Men who abuse their partners are seizing on the latest excuse, and running off to bed with it: Sex Addiction. Yes, suddenly lots and lots of abusers are declaring that they aren’t perpetrators, they’re victims. They say they’re trapped in an addiction, helpless over their behavior, driven by a deep compulsion that is beyond their control. They don’t deserve criticism, they deserve compassion, understanding, and help.

Oh, please.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that sex addiction isn’t a real thing. I’m saying these guys are not real sex addicts. A person who enjoys sex and a person who is addicted to sex are two completely different things. What constitutes a healthy sexual appetite is very subjective. Some people are content with having sex once a week, while others prefer it every day. It can also depend on the situation. In the early stages of a relationship, people may want to have sex more frequently than couples who have been together for years. In the same vein, someone who uses an app for local hookups and to find an F-Buddy may just be looking for casual sexual relationships in a safe space. In fact, it can help them maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. But the question is, when does the quantification of how many times you have intercourse becomes a clinical problem? I’ll explain it.

But first let me say what men I’m talking about today. They fall into two groups (and some guys are in both).

GROUP ONE:

This style of abuser cheats over and over again on his partner. Over time it can be three different women, or thirty, or more. This behavior is often combined with chronic use of pornography. Some of the women he had sex with may have been prostitutes.

Speaking of, this does not in any way mean that all men who seek out sexual indulgences in their everyday life are addicts. Granted, if this repetitive behavior happens whilst the man is in a loving relationship, he probably needs some help. However, men do tend to visit clubs or look for a stripper for hire occasionally, and this occurs most often at a bachelor party or boys’ night out experience. Satisfying sexual desires is not a bad thing, and neither is it wrong. Exploring sexuality should be an important part of having and maintaining a healthy sex life, whether the person is single or in a relationship. Nevertheless, there are proper ways to go about exploring, and hiding an overactive sex life from your current partner is NOT one of them. Let your partner know the problems that you are facing. Open communication is always a key to a healthy relationship. And, now if you are single, it’s a different story altogether. Yes, just like a relationship you need to express your feelings to the partner that you indulge in for sex. It might not be necessary that you will always find someone you understand. You have to search for the right person. You can make use of adult dating apps (click here to learn more) or similar websites where you can find someone whose desires match yours. Why not utilize such opportunities? If not, you can always try the route of therapy to find a solution for your sex addiction. In fact, there are many professionals who have the expertise to deal with such similar situations. All you have to do is decide for yourself and make a change.

Most women who talk to me about having this kind of partner report that at first they had no idea what he was up to; the man was living a whole secret life, putting on a good show of being a family man – at least in some ways. The woman was in complete shock – and intense emotional pain — when she found out that he’d been having sex all over the planet. And of course she was scared to death about what kind of diseases he might have given her.

I often hear these accounts from women who are seriously religious, and the man claimed to be very religious also. These seem to be Christian couples, for reasons I’m not clear on.

I don’t buy it that this guy’s a sex addict, for reasons I’ll come back to. He’s just a straight-up abuser, and this is his abuse style. (There are many styles of abusiveness among men who abuse women, as I wrote about in Why Does He Do That?.)

GROUP TWO:

This style of abuser is constantly pressuring the woman for sex she doesn’t want. There are a number of reasons why she doesn’t want it: it’s too often, it feels coerced – meaning she feels pressured into it rather than enticed into it, it shows little regard for her needs or feelings (such as what else she might need to be doing), and it feels too mechanical. What I mean by “too mechanical” is that she doesn’t come out feeling like she’s been made love to; it feels more like she’s been used as some kind of masturbation machine. She feels a little ill, the opposite of feeling sexy.

And this may happen multiple times per day.

This guy may genuinely be a sex addict. But he’s also an abuser. And furthermore his abusiveness is the more serious problem, and is playing a much bigger role than his addiction in why he is treating his partner in this way.

I should add a subcategory here: there’s a type of Group Two guy who is all over his partner for sex early in the relationship, but then swings to the other extreme and loses almost all sexual interest in her. That extreme doesn’t feel good to the woman either, of course.

