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.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Deceived: Denial & Rationalizing

As a partner of a sex addict you minimize, discount, rationalize, deny, and pretend things are different than they really are because you want to trust your partner. You want to believe the relationship has a strong foundation. You want to be able to believe all is okay. That is absolutely understandable. Don’t be critical of yourself. If you see the situation for what it really is and don’t know what to do, it is natural to slide into a state of hopelessness and helplessness. The truth taps your greatest fear, that you are unloved and abandoned. You feel shame and humiliation. So as long as the addict denies or minimizes it, you can rationalize, deny, and pretend as well. The illusion of safety and security is an enticing fantasy. But in the process you quit trusting yourself, your inner voice.

Denial induces numbness. Now couple your need for denial with the fact that sex addicts are masters of misdirection. They can quickly tap into your vulnerability, and charm you or shame you right out of your distrust. His manipulations may include being charming, bullying, threatening, and playing the victim and often using the combination of any or all of those. This conduct is beyond hurtful. It’s cruel, abusive, and traumatizing. It is also a natural aspect of addictive behavior, a manipulative attempt to take the focus off of him.

Examples of denial are thinking such things as:

  • The pornography doesn’t really bother me, it’s only pictures.

  • He can’t help it if other women throw themselves at him.

  • Work must be his problem; if he would just change jobs.

  • If we move he will stop this behavior.

Your denial is supported by extensive rationalization.

  • Men will be men.

  • He is an honest person; he would not lie to me.

  • He’s not really staring at women; he’s just interested in watching people.

  • It doesn’t hurt to look at pictures (porn) – at least he is not having an affair.

  • It’s easier for him to be friends with women – that doesn’t mean he is having an affair.

  • His business takes priority over me and the kids but I understand – it’s just while he is building his career.

  • I must have gotten this STD from a toilet seat – he told me I couldn’t have gotten it from him.

  • He told me the long distance calls were not his – the phone company must have made a mistake.

  • Those Internet spammers are infiltrating our email with porn sites.

  • The police are exaggerating his behavior.

  • He’s such a good dad.

  • It's not his fault that I can’t fulfill him sexually.

  • I am the one he comes home to.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, they are rationalizations that will keep you in denial.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 2010 News Letter

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Deceived: Denial In the Face of Truth

Whether you are in the media, such as Elin Woods, or the unnamed spouse out of public site, yet living with chronic deception, you may ask, “How did I get to this place?” Denial is one reason, not just your partner’s denial but your denial. As partners of alcoholics frequently feel guilty for the behavior of the alcoholic − that if they were better partners, if they could just do the right thing, the alcoholic wouldn’t drink so much − partners of those who are acting out sexually nearly always believe that his behavior is a statement about themselves. They believe they must not be pretty enough, sexy enough, smart enough, thin enough, alluring enough, ample-breasted enough, long-legged enough. The list is never ending.

You probably operate from the belief, “I need to do or be something different and that will make him stop.” First and foremost you need to understand that you are not the cause of his acting out behavior. It isn’t about you being different. He engages in his activity because of his own emotional wounding that now manifests in a pathological relationship with a mood altering behavior which for him is sex.

For years partners of addicts, irrespective of the addiction, have pretended that things are different than how they really are. When the addictive behavior is sex instead of alcohol or drugs, gambling, food, etc., denial for the partner is often accelerated because of the greater degree of shame and implied messages about the person acting out and the coupleship. Partners deny in an attempt to hang on to what is really an illusion, the fantasy that all is really okay. The fact is life is out of control; the addiction is in the driver’s seat. But deny you must when you can’t see your way out. It is a form of self protection.

After hearing time after time that you have quite an imagination, or that you are the one responsible for his unhappiness, or that it’s your job to shut up and be grateful for what you have, or that you simply have trust issues, you learn to keep quiet. You keep fears and doubts to yourself while your self esteem erodes away.

Simply put, denial is dismissing your own intuition. It is blatantly overlooking what is right in front of you. Often there are clear indicators that you have a serious problem but you may choose not to see it. Denial stems from a yearning to believe that all will be fine or that all will return to how it was before this acting out behavior reared its ugly head.

Do not chastise yourself for your denial but learn from it. It is a natural response to hurt and loss. Unfortunately it only perpetuates your situation and your pain in the long run. For your own well being it is critical you recognize the many ways you’ve rationalized. That is a start in stopping this well practiced defense.