How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask DrFee Your Own Question

DrFee
DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience:  I help people overcome anxiety and enjoy life again.
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
DrFee is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I just discovered that my partner of 3 1/2 years is a sex addict (new diagnosis for him).

Resolved Question:

I just discovered that my partner of 3 1/2 years is a sex addict (new diagnosis for him). He had an online relationship that culminated in a physical meeting in a hotel room the night before our first anniversary. He's had an emotional affair for the last year. He's been on sex sites, cam sites, and pornography sites since January, but says nothing happened.

I need him to be completely honest with me so that I can decide if I want to move on with him or not. He is having trouble telling the truth, and has been disclosing something new since 8-July. I can't take much more of this. Is it unreasonable to expect him to change from dishonest to honest overnight? Can narcissim, sexual addiction, selfishness, lack of empathy, and dishonesty be fixed in a 41 year old? What kind of time frame will it require?

I am traumatized by the entire thing and am seeking counseling, but I can't stop visualizing him and a woman that he met in a hotel room. I can't sleep or think of anything e
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  DrFee replied 1 year ago.

DrFee :

Hello! Please remember that my response is for information only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.

DrFee :

It is painful to be in a relationship with a sex addict.

DrFee :

It's helpful to think of a sex addict in the same way as you would someone who is a drug addict or alcoholic.

DrFee :

They need to admit they have a problem AND be committed to staying sober.

DrFee :

Part of sobriety will be honest.

DrFee :

being honest, I'm sorry

DrFee :

No wonder you can't sleep or thing of anything else!

DrFee :

So, where is he at with all of this --does he admit that he is an addict? Does he accept the diagnosis?

Customer:

is it unreasonable to expect him to be honest already, if he has only just now started treatment/recovery (he is in private therapy, couples therapy with me, and attending group meeings)

Customer:

yes -- he does accept it

Customer:

and he says that his eyes have been opened

Customer:

I want him to be completely honest with me for several reasons:

Customer:

  • I need to know that he has that capacity

DrFee :

OK, that's a good start. However, it can be a process before the addict realizes that they MUST be honest at all times. They are so crafted at lying, that it's a hard habit to break. So, the need to be honest is part of the therapy. So, I'd say most people are not instantly honest.

Customer:

It's been something new disclosed every day, after swearing up and down that this is the absolute truth, only to have that change the next day

Customer:

and I learn something else

Customer:

each time I learn something new, it rips me apart again

DrFee :

The question is --does he have the potential to be honest --and you may not know the answer to that if he's been an addict the entire time you've known him. So, he's still in the process of telling you all there is to know then....

DrFee :

That can be daunting for both of you.

Customer:

he is still in that process

DrFee :

Yes ---so how patient are you?

Customer:

or, he was. I kicked him out today because he disclosed the intimate details of the hotel room encounter

Customer:

I was patient a few weeks ago. Now I am impatient, and angry, and hurt

DrFee :

That's understandable.

DrFee :

No one would blame you for leaving him. You need to decide if you can tolerate this process.

Customer:

I know that it's a shame cycle, so I don't want to berate him if he doesn't have the capacity to be honest

Customer:

but I need to know what it is that I am dealing with, and for the disclosure to stop so that I can start healing

Customer:

I am going to look at apartments all day tomorrow.

Customer:

I made the decision to leave him, but it's difficult

DrFee :

It seems like you don't know that yet ---and you don't know how much more there is for him to tell you.

DrFee :

Yes, I bet!

Customer:

I have no idea what could possibly be left, but I suspect that there is more

DrFee :

Do you even want to hear it?

Customer:

I already know details, and can't get them out of my head

Customer:

I am not sure that i can bear to hear anything else

DrFee :

Yes ---it's such a betrayal. It sounds like you've had your fill of details.

Customer:

I think so. Do the visions go away? What does it take? I can't sleep, because as soon as I stop moving or doing things, it all comes flooding back. I can't lay quietly enough to sleep.

DrFee :

Keep in mind you are in the middle of it, the worst part. It's all new, and I'm sure, traumatizing. I imagine it's even difficult to process it, and there's so much to process. You must be in shock, angry, sad, a whole bunch of emotions all at once.

Customer:

yes

DrFee :

Your life is in upheaval...looking for a new apartment, etc.

DrFee :

It's going to take a little time to sink in.

Customer:

yes, but I am happy about that. I am a PhD student, and moving closer to school

DrFee :

Not to mention the grieving process

Customer:

I am afraid that I won't be able to concentrate on my studies, though

Customer:

yes

DrFee :

When do you start back to school?

Customer:

but I am not sure for what I am grieving -- our entire relationship was seemingly a lie

Customer:

I start back on august 21

DrFee :

At least that's a few weeks. Well, even though a lie, it's still a loss. A loss of what you thought you had. What you should have had.

DrFee :

I'm NOT saying you will be over it in a few weeks, by the way.

DrFee :

I'm saying that maybe it won't be quite as intense.