(I suspect that the guys in this group end up doing a lot of cheating eventually too, like the guys in Group 1. I’d be interested to hear your experiences of whether this is true or not.)

Here are some key points that apply to both groups:

Point One: The men in both of these groups can’t deal with women as actual human beings – at least not where intimate contact is involved.

What this man is calling “sex addiction” is actually the fact that he sees the women he has sex with — and the ones he dreams of having sex with — as objects. They’re things to him, not people. (He may even see all women as objects, not just the ones he pursues for sex; but this varies among different abusers.)

Ask yourself about your partner (or about your ex, if you’re no longer with him):

Does he really see me?

Can he really connect with my emotions, my difficulties, my strengths, my ambitions?

Or does he really just see me as a role (which usually mean the role of wife and mother)?

Or maybe I’m just a body to him, almost like a blow-up doll?

When the first two questions are tending to turn up “no,” and the second two questions are tending to turn up “yes,” you’re talking about an abuser, not a sex addict.

Point Two: These guys love seizing on the “sex addict” label.

Genuine addicts are reluctant to accept the fact that they’re addicts. It’s a long process to get to the point of acceptance, and to finally start going for help.

So when people grab the “addict” label easily, maybe even eagerly, that’s a big sign that something other than addiction is going on. People who get caught committing crimes, for example, may be happy to say, “Oh, yeah, I’m a drug addict,” to get the legal system to go easy on them. (There are genuine addicts who get caught up in criminal behavior, but that’s not what I’m talking about.)

When a man is finally caught and called out for cheating on his wife repeatedly, perhaps even dozens of times, he grabs the “sex addict” label with gusto – especially if he’s part of a church and needs to find a way to save face with that community. He’s not a huge hypocrite, see, he’s a sex addict. (How convenient!)

There’s a similar reaction from the man who pressures his partner for sexual services five times a day and she finally puts her foot down; he loves to claim helplessness.

This style of abusive man sometimes succeeds in this way to get the surrounding community to feel sorry for him. Since the woman is bitter and mistrustful – as she absolutely should be – the community starts to look at her as someone who lacks compassion, and they say she lacks faith in people. Once again, the abused woman ends up being defined as the problem.

And these men sure love going to groups where they can meet women who are sex addicts. They’re similar to people who go to AA or NA to find party buddies and connect with people who can help them obtain narcotics (and those people exist).

Point Three: The surrounding community underestimates how crushingly painful these behaviors are to the woman.

People seem to adopt the following outlook towards the woman who has been the victim of this supposed “sex addict” behavior: “Well, it’s not like he was hitting you or calling you terrible names. He wasn’t abusing the children. It could have all been so much worse. And now he’s getting help.”

But cheating on a partner is one of the meanest things you can do. People remain in pain for months or sometimes years about affairs that their partners have had. Now try to imagine finding out that your partner has been cheating all over the place, maybe more times than he can count. Women describe the experience as excruciating – as painful as any other form of mental abuse you can name. The perpetrators should be considered vicious abusers, not victims of an inner drive that they weren’t responsible for.

People aren’t making a serious effort to imagine the woman’s experience, and they need to do so. If they were in her shoes they’d hate it just as much as she does, but they’re convincing themselves they wouldn’t.

Point Four: An addictive behavior involves overdoing something that is fine when it’s done less frequently – and that clearly does not apply here.

Cheating on your partner is totally wrong the first time. There’s no such thing as being a “moderate cheater.” No one can say, “I’m unfaithful to my partner responsibly, I don’t do it to excess.” Ditto for the man who hounds his partner into unloving, mechanical sex, making her feel used; he can’t say, “At first it was fine that I bullied her into sex because I didn’t do it that often, but then the habit it got out of hand.”

Right?

It doesn’t make any sense to call something an addiction that was completely unethical and selfish from the very beginning. (That’s why we don’t treat serial killers as “murder addicts.”)

