I don’t usually do things like this, but in this case I will make an exception because this young woman is just blind to all the red flags in this relationship.
In my internet research I ran across a story that just brought me to action. I have been commenting on this young woman’s story, but I really felt that she could benefit from some sage advice. So, I am copying her story here, along with my comments. To give credit, I have included a link to the original post at the end of this post.
I recently (1 month ago) started to get to know a guy from my church through mutual friends. We really hit it off and would talk for hours and hours. We have so much in common and we just really enjoy each other so much. There had been comments along the way of flirting, and naturally I started to have feelings for him.
We had gotten together in group settings to go out and always have a great time. So much fun. Once a week, we get together for lunch with a friend, but sometimes its just the 2 of us.
Well, a few days ago, I admitted that I had begun thinking of him romantically. He was flattered and thinks I am amazing as well. BUT he is coming out of a recent breakup (3 months ago) with a girl he intended to marry. He said he’d really done some stuff that hurt her. So because of that and “other things” he is just not interested in pursuing anyone right now. And that he hoped we could still be friends and not have any awkwardness.
I saw him a few hours later at an event at church and he didn’t avoid me at all. We were as comfortable as always with each other and sat next to each other during worship. That was really special to worship with him. We both love God so much and want to do right by Him. We each went home and went online and ended up having an incredible talk. We shared our very personal life stories.
During this long talk, he trusted me with a very big struggle of his. He is a recovering sex addict. He goes to a group weekly and he says he is doing very well. But that is why he doesn’t want to be in a relationship at all right now.
Knowing this definitely made me think—and I have been doing research about what he is dealing with and what partners of sex addicts face. I understand the risks, but in the end, I still have feelings for him. And if he continues this group therapy that is helping him, I would definitely still be interested in having a relationship with him.
But I know and understand without a shadow of any doubt, that right now he needs to be single, and I completely support him on that. What I don’t want, though, is for him to consider me only a friend after many months of me just being a friend for him.
At the same time, I don’t want to be flirtatious and give him any difficulties in his recovery process.
How would you recommend I proceed with him?
Here is a link to the original post:
Are you totally crazy? My god woman, you have no idea what you are getting into. Check out my website that helps women who are involved with a Sex Addict and see the pain you are in for. http://marriedtoasexaddict.com
They are masters of con and very charming—until you find out that he is lying and cheating on you. I guarantee it.
“Please don’t misunderstand, his well-being is my #1 priority.”
YOUR well being should always be YOUR #1 PRIORITY. Anything else is not healthy.
Thank you for your reference to your website. I am definitely in need of education regarding this addiction.
I am not crazy, however. I have feelings for him that developed before I found any of this out, by his own honest admission. I have the feelings, but I am not going to act upon them. For both of our sakes. Maybe my romantic feelings will fade over time. Right now they are there, but like I said, I’m decidedly not going to go there with him.
But I am still torn, admittedly, about whether or not it is possible for someone to be recovered and once again enter a healthy relationship again someday (whether with me or someone else). I just hesitate to believe that they are all the same in every case. But, I do understand what you’re sharing with me. Its just hard for me to get a handle on it yet. Its hard for me to look at anyone and assume they will fail. It doesn’t seem like a fair assumption. Everybody deserves to have support and have people who have faith in them.
I will take a look at your website, and any others people can reccommend that may educate me further.
It’s just a little troubling to hear you talk about all these things that he deserves without thinking of what you deserve. It sounds as if you have bought into his story of being the underdog—the misunderstood one. This entire relationship is just strange. First, and most importantly, new ‘friends’, as you and he are, especially male/female friends, do not discuss their sex lives in detail. This is a giant red flag. Sex Addicts tend to take a relationship to a very close and personal level very quickly. He has you feeling as if you are special and has drawn you into this very complex disease that he should be working on himself.
When spouses or partners discover that Sex Addiction has destroyed their relationship the first thing the counselors will say is that the addict must take full responsibility for their actions (this means more than just ‘words’ it means going to therapy, changing your lifestyle, making amends, etc.) and that the partner must not do anything to enable the Sex Addict by trying to control or ‘work with them’ on their recovery or by being overly ‘nurturing’ toward them.
