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What about my sex life- Has it been ruined forever by my partners addiction?


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any ideas out there....I am at a loss especially since the last discovery/slip on my husband's part so any suggestions welcome.....I don't get anything at all from sex now as it is definitely NOT about me nor do i receive any pleasure from the event. My husband is clearly just in his own head / or suffers from erectile disfunction when not able to use fantasy or self soothing! His desires and mine are miles apart and no matter how many times we discuss ways to address this at check-in, at the time of intimacy he falls into the familiar trap and i withdraw. I am not prepared to follow my husbands lead to meet his preferred choices within the realm of sex  and right now the last thing i ever want to do is have sex with him...the problem is that I DO WANT A SEX LIFE!  Am i going to be pushed into finding someone else to have 'normal sex' with in the future which is an option i do not really want but the thought does enter my head.

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Hi Long-suffering, I have been on my own for nearly 2 years. My story is on the forum. I cannot even contemplate having  a sex life, or even a relationship other than friends, with anyone. Maybe if I meet someone in the future this may change, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be easy. It all comes down to trust for me, what is real, what isn’t, what would he be thinking about, am I good enough, too old, body imperfect etc! 

He was my one and only, married for 39 years, I was totally comfortable with him. But  I often think of how he actually saw sex, the fact that he objectified women, and that I didn’t recognise it. I know it’s him and not me, but it doesn’t stop me feeling like I am not worthy of someone’s love and wondering if all men think the same! 

It is good that you want a sex life, that’s healthy, and you deserve what you want, in the way and with whom you are comfortable.


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Hi again long suffering,

Like  Tabs I was with my  husband for 30 years, he was my only ever my intimate partner. I learnt with him, trusted him and was deceived by him.  

As the addiction seemed to have more of a hold on him, his acting out got more daring and risky although I could only ever take his word for it … Addicts lie so the whole truth I'll never know.

I got married at 22, very naïve and totally inexperienced. He moulded me to what he wanted. On occasions I couldn't understand why I really wasn't aroused by him and faked being so as that was what he wanted. He wanted me to score our sexual encounter...I think this was one of the keys as to why sex started to be a turn off. It had to be perfect all the time. I realise that for him it needed to be...and better than him acting out, as I do believe that he desperately wanted not to act out his addiction.  I really wanted to be myself, but somehow couldn't be. I wanted to be loved for who I was but found that that wasn't good enough. I was unaware until in the last years of our relationship that he'd acted out since the first years of marriage and kept it a secret. He used to tell me about his acting out usually about two weeks after the event. I instinctively knew something was up...but couldn't put my finger on what it was.  We had to have sex and would then implore me to have more sex as this was going to help him get over it! (his addiction). I felt used and abused and told him so...yet he'd say he loved me and cherished me. I really couldn't understand this at all and felt really confused.

We went to sex therapist who really didn't grasp the fact that it was as a result of the addiction that our sex life was dysfunctional. He said he guaranteed that after the 5/6 sessions we'd be much better. He didn't understand that my lack of trust and the fact that I'd been lied to on numerous occasions was a key to the lack of libido in me. The whole episode left me very frustrated.

Latterly my husband too suffered with erectile dysfunction and just wanted me to stimulate him, so no intercourse at all.  I was SO frustrated. During this time I was also perimenopausal which really throws a 'spanner in the works' as it were. I actually felt repulsed and disgusted by him.

After he left and in these subsequent few years I've gone through significant healing, read, listened to podcasts and come to understand myself much more. It has been a long process but a necessary one.  My understanding of real intimacy is the total submission to each other...if one is guarding secrets and actually not allowing the other to love them, intimacy is flawed.

I would love to find another partner and share my everything with.

I hope this helps in some way.

Big hug xx

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Thanks so much Chrissy-i hope you do one day find the partner you are looking for and deserve. I like your definition/understanding of real intimacy and agree wholeheartedly and can see that is at the root of my issues with my husband. I will try and raise this area with him when we next talk in that kind of way. 

My situation is different - i presume for a host of individual, personal and family reasons....I really imagine that I am in for the long haul and do not plan to leave, separate or divorce  in my present thinking but of course there is always the bomb that could go off and change my mind!! 

hug to you too. x

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This thread is very timely.  I spent all yesterday afternoon in tears, trying to explain to my partner how soul-destroying it is to live with someone who is sexually anorexic as part of his addiction.  He swears that he finds me attractive, but I have to take his word for it, because he shows nothing more than a sisterly affection for me.  I give him credit for actually joining in the conversation, even though he wanted desperately to run away (and probably act out, for all I know).  It became apparent that at 56 y/o, he has never had a physically and emotionally intimate relationship.  I think that is really sad.  So when I say I want a normal healthy sex life, he has no model at all for what that is.  He says he wants to learn how to do that, and I honestly believe him, but the task seems, frankly, insurmountable.  I likened it to wanting to be fluent in German; sure, he knows enough German to get by, but how realistic is it that he would become fluent at 56, and how much work would it take to do so?  How motivated is he to put in the effort and really, what does it do for my self-esteem to have a man who has to put in effort to show me that he loves me?  

Where does this leave me?  Like you, Long-Suffering, I have contemplated finding another man, but that isn't what I want and, to be honest, my sexual self-esteem has been destroyed by my partner.  His ex-wife and I had a conversation last year where she told me that for 26 years, she thought that she was too ugly for him to want sex with her!  Poor woman!  I assured her that it wasn't her, but I know exactly how she feels.  Or do I take matters into my own hands, so to speak, and end up satisfying my needs without him, which is the very thing that I get upset at him doing?  And that does nothing to satisfy my need to be part of a loving relationship.  

Very occasionally, we both let down our guard enough to make love, and it's wonderful.  I stupidly think that we have turned a corner, and how can he not want more of this closeness and good feeling; then he sabotages it with acting out in some way and we are back to square one, with me feeling like a fool - yet again - for hoping that things could be different.  We are in couples therapy, so I am hoping that this will help us break the cycle, but I have been here so many times that not only do I feel stupid, and unattractive, but hopeless too.  

I work with a lot of people with addictions, (for a long time before I met my partner) and while they all hurt their loved ones, I don't think any addiction takes down a partner's sense of self like sex addiction.  While my head knows that there is nothing wrong with me, my heart is so crushed by the repeated rejection, not to mention the betrayal, lies and secrecy of the behaviour I discovered last year, that if I were to start over with another man, I think my sexual self is destroyed now.  I never thought I would be in this position, and I don't know how to change it.  I think it is tragic that there are so many of us who evidently have been hurt in this very personal way.  I can't explain this, even to my close friends, because they just wouldn't get it.  I am grateful to you all who are willing to share your similar experiences.  Ann x

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Hi Ann,

I am so sorry you are feeling so unappreciated and your self esteem is at an all time low -I can only hope that the couples therapist will help you both.  

I know that there are no easy answers to all our common issues and the pain of betrayal certainly cuts a deep wound- rebuilding intimacy and trust is my life's work i think. I know that finding another man  for what i earlier referred to as normal sex is a non-starter really and because you don't get intimacy and love automatically hand in hand ( apologies for the bad pun) with 'good healthy sex' with a new partner just like that....I also do not want to go down the self soothing route as a solution per se although when  i do occasionally do this i experience a very exquisite climax that is way more intense and pleasurable that in sex with my partner!!

sadly have to dash now but will think on and add more tomorrow....stay strong and be kind to yourself. You sound like an incredible human being to me.

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