And even in cases where the man may genuinely be a sex addict – which isn’t common among cases I’ve dealt with – he’s still an abuser too. That abusiveness is going to show itself in other aspects of how he treats women in relationships. And it will show up in his treatment of past partners, such as his efforts to destroy the reputations of his exes who are blowing the whistle on him.

One last point: If the Group 1 type (the chronic cheater) is such an out-of-control sex addict, how come he has so little sexual interest in his partner? And even the Group 2 type often loses all desire for her after a while.

The real issue isn’t addiction; it’s that sooner or later he’s confronted with the fact that his partner is an actual human being. And he can’t be sexually aroused by an actual human being, at least not for long. That’s also why men in both categories tend to be so into pornography; they want to just own the woman on the screen, or on the printed page; they can’t deal with a feeling, thinking person with her own needs and preferences and opinions.They’re too sexually exploitative; their orientation toward intimacy is entirely selfish and conquest-oriented, devoid of love and respect.

It’s time for communities of all kinds, including faith communities, to stop making excuses for exploitative hypocrites, and start calling it abuse; that’s what it is. Our support and compassion should be directed toward the woman who has been treated this way – and who often has to face the horrible reality that her life has been a lie for many years – not towards the perpetrator. What the perpetrator should experience from us is criticism, consequences, and accountability.

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash (man and woman in bathrobes)

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash (women grieving on couch)

Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash (puffins)

Photo by Andrae Ricketts on Unsplash (mom and baby)

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Unsplash (couple in field)

This is the book to give people who don’t get it. They’ll be entertained by humor, romance, and suspense, but by the end they’ll understand a bunch of things you’ve been trying to tell them. (Make sure they read the Afterword, too, where they’ll learn that all the cases the journalist uncovers are true stories.) In Custody is available in paperback and Kindle editions. You can read the first 30 pages free at InCustodyTheNovel.com

18 Comments

  1. My husband is in the second category. He didn’t say he was a sex addict. After reading The 5 Love Languages that was recommended by our marriage counselor, my husband identified his number one Love Language as physical touch and specifically sexual intimacy. He felt this justified his actions and demands. He said he needed sex to feel loved and appreciated. He didn’t consider that I was seriously ill and often exhausted. He felt abandoned if I didn’t have frequent sex with him. He determined that all our marriage problems would be solved if I was a more satisfying sexual partner for him. He had several affairs both physical and emotional. Interestingly, we were both very involved in the Catholic Church. Thank you for this article. It helped me put words to something I could not explain.

  2. While a lot of what you said was good, PLEASE stop with this narrative about sex addiction. You’re only helping the pro-porn/David Ley crowd continue to push their own narrative that sex addiction isn’t real, and helping the pro porn crowd doesn’t help abuse victims 😢. I would call BOTH of those men sex addicts AND abusers. Sex addicts ARE also abusers. They are both, and neither contradict.

    What’s wrong is that most people (especially the crap Carnes empire who doesn’t want to “Shame” addicts by calling them abusers🙄) don’t fully understand sex addiction. Sex addiction doesn’t mean that they “can’t help it” or that “trauma made them do it” (I’m tired of this crap too), it means their repeated CHOICES caused damage to their brain. I mean, if someone smokes 20 packs of cigarettes a day and gets cancer, we wouldn’t say “Aw they can’t stop smoking, they have cancer”. Same goes for addiction, it’s a self inflicted disease caused by choices, and doesn’t at all mean they can’t also choose to stop. Except with sex addiction there’s always abuse of another person involved (whether they are abusing their spouse, or fueling the demand of the rape and abuse of the 54-68 % of trafficked women in porn) which makes it a million times more harmful.

    Remember, technically addiction simply means “the continued repetition of stimuli despite adverse consequences”. And “sex addiction” is just an umbrella term for any addiction that is sexual. So if a guy is abusive and cheats on his wife and refuses to stop despite it destroying his wife and marriage, then yes, it literally fits the definition of addiction. He’s an abuser and a sex addict who is making those choices.

