Identifying Key Behaviors

Lying, covering up, explaining away, or ignoring compulsive sexual behaviors are some of the unhealthy ways we may cope. We stifle the inner voice telling us something is wrong. We accept promises like "it won't happen again" many times over, and in effect, enable the addiction. With the denial of reality, our lives become increasingly unmanageable. Our efforts to control escalate in an attempt to alleviate the strain. We tell ourselves that if only we could somehow change—for example, be more (or less) attractive, provocative, intelligent, competent—we could change another person's sexual behavior.

The following questions can be used to help you identify unmanageable areas of your life and “bottom line” behaviors (things we do to medicate our uncomfortable feelings).

Do you:

  1. Believe you would be happy if only the sex addict would change?
  2. Sometimes look at other families, imagine that they are “normal,” and wish your relationship could be happy like theirs?
  3. Feel pressured to become sexual with partners before you know them very well, or have you done so repeatedly in order to avoid abandonment?
  4. Become physically affected as a result of another person’s compulsive sexual behavior — have stress-related illnesses, STDs, have a baby or an abortion to fix the relationship, etc.?
  5. Engage in compulsive, self-destructive, or depressive behaviors to avoid your feelings?
  6. Sometimes feel crazy and have a hard time separating the truth from lies when talking to the sex addict?
  7. Feel immense shame about the sex addict’s sexual behaviors, that what the sex addict has done is a reflection on you or your family?
  8. Believe that if only you could help the sex addict with his or her pain, he or she would get better?
  9. Put the sex addict’s needs before your own?
  10. Feel happy when the sex addict is happy and doing well, and struggle when the sex addict is sad, angry, or struggling?
  11. Spend time worrying about where the sex addict is, who they might be with, what they might be doing?
  12. “Snoopervise” — Spend time searching for clues to the sex addict’s acting out? Check personal space, computers, cars, bank records, phone bills, laundry for clues to the addictive sexual behavior of the addict?
  13. Find yourself hyper-focused on the sex addict’s level of recovery?
  14. Avoid ever speaking with others (close friends, a professional counselor, or sponsor) about your sexual behaviors or feelings?
  15. Focus more on another person’s sexual attitudes, beliefs, or needs than your own?
  16. Allow sexual activities with your partner that feel unpleasant, painful, scary, degrading or shaming?
  17. Withdraw emotionally, have your mind on other things during sex, or feel empty afterwards?
  18. Have less interest in and awareness of your own sexual needs and wants, than the sex addict’s sexual needs and wants?

Find a Meeting

Local meetings (as well as phone and online meetings) are the heart of COSA. If you or a loved one have been affected by compulsive sexual behavior, join us to find a supportive community of individuals.