Active sex addicts rarely view their escapist sexual fantasies and behaviors as the cause of their unhappiness and life challenges. Even when they are neck deep in consequences, they somehow don’t let themselves view their sexual acting out as a contributing factor. In fact, they typically see their behavior as the solution to rather than the cause of their emotional discomfort and various life problems. They either refuse to see or are unable to see the destructive effects of their compulsive sexual fantasies and behavior. This is their denial.

With sexual addiction, as with other addictions, denial is a complex series of internal and external lies and deceit. Typically, each fabrication is supported by one or more rationalizations, with each rationalization bolstered by still more falsehoods. When looked at objectively, denial is about as structurally sound as a house of cards in a stiff breeze, yet addicts act as if they’re living in an impenetrable bomb shelter. They defend their flimsy lies and deceits with reckless abandon—no matter how ridiculous those lies are. The rest of the world can easily see through the smokescreen, but addicts either cannot or will not.

Common forms of denial used by sex addicts include:

  • Blame/Externalization: “With the lousy sex life I have at home, who wouldn’t be looking at porn and using hookup apps?”
  • Entitlement: “I work harder than anyone else at my company, so if I spend a few hours here and there online looking for sex, that’s just a reward that I deserve.”
  • Justification: “If I was in a relationship I’d be having sex every night, so why can’t I have sex every night when I’m not in a relationship?”
  • Minimization: “It’s just porn. My spouse doesn’t like it, but at least I’m not actually cheating. I’m not having affairs like a lot of my friends do.”
  • Rationalization: “If my spouse doesn’t know about it, he/she can be hurt by it. And it’s not like I have feelings for any of the people I meet online.”
  • Feeling Like a Victim: “Everyone in my world takes advantage of me and uses me, and there’s nothing I can do about it. The only time I feel free and powerful is when I’m being sexual.”

Sex addicts never intend to destroy their relationships, or ignore their kids, or ruin their careers, or mangle their finances, or get arrested, or whatever. Yet they often end up in these very circumstances, arriving there incrementally as their denial escalates. Over time, they grow less able (and less willing) to see the connection between their increasing personal problems and their sexually addictive behaviors. They are often deaf to the complaints, concerns, and criticisms of the people around them, and they devalue and dismiss anyone who tries to point out the problem. Instead of accepting that they may have a serious issue, they ignore attempted interventions and accuse others of nagging, being prudish and restrictive, not understanding them, and asking too much of them. This is their denial.

If you would like to learn more about sexual addiction and the process of healing, check out my book, Sex Addiction 101, or my new website, SexandRelationshipHealing.com.

 

Author

Robert Weiss PhD, LCSW is Chief Clinical Officer of Seeking Integrity LLC, a unified group of online and real-world communities helping people to heal from intimacy disorders like compulsive sexual behavior and related drug abuse. As Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Rob led the development and implementation of Seeking Integrity’s residential treatment programming and serves as an integral part of the treatment team. He is the author of ten books on sexuality, technology, and intimate relationships, including Sex Addiction 101, Out of the Doghouse, and Prodependence. His Sex, Love, and Addiction Podcast is currently in the Top 10 of US Addiction-Health Podcasts. Dr. Rob hosts a no-cost weekly Sex and Intimacy Q&A on Seeking Integrity’s self-help website, SexandRelationshipHealing.com (@SexandHealing). The Sex and Relationship Healing website provides free information for addicts, partners of addicts, and therapists dealing with sex addiction, porn addiction, and substance abuse issues. Dr. Rob can be contacted via Seeking Integrity.com and SexandRelationshipHealing.com. All his writing is available on Amazon, while he can also be found on Twitter (@RobWeissMSW), on LinkedIn (Robert Weiss LCSW), and on Facebook (Rob Weiss MSW).

2 Comments

  1. Brian Cottrell Reply

    I am a pornography addict. I have been married for just over 20 years. Recently my wife found me out for the eighth time. I am the luckiest person to have a beautiful woman who has stuck by me.

    However if she catches me again I’ve been told to pack and leave. I feel like I’m in a catch 22. If I slip and she catches me I’m out of the house. She wants me to be honest and talk to her beforehand. That’s perfection and I can’t be.

    How do I do this and keep my relationship and my family. When I don’t feel I be safe if I slip. How should I deal with this.

    I live in Syracuse New York and am looking for a qualified therapist. Finances are a big concern. Can you help me find a therapist ?

  2. Brian Cottrell hopefully you see this message. You are worried about slipping right? So you know to well how hard it is. So that means when your wife slips and some pens slips inside of her you are going to be perfectly understanding? After all she didn’t mean to. It was just a slip. Well guess what? My ex is so bad that he rather see me getting with other men than quit doing his porn. I told him if he keeps doing it I’m going to go have some of my own fun. Guess what else? I’m not a sex addiction. Getting myself a younger boy toy for a while would be a total blast for me. I would actually have a great time and have no bad feelings at all. For the sex addict your good time is very painful.

    Why are you leaving stupid comments? Why aren’t you telling your wife how scared you are of slipping?

    One thing I don’t understand. If you have gotten rid of all the computers, and your fliAlcohol.p phone, and all the movies that aren’t rated G, and no internet TV and every other way to access porn or adult content has been removed how are you able to slip? Alcoholics don’t hang out in bars. People addicted to gambling don’t hang out in casinos. People on a diet don’t hang out at the bakery. Drug addict don’t hang out with their dealers. Sex/porn addicts don’t own computers and smart phones and when they do slowly bring those items back into their life again it has software on it that blocks everything.

    You need to tell your wife everything until you can find someone who will be accountable to you. Then you tell that person everything. Your wife don’t need to hear about every urge you have. And you don’t give her details but you do tell her everything you did. The more scared you are to tell her and the mores scared you act when you tell her the less mad she will be. If your willing to risk your life in order to be honest with her she will respect you. If you act like what you did is no big deal she will kill you. Be very humble and she will be ok.
    You lie or hide it or minimize it or rationalize it or blame it you are committing suicide. Tell her you need her help. Everything will be good then.

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