    As a recovering alcohol, drug, AND sex addict (and now the betrayed wife of a sex addict in my 2nd marriage), I know it’s real. What has to stop is both of the beliefs that addicts “can’t help it/trauma made them do it”, AND that sex addiction isn’t real (and yes I already know you don’t think it’s real despite what you said in this one article, this isn’t the first time you’ve talked about it).

    What’s NEEDS to happen is for sex addict abusers to be treated for their misogyny and entitlment. Discounting the addiction isn’t the answer.

  3. Thank you for this and for acknowledging that cheating is abuse, which so few do acknowledge.

    I have a question. Say a woman is living in such a situation, but is a housewife without a job. What would be the emotional impact of staying in such a situation for financial reasons? Both acknowledging that it is a dead relationship, but the woman seeing it as better than renting a single room in the bad side of town if she got a divorce and a job, say delivering parcels.

    Also it is a vicious cycle: low self-esteem leading her to struggle to get a job = stuck in a bad situation.

  4. I definitely think the 1st category falls into an addict and I love that you are making the point that they cannot use addiction as an excuse for their behavior. They are being abusive! My husband falls into that 1st category, He is abusive , he is addicted and I am definitely not human to him.
    And I think we should be more clear that pornography( Virtual sex) is not OK under any circumstance. The normal behavior is healthy sex with a real life partner.

    Lastly this article’s excellent. I love it. I think it’s one of the most balanced ones out there and most on point with what’s really going on.

  5. These things happen in “Christian” circles because these abusers are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and most professing Christians are naive and ignorant. There’s no excuse because the Bible teaches and warns us a lot about such wolves, but alas, most churches don’t teach the Bible either, just a counterfeit of it.

    Check out pastor Jeff Crippen’s sermon series on Domestic Abuse.

    https://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?seriesonly=true&sourceid=crc&keyword=Domestic+Violence+and+Abuse

  6. Thank you for addressing this topic. My ex, who cheated on me and other past partners by paying for sex, online hook-ups, affairs, etc., grew up in a very conservative Christian environment. He discarded his religious views upon becoming an adult, and became a vocal atheist and supposed feminist, all while objectifying and exploiting women. The pain he caused me is beyond words; during our relationship and while growing our family, he spent thousands of dollars on paying for sex through online “escort” sites and massage parlors. I wonder if you could address this dynamic and divorce/custody. I found it to be very much minimized by court professionals.

  7. My x was a porn addict who was unable to orgasm through sex. He could only achieve this through porn, in a room by himself. I had no idea—a naive bride, in the early ages of the internet, what was “wrong” with him. Or was it me? Not sexy enough? I had no understanding that the porn he progressed to was younger and young girls, violent rape porn. When I found out he was cheating on me with prostitutes, and was trying to make sense that the man I’d been married to for 29 years was doing this, I was destroyed, devastated. He had hid a full double life behind my back—casinos in the middle of the night, prostitutes, drinking, drugs. He’s fully into the swinging lifestyle now, a sick man in his mid-50s, searching for the next high. I fear he’ll pick up an underage girl to tie up, gag, live out his porn fantasy.

  8. This is SPOT ON!! Although I agree that pornography is addictive, I don’t actually think it matters to the wives of these men. Women who are married to these men seem to be able to get to safety faster when they simply think of it as ABUSE.

    As an advocate for wives of men who participate in pornography and other sexually exploitative behaviors, we experience all this as ABUSE. I appreciate this article so much. Every point is spot on from the perspective of a wife of a man who engages in these types of behaviors.

  9. Lundy, here’s few more thoughts I’ve been mulling over 💗🥰:

    1.) It’s true that some abuser sex addicts use the addiction as a scapegoat, but does that mean they aren’t a sex addict? Or does it just mean they are simply an addict who is making excuses?

    If a heroin addict tells people “I’m an addict, I can’t help it”, does it mean he’s not addicted to heroin? Or does it just mean he’s making excuses because he doesn’t want to change?

    Addicts are fantastic at using anything and everything as a scapegoat 😅

    Furthermore, what if he’s a heroin addict who also beats his wife? Do we call him an abuser or do we call him an addict…. OR do we say he’s an abuser AND a heroin addict?

