Three Reasons to Date Someone Who Has Recovered From Sex Addiction
May 24th, 2012
By Janie Lacy, LMHC, NCC, CSAT Candidate, Sex Addiction
Did you know that most individuals who have experienced sex addiction and have taken their recovery process very seriously and remain committed to it for life can be some of the healthiest individuals, despite their past challenges?
Relationships in general take a lot of hard work, but many people are not willing to engage in the hard stuff to make their relationships easier down the road. If people do not feel that they have an addiction or struggle with any kind of sexual integrity issue, it is more challenging for them to understand the need to have boundaries around their relationship to protect it from anything that can cause it to weaken.
Here are THREE REASONS individuals need not be afraid to date someone who has recovered from a sex addiction:
STRONG BOUNDARIES: Most individuals recovering from sex addiction who have worked hard in a program, such as outpatient therapy, along with being a part of a support group or in-patient program with a solid outpatient support system know the importance of having strong boundaries to first protect themselves from relapse or slipping back into old habits. For example, a person who has abused alcohol needs to stay away from bars and heavy drinking venues to avoid temptation. The same goes for people with sex addiction; they have certain places they cannot visit, movies they cannot watch, and websites to stay clear of, and even conversations with other individuals that may trigger certain thoughts or feelings.
Therefore, people who have recovered from sex addiction and have moved toward a healthy outlook in life will more than likely be very respectful and aware of situations that may be uncomfortable for their partner, such as noticing attractive people in the partner’s presence or even while alone or putting themselves in a position that could be cause for concern, such as eating lunch alone with a coworker of the opposite sex.
INTEGRITY: Most people recovering from sex addiction have learned the benefits and the importance of having integrity in their life. It is essential that they share their feelings appropriately and be truthful with themselves and that they avoid anything that would cause even a hint of suspicion by others. One way that you will know that your dating partner is someone who values integrity is to watch him or her. Does this person’s behavior coincide with his or her belief system? Is he open about his life’s journey while using discernment? Does she show consistency in making decisions with integrity in all areas of her life (i.e., financial, family, work), not just in relationships?
SELF-CARE: When people who have struggled with sex addiction have worked hard on their personal recovery, one of the tools they learn is the importance of self-care. What that means is their ability to recognize that they first must take care of themselves in a healthy way before they have anything to offer anyone else. They are good at keeping things in their lives that bring value, and they do not expect someone else to fill all their needs. These individuals will have introduced specific behaviors/patterns in their life that support their recovery and reduce the temptations they will face, such as computer filters, accountability partners, continued self-improvement choices, and consistent activities that not only grow who they are but also have a positive impact on others. Most important, where their recovery plan may change along the way, they never let their guard down to say they have arrived, and they stay in the continuous mode of healthy self-care in some fashion. This not only assists them in being the person of integrity they want to be but also prepares them to be real, genuine, honest, and transparent in future relationships.
As you can see, while some may shy away from the idea of dating an individual who has recovered from sexual addiction, there are numerous reasons this can actually be a very positive experience. Keep in mind, it is not your responsibility to keep this person on track in his or her recovery, and if the person is truly taking care of himself, he will not want or expect you to do this. You actually get the benefits of being with an individual who has come face to face with a very challenging addiction and decided that he or she is worth doing the hard work to overcome it and live a life of integrity. The end result is someone who can share compassion, understanding, and love in a deeper, healthier way in relationships because that person made it a point to have tough love for him- or herself first.