Friday, October 11, 2013

What's The Difference?


 
from Bing
Many moons ago, a fellow blogger asked me what the difference was between sex addiction and cheating.  She asked for my personal thoughts on the subject. I copied her question into my blogging ideas file then promptly forgot all about it.  That is until today.  A year and a half later.  Better late than never, right?

The best person to define sex addiction is Patrick Carnes, PhD.  Carnes is the guy who helped get sex addiction recognized in our country.  He helped create the Gentle Path and pioneered the founding of the Certified Sex Addiction Therapy program.  His definition is:

“Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior that interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment.
Sexual addiction has also been called hypersexuality, sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity. By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict's life. Sexual addicts make sex a priority over family, friends, and work. Sex becomes the governing principle of an addict's life. They are willing to sacrifice what they cherish most in order to preserve and continue their unhealthy behavior.

No single behavior pattern defines sexual addiction. These behaviors can take control of addicts' lives and become unmanageable.  Common behaviors include, but are not limited to compulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual and homosexual relationships, pornography, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, indecent phone calls, and anonymous sexual encounters. Even the healthiest forms of human sexual expression can turn into self-defeating behaviors.”

What are my personal thoughts on the subject?

Sex addiction sucks.

No, no.  That’s not what she was asking.  The question was, what’s the difference between Devin having multiple affairs and say, my next-door neighbor, Larry, having multiple affairs.  Sorry, Larry.

In Larry’s case, he consciously chose to have those affairs.  He could have stopped himself but did it anyway.  Larry felt no compulsive needs driving him.  He only felt complete selfishness.

With Devin the uncontrollable dependency was there.  He was isolated inside his bubble.  The only way to break free of his bubble was to burst it, temporarily, by acting out.  When the pornography no longer satiated his hunger, he turned to online affairs.  After a few months, the rush of those wore off too.  After two intimate affairs, he realized he had a problem he could no longer handle alone but was powerless to stop.  He was still compulsively masturbating and viewing porn.

The difference, at least to me, is choice.  Larry chose to cheat.  Devin’s addiction caused him to cheat.  This is also how I’ve been able to move past the affairs.  I know they were never personal.

For some great resources, be sure and visit Dr. Carnes’ website.

36 comments:

  1. The excerpt from the book you inserted makes sense to me. A person who is a cheater, can cheat one time and never do it again. They also don't have all the other behaviours you've listed that go along with sex addiction. On the one had Larry would be easier to deal with because you could just slap him and be done with it. But, you'd have the pain of it being personal.

    Honestly I don't know how you do it and I have no idea how I would handle such a thing if I had to. It's one of those things that you have to experience to really, really understand.



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    1. I understood the addiction concept well enough because of my past. However, understanding it wasn't personal took time. It was hard to separate the two in the beginning, even with Devin telling me it wasn't personal, it was hard to grasp. Finally, I had to see how my own actions during my addiction weren't personal against my family and then it made sense.

      I think with Larry, it'd be harder because it would be personal. I don't know. That's hard to say.

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  2. I think you're pretty awesome to be able to differentiate between them like that. Like you said, there is a difference between sex addiction and just plain old cheating. Devin really couldn't help his behaviour and I don't think many would be able to respond to it like you did.

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    1. I think people would surprise themselves when faced with something like this. Not just sex addiction but any kind of disease or adversity that arises in their marriage. When you love someone, you'll stand beside them. Unless they're a complete jerk...then you kick them to the curb! ha

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  3. I agree with Mark, most people would not have the ability to differentiate and that shows how cognizant you are of his addiction.

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    1. It took awhile to be able to put away the hurt and see the addiction for what it really is - powerful and cunning.

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  4. I understand pretty well dear and I see thr difference. And of course sucks!
    Like always I admire you and love so much dear Elsie, loads of love xo

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    1. It definitely sucks, Gloria. There used to be days were I wished he had some other type of addiction. But, with this addiction, it's caused us to work so much harder on our communication skills. I don't know if we'd have done that with another addiction. Much love and hugs, my friend!!

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  5. yep, addiction is an illness and thus it needs understanding not rejection, I just hope that there aren't people who could use it as an excuse to behave naughty.....

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    1. I think if a person is truly and addict, they won't use it to behave badly. But, if they aren't really compulsive, it can be mislabeled and abused.

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  6. Old one eye getting all definition today at your bay. Can be seen indeed at your feed. One is just greed the other a compulsive need. Look I can even describe it in rhyme with my comment chime.

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    1. Impressive cat, impressive. You summed up the definition perfectly in your rhyme. No one can rhyme quite like you!!

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  7. Thanks for that explanation, makes more sense to me now!

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    1. It can be pretty confusing. Especially for those new to the world of sex addiction.

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  8. You are an extraordinary woman to be able to work through this. I guess knowing that the cheating wasn't emotional and was just sex is way better than have a partner that is also emotionally invested in the person they are cheating with. An emotional cheat is way harder to recover from, I think anyway.

