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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:04 pm 
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How long has it been since your addict partner told you that you were beautiful, or pretty, or attractive, or sexy? How often did he tell you throughout his addiction? I would guess it has been a rare occurrence throughout your relationship (I’m not including the early attraction phase). I know it’s a cultural mandate that women should be modest about their looks and it’s up to others to tell a woman she’s beautiful. Meanwhile we’re supposed to be telling each other that we’re all beautiful on the inside. But f*** all of that. At my lowest ebb I believed I was “too ugly” and “not good enough” and an “embarrassment” to my husband who treated me as if I was below his standard. Now I know that was so messed up.

This week I was watching a TV drama alone. There was an mature actress (late 40s) who has a lot of male fans online. She is undoubtedly attractive and sexy. In this episode, one of the male characters described how he saw her — as beautiful, sexy and so on. (It was relevant to the storyline, I must stress here.) I recall my husband being rather critical of this actress when he was in his addiction. He said something like “has she looked in the mirror lately?” My husband is about 15 years older than her. I remember thinking, “if that’s what he thinks of this very attractive woman on TV, then how does he see me?” I knew how he saw me. Or rather, I knew that he didn’t “see” me. If I was standing naked in front of him I might as well have been wearing an invisibility cloak. I knew he thought my breasts were too small, and that I was pretty much sexless too him. When he made that comment about the actress, it told me a lot about how he saw women.

I’m not vain but I know I’m OK. I always was OK. I’m still an attractive woman. I still have a good figure. I don’t expect to be 21 forever. Most intelligent people with a healthy perception of life know this. I bet every one of us can see beauty in all ages. Sometimes beauty is from within, sometimes from without, but it’s usually a mixture of both. Of confidence, attitude, how someone moves. Yet when you are beaten down, starved of human touch and expressions of affection, when you know you are not valued, when you know that an essential part of your being has been disrespected, when you have been betrayed, not once or twice but over and over, for years and years, you don’t feel beautiful. You don’t feel worthy. I can remember believing that “of course I cannot expect my husband to tell me I’m beautiful because my beauty is long gone”. What BS I was believing!

I’d go online and watch YouTube and watch someone like Stevie Nicks and her fans, obviously male, were saying that she’s still beautiful because to those guys, who have aged just as she has, have a healthier perception of mature beauty. Unlike my husband. I’d read those comments and I’d wish I could be married to a man who appreciated a mature woman’s beauty. My husband would look at a woman considerably younger than the aforementioned Ms N and say “has she looked in the mirror lately?” It broke my heart to know that there were better men than my husband out there. I know that’s a superficial and shallow judgement but after decades of being treated like a sexual leper by your own husband, where he’d happily jack off to images of faked up sex with young women 25 or 30 or 35 years younger, well, it just made me feel sad.

These days, my husband rarely tells me I’m beautiful. But he sexually objectifies me. There’s a difference between appreciation and objectification. The last time he told me I was beautiful was when he told me someone else told him I was beautiful. So he told me. Once. And not since. This week I watched the TV drama and the actress, or the character she was playing, was described as “beautiful”. And I thought about how my husband couldn’t see it. Because she’s “too old” or somehow not up to his standards. I just feel sad. Addiction f***s up how they see women, and it has f****d up how they see us.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:08 am 
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Blue, I really hear you. I can count on one hand the times my husband ever said anything nice about my appearance.

I had to heal from this. As long as your husband is not fully recovered, he will continue to hurt you unless you create huge boundaries. But, honestly, even with boundaries, the reality of my husband's past behavior and thinking, and my deep distrust today makes it always hurt. It just hurts less and less often.

It doesn't help that the culture is stacked against us as well.

My husband's addiction skewed younger and younger. Remember "teen" is the biggest porn search term. I fear for young girls. My husband's perception of beauty was skewed by porn and by the constant sexualized ads featuring women and girls bodies. All air brushed, most surgically altered. Ugh.

