Monday, March 29, 2010

Deceived: Denial & Minimizing

When as a partner of a sex addict rationalizations become weak, the tendency to minimize comes next. That only strengthens the denial. Minimizations common to those in relationships with sex addicts are:

  • It’s not that bad.
  • I’m the only one who really understands him.
  • He needs me ─ now more than ever.
  • It’s just a phase.
  • It’s not his fault that whore went after him; he didn’t have a chance.
  • I’m not that interested in sex anyway.
  • It could be worse. At least he is not addicted to ____ (something other than sex, i.e. alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.)
  • It doesn’t matter if I don’t know everything he does.

How often have you had these thoughts?

Think about the beliefs and fears that bolster your rationalizations and minimizations. Partners of addicts share common beliefs and fears. Some of them are:

  • I can’t live without him.
  • No one else will ever love me.
  • I don’t deserve better.
  • He’s the father of my children, and they need their father.
  • All men are like this.
  • I would have to give up some of my lifestyle because there is not enough money.
  • My family might find out and I’d feel humiliated.
  • The kids might find out and I won’t know how to handle it.
  • I’ve never balanced a checkbook, paid bills, or paid attention to our retirement and I am not capable.
  • If others found out about his sexual behavior they would think I’m not a good sexual partner, because if I were, he would not stray.
  • If he is a sex addict, then all the good times in the past were a lie.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It’s easy to start to berate yourself, to feel like a fool. If you are beating yourself up, stop. Denying, minimizing, and rationalizing are the most natural responses to living with someone acting out an addictive disorder. Of course you want to protect yourself. You want to believe it’s not the problem it is. You want to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s so painful to get to the truth when the reality is only he can change his behavior; you can’t do it for him. But you can honor yourself; that starts with challenging your own addictive behavior − your denial. This begins with identifying what you know and/or suspect and seeking out literature to learn more about codependency, sexual betrayal and sexual addiction. You don’t have to believe it’s addictive but be open to understanding what the addiction may look like. Pay attention to his behavior, not his words. Be willing to seek out a clinician trained in working with sexual betrayals and addiction.

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