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    1. It wasn't even sex so much as a need to feel that rush. A need to feel needed and wanted because he didn't know how to connect emotionally. To him sex equaled love and being loved. When I think about it, it makes me sad. That's also what made it easier to work through it.

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  9. This is really interesting to me. Does this mean that sometimes, just sometimes someone who is labeled as a compulsive cheater is really just a sex addict who's also in search of love? It makes me wonder things. It makes me look at people differently.

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    1. I'm not an expert but I'm inclined to say yes. I'm sure you heard of Anthony Weiner. He was labeled a compulsive cheater by the press. Then, he sought treatment and it came out that there were text exchanges he didn't disclose to the public so labeled him a no good cheater and liar. Really, he's a sex addict. No one wanted to believe it and no one trusted him after they found out about the texts. Then, they blasted his wife for standing by his side. This is still an addiction wrapped in shame and it sucks.

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  10. Very interesting. Really, it's a complicated issue, and trying to separate out what's a personal choice and what's driven by compulsion and addiction has got to take a lot of committed work and understanding. Props to you.

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    1. It can be pretty complicated. I think when we are faced with it, live with someone facing or have gone through it ourselves, that helps make it seem less complicated.

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  11. I can get confused in this quite often Elsie. The sex addict has no choice to do the cheating yeah, by the definition of a sex addiction? So what if he chooses not to cheat all the same, does he go insane? Quite honestly I believe there's always a choice, but then here's me, the drug addict who literally could not physically or mentally refuse to pick up a tramadol, it wasn't a choice, there was no option to say no to that pill and there's no choice for the sex addict either. It's such a difficult one to wrap my head around but the only thing that allows me to is experience so maybe it's why others are blind to it. I just don't know, I can't even do anything but agree with the porn no longer being satisfying, once again it'd be like someone if they'd told me to try taking codeine instead of tramadol, that just doesn't work. Sorry for rambling, I'm just sort of unravelling my own thoughts here.

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    1. Actually, Matthew, what you explained is how I was able to begin to comprehend his addiction in the first place. At first it made zero sense to me. How could someone be addicted to porn, to images on a screen and how could that lead them to have affairs? It made no sense to me because of the consequences of their actions. It wasn't until I put it in terms of my own addiction to cocaine that I began to understand. I didn't become addicted to pot; he didn't become addicted to the affairs. He was able to stop after two. But I found coke and couldn't stop without hitting a rock bottom. He was compulsive with porn and MB. Seeing it like that made sense to me. Does he go insane? No. Just like I don't go insane without coke. I found a healthier way to live. Never apologize for long comments, Matthew. That's why we're here.

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  12. Mental illness, in my case, the depression, is another one of those things still wrapped in shame that isn't really understood. I so know what you mean, and I so appreciate your kind comments on my blog.

    Dwayne has stood by and supported me for years through my ups and downs; when I was in the hospital; when I wouldn't leave the house, and now when he has to drive me everywhere. I'm incredibly blessed to have him, and I'm sure people are wondering, why hasn't he gotten rid of me already? I'm thinking your husband feels the same way about you that I do about Dwayne...he's my partner, yes, but he's also my angel. :)

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    1. It's a shame such diseases are still so hush hush. You'd think with all that we know about them, it wouldn't be anymore.

      I'm so happy to see that Dwayne takes such good care of you. You deserve it. I am a firm believer that when you decide to be with someone it's for the good and the bad.

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  13. either way, so hard to deal with as the spouse...but you are right in the choice versus compulsion, but so hard to wrap your head around as well...but too it is good there is counseling and treatment to help.....

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    1. As I said above, we sign on for both the good and the bad. We have reached a point now, where things are mostly good. If it wasn't for lots, and lots and lots of counseling and treatment, we wouldn't be where we are now! *smiles*

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  14. Although not my area of experience I think your differentiation sounds spot on. As others say though I suspect very many would not show the understanding and compassion you have to your husband.

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    1. I think you and I can see it quite clearly because of what we've each gone through, Furtheron. I think there are many people who, once they were able to understand the addiction, would stay. As long as their partner stayed in active recovery, that is!

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  15. A great explanation, and it sounds spot on to me. It's like differentiating someone who drinks too much and an alcoholic. I have friends that will sometimes get stupid and drink way too much. But they don't NEED to drink. They don't feel a compulsion to drink. Not like an alcoholic.

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    1. Thanks, Bryan. That's the best disease to compare it to - alcoholism. More people seem to understand that better than sex addiction. It is easier to wrap your head around compulsively drinking than compulsively sexing.

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  16. Disregard that bottle of lotion and the pile of tissues next to my bed...along with that magazine with sticky pages. Totally by choice, not by compulsive behavior, I swear. Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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    1. Sure, sure, sure, Dan. I seem to remember having this "talk" with you on here before! ha ha

      Good to see your smiling face. Wait did I just say that? No, I take it back!

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  17. Wow. I never thought of it that way. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks.
    By the way, I'll be reposting "Heel Piss Cream" sometime this week probably.

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  18. By the way...a tale of Heel Piss Cream is up in your honor at Penwasser Place.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.