He as well NEVER looked in the mirror. I think he only was aware of his craving and so objectified females that he never considered how we would look at him. I don't think that ever entered his mind about whether or not we would find him attractive. I think he felt unworthy most of the time, but while in his addictive trance, that disappeared. Female bodies were his to assess and take. Period.

If your husband can't talk to you about this in a loving, honest and healing way, I think your only option is to continue to detach. I find I heal more with women my age who I can spend time with doing things that have nothing to do with how we look.

dnell


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:57 pm 
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I would definitely agree that as older women we find far more meaning in our interests and activities, and our friendships, than the shallow preoccupation of seeking a man’s approval about our appearance. That’s something that we all used to grow out of as our lives moved on to the next stage after late adolescence and into early adulthood. Women used to talk about feeling more confident in every way as they grew older, and that appearance mattered less as the years went by. When I found myself caught up in a relationship with someone with a sexual addiction, that process was turned upside down. I feel that my partner’s addiction has stolen an important part of moving forward from one life stage into the next.

Instead of growing and expanding I retreated into a shrinking self. In a sense, I felt that I had become like a “spinster” character, living this lonely existence devoid of human touch and intimate connection. I didn’t want anyone to know the reality of my marriage. Looking back, it took a lot of mental energy to maintain a self that was an act. I had to act as if my husband’s loss of sexual interest in me wasn’t really happening. I put on a front. Everything was OK. I was OK. I put my husband’s behaviour just beyond my consciousness. If I began to think about it, I’d pretend it wasn’t really happening. If I began to think about it, I’d blame myself anyway. I held that cliched and destructive belief that the problem was rooted in my failure. I now see that was a considerable burden to carry around in my head for all those years. AND put on a happy face.

The bizarre thing with me was that whatever I was denying, it manifested in ways that are typically associated with adolescence. Disordered eating, specifically food restriction, becoming underweight and feeling “safe” at a below normal BMI, the body being a focus for anxiety. It was crazy. I had gone through adolescence and early adulthood without ever having dieted or any issues about weight. Yet there I was, a midlife woman with body dysmorphia and fearful of the harm that eating could do to me. I had no clue that eating disorders could manifest at peri/menopause until I looked it up online. It’s not well documented but it happens. For me, eating was the only thing in my life I felt in control of. Looking back this was crazy. I was clearly in a bad place but I couldn’t see it.

I’m still trying to make sense of what living in the shadow of someone else’s sexual addiction has done to my sense of self. It is very unsettling. I feel that I’ve lost a significant part of my life and a significant part of myself to my husband’s addiction. Whatever it took from me, whatever I had to give up in order to deal with it, I don’t think it’s possible or realistic to have now. I feel that I have to do for myself all that I feel that my relationship lacks.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:32 pm 
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So true,
This is how I feel, instead of decades of growth, and blossoming, becoming confortable with myself.. I was caught up in the rejection of my husband, so I diminished as a woman, as a grown up person.. When I had thought I would be co fident, and secure and connected to someone I had been married to for over thirty years..
I did, do get the odd compliment, but not when I need to hear one.. And not genuine compliments, usually hollow objectifying comments, ie you look sexy.. To be followed shortly by me being totally looked through, so my mind would be thinking why us he ignoring, rejecting me if five minutes ago ge said I looked sexy..
I can only say since starting my recovery journey I am learning I don't need his validation, and realising just how much of my self I lost over the years.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:27 am 
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It’s only now that I can see how much mental and emotional energy it used up being in a relationship with a sex/porn addict. Living with sexual rejection isn’t just a one-time thing, it’s a constant awareness. Feeling powerless over someone else’s choices was a constant presence, it’s always there ticking away in the background. Sacrificing my own needs because I had been coerced into accepting a situation was constant. It uses up a lot of emotional energy to manage these feelings over many years. I didn’t realise it at the time because what you get used to becomes your “normal”. It was a slow and gradual process. I couldn’t see it at the time.

