By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSRRS, CCSAS, CPCS
If I asked you why you abuse sex you would probably give me one of the following: answers:
“I have no idea”
“I wish I knew”
“I think it’s just who I am”
“It is the way God made me”
“I think I am simply perverted”
“I’m just a loser”
“I’m a bad man”
“I mentally disturbed”
“I am too self-absorbed”
In treating men struggling with sex/porn addiction I have heard all those comments and more when I asked the why question. Without a clear-cut rationale for why we will simply default to believing it’s a character flaw. In our minds, the obsessed focus on sex is the result of our overactive sexual energy.
“I am convinced I am hard-wired differently than other guys,” said Connor, who at one time was spending nearly $250 a week on live sex webcasts. “There is no other explanation for why I am consumed with sexual thoughts around the clock. I can never get enough.”
Connor is right, he is hard-wired to abuse sexbut not due to anything biological or physiological. Connor’s obsession for sex was developed because someone(s) hard-wired him by causing emotional pain. He learned to block out the emotional distress by distracting himself with sex. To straighten out his wiring, Connor, like all sex addicts, will need to discover the true root of his addiction.
Her Need for Empathy
I truly believe uncovering the origin of a sex/porn addiction is vital in recovery process. The key to unlocking the power of a sex/porn addiction is for men to discover why it manifested in the first place. The answer to the why question provides a level of freedom and relief that enables us to feel hopeful we can get the addiction under control.
But this information is not only important for men dealing with sexual integrity issues, but it’s also valuable for their spouse or partner.
Why? Because it helps both parties clearly understand the addiction is not only about “sex”. This insight helps to clear up the misconception they are simply dealing with “an out-of-control pervert” who will never stop acting out. It provides a sense of hope needed, not only to manage the addiction, but to keep the relationship together.
When a wife or partner understands the ‘why’, it opens the door for them to develop empathy, which is needed for a couple to reconnect. Empathy allows those betrayed to see the addict through a softer pair of eyes that are not as condemning and judgmental.
“I was shocked to learn what Matt had been doing had nothing to do with sex,” said Rachel. “It was quite a relief to understand there actually was some rationale for the insane things he had been doing.”
Now don’t take Rachel’s comments wrong. It’s not that she was condoning Matt’s sexual addiction it was simply that she could now see why he had been acting out in such a destructive manner.
“Just because I now understand doesn’t mean I am ready to forgive,” she continued. “But I could see that day coming. Prior to this, I had no hope of ever forgiving him. It’s obvious he’s been dealing with a lot from his childhood that I never knew.”
When a woman develops empathy for her sex/porn-addicted partner she indicates an understanding of his problem. However, she is not, in any way, shape or form saying she is accepting of the behavior. She continues to despise it. By becoming empathic a woman can find a way to adjust her thinking to once again accept her partner if she sees he is taking steps to change.
Basically, she is saying “I understand why you do what you do. It all makes sense to me now. However, I still don’t like it, so what are you doing to fix it?”
IMPORTANT FACT: Discovering the reasons why a man abuses sex is not an excuse for his behavior. He had other options, including to seek help earlier. But he elected not to take them. He is still responsible for the pain he has caused to others.