    The label “sex addiction” isn’t what is causing abusive addicts to use it as a scapegoat (though many lame professionals in the sex addiction industry definitely enable them in it 🙄 Freaking addict centricity 🤦 Again, I’m not a fan of the Carnes empire😊). And if Lundy doesn’t think sex addiction is real, or he thinks that abusers aren’t really sex addicts because they use it as a scapegoat, then the same exact argument could be used for a heroin addict who beats his wife and then says “I can’t help it. I’m an addict and was high”, couldn’t it?

    2.) You said “An addictive behavior involves overdoing something that is fine when it’s done less frequently”

    But no amount of porn is ok (since it fuels the demand of women being trafficked and abused. There’s no such thing as “Ethicalc or safe porn. Meth and heroin are always dangerous.

    3.) You said “That’s why we don’t treat serial killers as “murder addicts.”

    I agree, we don’t call them murder addicts 😁. But a serial killer CAN also be a drug addict, alcoholic, etc. Neither contradict. So why can’t the same be true for a sex addict and an abuser?

    4.) You said “These guys love seizing on the ‘sex addict’ label.”

    For the last 9 years I’ve been in multiple in person and online groups for women who’s partners are sex addicts, I would say the majority of our husbands are NOT eagar to be called a sex addict at first 😊 I’ve known a few who have, but it’s definitely not the majority.

    &

    5.) How are group 1 and 2 really all that different? How is a group 2 guy who pressures his wife for sex, completely different than group 1 guy who sleeps with other women and chronically views pornography (who likely pressures his wife for sex as well)?

    &

    6.) You said “I often hear these accounts from women who are seriously religious, and the man claimed to be very religious also. These seem to be Christian couples, for reasons I’m not clear on.”

    Religious men don’t cheat more, so I’m unsure why you pointed this out. To be honest, my gut intuition flagged this one, for reasons I’m still figuring out.

    To be clear, I am aware that I could be wrong and biased in this, but I wonder if my intuition flagged it because in my experience, often times when people don’t believe in sex addiction it goes hand in hand with believing RELIGION causes more abuse, cheating, porn use, etc. This is also what the pro-porn crowd is directly and covertly teaching (David Ley, Nicole prause, etc). Many people don’t even know they are being taught this by the pro-porn crowd (The slogan “Shame Kills Love” is a perfect example of the pro porn crowd pushing this message onto unsuspecting people). So it makes me wonder if it’s at all possible you started believing this too, somehow from somewhere, without knowing it? 🤔 (Another example is like how Christian author Sheila Gregoire started believing and spouting some messaging from researcher Samuel Perry, without realizing he’s pro porn). 🤔 Again, I likely may be wrong on this one, this is just me curiously wondering about the possibility, and I haven’t come to a definitive conclusion on why my intuition flagged it 🤷.

    I would love your thoughts! 🤗

  10. My husband was in the second group. We didn’t sleep together before marriage, as we were both Christians. However, he acted like he was very keen to have sex. But after a few times he wasn’t interested. (Not because of bad experiences.)

    As far as I know he did not cheat on me during more than 25 years of marriage.

  11. Wow this is a very important article, akin to Dr. Omar Minwalla’s concept of needing to treat addicts’ compulsivity issue (the addiction) as well as their integrity abuse disorder. Both are tue – and recovering couples get stuff when the latter isn’t being treated.

    I do believe sexual acting out can be an addiction because it follows the rules of the addiction cycle. The addicts gets “high” and nearly in a trance in the early steps of their acting out routines. Their brain is high jacked and they end up crossing lines they didn’t intend to cross. But the points in this article about cheating being abuse and morally wrong are spot on! Thank you for advocating for betrayed partners.

    I too share your questions as to why this kind of duplicity shows up so much in religious circles. My guess is because these people are setting out to look good and have a Jekyll-Hyde existence. They’re trying to hide their dark side, and the church gives them loads of rules every week to follow to look great! But there religious activities not from the heart for these individuals with splintered personalities. They’re compulsively trying to feel better and look good.