I feel that I was denied the opportunity to have a healthy sexual relationship that was allowed to mature and grow into something more meaningful. I’m also aware of what I didn’t receive from an intimate relationship — feeling valued and respected, appreciated and admired. I wasn’t desired. I wasn’t complimented. I lived without having any of that, and as I mentioned previously, it’s not just a one-time thing or a rough patch, it’s a permanent way of life that goes on for years. There’s also the shame of being married to someone who isn’t choosing you but you know they’re looking outside of the relationship. That’s another huge drain of emotional energy.

I also find that in recovery, no matter how I try to appreciate myself as I am now, and affirm my positive qualities, when it comes to feeling confident about my sexuality or my outward presentation, the counter-reality of what happened in my relationship still has a voice inside my head. I don’t think it’s easy to eliminate all those years of feeling not good enough and the secret shame of sexual rejection by reading a few positive affirmations. I can build myself up again but I’m also in a relationship with an addict who is forever going to be an addict-in-recovery. A relationship *should* affirm us and give us safety but it’s not a realistic expectation in a relationship with someone with this kind of addiction or the associated personality traits.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:58 pm 
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There is no way some positive affirmations have helped me.
I feel the loss of a nurturing, sharing relationship greatly at my age, the ongoing rejection and shame I feel has altered me so much.
I have read so much about narcissist abuse, trauma bonding that reflects my situation.. Sa, pa connected or not. Instead of decades of growing secure in my husbands love, I feel no more secure than when first married. The sexual rejection represented so much more imo, it was as if I never felt cherished, always felt left aside, the feelings of being surplus to requirement . I feel at any time he could fall for someone who he is attracted to, I have never been able to see how you can genuinely love someone yet not want to be close or even acknowledge they have needs, .. Needs you are fully aware of as you satisfy your own and are aware of other women's needs. He still scans when we are out. And also has a look.. A stare where his mouth becomes ugly if he fixes on a girl he likes the look of.. I should not be having emotions I had as a teenager at my age, its as if my emotional maturity got warped by his immaturity.
Tbh, I find it hard to express.. The damage to my vision of my self as a woman has been so deep, and in ways that still take me by surprise. The sexual rejection and perceived unattractiveness of myself played into deep issues I have about unworthiness and abandonment.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:17 pm 
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Jenny, I can totally relate to the description of the look on your husband's face when he locks on to a target of his scanning. I know that look on my husband's face. It makes me very uncomfortable. It's not sweet, or nice...it's predatory. That's the best way I can put. Maybe craving as well. Seeing this gives me a clear sign of whether or not my husband is engaged in addictive behavior.

It's not just the damage our husband's addiction did to our self esteem, it's all the cultural messages as well. We were already burdened with unrealistic and harsh messages about our bodies when we were young. Naively, I wanted shelter in my marriage from those messages. I wanted my husband to choose me and see me as attractive. We all know that is not going to happen with a sex addict. The underlying intimacy disorder guarantees we will not measure up.

It is important to heal from this. Our husbands will have to get sober, recover, get healthy, and develop deep compassion and skills of intimacy to help us heal. If they can do that, t will take a lot of time. We can't wait. I found that emotionally detaching from my husband helped me on my healing path. I also find any situation with him in public that causes me to feel bad about myself is something I stop doing with him. Here is where boundaries are critical. I think personal counseling is essential as well. I find that it is crucial to spend time doing things that have nothing to do with how we look and to find joy in those activities.

