“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it”
– Maya Angelou, The Mind’s Journey
When a person in a committed relationship learns that his or her partner has engaged in repeated sexual betrayal, they need emotional support and guidance through the surreal and uncharted territory of healing. Their self-esteem, trust and security have been smashed into a million little pieces. Partners of sex addicts may begin to question their own reality. Was anything in our relationship real? What about all those loving times, how can they be true when all of the betrayals and lies were happening at the same time? Who can I trust now? Can I even trust myself to know in the future? Should I stay or should I just leave now?
Furthermore, partners have symptoms because of the emotional devastation that occurs when learning of their partner's betrayal. These symptoms are like those people may experience when they have serious trauma. Partners of sex addicts HAVE experienced trauma, Betrayal Trauma. Betrayal Trauma can lead to an overwhelming loss of safety, control and stability. Here are a few common symptoms of Betrayal Trauma:
- Intrusive thoughts about what has already happened, what is currently happening, and what may happen in the future
- Shame and embarrassment
- Anxiety and intense fear especially when there is an event or behavior involving their partner that is unplanned or unexpected
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Difficulty sustaining an emotional balance where moods and reactions come about unpredictably and suddenly
- Hypervigilance like continually looking for evidence of ongoing infidelity or lies
- Resentment and Rage
- Difficulty eating, sleeping and concentrating
Seeking therapy after learning of the sexual betrayal is not about accepting responsibility for the partner's behaviors, its about a step towards your own healing and recovery because of the behaviors. Therapy can provide a partner emotional support, guidance towards self- empowerment, and trauma resolution.