Customer:

I understand that. It is nice to hear 'what you should have had'

Customer:

I hope not. I am supposed to take my first written qualifying exam in September, but I may have to push it back a year because I can't concentrate enough to study.

DrFee :

Yes, I'm imagining that you invested a lot of yourself into this relationship! That might be wise, to push back the exam.

Customer:

yes

Customer:

what about narcissism, selfishness, and lack of empathy?

Customer:

can those be overcome?

Customer:

that is more of a curiosity question -- I am not sure that I am interested in sticking around to see

DrFee :

You will recover from this, but it's important to allow yourself time to do that. If he truly has a narcissistic personality disorder, that's extremely difficult to overcome. Many narcissists don't enter therapy, let alone stick with it. It depends on how severe it is.

Customer:

the counselor said she doesn't think it is as severe as a personality disorder, only that he's had the trait for most of his life (he's 41, and thinks he's been this way for his entire adult life)

DrFee :

One one end --all of us are self absorbed and selfish ---however many of us see the need not to be! On the extreme other end, the worst narcissist don't even see the need.

Customer:

he said that he knows the difference from right and wrong

Customer:

I never quite got the answer as to why he doesn't act upon it

Customer:

is it possible to tell whether 'sex addict' is just a cover for bad behavior?

DrFee :

Traits are not as severe, so there's more hope, but it still take work.

Customer:

his go-to answer for everything now is that it was a compulsion that he couldn't control, and he has no other reason for it

DrFee :

That's an interesting question that I think is complicated. Sex addiction appears to be as strong as any other addiction, however, there's obviously not a physical dependence issue like there is with other substances that cause severe problems withdrawing (like DTs with alcoholics). However, and addiction is not an "excuse" to engage in the behavior. It's possible he couldn't control it, BUT he didn't take steps to get into treatment either.

DrFee :

And, a common consequence of such an addiction is losing a significant relationship --- like you!

Customer:

yes. I wonder if he ever really cared about me

DrFee :

I'm guessing that he did ---but he didn't care enough about himself or you to take the steps to deal with his problem.

Customer:

that is a good answer -- thank you

DrFee :

He didn't realize what his addiction was going to cost him.....

DrFee :

It's tragic

Customer:

it is

Customer:

we have a wonderful intellectual connection, and that is what I am sorry to see go

Customer:

and that is what made me try to stay for these few weeks

DrFee :

Yes. That makes sense. It's hard to just let go of such an investment of your life, I bet.

Customer:

it is. I was living in a fantasy world of my own, I think. I thought we were going to start talking about marriage soon.

DrFee :

Thankfully you didn't get that far ---marriage, I mean.

Customer:

that is true :)

Customer:

is there any way to calm myself now so that I can sleep? or will it just be another night like this until some time passes?

DrFee :

I can give you some instructions for abdominal breathing. It might help, I'm not sure --it seems like overwhelming emotion. But, maybe it will help just a little bit.

Customer:

I would appreciate anything

DrFee :

This is called the 4 by 4 breathing exercise because you should practice it for 4 minutes 4 times a day to learn to do it well. If you are able, do this with your eyes closed, imagining a pleasant place. This is calming and designed to help you manage stress. There are two important things to learn about breathing:


 


1. Learn how to breathe from your diaphragm (from your tummy area) and make that pattern a part of your daily life.


 


2. Become skilled at shifting to diaphragmatic breathing whenever you begin to feel stressed.


 


Natural Breathing


 


1. Gently and slowly inhale a normal amount of air through your nose, filling only our lower lungs. Place your hands on your tummy so that you can feel it rising and falling with each breath. Count to 5 slowly as you do it.


 


2. Exhale slowly through your lips, counting to 5 as you do so.


 


3. Continue this slow, gentle breathing with a relaxed attitude, concentrating on filling only your lower lungs.


 


4. As you breathe, slowly repeat the word “relax” or “calm” or some other word which means the same to you.


 


If you have difficulty following the above instructions:


 


1. Lie down on a rug or your bed, with your legs relaxed and straight, a book on your tummy and your hands by your side.


 


2. Let yourself breath normal easy breaths. Notice what part of our upper body rises and fall with each breath. Rest a hand on that spot. If that place is your chest, you are not taking full advantage of your lungs. If the book is moving up and down, then, congratulations, you are doing it right!


 


Deep Breathing


 


Deep breathing is an extension of this normal process. With one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen, take a slow, deep breath, filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. When you exhale, let your upper lungs go first (causing your upper hand to drop), then your lower lungs (causing your lower hand to drop).


 


Reminder: Too many deep breaths, instead of natural breaths in a row, will produce a sense of lightheadedness. This is not harmful; just return to natural breathing.


 


Practice


 


Natural slow breathing and the deep slow breathing several times each day. Practice natural breathing for a period of at least 4 minutes, 4 times a day. The object is to train yourself to breathe from your diaphragm most of the time.


