What is the Relationship Between Codependency and Sex Addiction?

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Much of the focus on sex addiction has to do with the addicts themselves. However, sex addiction can have a particularly damaging effect on those who are close to sex addicts. Codependency is one of the more common damaging effects of addiction.

Spouses of sex addicts often suffer from codependency. Codependency is not unique to sex addiction and occurs in relationships where one person is struggling with alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling addiction and eating disorders. Domestic violence and sexual abuse are also common triggers for codependency.

The codependent person in a relationship, where the other person is struggling with sex addiction, is exposed to severe emotional and sometimes physical trauma. It can deeply affect him or her, both in the short and long term. Many people who suffer from codependency struggle with relationship issues for the rest of their lives. They often enter into one-sided and emotionally or physically abusive relationships.

 The spouse of a sex addict who wants to make the relationship work will inevitably have to make many serious sacrifices in order to attempt to preserve what is left of the relationship. Unfortunately, no matter how hard the spouse tries, the relationship will continue to fall apart. All that the spouse is really accomplishing is enabling his or her loved one’s addiction. This is just one of the ways codependency can be damaging to both the spouse and the addict. Codependent spouses will commonly experience denial, rationalization, fear, blame, a longing for approval and a feeling of low self-worth or inadequacy. All of these emotions are very traumatic and damaging to the codependent spouse. 

 Ultimately, a codependent spouse will need professional help just as much as the sex addict in the relationship. As we have seen, codependent spouses experience a wide range of emotions as they try, at the expense of their own well-being, to save their relationship. The loss of trust, intimacy and all other aspects of the relationship over the course of the addiction can be life-shattering. 

 There are many treatment options for codependents. Individual therapy can be very helpful at the start. As the treatment progresses, support groups can be a source of guidance and acceptance for codependent spouses. Finally, couples therapy can be implemented in order restore intimacy and trust to relationships. Family therapy is also helpful where children are involved. Children can suffer a great deal in a household that has been ravaged by sex addiction and codependency. Make sure that your children get the professional help that they need in order to recover from the impact of the addiction. In some cases, the codependent may suffer from depression, anxiety or even post traumatic stress disorder. All of these conditions can be treated by a mental health professional. The key to recovery for everyone involved is to get treatment as soon as possible in order to have a successful recovery that leads to a healthy and fulfilling life.

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One Response to What is the Relationship Between Codependency and Sex Addiction?

  1. Mark W on at

    Great information for my coupleship. Blame and shame has no place in a mutual relationship with another person. Our Coupleship RCA program has helped us to use tools and the steps to create an equality between the two of us. Always working on that. We are both in our own recovery programs and as long as we work on ourselve and on the coupleship thing go farily well. Mark W NY

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