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Can a sex addict change? PDF Print
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 20 November 2006

So the question was posed by a member, can a sex addict (SA) change? Do we believe in grace, that people can change?

Yes...and no. 

Yes, SAs can seek a sober recovery.

IF they hit bottom and want to. And what WE think is their hitting bottom usually isn't. Because we have a higher set of standards and responsibilities (in our minds) than they do. What would send US spinning to recovery might only appear as a blip on their conscious.

In the posting about the 3 "kinds" of SAs, the third category -- NPD/BPD SAs, etc. those have pretty much NO chance of recovery. Why? Because their SA is a symptom of their underlying personality disorder, not the other way around. In over 8 years I've NEVER seen one of these types of SAs get and stay sober, simply because they have to admit they have the other problems FIRST, and due to the type of personality disorders, they won't. They blame everyone and everything else first. So if you have an NPD partner, plan on leaving.

The other two kinds are more tricky. The first kind, the "nice guys/gals" CAN easily get and stay sober (albeit with some slips) because they are early in their addiction, or they are totally shame-based and WANT to break the cycle but don't know how to ask for help, or are afraid to ask for help for fear of losing the relationship. If you set up strong boundaries (and enforce them) that they MUST get into and stay in a recovery program, it is NOT uncommon for this kind of SA to stay relatively sober. But these SAs are not that common.

The third kind, "the herd," is the most common kind of SA, and they have the widest range of acting out behaviors and success chances. If they are at the lower end of the scale in terms of addictive behavior (as established by Dr. Patrick Carnes) and haven't been acting out for too long, then intervention is possible. But the ones who have been acting out for a long time, who have higher addictive activities (including but not limited to voyeurism, rape, etc.) have a very low chance of success, because they have gone for so long with no TRUE consequences of their actions (jail, divorce, job loss, etc.) and usually do just enough to re-establish the status quo so they can go back to acting out. Because they have made SA a part of their life and accept it and don't want to change.

How to tell if an SA really is changing or just pretending to re-establish the status quo? Watch the actions, ignore the words.

What do I mean by that?

If they cry and beg and say they are working on recovery, and that's all you see, just them talking about it, then no, they are NOT in recovery. Look for phrases like, I'm so miserable since you kicked me out....Why can't I come back home, I'm lonely....When will you let me come back home....

Notice those are all about the SA, NOT about you.

An SA who is TRULY in a serious, sober recovery won't even push you about it. He/she will know that you have set boundaries, and if they want back in your life, they will have to work their butts off HARD to get back into your life. Look for serious attonement, a heartfelt apology, and SERIOUS recovery work going on. (Several meetings/counselling appointments a week, a total change of attitude, a RESPECT for your boundaries, etc.)

In other words, look for ACTIONS that show a true change in behavior, NOT just words. An unrecovering SA is VERY good at crying, lying, and tugging at our heartstrings, especially when we are at our most vulnerable and WANT to believe they have changed. An NPD SA WILL play you like a piano and WILL reel you back into their sick game just for the thrill of it. If you let them back in, they will stop all supposed recovery work.

This isn't just a theory -- after having LIVED this life myself, and after talking with countless members, this is a TRIED AND TRUE guideline that has never failed to reveal the truth.

One member has a husband who is a porn addict. He got into recovery and slipped, they separated. He devoted himself to working on his recovery and they ended up reconciling. It was not an easy road, but at no point did he push her to let him back into the home. He KNEW he had to work on HIM to get better for HIM and therefore save his relationship.

THAT is how you can tell.

Anything else is a lie.

AND her journey really illustrates too that SHE had to get into HER own recovery. Because otherwise, nothing would have changed. Had she not got into her own recovery, everything would have continued to disintegrate.

This is why OUR recovery is priority. Really, it doesn't matter if the SA gets into recovery or not. Because unless WE get into recovery, WE will never change, and WE will remain vulnerable to predators like SAs and WE will continue to make bad choices in OUR life. And if we are hurting and in pain and desperate to see a change in the SA , we will see a change -- even if one isn't there. We will project that we think they have changed so we can give ourself permission to take them back, even if they aren't in recovery.

So can an SA change?

Who cares.

The true question is, can WE change?

The answer is, we MUST.

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 November 2006 )
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