 

Customer:

thank you so much, Dr. Fee

DrFee :

I'll give you the Progressive Muscle Relaxation instructions too...at least that will occupy you for a little while.

DrFee :

You're welcome.

Customer:

that would be excellent

DrFee :

Progressive Muscle Relaxation



Rationale: It is not physically possible to have a feeling of warmth, well-being, and relaxation in your body while experiencing emotional/psychological stress.


 


What it does: Progressive muscle relaxation reduces pulse rate, blood pressure and decreases perspiration and respiration rates.



Who should use it: All of us can benefit from a lifestyle that involves more relaxation. However, Progressive muscle relaxation is particularly useful for the following problems: Insomnia, depression, anxiety, muscle tension, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle spasms, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, phobias, and stuttering.


 


Time to Truly Master: Two 15 minutes sessions per day for one to two weeks.


 


Which Muscles? Do you know which of your muscles are chronically tense? Some do, but most people don’t. One thing Progressive Muscle relaxation will teach you is how to tell the difference between the sensation of tension and the sensation of deep relaxation. We will cover four major muscle groups:


 



  1. Head, face, throat and shoulders

  2. Biceps, forearms, hands

  3. Chest, Stomach, Lower Back

  4. Thighs, buttocks, calves, feet


 


Basic Instructions: You need 10-20 undisturbed minutes. You can sit or lie down. You might play some soothing music or have complete silence.


 


You will be quickly tensing each muscle group for 5 to 7 seconds, quickly releasing and then relaxing for 20 to 30 seconds. You might do abdominal breathing in between muscle groups, focus on a pleasant scene, and/or recite a self soothing statement or comforting Bible verse (i.e. “The Lord is my Shepherd….”)



Example: Clench your two fists as tight as you can, hold it, hold it, hold it, notice the tension in your wrist. Quickly let it go. Feel the looseness in your hands and wrists, notice how different it feels from when you had it tensed. Repeat one more time.


 

DrFee :

One disclaimer --if you have significantly low blood pressure, you shouldn't do the PMR.

Customer:

thanks :)

DrFee :

You are welcome. I'm sorry that you have to deal with this.

Customer:

thank you. it is helpful to have someone to talk to, especially late at night

Customer:

I really appreciate your time and the exercises

DrFee :

Yes, I understand! I'm a bit of a night owl, which is why I'm often on at night!

Customer:

I am glad that I caught you

DrFee :

I'm glad it helped. I hope the exercises help.

Customer:

I hope so, too

Customer:

I will definitely give them a shot

Customer:

Take care Dr Fee

Customer:

and thanks again

DrFee :

You too.

DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience: I help people overcome anxiety and enjoy life again.
DrFee and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
< Last | Next >
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
  • I thank-you so much! It really helped to have this information and confirmation. We will watch her carefully and get her in for the examination and US right away if things do not improve. God bless you as well! Claudia Albuquerque, NM
  • Outstanding response time less than 6 minutes. Answered the question professionally and with a great deal of compassion. Kevin Beaverton, OR
  • Suggested diagnosis was what I hoped and will take this info to my doctor's appointment next week.
    I feel better already! Thank you.
    Elanor Tracy, CA
  • Thank you to the Physician who answered my question today. The answer was far more informative than what I got from the Physicians I saw in person for my problem. Julie Lockesburg, AR
  • You have been more help than you know. I seriously don't know what my sisters situation would be today if you had not gone above and beyond just answering my questions. John and Stefanie Tucson, AZ
  • I have been dealing with an extremely serious health crisis for over three years, and one your physicians asked me more questions, gave me more answers and encouragement than a dozen different doctors who have been treating me!! Janet V Phoenix, AZ
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dr. Keane

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1262
    Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/Dr.Keane/2013-8-20_204325_drkeane.64x64.jpg Dr. Keane's Avatar

    Dr. Keane

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1262
    Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RE/resolutions66/2011-1-17_05728_IMG8202smilingeditedforJustAnswer.64x64.jpg Elliott, LPCC, NCC's Avatar

    Elliott, LPCC, NCC

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    5024
    35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/formybunch/2010-12-06_191055_img_0975.jpg Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC's Avatar

    Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    3733
    Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/DrAkiraOlsen/2012-2-20_746_AkiraADpicmain.64x64.jpg Dr. Olsen's Avatar

    Dr. Olsen

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2336
    PsyD Psychologist
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/norriem/2009-5-27_134249_nm.jpg Norman M.'s Avatar

    Norman M.

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2193
    UK trained in hypnotherapy, counselling and psychotherapy and have been in private practice. ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), UKCP Registered and ECP.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PsychologyProf/2010-07-15_171248_logos060400409.jpg Dr. Michael's Avatar

    Dr. Michael

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2177
    Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/KURTEMMERLING/2010-07-23_215531_just_ask_picture1.jpg Steven Olsen's Avatar

    Steven Olsen

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1727
    More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
 
 
 

Related Mental Health Questions