Anyone who has been in a relationship with an Addict , be it alcoholic, substance abuser, Love or Sex Addict, is referred to as the Partner or Co-Addict. The partner of a Sex Addict is often referred to as a Co-Sex Addict or COSA. If you are the partner of an Addict, you are in need of treatment just as much as the Addict is. Even if you are no longer with this person, chances are that, without getting support and understanding about your experiences and feelings, you will end up with another addict somewhere along the way.
If you are a partner of an Addict you may begin to doubt your own perceptions. You may sense that your partner is drinking, drugging or acting out sexually and you might confront your partner about it. The Addict, due to denial, will say anything he or she can to make you feel you are wrong, that you have no justification for thinking anything is going on.
In these situations you might begin a pattern of addictive behaviors. You might do things you never thought you would ever do. If you are a COSA, you may have begun searching wallets, checking emails and phone records, following the Addict, paying close attention to details in stories and looking for contradictions. If you suspect your partner of drinking or drugging you might become more attentive to smells and behaviors of your partner when he or she returns from anywhere. What this all means is that you may be losing yourself in your partner’s addicted world. You may begin to feel uncomfortable in your home, as well as losing a sense of safety and connection with yourself and your partner. You may even become somewhat paranoid. If your addicted partner is really good at denying, minimizing and rationalizing his or her behavior, it may cause you to further doubt yourself and become more insecure, suspicious, confused, anxious and depressed.
If you are a COSA you may be suffering a loss of sexuality, possibly becoming sexually anorexic, or you may be having sex more often with your partner (even if you don’t really want to) in order to try and resolve the situation. You may have become sex or love addicted to your partner. In any case, it is not a healthy sexuality or relationship.
Recovery for a partner begins by dealing with the trauma of lost trust and betrayal. In addition, a COSA may be dealing with the loss of healthy sexuality and the life you thought you knew. It is extremely helpful if your partner admits to the problem and gets treatment. For a COSA and Sex Addict, part of treatment for you both should involve a disclosure. A disclosure is often extremely validating, providing a sense of relief that your beliefs and perceptions were correct. You will also need to process and heal from the trauma of broken trust and intense feelings of hurt and anger.
Recovery for you may take some time as you learn how to feel safe in a relationship, how to trust, and, if you are a COSA, you may also need to learn how to find yourself sexually again. You and your partner will both need time to recover.
Couples therapy is highly effective for this process, if you and your partner desire to remain together. S-Anon or COSA are 12-step groups for partners of Sex Addicts and AL-ANON is a 12-step group for CO-Addicts. They can be extremely helpful in the recovery process. The most important action you can take is to get yourself into therapy with someone you trust. This is where the trauma, pain, anxiety, anger, and despair will begin to be healed.
Whether you are a Sex Addict, Love Addict, Co-Addict or COSA, I hope, after looking through my website, that you will feel safe enough to call or e-mail me.
I currently have a group for Partners of Sex Addicts on Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9:00. There are a few openings at this time. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me.