Sex Addicts suffer from an arrested emotional development and are constantly seeking a mother figure to love them ‘unconditionally’. There is no such thing—unless we have no personal boundaries.
I have over seven years of experience in working with spouses and partners of Sex Addicts and I can say without a doubt that his behavior is very typical of a Sex Addict. He is drawing you into his problems in very manipulative ways and is making you feel somehow ‘special’ as if you are the ‘only one’ who can make him whole.
This is not a healthy relationship, and, even as platonic friends, you should not be involved in his recovery. Friendships do not involve one person taking and the other giving. What is he giving you? He is not the only ‘kind and sensitive’ person out there, and most do not have the major issues that this man has.
Tell him to get a counselor
PS: sorry for all of the typos and grammatical mistakes. 🙂
PLEASE listen to JoAnn-she knows her stuff.
I would like to share my situation so you can see how these SA’s operate.
When I met my SA, now husband, he told me he was only interested in friendship as his divorce was final the month we met.He said he just wanted to socialize and have friends-obviously women. He was good looking, intelligent, charming, very out-going, appeared to have good moral values, and we talked for a long time on that first meeting. After that, he moved very quickly-I thought I had met the man of my dreams. We started dating on a regular basis and slept together within a month.He would comment about how he had never been able to talk to anyone the way he could talk to me.My SA could sell you the moon with green cheese on it, and these guys are very convincing with everything they tell you. Do NOT fall for it.
My SA hid his addiction from me, but within a couple of months, I began to see red flags-just couldn’t put my finger on it.
I won’t go into all the details, but we moved in together, he finally admitted his addiction to me and agreed to seek counseling.BUT, it was just a fascade. He was a master manipulator, a pathological lier, and I fell for it hook line and sinker. He APPEARED to be in recovery, and had me convinced he was sincere. I was sure he was telling the truth,but had him take a lie detector test before we married. He lied on the test, as he later admitted, and I agreed to marry him.
We have been together 3 years – married one. I have been separated from him twice, and have a court date for divorce in August.It has been a nightmare of lieing, deceit, continual triggering and acting out with his addiction. I have been traumatized to the max by this man, and this is what they do.An SA is adept at picking a “mother” figure who will take care of them. Your’e SA’s wife divorced him for a reason, and he has latched onto you for a reason – to satisfy a sick need of his own. It is not healthy! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE before you get sucked in, and if you continue talking to him he WILL suck you in – this is what they do! And let’s say hypothetically he is serious about recovery, he will be facing years of slips/relapses, and he will never be cured. Once an addict – always an addict. He might learn to manage it to a degree, but it will most likely always rear it’s ugly head down the road.
Please listen to what we tell you. We have all been there and suffered tremendously.You do not want or need that kind of pain. HE IS FOOLING YOU.
Good luck to you.
JoAnn, while I have been in the trenches as a partner of a sex addict and know well the rage, pain, etc that comes with it, I’m a little surprised that you would start a comment to someone with “Are you totally crazy? My God woman…”.
First of all, to suggest first that the signs ought to be obvious, and then to follow by saying that these men are smooth cons is a contradiction. To be conned is NOT to be crazy. In fact, most people are vulnerable to being conned. Trusting is in our nature and there’s nothing wrong with this. She is not crazy to want to believe in the best.
Let’s remember that she developed feelings BEFORE she knew his struggles. The ball has already been set in motion, and by suggesting she is crazy to feel what she is feeling could alienate her to the message.
Perhaps compassion and wisdom might go further? I know if someone had suggested I were crazy to get involved with my partner I would have buried that information and cut of communication with the advisor. She needs open lines of communication she can trust, even if she makes a mistake…ESPECIALLY if she makes a mistake. No one wants to reach out to someone who is going to say, “didn’t I warn you?”
I see your point about keeping lines of communication open and not cutting out the adviser. OTOH, JoAnns’ reaction was honest and candid. No holds barred. Sure some people are not going to be able to handle that but maybe the way to stop someone from getting involved with a sex addict is to have their eyes opened wide. If our writer is going to run from the truth, she’ll do it no matter how the info is presented.