dnell


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:50 am 
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So true, I realised that trying to force my husband to change is no good, the only way I have come back from rockbottom is looking inside me, and bring on that journey to value myself.. To be there for me and to detach. I needed councelling to help.
I think from a young age we are programmed in so many ways, how we should look, what men like, what a good wife is.. The old gem, whore in the bedroom, goddess in the kitchen.not to be a bag, all that whether intentional or not was inferred by my husband behaviour towards me, so I took it to be this that or the other I was failing at, the shame he exerted by implying I was nagging, cobtrolling.. Letting myself go etc, the need to always dress up, make up etc.. I had so many expectations and aims in my brain, I spent years trying to be that woman.. All the blurb on how to keep your man, not just appearance but how a woman was meant to behave.. How men behaved.. How they had needs etc, how I was selfish if I showed I was needy or expected to be shown some respect, .. All reinforced by my husbands behaviour and attitude when I had the kids and he became the main breadwinner, Layers and layers of programming Tbh. And a lot of it did reinforce Co dependancy and people pleasing, romantic fairy tails..the shame came from the expectations the man needs sex etc, that there is something wrong with you if he doesn't want sex with you. Then the total denial of needs and the shaming about being a nympho etc if you expressed those needs, I was systematically screwed up mentally for decades.
In my case I know from the very outset I wouldnt have been able to compete with what my husband was acting out to, but for years before I found out the details, the idea I had to compete depleted me, in fact he have the impression I did need to up my game,


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:12 am 
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Jenny, I totally understand that feeling of having the long career of trying to be the good partner and constantly feeling that you’ve failed. It’s a very unhappy burden to carry. At this stage, knowing what we know about addiction, it has become a feeling of years wasted and knowing that I can’t have that time back. There’s also the sense that I’ll never experience the relationship I once believed I had. My husband’s personality changed towards me when his addiction became ingrained. He always was passive aggressive but he became more overtly aggressive towards me, more openly hostile and his interest in being sexual with me stopped almost abruptly. Now I can see how traumatised I was by his shouting and hostility. That’s when the abusive power dynamic became established too, in tandem with his addiction. It broke me down too. I lost my drive because I was forever trying to be the good wife trying to please from that point, and knowing that I was failing was breaking my spirit more and more. I didn’t have the energy to advocate for myself and I knew I couldn’t challenge his addictive behaviours. I tried and failed at that too. Challenging him directly didn’t work. Classic DARVO (Deny - Attack - Reverse Victim and Offender). Upping my game didn’t work. I ended up thinking it was all my fault even though he was the one doing it all.

You are right in that the culture sets us up for this too. It’s the women who are supposed to be pleasing men whilst men get a free pass to do whatever they want. They can have unlimited free porn. They can go to strip bars. They can use webcam services. They can go to massage parlours and brothels. It’s all there and it’s easy peasy. (Never mind the human trafficking and inhumane treatment that women and children are enduring so the can have all this on demand.) What do their female partners do? Read magazine articles on how to have hot sex - which is usually about how to imitate your man’s ‘favourite porn’, buy lingerie (to look like a porn star), buy sex toys and accessories (to act out porn scenes), have a Brazilian wax (because women in porn remove their pubic hair), and so on. Do men do all of this to please their partners? I can’t think of a male equivalent of wearing ‘lingerie’. We try to ‘please’ and they have the power to say ‘not good enough’ and dismiss us. When sex is reduced to producing a pleasing performance, it’s not a sign of a healthy relationship. I don’t think any relationship can be healthy where there is a sexual addiction.

Our relationships are supposed to be where we feel safe and protected, yet it’s probably the space where we feel we need to defend ourselves. If our parents were more interested in the welfare of every kid on our street instead of us, or every kid in our school except us, we’d grow up with a significant attachment trauma. I know we’re not kids and not so dependent, but if we are married to a man who is interested in every other woman except us to the point we are invisible to them, yet we are expected to be faithful and monogamous, and that’s our experience over many years (and from early adulthood for most of us) then that is going to have a significant impact on how we relate to our (emotionally neglectful) partner, how we see ourselves and how we relate to others. We turn our feelings inwards on ourselves and it becomes destructive.

