Recently, The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) released a position statement broadly stating that they did not believe there was enough evidence to accept that problematic sexual behavior and abuse of pornography can be referred to as an addiction. This is hardly a surprise. After all, over the years AASECT has routinely stated that it is important not to pathologize sexuality and that sexuality in all its diversity should be celebrated.
You may be reading this because you cheated on your spouse. Or, you may be reading this because you were cheated on. Either way, it is great that you are open to understanding if and how you can heal after an affair. It is possible.
The good news is that people can recover from infidelity and people and relationships are capable of healing. The news is that both parties have to be willing to put in the work in order to mend the relationship. The bad news is that your relationship won't heal if both of you don't actually do the work it takes to heal the broken pieces and create a new future.
by Candice Christiansen, LCMHC, CSAT-S, Founder
Trust is a loaded term, one that tends to be expected, demanded, and taken for granted, especially in intimate relationships. It is defined as a "firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something."
When an intimate betrayal occurs, such as infidelity of any kind (lying, secret keeping, cheating on a spouse via an affair with money, a person, substances, etc), trust tends to be the first thing to go in a relationship. Interestingly, the spouse who has caused the betrayal often experiences impatience at losing trust, often asking repeatedly, "When are you going to trust me again?" Or, "Why can't you just trust me?", "It's been 3 months," "Aren't you over this by now?"
Partners who have experienced intimate betrayal as a result of their spouse's infidelity, addiction (substance abuse, sex, porn addiction, financial betrayal), narcissistic abuse, sex offending)tend to exhibit signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder including:
Reliving the event
I once had a colleague, a sex therapist, challenge me for explaining to him that in my work with clients we address the underlying issues that lead someone to cope maladaptively via sexual acting out. He didn't understand how exactly underlying issues could cause someone to act out sexually in maladaptive ways. I explained that adverse childhood experiences (ACE) including trauma and neglect, attachment failure, and hame can impact a person to where they cope in various ways. One way is through sex or sexual experiences that the person describes as causing distress in multiple areas of their life. Other ways include: abusing substances, food, spending, gaming, (for some, all of the above); or the opposite, deprivation/avoidance strategies.