“So when he sat me down one day to tell me he was a sex addict, I actually laughed – although I soon stopped when he disclosed night upon night of watching pornography for hours on end and numerous short-lived affairs.
My life fell apart.” Sex addiction hurts partners in a way that no other addiction can, says Paula Hall, who has written a book on the subject.
Couples who make it work generally take a three-pronged approach, says Hall.
“First, the addict goes into recovery on their own to work out causes and develop relapse prevention strategies.
Second, the partner has to feel stable again, as well as understanding the addiction and working out what they want the relationship to look like in the future.
Once they understand the nature of the addictive drive, sometimes they’re able to move into self-care.” Rosendale’s anecdotal research reveals that a third of those partners seeking help decide to stay in the relationship, while a further third leave and the final third “remain stuck”.Eight years into her marriage, Rachel started to wonder if her husband had lost interest in sex.“He’d always go to bed later than me and often made excuses when I brought it up,” explains the 41-year-old.Joy Rosendale, a sex-addiction therapist specialising in partner work, instigated the first one in the UK back in 2005, following her own experiences.“Although there is usually huge reluctance for partners to seek help, let alone come into a group, because of the privacy and shame, something happens in these groups that liberates these women – and I say women because in my experience, it is usually women who access them,” says Rosendale, who still runs the group at the Marylebone Centre, London.