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Yes, You Can Have a Healthy Sexual Relationship After Sex Addiction

Mar 10 • Health, Lifestyle, Love • 6412 Views • No Comments on Yes, You Can Have a Healthy Sexual Relationship After Sex Addiction

When a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, one of the goals of treatment is to help that person maintain total, lifelong abstinence from substances. However, when a person becomes addicted to sex, total lifelong celibacy is almost never regarded as a healthy outcome. Instead, the goal of sex addiction recovery is to help the recovering sex addict address the emotional problems that led to the development of compulsive, addictive sexual behaviors, set healthy boundaries around sex, and ultimately, enjoy a healthy sexuality.

The Role of Abstinence in Sex Addiction Treatment

While it’s true that many sex addiction treatment specialists recommend that recovering sex addicts maintain a period of celibacy for at least 90 days after entering sex addiction rehab, this isn’t mean to become a permanent ban on all sexual activity. Instead, it’s intended as a temporary therapeutic measure that can give recovering sex addicts the opportunity to begin to experience life, free of the distractions that come with compulsive sexual behavior.

Once your initial period of celibacy is over, your therapist will probably recommend that you continue to refrain from the specific type of sexual behavior that caused your addiction to take root. This could mean avoiding pornography, refraining from anonymous sex or remaining faithful to a spouse; the exact set of behaviors varies depending on the nature of an individual’s addiction. But when it comes to treating sex addiction, it’s generally recognized that the sex itself isn’t the concern. Rather, the issues are the addict’s relationship to the sexual behavior and the need that compulsive behavior is filling in his or her life.

Hallmarks of a Healthy Sexual Relationship

Even after you’ve entered recovery from a sexual addiction and have started making real progress, it can be difficult to know exactly what goes on in a healthy sexual relationship. Many recovering sex addicts have, after all, never experienced such a relationship before.

As you progress in your recovery from sex addiction, you will learn the importance of placing strong boundaries around sex and avoiding relapse triggers. In a healthy intimate relationship, both partners have strong, healthy boundaries. They are aware of and avoid behaviors that could put the relationship at risk, such as ogling attractive people or spending time alone with a member of the opposite sex.

Partners in a healthy sexual relationship share emotional vulnerability, both in and out of the bedroom, and they both view this as a positive, desirable state of affairs. As you progress in your sex addiction recovery work, you will learn the value of having integrity in your life. You can and should bring this integrity into your romantic relationship by being honest with yourself and your partner, modeling your behavior after your values and beliefs, behaving consistently in all areas of your life and being open about yourself and your life while maintaining appropriate emotional boundaries around self-disclosure. Partners in a healthy sexual relationship trust one another and earn that trust by behaving in trustworthy ways.

As you work on your recovery from sex addiction, you will learn the importance of self-care. You have to take care of yourself before you can bring anything of value into the lives of others. When you enter a new romantic relationship while in recovery from sex addiction, you must continue to make self-care a priority — and you should expect your partner to also make his or her self-care a priority. In a healthy sexual relationship, both partners nurture one another in non-sexual ways, through the sharing of affection, mutually enjoyable non-sexual activities and creative expression. In a healthy sexual relationship, sexual energy ebbs and flows, and both partners find many non-sexual outlets for creativity and self-expression.

The goal of sex addiction recovery is not to achieve total abstinence from sex, but to enjoy healthy sexual expression. Many of the skills you learn as you progress through sex addiction recovery work will help you to conduct a healthy intimate relationship as a recovered sex addict. Partners in a healthy relationship practice good self-care and work on establishing healthy boundaries. At the same time, they remain emotionally vulnerable and find avenues toward nurturance and self-expression that do not involve sex. With time, patience and work, you can overcome sex addiction and embrace your healthy sexuality.

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