Internet pornography and the ease of connecting with someone online has allowed for individual’s sex addiction to skyrocket in both men and women. One of the most common justifications sexual addicts make for their obsession is, “No one gets hurt.”
On the contrary, here are 12 ways this addiction to self-love harms the addicts’ family, whether it’s through physical or emotional abuse; both the spouse and children are affected.
1. They lie and sneak around.
Sexual addicts are masters at using “weasel words” for legalistic evasion of being caught in a lie. They tell just a little bit of truth to create a completely false impression. Then if they get caught, they harp on the smidgeon of technical truth to accuse their mate of not remembering correctly or misunderstanding.
They also keep at their disposal a ready supply of accusations to hurl at a mate who gets too close to uncovering their secrets (i.e. “You’re just jealous,” “You’re overreacting,” “Everyone will think you’re crazy if they hear you say that,” or “You just don’t trust me”).
A formerly intelligent partner may quickly be reduced to a shaking bowl of Jell-O by the skillful verbal manipulation of an emotionally adulterous spouse. Sexual addicts master this “crazy-making” technique as they slide deeper into their compulsive addiction. Experienced counselors know that what the addict says may or may not be true.
2. They sometimes abuse alcohol or drugs as well.
Sexual addicts often deliberately use alcohol and drugs to numb their thinking and to excuse themselves for doing activities they lack the courage to do when sober. In other words, addicts might consciously recognize the danger of sexually transmitted diseases if they picked up a prostitute. But if they go to a bar for drinks and pick up a stranger, they fulfill their wish for illicit sexual contact.
However, their consciences don’t hold them accountable for the consequences, because they were drinking or using drugs. Thus, sexual addicts often seek alcohol and drugs on an unconscious level to justify moving into deeper addiction.
3. They can be perpetrators of verbal abuse.
Addicts often blame their partner and children as a way of soothing a guilty conscience. They quickly become experts at making their family members feel stupid and ashamed when anyone questions their conduct. Some husbands and wives are so intimidated by the addicts’ outbursts of anger and blame, that they drop the subject rather than risk further exposure to the tirades. As a result, the abuser successfully buries the addiction with verbal attacks on the family.
Sexual addicts always accuse the spouse and children of causing their vile behavior. The family lives in constant fear of when the next reprisal will hit for some insignificant mistake on their part. Their misdeed may be as simple as laughing together. A depressed family is easier to control.
4. They can be perpetrators of physical abuse.
If verbal abuse is allowed to continue long enough, it’s only a matter of time before physical abuse joins it. It’s becoming more common for women to also physically abuse their husband and children. However, many female sex addicts prefer more devious ways to punish their family.
5. They can be perpetrators of emotional abuse.
Mentally withdrawing often goes unrecognized as emotional abuse simply because of its silent nature. It shows up as pouting, spending hours on the computer or watching TV, not speaking for days, giving “the look,” and refusing to share or listen to feelings. Refusing to give compliments is a nearly universal form of emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse follows the same cycle as verbal and physical abuse:
- Buildup of tension
- Release of tension in the abusive action
- Loving respite where everything is wonderfully OK
However, the family may not even be aware that they were slimed by the sexual addict. Instead, the addict’s constant vacillating between showing some concern and then being emotionally absent keeps the family in a state of confusion and stress.
6. They can be perpetrators of sexual abuse.
Pornography and R-rated movies, along with masturbation, teach sexual addicts to sexually use their mate. Thus, they lose the ability to emotionally and sexually love their partner. Instead of turning addicts into better lovers as pornography tricks them into believing, they become totally self-centered and self-gratifying at the expense of their mate.
Incapable of connecting emotionally or giving and receiving real pleasure with their mate or any human, sex becomes mechanical with addicts. The mate will be lucky if the sexual abuse stops here. However, the addicts may progress to enjoying inflicting sadistic pain. Some male addicts force their wife to engage in sex with others while they watch and bring other women into their beds.
7. Their addiction can spiral into acting on thoughts of incest.
This is a frequent part of sexual addiction. Amazingly, mothers and fathers who looked proudly and lovingly at their newborn child and who would’ve gladly sacrificed their own life for that child, can one day degenerate into an incestuous pervert. They not only engage in fantasies of sexual indecencies with that same child, but many act them out.