Re: obvious signs/smooth con. No contradiction IF we have our eyes open to what is really happening. The signs are there but we’ve got to see them. From my own experience in church circles and dysfunctional families, we are taught to close our eyes to reality. We need to be taught what to look for and how not to be fooled before we reach adulthood. Con men are everywhere. Trust is earned, not given.
Re: feelings developing. There is a very good reason why the feelings developed beforehand. This is an obvious ploy on his part because once we have feelings, we tend to turn off our rational and critical faculties. Perfect for the predator.
It doesn’t really matter how JoAnn worded her reply, the writer is going to do whatever she thinks is the ‘right’ way to proceed and mostly likely it will be getting involved with the ‘recovering’ sex addict. Why? Because we learn best by experience. Pity that.
I do hope that our writer feels she can come back here whenever she feels like it and that she knows we are not going to make it all shiny and nice nice. Life is not like that. Just my 2c worth. 🙂
I have been married to my SA for 24 years. I represented the mother image as well. He used his skills and I fell for them hook,line and sinker. I lost myself, forgot who and what I was about, and blamed myself for his discontent. Yes, he charming, very handsome, successful. What he didn’t have is so obvious to me now. And no matter how much I tried to recapture our intimacy he rejected me. I fell apart inside. And he knew it and allowed me to suffer in silence knowing he was destroying another human being and did not care. I had been married before and unfortunately lost my husband and child suddenly and moved to Boston to create a new life. Any normal healthy person would have had respect for my past. There are no boundaries when it come to an SA.
I am wiser now, he is in therapy, refuses to attend SA meetings (because he says they are not like him.) meditates daily. we spent 2 years in couples therapy as well. Guess what girls………..he still lies, skirts the truths, and continues to create a menu of deceit.
I would like that young girl who just met this guy in Church to think about this. ..Just because you have compassion and think you understand his problems isn’t enough.
Briar, you are absolutely right! It was a knee jerk reaction on my part and very disrespectful. I do appreciate you pointing it out. I will definitely watch my tongue in the future. Thank you.
I am currently separated from my Sex Addict spouse and I intend to keep it that way. My advice to you is to RUN! Now, before you get anymore bogged down than you are right now. I would also question why you feel romantic feelings for him when he hasn’t expressed any toward you. In fact, he’s told you straight up that he’s not interested because of his own issues. Fair enough but if you keep hovering, you’ll give him the message that he can do as he likes and you’ll put up with it.
Finally, I just wanted to share my opinion about religion. Take it or leave it but please hear me out. Nothing wrong with religion or worship or doing whatever you need to help yourself through life. At the same time, there is a tendency in Christian circles to focus on service to others. This has merits within reason but as like as not, one party, typically the woman, ends up sacrificing herself for others. If that’s what you choose, all the more power to you but just be aware of the cost up front.
You are obviously a caring, kind, loving woman; just the kind of prey that sex addicts are drawn to. Do yourself a favor and check out other guys too. Maybe ones that aren’t so self-absorbed. Then at least you’ll have a fair idea what you might be giving up to rescue someone who needs to learn to stand on their own two feet.
I would like to put my two cents in here. We are all very vocal about life with an SA. We have been there – done that in regard to they’re dysfunctional behavior and most of us have suffered emensly.
JoAnn, and the rest of us are very blunt. Why? Because we have seen the SA hook and reel in all of us, and our main concern is helping others not to fall into the same trap.
We do not walk on egg shells here. Our main focus is listening, supporting, and sharing our experiences. Sometimes, it may not be what we want to hear, but I can share from my personal experience on this site that is what we need to hear sometimes to get our heads straight.
Was JoAnn out of line? – absolutely not. She is a warm, loving, and caring person who has all of our best interests at heart. She tells it like it is, and none of us have felt for one minute she has been out of line.
JoAnn – I don’t think an apology was in order.
Thank you Sharron for your wonderful support. And yes, we really do hold each other tightly, support each other AND hold each other’s feet to the fire when necessary.
This is a very young and naive woman who really had no idea that she is being slowly and calculatingly led into the spider’s parlor. My reaction was to run out and pull her back into reality before it was too late.
I guess I do feel that asking if she was crazy was rude. But telling it like it is? I will never apologize for that.
Thanks again Sharron.
