This week, we have covered what sexual addiction is, how to recover, and we have started talking about sexual intimacy after you discover you have a sexual addiction. If you haven’t read the previous blogs, I would encourage you to do so before going on, as it builds on itself. Today we will continue with what “healthy” sexual intimacy looks like in recovery.
Healthy Sexual Intimacy
>>Realize that challenges, negative feelings, and suffering are a part of life So much of what an addict does, with any addiction, is to avoid negative feelings. It is like a desperate attempt to not feel bad that later becomes compulsive. It is important for a sex addict, or any addict for that matter, to learn to be okay with and cope with negative feelings. Challenges and suffering are unavoidable as long as we are living and breathing. So learning to cope with them in a positive way will help addicts shift their focus from avoiding to managing negative emotions. Learning to cope with their feelings will help them not to resort to sexual relief as a way of coping. This is an important part of any recovery.
>> Learning to nurture yourself in non-genital ways
First of all, let’s talk about nurturing. How do you nurture yourself? It is basically taking care of yourself, soothing yourself when you have negative emotions, and learning to love yourself. It may sound hokey but each of us has a need to be nurtured within us. Our parents were our primary nurturers as we grew up. Now it is our responsibility to do this in a loving, gentle way. Sexual addicts tend to only see sexually soothing ways to nurture themselves. That is why it is important in their recovery, to teach them to nurture themselves in ways that are not sexual. Everyone is different with what works for them but some examples would be taking a walk, talking to a friend or spouse, doing something you enjoy, or exercising. These are all ways to take care of yourself and nurture yourself.
>>Learn to be emotionally vulnerable
Being vulnerable (open, honest, and humble) in a relationship is important to create emotional intimacy. This can open individuals up to possibly being hurt, thus making them feel vulnerable. Sex addicts are usually afraid of being betrayed so they sexualize many of their feelings in order to protect themselves from being to open to hurt. It is important to learn to have boundaries yet open yourself up enough to be vulnerable in a relationship. This will create the relationship that is actually desired!
I just want to add that sexual addiction is difficult to recover from. It is of DIRE importance to get professional help from a trained Therapist that is comfortable working with sexual addicts. The Therapist needs to have good boundaries and understand not just addiction, but sexual addiction. If you struggle with this, please get help! You will be amazed at how wonderful life can be again once you come out of the cloud of addiction.
Tomorrow Joleen will share with us more ways to help with achieving a healthy sex life during the recovery of a sexual addiction. Thank you for reading!
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville