When your husband cheats, your head is a whirlwind of thoughts and questions. Is this my fault? I let myself go; that’s why he cheated. I don’t satisfy him sexually. Doesn’t he love me anymore? Is he going to leave? What if you have been through this routine multiple times? He keeps cheating and comes back from each incident repentant, apologetic and promising he still loves you and won’t do it again. Now you might be asking yourself if he has a sex addiction or if he is just a terrible person. The answer is important because it may determine what you do next and the future of your marriage.
What Is Sex Addiction?
The official guidebook for mental health, the DSM-V, does not include sex addiction as a diagnosable condition. It does cite in the appendix a condition called hypersexual disorder that requires further study.
Although not official, many counselors and therapists do recognize sex addiction or hypersexual disorder as something that is real, that devastates lives and that can be diagnosed. Doing the latter is tricky, though. Even for experts it can be tough to tell the difference between someone with a real problem and a serial cheater.
Symptoms Of Sex Addiction
According to those experts who advocated for the inclusion of hypersexual disorder in the DSM-V, there are several diagnosable criteria:
- Having intense and recurring sexual fantasies or urges, or engaging in sexual behaviors to a degree that interferes with normal activities and responsibilities.
- Engaging in sexual fantasies or giving in to urges in order to moderate mood or to cope with stressful life situations.
- Trying to control the fantasies, urges and behaviors with no success, even in spite of harm caused to oneself or others.
- Being significantly distressed or impaired by sexual fantasies or behaviors. This includes social, occupational, interpersonal or general functional impairment.
- Fantasies, urges and behaviors can take many forms, including, but not limited to, masturbation, using pornography, online sex, going to strip clubs, using prostitutes or having sex with multiple partners.
Is It Sex Addiction Or Cheating?
Experts have some advice based on experience. Cheaters with a sex addiction tend to have a secondary sexual behavior in addition to the multiple partners, while serial cheaters usually do not. This could be pornography or compulsive masturbation, for instance. Another difference is that sex addicts don’t want to do what they do. Their actions conflict with how they view themselves as good people. As a result, they rationalize and make excuses.
Sex addicts may also have another addiction. They often smoke, drink too much or may even have a drug addiction. Unlike serial cheaters, sex addicts see sex as their most important need. This comes out in ways that seem inappropriate to others, like making jokes about sex or making inappropriate comments. Serial cheaters like sex; there is no doubt about that. But, they don’t obsess about it the way sex addicts do. It can be hard to see the difference, but if you pay attention, you should see signs that your spouse is truly obsessed with sex if he has a sex addiction.
If you think your husband might fall into the category of sex addict, talk to him about it. Ask him if he is willing to get help, or at least see a professional for a diagnosis. If he is, the two of you may be able to work through this. It will require great commitment from both of you. If he isn’t, you have a difficult choice to make.
Believe In Yourself – You Are Worth It!