a private moment. I will go to bed early or stay up each night later than her to avoid any closeness when we go to bed, then tell her she isn’t getting enough or needs too much sleep. If I want to have sex, I will wait until she makes a move, keep her deprived and then, when I decide its time, begin touching her, knowing she’ll respond because I’ve minimized affection and she’s craving any intimacy I’ll offer. When I am not at home avoiding her, I will pursue activities outside the home and not include her or forget to tell her about my activities until the day of the event, thereby leaving little possibility that she can attend with me. I will avoid calling her during the day or keep my pager or cell phone off or on silent mode, to avoid talking with her. When I do think of reaching out, I quickly find a reason not to.

    To keep her within arm’s reach, I will occasionally throw out a “we should do X.” I may even really mean to do something with her, but I won’t ever make it a priority so that other things I have to do will always come first… I will leave my schedule open to attend whatever event I want, work on any project I want, or go out with friends (without considering asking her if she wants to go with me). But I will raise a fuss when she decides to take a night off without getting my OK. After all, she always checks with me to see if I’ll be home, so if she doesn’t check, she must be punishing me, and I will call her on it. I will evade suggestion from her for a night out together doing something she enjoys (unless it is something I want to do or convenient for me) or will commit to a night out grudgingly and without any sign of enthusiasm. When she stops initiating sex or dates for us and then later complains about our lack of fun or intimate time, I will (with irritation in my tone) remind her that she needs to initiate it I can’t always be the one initiating.

    If she asks that we have a talk, I will put on my game face of mild irritation at her demand that I share. I will let her run the talk, not offering much input and not validating her opinions. If she pushes ANY buttons or requests any changes in my behavior, I will unleash my rage and feel it is my entitlement to cut her, criticize, accuse her of riding me and then leave the room or the house, so that she can’t continue talking to me. Her talking is just a cover to get a chance to bipch at me anyway. When she sets up a session with a counselor, I will go so that no one can place blame on me for not going. Then I will tell the counselor that the reasons we have problems is that we are very different people so we can’t communicate with each other or I will simply refuse to engage in a meaningful way, and say that counseling just doesn’t work for us.

    Once in a while, I will throw her a crumb and share a thought or a hug with her. Or, at the spur of the moment, I will decide — without asking her first — to take her out to dinner so that she can’t say to her friends or my family He NEVER spends time alone with me. I will subvert any attempts from her to talk about us spending more time together during these rare occasions when I do spend a night with her. I also do things for her that I have procrastinated on, and then complain when she is unhappy that I waited so long to do them and accuse her of ingratitude.

    I will show disgust at her lack of confidence and insecurities. Then I will bring up her tender spots (insecurities) whenever it helps me gain the upper hand or control in an uncomfortable situation. That way, the focus of whatever comes up is shifted away from me and onto her unreasonable demands, criticism and insecurities.

    When she reacts to any of this with anger or other high emotions (yelling, getting hysterical, crying, bawling, or walks around joyless and bitter), I will offer very little comfort, concern, reassurance or attention and criticize her for over-reacting. After all, she is trying to punish me with all her hysterical and depressing emotions, and I don’t need the hassle.

    Her anger and emotional reactions provide good reasons to keep distancing myself from such an intentionally hurtful person. I will make sure I tell my friends and family that her only moods are depressed, hysterical, joyless and bitter, and nothing I do is ever enough for her. That way I can make an ironclad case that proves to everyone, including myself, that it is her fault when she leaves me.

  29. Hello Lorraine.

    Reading your story, it looks like I am reading my own story.
    And I did everything you have done, including sending an email to his wife with all the details.
    Strangly, she never contacted me for more information, and I am sure he tried to lie his way out of it at home like he had done so many times in the past.

    When I found out last year that he had a sexaddiction, he promissed me to get the help he needed, he lied to me about sessions he had with a co worker ( he himself is a Dr ) each week, and I saw how he got deeper and deeper into the addiction too.
    There was nothing I could do about it, I could only watch him slide deeper and deeper

    After my discovery he tried to dump me time and time again, I think because he knew that I knew, he wasn’t the man he pretended to be.
    But my love for him didnt change because of that, it only grew because I felt so much closer to him, maybe because I knew something about him no one else knew ?
    – is that co-dependency or love ? I say its love !

    From that time on, I got nothing in return anymore, like I wasnt worth it, and I know so well what you mean with missing that, the attention, the feeling of being loved and wanted, the “connection” the best buddy”s part..
    We used to talk for hours on the phone each and every day, ( I had to call him, he never called me once ) I miss that so much too, I miss him so much too…
    There are times I can still feel his arms around me, smell his cologne.. hear his voice saying sweet nothings to me like he used to do..
    and like you, it was over from one day to the next, like it really didnt mean anything what we shared..

    And unlike all the others ( Seren- Anna) I would take him back, and see where it would lead to, that is how much I still love and want him.