Both boys and girls bear the emotional scars of addictive parents who deceived themselves into believing they were expressing love and teaching their child how to be loving through sexual molestation. This is a small example of how delusional their thinking becomes.
8. They’re bitter and angry.
Bitterness and anger are nearly always present in sexual addiction. Sometimes disappointment and bitterness over the marriage makes a person receptive to adultery, pornography, and masturbation. However, most sexual addiction starts during the teen years. The person develops bitterness from exposure to the degradation of men and women portrayed in porn. This opens the heart for bitterness and anger to flourish.
Whichever comes first, the bitterness or the pornography, sexual addicts always display a profound ignorance and lack of appreciation for the differences between men and women. Over time, bitterness warps the thinking of addicts so much that they lose all touch with reality. Eventually, the bitterness and anger consume the sexual addict’s thinking toward their mate and children.
9. They have unreasonable levels of perfectionism.
Demanding perfection amounts to dominion of the family and attempts to force their personalities into sadistic submission. When the family masters one area of criticism, the addict simply harps on a new complaint. Unreasonable expectations of perfection usually get quite severe before the children become old enough to escape the home.
It often takes the partner a long time to realize that the family cannot please the addict no matter how hard they try. By the time the partner starts trying to stand up to undeserved blame, everyone in the family is fighting for emotional survival.
10. They judge their family’s motives negatively.
A lot of verbal, physical, and emotional abuse results from this assigning of evil motives to the mate and children. Although addicts may spout wild accusations at their family, they keep most of their negative thoughts secret. This allows addicts to view themselves as the good spouse and parent who puts up with so much.
Thus, if no one has a chance to refute their delusional thinking, addicts are free to escalate their motive judging to a whole new level of outrageousness. The family doesn’t have a chance of winning the addict’s love or favor.
Yet, it’s just as wrong for non-addicted mates to assign good motives to the sexual addict. Making excuses for the addict keeps the family locked in denial and minimizes the abuse and harm done to them. This allows the addict’s addiction and thinking to become more compulsive and ridiculous.
11. They’re financially irresponsible.
As the sexual addiction progresses, it becomes so consuming that many addicts secretly squander family finances on their personal sexual pleasure. They often neglect their family’s basic needs while insisting on the best clothes, meals, entertainment — the best everything for themselves. The family struggles to make do with what they have or accepts hand-me-downs from others.
Many addicts rack up debts of thousands of dollars to indulge their addiction. One sexual addict confessed to spending $70,000 on his addiction during the three years prior to when his wife left him. Addicts hide these debts from the mate along with the addiction. As the obsession progresses, they lose the ability to concentrate on their work. They may engage in risky behavior that compromises their job.
12. They abuse authority.
Many male addicts take great pride in being the head of the family and appeal to God to assert, “I’m the leader! I get to do whatever I want!” Contrary to their declaration, God didn’t give husbands and fathers any personal rights with their position of leadership. Instead of rights, God assigns men responsibilities: to love their wife and children as themselves.
The selfishness of male addicts can become so extreme that claiming to be the head of the wife and children would be laughable, if it weren’t for the intense damage they heap upon their family. They often expect their family to take care of all home duties such as paying bills, yard work, along with house and car maintenance. Their only contribution is to gripe loud and long.
It’s not unusual to find addicts neglecting planned family times such as special meals, school functions, sports events, holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. Secretly pleasuring themselves is always their priority. When questioned, they fall back on their assumed authority: “You’re not submissive,” “You don’t have a quiet spirit,” “You just want to be the boss.”
In the end, one thing is clear: Everyone gets hurt.
Once self-gratification becomes addictive, men and women have a hard time overcoming their deviant cravings. Sexual addicts become unable to love anyone emotionally or sexually. They lose the ability to nurture their children. The children grow up starved for love and acceptance, and carry the scars throughout their lives. Sexual addicts pay a huge personal price for their stolen moments of pleasure.
This article is adapted from Adultery and Sexual Addiction: A Plan for Healing the Soul and the Marriage.