JoAnn was direct, to the point, unequivocal…….minced no words……and I like that approach.
The women, often young women, that we try to help and counsel here need to hear the unvarnished truth about what it is like to live with a sex addict. Until you been there, done that, you just don’t get it.
I struggle to find words to adequately convey the heartache of trying to live with an active sex addict.
Thank you, JoAnn for providing a safe place where we can help and support one another….and hopefully keep others from living the same hell that we have lived.
I’ll respond collectively to all who responded to my comment.
Somewhere on this site it is said that “I’ll never label you codependent”. The reason (and I think we can agree on this) that we object to the codependent label is because it labels us as sick independent of our partner’s illness. It felt wrong. In relationship with the addict we were also made to feel crazy – and this is supposedly part of codependence.
So, just as you are all “blunt”, “candid”, and “tell it like it is”, so too am I. To open with “are you crazy?” is to inflict the very same words and implications that wounded us being in relationship with a sex addict.
Furthermore, if the belief that this young woman is going to make her choice no matter what is said, or how it is said, that then begs the question, why say anything at all? Either we believe our words could have an effect or we don’t. If we DO believe our words might help, than it also follows that the words we choose matter.
One of the most toxic things to my recovery was feeling like I couldn’t talk to people about the problem because while I was in the pits of confusion what I got for feedback was more or less, “are you crazy?”. As I’m sure some of you also experienced, this only served to cut me off from support when I most needed it and only made me feel like I indeed must be crazy. It pushed me further down the rabbit hole, and did nothing to illuminate things for me in a way that I could make sense of.
I didn’t come here to offend or to threaten the group. I know how important our support systems are and the need to protect them no matter what.
The fact is, we have a different perspective after having gone through the depths of hell and come out the other side. But if we think back to our state of mind as we were falling for the con, could we have had sense knocked into us in this way? I’m not convinced. Being blunt or telling it like it is shouldn’t include an attack on someone who is standing at the threshold of a life-altering decision.
Again, my intention is not to attack or insult. Nor am I suggesting that anyone sugar-coat the experience. There is no sugar that can mask the bitter toxin anyway.
I suggest that someone who wants to stay in a relationship as described, even with all the red flags flapping in the breeze, is nuts, is codependent, and desparately needs an unvarnished reality check. We do her no favors by coddling her.
Nuts and codependent? Than this flies in the face of everything that is said here. Jo-anne says in her “about me”: “You will not hear me label you a co addict or co dependent”.
I say that she is codependent not simply based on the fact that she is involved with a sex addict, but on her propensity to stay in the “relationship”, despite the short duration of the “relationship”, despite the lack of committment from him, and despite the fact that he’s an admitted sex addict. THAT’S CODEPENDENT. That’s someone who NEEDS to be in a relationship despite the consequences. She’s ignoring every red flag and hurling herself down a perilous path. THAT’S CODEPENDENT.
We do her no favors by coddling her.
Lexie, thanks for your thorough comment.
Let me clarify because I think maybe this got lost somewhere in translation.
I am not at all advocating that this woman should not be warned, and very clearly. It is this fact precisely that made me question the approach. There is a critical window of opportunity to reach someone in her position of having already developed feelings. We are quick to label her “crazy” or codependent because we can see what she can’t, and because it is so obvious and clear to us that must mean she’s just nuts. And yet look at how this has unfolded for her already.
The feelings came before there were any red flags. The “friendship” was established in a context she considers safe and spiritual. Then he acted in a way that appears both honest and noble by telling her of his inner demons and professing that he can’t be in any relationship until he has done the important work of banishing or quelling those demons. For all WE know, he may be sincere in this, or at least as sincere as he is capable. In my experience, sex addicts (or sexual predators) believe their own stuff which is exactly what makes their deceptions more dangerous than other deceptions.
Does this make her codependent? Or does it mean that she has already been lulled into the sticky web? As you said yourself, there are SOME sex addicts who are willing to do the hard work, and right now that’s EXACTLY what this guy looks like to her. The EXCEPTION, not the rule. Is it actually crazy for her to think that?
The truth is we DON’T know that she is codependent, or crazy, OR that he isn’t being sincere. THERE is the danger.
