But sometimes we become so accustomed to a dysfunctional life, that we can miss even the most obvious signs of trouble. I often felt like I was crazy because what I believed to be normal seemed like a fantasy; and the reality of my confusing life became familiar–a new normal.
Last week I shared some of the patterns I became aware of once I realized it wasn’t me who was crazy; it was the life I was surviving that lacked sanity. As I previously shared, most of these patterns can be related to any addiction, but my experience involved sexual addiction.
Someone addicted to sex probably:
- Covers their shame by belittling you. The cycle of shame involved in sexual addiction is so overwhelming that the addict may attempt to rid themselves of it by diverting it to their partner. This may take the form of mocking a spouse who is hesitant to participate in sexual activity by telling her she is prude, frigid or self-righteous, or labeling normal intimate relations as wild or erotic. The addict tries to justify his behavior in his own mind by making it seem normal in comparison to a “prude” partner, or by portraying it as a shared fantasy with a spouse who is as obsessed as he. A spouse’s role as wife and mother may be mocked verbally, for example telling the children she’s crazy and not capable of caring for them; or with actions like forcing her to sit in the back seat of the car.
- Is Deceptive. Needing to cover up his addiction, the addict must lie–a fantasy life takes on reality in their mind so they themselves are deceived. They often excuse frequent extended absences by stating, “I ran into an old friend,” “I lost track of time,” or “I had to work late.” Naturally, those situations do occur, but if lies about money, friends, work hours, activities and broken promises happen repeatedly, it could indicate a problem. Sometimes the person my be sneaky or elusive. Rarely does he follow through.
- Is irrational. The longer the addict lives in a fantasy world, the harder it is for him to discuss things rationally. His fantasy objects do and say exactly what he wants so he simply can’t carry on a reasonable discussion about real life issues. He may jump from subject to subject due to his imaginary way of coping. Issues are rarely resolved in this confusing setting.
- Is obsessed in other areas. Hours in front of the television, sleeping, overworking, working on hobbies, playing sports, alcohol abuse or frequenting the computer late at night may be tell tale signs of addiction.
- Has consistent conflicts with other people. Someone at work, on the baseball team or in his circle of friends is a constant irritation to the addict. He blames every bad situation on someone else. Changing jobs, teams, hobbies or friends doesn’t alleviate the situation. Frequent moving or job changes may give the impression of a new start, but the problems remain. The person may be well-liked or charming, but relationships don’t progress to anything beyond shallow conversation. Friendships may be many, but detached and without substance. The addict refuses accountability.
- Avoids intimacy. To the addict, intimacy is a threat–what goes on in his mind must stay hidden. They regard the normal need and desire of their spouse to be treated kindly, considerately and gently as strange, sick, demanding or emotionally needy. Often sex is used to “fix” conflict in relationship, or as an escape to avoid issues. Most addicts equate sex with love. They only desire physical satisfaction and insist that sex will cause intimacy; their spouse should prove her love with sex. They may say, “I need you to have sex with me to show you are committed,” or “If you really love me, you will do what I like.” The addict takes sex; he doesn’t share intimacy.
Next week, I’ll address how the spouse of an addict may feel as a result of these patterns. Life will not always be this way.Perhaps these patterns exist in your home or your life…what is your experience? Do you know someone who needs help? Feel free to comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org