    Again, thank you for this article! Caring professionals and clergy need to go here!! It’s time.

  12. > An addictive behavior involves overdoing something that is fine when it’s done less frequently – and that clearly does not apply here.

    I don’t think this is true. What do you think is an appropriate level of doing heroin or fentanyl?

    >It doesn’t make any sense to call something an addiction that was completely unethical and selfish from the very beginning. (That’s why we don’t treat serial killers as “murder addicts.”)

    I understand that people become addicted to stealing. Are you claiming that this is impossible because stealing is unethical and selfish?

    Usually you have great insights so I hope you take these nitpicks in the spirit I offer them.

  13. My spouse is in group 2. He started this behavior 3 months after the birth of our 3rd child. I was exhausted and devastated. I had suicidal thoughts. The seriousness of this behavior cannot be overlooked. These men are continually raping their wives and gaslighting them that they should be enjoying it. I’m so grateful for this article.

  14. What kind of questions would you like to ask of someone who has experienced this?
    I’m not looking for counseling (already enrolled in various – relationship/trauma/survivor/cPTSD – therapies).
    Due to my career choice, I have always “saved everything” and I journal every day. In saying that, I have documented my six year (and counting) journey with a man I know to be abusive (not a narcissist). At the same time, being the target of a familial narcissist. Escaping both has so many ‘side- effects’ and I do not wish this upon anyone.
    If I could help save someone else this pain, please let me know.

  15. This article is horrible! As someone who has been around men with sexual addiction to just say that they are taking this label so they can play victim is totally crap. There are men out there really trying to heal from sex addiction who understand the pain and damage they have caused and aren’t playing victim.

    This article is damaging to women and wife’s.

    As a wife who has been through a lot with a husband diligently working on his sex addiction this article is triggering and honestly not well thought out. I am utterly offended by this article.

  16. I liked the article.

    I signed up for one of Lundy’s retreats, although I wasn’t able to attend because my best friend’s mother died and I went to the funeral instead. I was invited to go on the last day of the retreat, and I did that; it was very good. He spoke a lot of truth and a little about sex addiction. He said some of the same things and I knew them to be true.

    I was in a relationship for four years with a sex addict. He didn’t watch porn. He started the relationship with a friends-only approach – no kissing for three months – and I was happy with that, as I’m Christian and would prefer to wait on sex until marriage, which I thought would only be six to nine months away.

    At the three month mark, we kissed and began a very intimate romantic life. Intimate discussions. Loving interactions. No sex. When we would begin to get extremely close – as in I Love You’s and sharing feelings – he’d start needling me. Picking at strange, extraneous things. I have long beautiful hair and he’d criticize it. Or he’d say I’m a good-looking woman “for my age.” Or other things… Once I told him that sometimes when we’re getting close to each other, it seemed like he was backing away. He said, “Oh, I know. I’m sorry. I’m going to therapy about it.”

    “You’re in therapy?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “I’m a sex addict. I’ve been needing to tell you and I’m so glad you brought it up. We should break up right now.” He told me he’d had sex with way over a thousand women. Mostly women he’d pick up on the road, who were walking home. He’d talk to them, charm them, smoke weed with them and have sex with them in his van. (That’s why he bought the van.) He said, “So I actually had sex with all those women, but you wouldn’t believe the time and effort I put into HUNTING for them.” He told me that hunting was one of the things that was very satisfying, as well as the release when he found someone who’d go along. He said he never forced or coerced anyone. He was handsome and charming and they just wanted to have sex with him. Especially if they got high with him.

    I was shocked; I’d never heard of such a thing. And it was so out of the realm of anything I had experienced that I just never thought about it. I believed him, but by that time, I loved him. He was a beautiful soul. So I didn’t think about it, and if I did, I couldn’t picture it. You know? It didn’t seem real.

    His mom and dad divorced and he and his brother and mother moved into a two bedroom apartment. She took the master bedroom, and the other room was very small. The older brother insisted that he needed his own room, so their mom said that my guy had to sleep in the room with her, in the same bed. He was 15 years old. He told me she was very beautiful and she wore gorgeous nightgowns, and he couldn’t help himself from fantasizing about her, but felt ashamed and mortified that he did. He hated himself for it. And he hated her for it. But he loved her, too.