So, in my opinion, the most helpful thing to tell someone in this very precarious and dangerous situation is that we all experienced being deceived, and/or thinking that our loved one could be an exception. That for all we know he could be the exception, BUT she needs to tread extremely carefully in this situation, and the best thing to do would be to give herself some time away from him because the records show it is not LIKELY he is an exception. To not commit herself to this one person at this time, because as long as he IS struggling with this addiction he is probably not safe, no matter how much he wants to believe himself to be. To point her to sane advice on the topic, to encourage her to read the many stories available and to see for herself how pervasive the deceptions can be. To emphasize that her love WILL NOT CURE HIM, so that she understands her standing by him will not help anyway.
To try to state as fact that she is crazy/codependent and he is definitely dangerous only opens her more to the hope and possibility that he IS an exception, and to turn away from those who are trying to state as fact things that they have no direct experience of.
I agree with everything you said. Great advice and a very good points that even a “recovering” SA can believe that they are IN the process of recovery, and they are clearly not. I have seen this time and again.
And also that she cannot help him in his recovery whatsoever. I believe that point was also made to her on the original post.
Whatever the case, this woman sure does have an Angel looking out for her… 🙂
I agree with Betty. I think the fact this young woman is latching onto a man with a proven track record of sex addiction is showing she may have unhealthy issues on her part. The lightbulb should go on with her! If she is not “needy” in some part, she would run as fast as she can and and should seek out a healthy relationship. Either that, or she is a very naive young woman.
I had two other instances where I was exposed to sex addicts. I ran as fast as I could and didn’t look back!
Steve is an entirely different issue with many circumstances surrounding the need to stay- won’t go into that!
I think this young lady is either insecure, naive, or has the makings of becoming a co-dependent.
I haven’t posted here in a really long time. I stop by from time to time and try to keep up to date. I never post anymore…until today. Had to. I should start by saying that the reason I never posted was while I was sure my husband was and is a sex addict, I also found out that he may/probably is a narcissist. That being said, his acting out with compulsive masturbation to porn, public acting out, well it seemed like his problems could be the narcissism. The more I have read the more confused I became! In so many ways my story is the same and yet it seems different somehow. When I read this story and the comments, that sick feeling started again in my stomach. This guy could be my guy! Our story is that we met through work, different states ,and stayed in contact online. Actually he pursued me relentlessly to get my home email until I gave it to him. He became my best friend. We instant messaged, and emailed for hours and months online and on the phone before we ever met. I was everything he could ever want, his soul mate. Cut to 12 years later, one child and a divorce in its final stages. Needless to say, the story is the same. He pursued me, once he had me it didn’t really take long before the first threads in the “fabric of our life” started to unravel. I caught him online looking at porn sites. He had been lying about it for 2 weeks. I was pregnant with our child and would awaken late at night and find him on his computer. He always said he was playing a game a friend had given him. The night I caught him we had a bad argument. He made it my fault that I was angry and that pretty much became the pattern of our life. He would deceive or lie and I would catch him, or I would be suspicious and hold it in until finally I could take it no longer. We would fight. It was always my fault. I didn’t trust him!! After I asked him to leave I found out he had been having an affair for at least a year. That caught me off guard. I knew something was wrong, but I could never put my finger on what was going on. I was worried about the possibility of an affair but he was home every night and weekend. Sadly I didn’t allow for the quickie in his car at lunch time! Silly me! “She” is now the love of his life! When he is with her he can be himself. “She” was married and has 2 kids. She is now divorced as well and they are very “happy” together. What is interesting in this story is that they were “friends” for 4 years before starting this affair. He has told our child that he was “just so unhappy in our marriage, Mommy and Daddy fought all the time, and “she” makes him so happy”. I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that “she” was being stalked and groomed and didn’t even know it. He is completely unremorseful. He has never looked back. I am thousands in debt for legal fees, he is forcing the sale of our home and after years of staying home taking care of our chronically ill child, he doesn’t feel he should have to pay me alimony! So…should this young girl be given the advice to run, not walk…YES! Things she said here gave me the creeps… “we had this incredible talk online”! Wow! I so remember those days. We could talk for hours and he was literally everything I could dream of or ever want… except he wasn’t. The whole “mothering” thing… I remember telling him before we got married, ” I do not want to be your mother, I already have a child!” I was very sensitive to his needs and he was my world. I did everything for him and he coldly turned his back on me, our family and our marriage like I never existed. I would not wish this on my anyone. Whoever you are out there, please think twice. I so wish I had not been so vulnerable. I have spent so many hours regretting all the signs I ignored in our life. This is a lose/ lose for this young lady.
