As a professional who works solely with addicts, I have observed certain patterns that point to sexual addiction. As the spouse, you may waver between believing your instincts that say there is something wrong and believing the words of your husband who claims that the only problem in the marriage is your paranoia and your nagging. Addicts behave in strikingly similar ways and I hope that the following ‘red flags’ will either dispel or support your concerns.
1. Your sexual life tends toward extremes.
He is either hypersexual and coercive (i.e. tries to get you to do things you don’t want to do), or he is completely disinterested in sex; claiming fatigue or stress. You may feel that your husband is ‘not there’ when you are having sex.
2. Your otherwise healthy husband is unable to maintain an erection during sex.
38% of porn addicts experience erectile dysfunction. This is a result of the mind acclimatizing to the unnaturally high levels of dopamine that porn produces so that sex with you is no longer arousing.
3. He is very possessive of his cell phone and it never leaves his side; if you so much as pick it up, he rages at you. He has multiple phone numbers and email addresses.
Like a dog with his food, an addict will bark if you get close to discovering his secret
4. Your husband spends excessive amount of time online at times (you and the kids are in bed) or in locations (in his study/office out of view of the family) that are inaccessible to you.
Addiction creates a need for more and more. He may know that you don’t like him viewing porn but he still needs his drug, so he will find ways to get high without you knowing.
5. The laptop, phone, tablet has an erased history or has applications like ‘incognito’ on his laptop, which allows him to use the internet without any trace.
In order to protect his supply, he needs to hide where he has been online
6. He seems distant or withdrawn. He is highly critical of you, your appearance, your habits. He seems to enjoy finding things wrong with you.
Addicts resent reality. Real relationships take work. Porn requires only a click of the finger. Real life has highs and lows. Porn offers only highs.
7. He habitually comes to bed hours after you do, or gets up in the middle of the night for an extended period of time. When questioned, he might admit to Internet surfing, or complain of insomnia.
8. Unaccounted-for cash disappears from your accounts; he may insist on having sole domain over your finances.
Addicts avoid transparency in regard to finances, time and behaviors.
9. If you confront him with suspicions , he tells you that “you’re crazy and controlling.” He often describes former partners this way as well.
In order to remain active in an addiction, an addict needs to find fault outside of themselves.
10. His time is often unaccounted for, and he is frequently unreachable by phone for hours at a time.
If you do suspect that your husband is hiding his porn use from you, you may calmly voice your concerns, and ask your husband to join you for a treatment session. If he denies a problem, I recommend that you seek help yourself as you will need some ‘sanity’ breathed into your life to blow away the confusing fog that addiction creates. The best attitude to have with your husband is one of firm resolve that YOU are going to heal, regardless of what he chooses to do. Visit our Recommended Reading page and Local Meetings page for some reading material and more information on available support in the area.