I am becoming increasingly frustrated that the term co-addict or co-sex addict is used interchangeably with partner or spouse in the field of sex addiction. If you have done much research I am sure you have found this to be true. If you are in a relationship with a sex addict, you are automatically labeled a co-sex addict. In my opinion, the term Co-addict implies we are part of the problem. Considering the trauma the discovery of a spouse’s sex addiction causes, giving someone the impression that it is partially their fault just makes matters worse. Add to it that we are told being a codependent of an addict (another expression used to describe partners of sex addicts) is a disease. A disease! Even if we were in a marriage where we had no idea that our husband was a sex addict for years, until that fateful day when it all came tumbling out (or those miserable weeks and months when little bits leaked out at time). Addicts are great liars and very manipulative. No one denies this. But we are told, or it is at least implied, that we should have seen the signs. Since we didn’t, we were in denial. Were we in denial or did we go into a marriage believing our vows, believing the commitment we made to each other and “’til death to us part”? Was that dumb of us? Was that naive? Anything less and a therapist would say we had trust issues or abandonment issues. So if we believed our husband when he told us the pornography in the computer history was just a pop-up, that we were just being insecure when we thought he was being flirtatious with another woman, or that he was asleep when we couldn’t reach him in his hotel while he was on business, does that make us sick?
One Certified Sexual Addiction Therapists’s website states, “A woman in a relationship with a sexual addict is a codependent of a sexual addict whose self esteem comes from success as a people-pleaser.” The bold print is not mine, it is how it is printed on the website. Pretty emphatic. It does not say “some women”, or “sometimes”, or even “often”. It says “is” implying “always”. The website goes on to say:
Codependency has to do with trying to take care of and control an addict. Some individuals are actually attracted to people with problems such as sexual addiction because their own self-esteem is built too much on looking after someone who needs them. The codependent of a sexual addict (or co-addict for short) is usually much more in tune with what someone else wants than with her own wants and needs.
I can’t fault this CSAT. They are only reciting back what they have been taught. But if they had been there before, they may feel differently. I am definitely not saying that some partners of sex addicts are not codependent. Many are. But my experience shows that many are not. Even for those who are codependent, is that the first thing that needs to be addressed with a women suffering from her husband’s betrayal?