Dnell, I agree totally about detachment. We must do this for the sake of our emotional health. Last week I was meeting up with a friend. I put together an outfit that was a little bit different and I thought I looked pretty good. It was one of those days when you like your reflection in the mirror and feel a sort of confidence. The first thing my friend said was “I like your hair” because I’d changed it slightly. We shared a lovely time together. When I got home my husband said nothing at all about my appearance even though I was wearing something he’d not seen me wear before and was dressed a bit differently. Not a word. I reached the point in the first year after d day that I wasn’t going to give him the power to decide how I felt over my appearance. If he didn’t notice or if he said nothing after I had made an effort to look good then I came to the conclusion that as long as I was happy with my own reflection then that’s all that mattered. I wasn’t going to allow his judgment to be so important. If he doesn’t like or care about what he sees, I can do this for myself. It’s a simple example of a detachment, but an important one.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:09 am 
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hello dear women,

I find myself appreciating you, again, for this conversation, for this place where we can share an experience and feelings that only we can understand.

This topic has been on my mind again lately. Though I have grown in my capacity for detachment and feel far less impacted by anxiety, fear or helplessless, what I do still feel is grief.

Here is the loss for me, for many of us: I have never had a fulfilling sex life, and am uncertain whether I ever will (in this marriage/relationship). Often I wonder if what I desire is unrealistic in general--this is how much of my perception a relationship with a sex addict has skewed.

Innately, I desire to be desired. No longer for validation or because my self-esteem needs it, but simply because on an emotional and physical level, I deeply long for a consistently fun, sexy, deep sexual life. With another human being.

I think, compared to some of the responses here, my husband's a bit "further along." I think that he doesn't know how the hell to navigate the waters of finding his wife sexy, while not objectifying her. I suspect he worries about hurting or offending me. I suspect he lacks any sort of confidence or esteem in bedroom matters. His weight certainly doesn't help, but that can become an easy crutch to prevent further interaction.

He tells me I am beautiful, fairly frequently, and I believe him. He has worked hard in this regard--to SEE me. To compliment me. It is sincere. But, to be frank, it is not the same as pushing me up against the wall and making it clear he wants me. It is not the same as seeing a new lingerie set I've bought (these days, I buy only for myself) and telling me he'd love to unwrap it/me later.

Our sex life, while improved from the days when he was mired in addictive behavior, is fairly bland. It is rote. He engages more than he used to, but I wonder if this is as much as I will get.

Most of us as women, regardless of whether we are married to someone with sex addiction, are challenged by cultural expectations around beauty and age. A healthy partner can probably go a long way toward helping a woman feel adequate, loved, beautiful, sexy. Women can be considered sexy by their partners, without negative objectification being an issue. But for us--we who are in relationships we would ave never knowingly signed on for in hindsight--we have to heal ourselves. And we can do this, and understand our worth, but it doesn't change the grief over the loss, and the sexual void that is left behind in the wake of everything.

I got married to have a rich sex life. It was probably one of my highest values going into marriage, and if I'm being honest, it would be today were I to enter into a new relationship. I'm not convinced I would easily find this were I to leave my marriage and find a new partner, so I balance my grief over the sexual void in my life with pragmatism over the reality of finding that kind of partnership elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:08 pm 
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Meepmeep, thanks for bringing this up. Do you remember the song “Let’s Talk About Sex” from the 80s? It was a response to the reality of AIDS which made it necessary to be upfront about the subject, and it was also an opportunity to talk about other aspects such as STIs and unwanted pregnancy, whilst at the same time promoting a healthier view of sex and sexuality. It is my opinion that porn culture has been responsible for undoing a lot of what appeared to be progress about these matters. Sex and porn addiction thrive where attitudes to sex are completely out of whack, and it becomes a self perpetuating vicious circle. I am not surprised in the least that we have all been so frustrated with our partners’ and have had such a disappointing sexual relationship over the years.