  30. JoAnn- Will you write something for the Modern Love section of the New York Times regarding being married to a sex addict?
    I find your research and voice so clear and helpful. It would help us all if more of the outside world understood from the spouses perspective.

  31. Wow, I don’t know how I missed this subject and the comments that followed. Had a tough week and really needed to visit the many spots on this site. I find it helps me get focussed and grounded again, from the wisdom of others that have gone before me and come after.

    Thanks everyone for your willingness to be so open and candid.

  32. Hi Jeannette,

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had a tough week and through your reading and going back, I went back and saw where it all began on here for me…

    And well… here I still am…:) and while not completely healed, I am in a better place now– at least most of the time. Some days are still tough. I realize that I have my triggers which happen on those days of extreme stress, which brings me back into that downward spiral. But, I am aware of this and it usually dissipates in a day or two.

    What I’ve also discovered in the last 9 months or so, is that there are so many variables to both SAs and their partners.

    Everyone has a different background and history and awareness abuse/minimal abuse/no abuse, mores/beliefs, co-morbid afflictions, (such as narcissism, depression or AD/HD, bi-polar disorder, other addictions etc.) The variables are as immense as there are phone numbers in the directory. So, to say that its complicated, is a tremendous understatement.

    This is why, anyone trying to get out from under be it the SA, the partner, or the couple as a whole, needs professional help,(and a LOT of it!) to sort out the fact from the fiction and to get to the root of the problems– If this is not done, then there is simply no hope for any kind of recovery for anyone. This would be like a neuro-surgeon trying to operate on his own brain!

    SAs are ill. That one is a constant. And some are more ill than others. Some of us are ill as well, in varying degrees, or have become that way, in order to compensate and some are not. All of us have issues that could use improving, in any case. As for “co-dependent”, some of us ARE also addicted (note, I said “some”)and that addiction is to our SA. I know that I was. Being with him WAS like a drug. I do recall this immense euphoria I felt just seeing his name in print, never mind being in his presence. I would drive in to see him and I was intensely aware of this phenomenal “high.” It was this rush of adrenalin and that my friends is very powerful stuff! So, I am mindful of that as I am continuing the search for my own place of peace. However, I did not ask to be treated in such an abusive way– simply as a “prop”, at best. I do realize now that my ex friend is still very ill and not recoverable. Not at this time. I wish this were not so and it breaks my heart. He is in the camp of complete and utter denial that anything he is doing is not normal or hurtful. His addiction has once again taken hold and is advancing. Even though he knows that this is devastating to his partner, he simply is unable to stop. (He’s still all over Craig’s List and I have placed a couple of phony ads to which he’s responded, blah…) Its very sad, yes, and I truly hope that his partner wakes up, but she is in her own denial and there’s nothing I can do about that, of course. So be it.

    The other thought that I’ve had is that while a male SA may not CONSCIOUSLY intend to hurt his partner(s), (and I do believe that most do not)they are in actuality quite misogynistic on a subconscious level. Again, for all the men reading this, I am NOT saying that all men with a sexual addiction HATE women. Absolutely not, but at the very least there is probably a lot of unresolved anger towards women.

    And some are simply looking to repeat the experience of their childhood abuse, not so as to re-enact it, but to gain superiority and be the perpetrator. This is done (subconsciously) in order to heal the hurt inflicted on them and so that they never have to suffer themselves, again. Yes, its very unhealthy if not downright sick, but it may help to understand how and why they are doing this “to us.” On some level, they DO want to love and cherish, but they simply do not know how and are incapable of this basic human function and cannot understand why it distresses us so much. Somewhere along the way, the emotional roadblock was put up and that is where they ended up. I do believe, however, that with the right therapies and treatments/supports, that the roadblocks can be torn down…and new roads built, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of time and at least an understanding that the road block even exists! So, some will never even get to that point and if they cannot, then unfortunately, I think that in most cases (there are always exceptions) it is wise to bail out, if nothing else than to save yourself.

    Of course, knowing all of this does not lesson our own hurt because while there may not be any intentional damage (on a conscious level), at the very least, we are collateral damage at the hands of some very dysfunctional thinking and actions.

    Well, that’s my take some nine months after I first wrote on here.

    I wish everyone on here much peace, love and light.



  33. Anna,
    I know you posted this a while ago, so not sure you are still around. But I found this interesting to read (your bit from the Counter-Dependent’s Point of View).

    It’s like you described my situation, minus the anger. But the lack of household help, communication (tells his parents stories not me), crums of whatever to look good in front of others etc. It all rang true and hit home for me.

    But I never saw anyone else describe this. Thanks.

    Further supports that we are not cray. We are dealing with crazimakers in our lives.
    That we are not all insane (spouses, partners, girlfriends), we are just dealing with the same type of insane parnter (spouse, BD, GF) who Drives us insane!!