The partner of a sex addict asks: “Why the lies and can they stop through recovery?”
By: Heidi Kinsella, MA, LMHCA, NCC, ASAT
You find out that your husband has been having sex outside of your marriage. This has been going on for a while; you feel sick and like you’ve been run over by a truck. If this betrayal wasn’t bad enough, his elaborate lies and storytelling have left you doubting yourself. There are moments when you feel crazy. Even though he has been caught, he continues to lie!
Unbelievable!! How is this possible? You are angry, betrayed, tired, and just want the craziness to stop! You say to yourself, “Even if I could forgive the affairs, I can’t live with the lying!!! Why doesn’t he understand that???”
I have heard this story over and over again while working with partners of sex addicts.
Unfortunately, I have also lived this nightmare in my own life as part of my own journey which brought me into this field.
Why the lies and can they stop through recovery?
As sex addiction develops, the addict learns to compartmentalize his life. He has his life with his wife, family, friends, and work; that life is real. He loves his wife and kids and enjoys spending time with friends. The problem is, he has another life that has been made completely separate from his life with you. It is the life of his sex addiction.
This separate life is secret, and it must stay that way in order to protect his addiction. If anyone found out about his behaviors, his addiction would be threatened; if he were made to stop, he would feel as if he would die. He needs this behavior to live, yet the behavior is hurting him.
He feels so much shame for what he is doing, but yet, he can’t stop… He just keeps on going despite the shame, the pain, and the consequences. So, he creates a web of lies to protect the addiction which become an integral part of his addiction. The lies roll out of his mouth before he even realizes he is lying. He has become a master at deception.
Living with this aspect of sex addiction is confusing and very painful. Sex addicts are so good at lying that they can convince you that the sky is not blue and that you are crazy for thinking it is. We call this “crazy-making”, and it is. It leads us to feel crazy and doubt our sanity.
The big question is: “How long does it take for my husband to quit lying?”
This question is difficult to answer because each addict’s process is slightly different. For some addicts, the lying flies off their tongues before they realize it. These individuals find themselves saying that they are at the grocery store when they are at an auto part store when they feel it doesn’t matter where they are. They will need to learn to know themselves and when they are about to lie, so they can stop themselves before it happens.
We teach strategies, so our patients know when they are about to lie. With these skills, they are able to make the choice to tell the truth or to catch themselves quickly and correct the lie by saying, “I am sorry; that was a lie. I was at the auto part store.” Other addicts will catch themselves later in the day and then fess-up. We teach them the importance of coming clean about the lie, despite the consequence. If sex addicts are to stay sober, and if they are to earn their loved ones’ trust back, they must learn to tell the truth.