Once upon a time I had a thoroughly great sex life with a full repertoire of activities, positions, etc. I was almost always orgasmic during sex and almost always multiple orgasms. I knew that this was the kind of sex many women never experience. My husband seemed to be into it, at least until his addiction got underway. Perhaps to him it was “just sex” and sex is relatively easy for men in terms of biological function. They almost always ejaculate, whether it’s with a committed partner or a complete stranger they’ve picked up in a bar. For me, my sexual pleasure was almost like a learned skill and it could only happen with someone I felt comfortable and safe with. I knew I couldn’t have satisfying multi orgasmic sex in casual encounter.

When my husband’s addiction took hold, sex stopped happening. It became so infrequent, and then there was erectile dysfunction during those rare occasions, and then it stopped completely for several years. I don’t know how long, maybe as long as 7 or 8 years. I blamed myself for not being beautiful enough or sexy enough, but that was really a cultural message as much as anything. But I also have to say that my husband was following the cultural script 100%. He won’t admit to it, but he didn’t see me at all. He didn’t consider me as a woman with sexual needs. In one sense, to dismiss me in this way is a particularly cruel form of objectification. It’s objectifying and then rejecting on my failure to be a “good enough” object. His first manifestation of sex addiction was probably watching strippers. The porn habit was already in place but once it was all available online he couldn’t stay away from it. His sexual template is based on objectification. After d day I thought it was great that he seemed to appreciate me physically, but now I’m acutely aware that it’s objectification, that I’m just a body to him at those times. He’s not so great with kissing and eye contact. Sometimes I feel that I could be anybody. Sometimes I’ve suspected that he’s lost in fantasy about someone else. In fact, on one occasion I said something to him, something affectionate to remind him I was there, and he lost his erection. I suspected he was lost in a fantasy, and I could have predicted he’d go limp if I reminded him of my presence. I think I was right.

Since d day, I’ve never had anything like the sex life I once had. That’s in the past. My husband is quite inhibited, at least as far as I’m concerned. I’ve made suggestions of things we could try and he wasn’t interested. If I was to wear lingerie or whatever, it would make no difference to him. He wants to make an appointment, we show up, we undress ourselves as if we were in a changing room or whatever and then get into bed naked. I don’t like it. There’s no romance. There’s no seduction. I don’t even feel desired. It’s maintenance sex. To be honest I feel very separate from him. I also think he’s stupid. He has an attractive, sexy wife. She’s in good shape. She wants to have an exciting sex life. Most men would appreciate that, but not him. He has spent so many years in his objectification/fantasy/masturbation headspace that he’s lost the plot. His sexuality has been self serving and all about him. One-sided. Selfish. Trying to recover my sexuality in this relationship hasn’t been easy. Like many women here, I’ve had to accept a less than satisfactory situation. It’s enough to get by, but I think that this is as good as it gets. I wanted better than this.

Detachment is necessary. I will continue to ‘recover’ my own sexuality otherwise I’m giving up my own needs. After three and a half years I can see that my husband’s preferred way of having sex is secretly masturbating and being less interested in partnered sex. He makes very little effort. It’s up to me to make myself available and it’s up to me to guess his level of interest. It’s just like it used to be when he was using porn and I had to work out whether or not he’d using it on a particular day to work out whether I could “offer” sex. As I write this I realise just how much of an unhealthy power imbalance this dynamic is. He can’t access porn any more but his behaviour seems to have reverted to his ingrained pattern. His years as a sexual addict seems to have overwritten any healthy sexuality that might have been there before, or had the potential to develop. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, as they say.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:14 am 
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Grief is the hardest part of my healing. Huge amounts of grief. The reality of my losses. It is what it is, but it is hard.

I'm so glad I had a sex life before my husband! At least I had that.

Remember, our partners are immature. We are having sex not with an adult, but with an emotional youngster. It's not going to work. And remember their addictions rose from early sexual and emotional trauma and/or immature introduction to sex. It's like my husband is an 8 year old who just saw a Playboy. They needed to mature out of that and develop a mature sense of self and sexuality. It didn't happen.