Hi my name is Aoife Quinn and I am a final year student in Dublin City University completing my thesis on behavioral addictions. An element of this is sex/porn addictions and I was wondering if you/or anyone on this forum would be willing to talk to me about your experiences with a loved one who you believed to be a sex addict. I promise this wouldn’t take up too much of your time and could even be done via email exchange.
Thanks and hope to hear from you soon,
Most SAs ARE narcissists to a greater or lesser degree. I believe that the SA is a symptom of the larger personality disorder that most SAs have.
I just wanted to say that one way or the other, I would pity the new “love of his life”… Either, she’s completely sublimated herself to his perversions, and/or he’ll soon do to her what he did to you. Either way it is a lose/lose proposition with this man. That’s the way it is and leopards do not change their spots… that is not without, a LOT of bleach! 😉 All the best in your new life ~ Lexie
Your story is so relateable it almost makes me sad. I can only speak from my experience but I would agree with the ladies who have mentioned that calculated, predatory manipulations which look like vulnerability and friendship. My ex-fiancée did almost the same thing with me. In fact, one of our first conversations was him with tears streaming down his face as he recounted how his former girlfriend had broken up with him the weekend he was going to propose. He intimated at the time that he had “done some things he wasn’t proud of” but I was so moved by the depth of his pain at her loss, his commitment to her as she broke up with him and sought to be reunited before finally breaking away, how adoring he was of her. Being a narcissist is a common co-morbid disorder with SA and I now recognise these intimate, soul-bearing conversations we used to have as him trying to locate a someone who would feed his ravenous, insatiable ego and who he could manipulate.
His is a great looking guy, intelligent, witty, playful, gentlemanly and seemed vulnerable and emotionally aware. With some emotional distance, I can see he was exploitative, manipulative, emotionally avoidant, predatory, highly skilled in complex and premeditative deception. Did he love me? probably in his own sick way I think he did. But the damaged part of him is dominant and personally, I don’t believe that it can ever be fixed. He engaged in all the run of the mill activities of the SA’s you will read about here. Always so distraught as he got caught or confessed the latest transgressions.
What I wish most is not that he will get better so we can reconcile, but that I had never met him at all. He will go on wreaking havoc in the lives of women his whole miserable life, one of which I am sure will be a long-suffering wife who didn’t get out when she had the chance. I’m not a mean-spirited, hateful person. I have compassion, his life sucks. He lives drowning in shame and despair and no one should have to endure that. But, I’m not going to get down in the mud with him. My advise, walk away now and remember every time he looks at you all he sees is an opportunity for meaningless sex and thats all.
So I was trying to remember the name that I originally posted this question on. So I searched by the question and found it reposted on this site. Which is ok I suppose. Thought I would update you all on the situation.
I think people tend to assume worst case scenarios after reading a post like this. Probably borrowing emotional residue from their own terrible experiences. I appreciate that people did not want to coddle me. But, I think Briar really understands how much I was looking for a safe place to get advice, and not be attacked. If I were crazy, I would have never given the situation any thought and I would have just gone for it. In any case, it was what it was.
It has been almost a year since originally posting that situation and I did not pursue a romantic relationship with him. I continued to be his friend, though. We never discussed details of our sex lives. EVER. At any point before or after my post. He was only informing me of that detail when I had first expressed interest in him.
Friendship with him was great, we had a lot of fun together just doing what we enjoy. But because we were a man and a woman with such a close friendship it just felt a bit confusing and frustrating. I had been interested in another guy for a while but I felt like I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted. The friendship had almost become a committed relationship in my mind…even though there was nothing romantic going on at all.
So we mutually agreed that he and I would no longer spend time together one on one. That has really cleared up my own mind and I could finally open myself up to the idea of that other guy more completely.
Just wanted to let y’all know what ever came of it…