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What men do instead of talking.

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What men do instead of talking.

Too many of my clients who come to me for sex addiction and porn addiction treatment do so because they can't talk.  They can't talk to their partners, friends, family members or professionals who are trained to listen about the things that are bothering them. The result? Surprise!...they turn to escape-like behaviours to ward off the worries, stresses and other psychological toxins they have stored away for many years.  Ultimately, these behaviours make things worse and bring them to some sort of shove, or crunch point where the dire consequences of the behaviours motivate them finally to seek support.

A high proportion of my clients with sex addiction are what are termed 'avoidant' - they find it easier to avoid difficult situations like discussing their problems or unmet needs with partners instead of doing what they find easier in other realms of life such as work or socialising.  Where has this avoidant tendency, largely unconscious to the addict, come from? Many years of researching and working with this style of relating has helped the therapy world work confidently on the basis that early years and subsequent upbringing imprints a way of seeing relationships that is enduring throughout adult life.  If parents avoid certain topics of conversation or emotional needs, children learn to avoid them too.  In addition, our culture dictates that boys and as a result, men are desired to be tough, unemotional and independent and not to turn to others at times of distress as it contradicts self-sufficiency and looks weak.

Men with sex addiction issues have got to the crunch point because they can't talk openly so if they are to recover fully from their addictive behaviours they have to change.  But this challenge can be enormous for many and leads to further avoidance if professional support isn't sought leading to a consequent relapsing back into self-soothing sexual acting out.  Several relationships and marriages later, through therapy, there comes a dawning realisation that a life-long and life-forming pattern has kept them on a self-perpetuating cycle of avoidance and addiction. There is clear evidence from my clients' histories that simply not asking for their needs to be discussed or seeking emotional support is a major block. Whilst men are supposed to be sex-obsessed, many cannot even bring themselves to consider discussing it with partners.

An even bigger challenge occurs after treatment for sex and porn addiction and when a stage of early recovery is attained after perhaps 3-5 months. If intimacy is not established with their often traumatised partners there is a high risk of relapse as the primary source of emotional comfort is now distanced by eroded trust.

But is IS okay to start the talking at this stage.  An acknowledgement from the sex addict that they are not just wanting to move on and put it all behind them is important here.  But guilt and shame about the addiction shouldn't get in the way of good relating forever and talking about how both are experiencing what is going on in an open and adult way can only be positive. Staying in post-discovery and treament limbo forever doesnt have to be the only way.

 

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