And remember the underlying intimacy disorder. Sex in a marriage, in my view, has to be tied to emotional intimacy in order for it to be fulfilling. My husband is terrified of emotional connection. He certainly isn't going to be vulnerable and open during sex.

I still see my husband struggling with what is healthy sexuality. Frankly, I don't think he is going to succeed. He's going to have to do a lot of personal healing and growth work to get there and I think his wounds are too deep and the addiction amplified those wounds.

That leaves us to figure out what to do to heal ourselves and try to get as much from life as possible. I think it is a good sign on our part to grieve. It shows we respect ourselves and what we wanted and didn't get. We're finally feeling our wants and needs, realizing they are not only reasonable but necessary, and taking care of ourselves.

dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:22 pm 
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Absolutely, dnell. Grief is part of our healing. We have grieve for what we had in the past and for what we never had. We also need to grieve for the future that we hoped for but know we won’t have. Even the better parts of our post d day relationship remind us of what wasn’t there, and there’s an element of grief to that too.

I expected to create a better relationship after d day but I have to say that it hasn’t happened. Healing our sexual relationship has been fraught at times. He reverted to secret masturbation and left me wondering WTF was going on. I tried to raise the matter but he outright lied to me about it. Then there was this coworker that he lied to me about. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an emotional affair but I do believe he was using her to feed his own ego and narcissism. He’s always got to be better and more special than anyone else. All the time we were going to couples therapy and learning how to communicate better. But he’s keeping a secret throughout, lying by omission.

To recreate my own healthy sexuality, I’ve had to detach. My healing is one step forward, two steps backwards at the moment. I’ve done everything I can to bring more into the partnership, more sensuality, more playfulness, etc. I’ve read the book on Erotic Intelligence by Alex Katehakis and tried to bring in some of the ideas there, but even with the most simple introductory suggestions, I couldn’t get anywhere with him. Yet this is a guy for whom good partnered sex wasn’t enough, so what exactly was he looking for outside the relationship? And the truth is, it was just lots of bodies to objectify. Lots of different bodies to fantasise about. Lots of different bodies to look at. Sexual arousal = finding a new body. Compulsive voyeurism. Nothing that could contribute to a good long term, committed sexual relationship.

Similarly, with appearance. I don’t want to be locked in the mindset of a teenage girl worrying about what she looks like. I can look in the mirror and see a good looking woman with a good figure. And that’s enough. I’d like a man to appreciate me, not just my appearance but my interests, ideas, opinions, skills, the books I’ve read, the places I like to go and so on. I don’t want to be objectified or used as a tool to be used only when required then put away. My appearance is just one expression of myself. So once again, I’m nurturing myself through pursuing my own interests, maintaining my friendships, and yes, even though buying clothes and accessories. It was only today as I was ironing my clothes that I realised that I have some lovely pieces that I enjoy wearing and taking care of. My husband, had he been present, would have been telling me that all of this ironing and caring for clothes was a frippery, a vanity, not necessary, and so on. So even making an effort with my appearance to please him would either be invisible (no comment) or being told that it’s all unnecessary.

Just writing this out is actually making me realise where and how he exerts his power in the relationship. I guess whether it’s withholding praise or withholding sex, I need to see it for what it is.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:31 am 
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I’d just like to add my observations on an addict’s story I read about elsewhere recently. So much of his focus was on repairing his porn-induced erectile dysfunction and very little about his relationship other than his ability to have sex and his wife’s physical appearance. The story stuck with me because his sexuality seemed to have been entirely defined by internet pornography. His view about his wife’s physical attractiveness was that because she’s had kids and because she wasn’t 19 any more, she was *less than* in relation to what he was getting off to. From what he said, his wife didn’t seem to know about his pornography addiction and like many addicts he just wanted to abstain temporarily to cure his impotence. I can’t comment on his relationship with his wife other than to observe the secrecy and deception implied in his story.

