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Melbalini
10-30-2001, 03:01 PM
My boyfriend (and house-mate) of three years and I both suffer from a type of addiction: I am an overeater, and he deals with addiction to sex and relationships.

One would think it would be great to have two recovering addicts in the same house, but we find that we are just pushing each other to be better than we know we ourselves can be.
I want more than anything for our relationship to be "normal" - so that we could support one another through these hard times, but I do not know how to approach him when it comes to our relationship or sex because I cannot tell the difference between when he is "acting out" and when we are making love like any couple does. I can't tell when he is present in our love-making, and when he is fantasizing far outside of "me."

This is extremely difficult for me for many reasons. Already I deal with self-esteem issues, but his desire and lack of control over having phone sex with other women, constant viewing of pornography, and an addiction to a "friendship" with a woman, I will call her Karen, who he has never met...it all makes me feel very inadequate.

I also don't really know how to voice my feelings about these things to him. He knows he has a problem, and beats himself up about it enough without me interjecting my own hurt feelings in relation to his addiction...but when I do not, he is upset that I don't share myself with him.

I then feel the need to invade his privacy - I read his journals to check up on his progress and the things he has been doing and feeling - because he doesn't tell me himself. He is outraged at the breech of privacy, but I cannot seem to help myself from being curious and interested. He doesn't ever censor anything he write to himself like he censors the things he says to me.

I feel like our relationship could fall apart in a second...and it is due to those uncontrollable powers inside of us that take over our lives...

Has anyone dealt with anything like this? Or am I all alone in this insanity?

Melbalini

miss_scarlet
10-30-2001, 07:40 PM
My husband deals with sex addiction too. Pornography. I knew this before we got married - I went into it with my eyes wide open.

I'm not going to lie and say that it is easy, because it's not. Basically, I let him deal with his issues, and I deal with mine. We talk and share when we both feel ready, but we don't push one another.

It's taken time, but I have come to realize that his addiction has no more to do with me, than my addiction has to do with him.

We try to use our mutual addictions to understand one another better. Because they are related. DH tells me that his addiction is driven by poor self esteem - just like mine. Ever since I've admitted my own problem, understanding him has been a lot easier.

Having two addicts under the same roof is difficult, yes, by try to use this as a way to CONNECT, no push each other apart.

UMBetsy
11-01-2001, 12:08 AM
"Already I deal with self-esteem issues, but his desire and lack of control over having phone sex with other women, constant viewing of pornography, and an addiction to a "friendship" with a woman, I will call her Karen, who he has never met...it all makes me feel very inadequate. "

ok, i have to butt in here. he DOES have control, he just chooses not to exercise it. and by engaging in these behaviors, he is blatantly showing his disrespect for you and your relationship.

this is probably way un-PC of me, but i would not tolerate his disrespectful behavior as something that you need to understand and help him work through. don't excuse this behavior because you see it as an "addiction."

and if he were to sleep with another woman, would you let it go because he had no control due to his problem? i pray that you wouldn't.

if it were me - i would kick him to the curb, "addiction" or no. i would not tolerate such disrespect. and you shouldn't, either. you deserve better.

granted...that's just my opinion.

:love,
:flowerbetsy:flower

miss_scarlet
11-01-2001, 12:03 PM
No disrespect intended, Betsy, but have you ever dealt with someone who has a sexual addiction? Saying that he has control and simply chooses not to exercise it is like telling a binge eater to "just stop eating". It's not that simple. He's in the middle of a full-blown addiction, and either can't or doesn't yet want to recover from it. Sometimes it takes a while to realize that you have a problem, and what you must do about it.

While I agree that certain lines have to be drawn, it must be understood that what he's doing really has nothing to do with their relationship and how he sees her, and everything to do with himself. It's just that it's affecting their relationship negatively...like all addictions do.

I don't mean to be harsh or disrespectful, Betsy, as I've said. But until you have lived with someone with a sexual addiction, it's really hard for you to understand.

Melbalini
11-01-2001, 11:17 PM
Ms Scarlet - thank you for putting my thoughts into words to Betsy...

It is intensely difficult for anyone to understand sexual addiction unless you see it in action.

I am fortunate that he does not ever (EVER!) act out in the physical realm...meaning, his addiction is mostly in his mental processes: fantasies, pornography, and at times phone sex (which he has altogether stopped in the past week - a big step for him - mostly due to the phone bills!).

I know that he loves me - and his addiction has nothing to do with me...Just like my addiction has nothing to do with him. There is nothing personal about his acting out with pornography - it is a bad habit, like reaching for a handful of cookies that land three feet in front of us is.

I guess, miss scarlet, our lives with and loves of addicts really puts our addiction in perspective - they all function on the same level - it is just a matter of getting past what it is that haunts us and what takes us away from our feelings...

Eating, masturbation...It is all the same.

The hardest part for me with my bf was to get beyond the relationship addiction he had with this woman across the country.

For a while, he was talking to her on the phone more than he was talking to me. They were working together, playing together, and yes, having phone sex together. (I tend to believe she deals with similar co-dependency and relationship addictions as he does, or else this never would have happened.) My feelings were very hurt by their relationship because I felt like he was "getting something from her that I couldn't give him."

They had both shared the desirable parts of their personas with each other - and both had formed attachments with the other, according to their idealistic notions of the "perfection" of each other. In effect, every moment my bf was talking to HER, he had left our relationship behind, and was "with" her.

When I began to make a fuss, he spoke with her, and they decided not to speak in my presence. This cut back their conversations to...well...all day long, while I was at school. This relation became even more "fishy" to me because then it was obvious that he was "sneaking around" with her on the phone.

I eventually went through his journal to find evidence of their conversations, and found that he had had phone sex with her just a few weeks ago.

I was crushed, I felt totally betrayed, and I confronted him about it.

He blew up at me for invading his privacy - but my hurt and anger from seeing it written down was the catalyst for his attempt to recover from his addiction. Prior to this event, he was acting out on a regular basis - without my knowledge.

We are getting by. This is all so new, though...I suppose that's why I asked for guidance with this relation in the first place.

I am so in love - and I want to be able to get married and have a family...He wants to, too... But he is so lost in his problems, and I am lost in his problems, too, it seems like we have a long way to go before we could even think of taking the next step.

Thanks for listening, my fishys...I love having you around.
Melbalini

miss_scarlet
11-02-2001, 07:12 AM
Melbalini, I think that your situation is a lot better than you think it is.

Your boyfriend is at the point where he is making an effort - that's a big step in the right direction. He is becoming aware of his addiction and how that is affecting your relationship. It sounds to me that he wants to make it work.

I too struggled, in the beginning, with feeling inadequate around my DH. I used to think, "Why does he need to look at naked woman? Aren't I good enough?" After many long talks with him about the issue, I came to see that it's not connected to me - he would do the same thing if he were married to a supermodel. It's hard because MY problem is about body image and self esteem, and him looking at pornography only made me feel worse about myself. It took me a long time to learn to let go of those feelings of inadequacy. I try very hard to keep his addiction and my addiction seperate.

I think you're right - they really are the same thing - eating and masturbating. They're both an escape from reality, they're both a result of poor self esteem. As I've already said, if you try to RELATE to him through your mutual addictions, rather than see them as separating you, you'll do a lot to strengthen your relationship.

Any time you want to talk, I'm here to help. Also - email me if you want.