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PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:39 pm 

Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:11 pm
Posts: 12
Both sides, please!

My SAH is seeing a counselor monthly for his recovery. Last visit with her, he mentioned to her that I have been wanting to try new things, sexually. (I have initiated and/or discussed with him a few different things, but he doesn't seem too interested). The counselor suggested to him that we go to a bar and pretend we are strangers that just meeting. This triggered me. Now, I know that people do this and I am not knocking it in a normal, healthy relationship. My problem is that I need my husband to continue forming an intimate bond with ME, not a stranger that he met in a bar. I need him to "see me". He did meet some of his conquests at bars, after chatting online. My husband does not understand why it upset me so much and he is actually angry that I suggested that the counselor may not be educated enough about SA if she made a suggestion like that. I told him I was going to post here to get feedback and he said the counselor's comment was "off-the-cuff" and to be sure to "include the part where I delegitimized his counseling". I feel like he is delegitimizing my feelings!

Should I not feel hurt by this? Is that an appropriate suggestion for a counselor to give to a sex addict? I welcome all feedback!

PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:08 pm 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 515
Hi, whitewave,

First, I don't know that a 'both sides' take would be useful here, primarily because on the recovery side of things, there is often a lack of insight as to what objectively constitutes healthy sexual behavior in the context of a person with sex addiction, however, I understand it can be useful to hear from someone in recovery "no, this is not an appropriate suggestion."

My take is the counseler isn't versed in sex addiction, and in particular, the aspects of it that are related to intimacy disorders. THe suggestion to pretend you are strangers creates a further intimate divide versus a connection between you both as people who are open and vulnerable with each other. It reinforces the idea that sex needs to be anonymous or casual in order for it to be meaningful.

I agree with your take that ina healthy sexual relationship, this idea could be fun and a form of connection. It would require maturity, playfulness, insightfulness and, perhaps most critically, intimate openness in the relationship in order for it to be beneficial to the couple's sex life. In a relationship with a partner who is still very much in recovery, few of those things are present, and it takes a long time until the sex addiction transforms into a mature and healthy way of seeing and experiencing sexuality. Additionally, your husband's specific form of sexual addiction was related to meeting strangers in a bar! This is parallel to suggesting to a porn addict in recovery that he and his wife watch porn together as a way to connect or that a person who used prostitutes suggest to his wife they have an open relationship. Uh, no.

To be short and frank, the counselor's suggestion is merely adding fuel to the fire. Additionally, and critically, your needs and concerns are gaslighted by both her and your husband. Period.

I believe your sense of safety and security needs to be one of the top goals in recovering as a couple. I'm not hearing that as any consideration here. What I'm hearing is that once again, your husband's so-called "needs" (in quotes because compulsions are often framed as needs instead of the compulsions they are) are pushed to the forefront, at the cost of your values and with no respect to the trauma you've already experienced.

Finding a counselor versed in sex addiction is very challenging. I realize your husband may have few options in this regard, but wonder if this counselor is helping him, or causing further harm to you, to his own recovery to health, and to the relationship.

your boundaries around this are valid, and I encourage you to stick with them and uphold what is right for you in light of your values and concerns, as well as your husband's past behaviors.

with empathy,

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