    This made it complicated for us, because I reminded him of the good qualities that his mother had (and she had died.) He proposed to me and actually gave me a ring that had been hers. It wasn’t an engagement ring; it was a cocktail ring. I said yes, because it was such a surprise (he asked me during a church service,) and because I was hoping that our “tiny little problem” would go away.

    After a while, we both just knew that we couldn’t get married, even though we loved each other. He looked into my eyes with great sadness and said, “I just don’t want to ever hurt you and I don’t know if I can do it, year after year after year after year.” I don’t think he was ever with another woman the whole time we were together, and he was free with me because I was not a questioning sort of person; I was very trusting. I think that I was his abstinence program, and that after a while, he wanted to get back to it and start having sex again (as we all do.) I asked him if he was looking for variety, and he said no. He said it was nothing more than a compulsion that he acted on, and it made him feel dirty and he just wanted to take himself away from me. He wanted to have sex, and a lot of it. He wanted to go hunting.

    He told me I was the best person he had ever met. He said I was beautiful. He said he had found what he wanted in a woman, and it was me. But he didn’t want the shame or the guilt or the responsibility for hurting me (eventually) and he didn’t feel strong enough in himself to be able to promise that he would never act out for the rest of his life.

    He also said that he had a secret. I asked if he wanted to tell it to me, and he said yes. He had a fantasy woman. And I was not his fantasy woman. And he wanted her. And that none of the women he had were anything like his fantasy woman, and that I was the closest thing to her, but he couldn’t keep going with me because he knew I wasn’t her. And he said all the women put together weren’t her, and never would be her, and he knew she didn’t exist, but he wanted to keep looking for her.

    I still don’t understand it, but I finally was able to walk away.

    He moved away. He called all the time. I wrote him a simple email: something like “Have a good life. I won’t be in touch. But know that I love you.” And then I wouldn’t answer his calls. He kept calling; I didn’t answer, and I felt stronger without the constant contact with him.

    I came to a point that I thought it was unloving to not just talk to him. I know that No Contact is popular today, but it’s the silent treatment. It’s one of the worst things a person can do to another.

    I thought about it for a long time, and decided on a formula. It was a three-part formula: 1) I’d say hello to him and ask about him, and I’d chat with him about me, too 2) I’d express sadness that it wasn’t possible for us to be together, and 3) I’d wish him well and tell him I’d pray for him and I’d be thinking about him and he could call me any time.

    I used this formula every time he called, always using different words and expressions, and his calls began to taper off. One day he asked to meet with me. I was dating someone else, and I met with him and told him about the new guy. That was the end of our relationship. He didn’t call again.

    He was a gentle person. Very true. Very aware of himself and his addiction. Very willing to talk about it with me, because I accepted him and loved him anyway. Very sorry for the hurt that it caused me. Very sorry for the hurt that it caused him, too. Always working on it. Trying different things. Reading anything anyone suggested.

    Never using it to explain anything away. Always taking responsibility for his actions.

    I believe it was a spiritual problem, but I see the world with that lens.

  17. Am I the only person bothered by the links in this article? Was the blog highjacked? I so related to everything written here but as the ex-wife of a man who fit into both Group 1 AND Group 2 (and having seen similar sites and images many, many times on his electronic devices) the links to the two sites was distasteful and triggering.

    I’m no prude but I don’t see why those links were necessary in a blog written primarily for women who have suffered this type of abuse.

    • Thank you so much for bringing this hack to my attention. The whole second paragraph was a hack, not just the links within it. I deleted it immediately after seeing your message. The whole thing was disgusting, not just the links but a lot of other things that were written there (and obviously made no sense with everything else I was saying in the post). I’ve alerted my web person to the fact that we got hacked — unfortunately we’ve been hacked many times. Thank you again for bringing it to my attention, I can’t keep an eye on every page in the website, so I’m very grateful when people point out hacks!

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