What I do feel is relevant is this expectation, or this feeling of entitlement, to be able to have access to these young bodies for his own voyeuristic/masturbationary uses AND THEN find his wife’s body substandard because, well, she’s a woman whose body has done what it’s designed to do. She’s also a human being just like he is, and he’s no spring chicken either. This guy is not the only man to have expressed these attitudes about his partner’s appearance and desirability, so he’s certainly not unique.

My concern is this: Is it possible to ever have a healthy sexual relationship with an recovered/recovering addict when their sexual template has been written around pornography and other sexual entertainments? When I read this guy’s story my reaction was “this is not healthy sexuality”. He was under the spell of pornography, for sure. I don’t actually think these guys are actually SEEING what’s in front of them when they’re acting out anyway, there’s something else going on in their heads. When people tell us, as partners of addicts, that it’s not our fault and it’s not a reflection on us, I agree in the broadest sense. But once the addiction is established our partners DO find us lacking, substandard, not living up to the fantasy. Even after quitting, it’s amazing at how “leaky” their own boundaries are. Scanning, ogling, objectifying women in public, women on TV, or they watch music videos that are almost soft porn by artists whose music they’d never listen to, and so on. They still covertly seek out very similar stimuli. We know, or at least I know, that a healthy sexual relationship with a former addict is very, very strongly against the odds. That’s not pessimism. Their brains have been restructured by years of addiction highs, seeking and rewards, etc, that it’s going to be so difficult, perhaps impossible, to reverse these changes.

Then there is what this means for us. We’ve all experienced the betrayal trauma of being in a relationship with a sexual addict. We’ve all experienced rejection in favour of addictive behaviours. We are left pretty much on our own to heal because somewhere along the way our partners lost the ability to emphasise. We are very much alone in our relationships and in our healing. We are often working on our own self esteem including our own sexual self esteem and working out what healthy sexuality means for us. Yet there is this constant instability created by our partners — habitually objectifying, some degree of persistent deception even at a relatively trivial level and the vulnerability to relapse. They are prone to these behaviours precisely because their target ISN’T us. In their eyes, we probably ARE lacking. So once again I believe we have to learn to tolerate this ambiguity, this sense of “I’m OK, I’m not OK”. It’s a lot of work, especially for something we didn’t ask for.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:01 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:39 am
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«  Let’s talk about sex »
Not an easy topic when it is about our own sexuality
So much talking and thinking about SA partner’s problems with sexuality , in general and in our particular story; make it a topic we’ve had enough?
the wounds and/or grieving still hurting too much?
the shame and disgust to have been used, objectified, compared to the others ( porn, prostitutes, Affairs)?

What is healthy sexuality? For ourselves ? Within the relationship?
This is so much personal and different for each of us, depending on life experience, education , situation with the partner ...
After d day I questioned myself so much, I was feeling so unconfident, unworthy etc...
And at some point I wanted to prove (!) I was not a nun, I could be “sexy” also. But it was not really me. And it was bringing horrible triggers.
As part of my healing focus and detachment process I chose to protect myself from being hurt with sexuality
To avoid feeling disgusted when having sex, because of images coming up, even questions raising suddenly about the past! To avoid wondering if what I’m doing could trigger him for fantasy about past affairs ..
I chose to put aside “sex” ( like sexy outfit, positions, etc.. ) , and go for rather simple ´making love’ with very limited erotism; a kind of very intense cuddle. This is definitely not rocking sex ! But I feel relaxed, respected and secure, so I can have orgasm. And I have to say that it contributes in building emotional intimacy with my partner. He also is afraid of triggers with sex, triggers for him ( fantasy and/or shame , not always clear ...) and painful triggers for me , so he shares this very simple and cautious way of making love.


Like Dnell said it’s important to respect ourselves by knowing our needs, wants
and also know our limits to protect us and pursue our healing.


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