Frequently Asked Questions
What is Intimacy?
"Intimacy occurs between two people where there is a jointly-agreed primacy of desire to draw closer together – to deeply connect – through mutual vulnerability and sharing of facts, feelings, and understanding, fueled by empathy and compassion" (James Annear, "What Does It Mean To Have Intimacy in a Relationship" published on Marriage.com, 2019)
What is the Definition of Cheating?
Cheating is so much more than sex outside of the relationship; It is a violation of a sacred trust that has been mutually agreed to by you and your partner. If you are keeping Secrets, lying about anything (including financial issues), or sharing emotional or sexual intimacy with another Person, then you are in violation of the covenant of a relationship to which each of you committed. In short, if your spouse were standing next to you and can't jump up and down yelling "You Go!!!!" and waving pom-poms in the air when you're Doing something, then it's probably a violation of Trust
Can Our Relationship be saved?
YES!!! It will take work, though. The truth is, that after a breach of trust, both partners must get help:
- Cheaters (see definition above) need help to not only stop their acting-out behaviors but well beyond that... they need help to understand and change the drivetrain that controls their behaviors. It is not enough to simply stop and replace them with healthy behaviors - the origins of the issues must be addressed as they drive the Intimacy Avoidance that gives birth to the acting-out behaviors
- Betrayed partners need support because they have just suffered an incredibly traumatic event (discovery) and the likelihood is that, for a long time, they have been gaslighted, their perception of reality brought into question, and have long suffered, usually not obvious, emotional abuse that ultimately means that they not only suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the same level as a combat soldier or first responder, but it has been additive since their partner started acting out and intimacy (see above for a definition of intimacy) began to diminish. This results in Complex Post-Traumatic Disorder (C-PTSD). As a partner, you deserve support and help, especially since there was absolutely no way you could have avoided this; in no way was it your fault
Is Watching Porn Addictive?
Yes. This does not mean that it is addictive for everybody, however. If you suspect you, or your Spouse might be addicted, please visit our Sex Addiction Page. change this to Porn Page when done - be sure to mention the diff between genY/X and older (trauma) There, you will find a list of Sex Addiction markers. Also, you will find a helpful differentiation between Sex Addiction, Compulsive Sexual Behavior, Hypersexuality, and Problematic Sexual Behavior
Why Am I Not Enough?
You ARE!!! And you always have been. Statements from your spouse that sound like, "If you had just...," "If you were only (thinner/more fun/sexually adventurous/wanted sex more...)," "I have to get my "needs" met," "We just don't work that way anymore," "I have a much stronger sex drive than you do," are GASLIGHTING. Period. You are enough.
If your spouse is a sex addict, it is a brain functioning issue. He/She is addicted to the high that is produced in the brain from the process of getting to the acting out - the anticpation - more than the actual acting out. The issue is that the super-elevated high (Which can reach an incredible 1000%+ dopamine release - comparable to a Speedball (a combination of Cocaine and Heroin)), over time, becomes the brain's expectation in order to feel pleasure. That is to say, any kind of pleasure.
Extended use, at ever-increasing levels due to the brain's increasing tolerance of the hormone levels released (dopamine, adrenaline, seratonin, endorphins, and oxytocin), actually causes a change in the structure of the brain's normal pleasure response system. This means that the brain's existing neural networks actually mutate (change) to accommodate the amounts of these chemicals that are being released in an attempt to normalize. Which is why addictive activities increase and, typically, become more and more novel (constantly seeking new and different experiences) over time. The addict's Pleasure Response system has been hijacked. Because of this, normally pleasurable activities (around 70-120% Dopamine release) are no longer felt as pleasurable. Sex with one's Spouse releases approximately 400-700% Dopamine; well below the 1000%+. Indeed, the addict's thoughts during these normally pleasurable activities will be focused on when the activity will end and the next time he/she can act out. So, being with you during an event that brings you much happiness and pleasure, cannot be pleasurable because only the object of the addiction can be by this point. So, it is a neurological FACT, that it is not you. It has nothing to do with who you are, or what you do. Nobody and nothing can ever be enough for an active addict; even though you, rightfully so, should absolutely be enough! It's not that you aren't, it's that, in active addiction, there is no possible way that you can be - FOR THE ADDICT.
For somebody in solid Relational Recovery, you are much more than "enough"
How Can My Husband/Wife have ever Loved Me when He/She Cheated all that time?
Yes. It certainly doesn't feel like it's possible though. But, how could he do those things if he loves me? If your spouse is an addict, please see above. compartmentalization,
(Trauma discussion - trying to meet unmet childhood needs). Add in the concept of understanding "How is it possible that he did this" is an unanswerable question bc a partner typically doesn't have "cheating" in them. Like they can't digest cow's milk and the strong impetus to find "the" answer. But the answer is in compartmentalizing to be able to forgive and accept...There is no forgetting. Trying to figure it out becomes circular and, sooner or later, the circle will start to spiral: this is the trauma cycle. I need to understand/I cannot understand = there is no hope = rage
How Can I Trust my Partner Again?
Trust must be built. Notice that I don't say "ReBuilt" (continue this answer). see above re: forgive and accept - can't forget
Am I A Sex Addict?
Can My Spouse Ever Forgive Me?
I'm Doing Well In My Recovery, Why Isn't My Spouse Okay Now?
Why Can't I Stop Acting Out When I know It's Hurtful to My Spouse and our Relationship?
What is Gaslighting?
As a Partner, Am I Crazy?
No. You are not crazy, you are traumatized. That doesn't mean you don't need assistance. Betrayal Trauma is highly complex and add more
What is a Co-Addict and Am I One?
Co-Addict is an old term that was used (and still is, sometimes, by therapists who are not Partner Betrayal trauma-informed) prior to the Betrayal trauma model (Barbara Steffens: Multi-dimensional Trauma Model) becoming the recognized reality of what happens to a partner when she discovers her spouse's emotional or sexual infidelity (and/or the cumulative effect of chronic Intimacy Avoidance). The co-addict model made the betrayed partner half of the problem and oriented treatment strongly toward the addict's recovery, at once asking a betrayed partner to support the addict's recovery in every way possible, practice immediate forgiveness, and accept blame for being co-dependent and enabling.
Even the term "co-dependent" is falling out of use amongst trauma-informed therapists and coaches because what was labeled as "co-dependent" is really a trauma reaction - an unconscious attempt to protect one's Self from harm by acting in ways that are not true to yourself in order to avoid a negative reaction or ensure a positive one at the expense of giving up your own truth. That is a trauma reaction, where the theory of "co-dependence" implies that ther is a manipulative element to behaviors that are really a defense of who you are. It also implies a responsibility toward someone else's (your spouse in particular) behaviors - such as their addictive acting-out.
So, no, your are not a "co-addict." If someone, anyone, calls you that, it is an indicator that they don't understand Betrayal Trauma. If that someone is a helping professional, run, don't walk, as far away from them as possible and find someone who is Betrayal Trauma trained.
Previous Therapists Have Told me to Pay More Attention To My Spouse after he/she has Cheated...
Why Doesn't This Help?
How Long Will This Take?
What is the Benefit of 12-Step Programs?
Why Isn't 12-Step enough?