Summer time and the living is easy. Beaches. Bathing Suits. Tank Tops. Shorts. Fun in the sun for everyone.
Well. Not quite everyone. For sex addicts and their partners summer can bring dread.
The anxiety typically starts in the early days of spring when most people enjoy taking off those bulky coats and letting thesun reach their skin. For sex addicts and partners alarm bells start going off. Summer is coming… less clothes…more skin..more triggers to manage..increased risks to sobriety.
I live in Wisconsin. Winter can be long and dreary. For sex addicts, especially those in early recovery, the added insulation of bulky coats helps to decrease visual triggering. When the coats are off, they feel more tested in their ability to manage triggers that are right in their line of vision.
People who don't struggle with sexual addiction and compulsivity find this hard to understand. They are able to view and appreciate attractive bodies around them. They look, enjoy and move on. No big deal. A pleasant interlude. An enjoyable image to note -even savor-and go on with their day.
Partners and spouses of sex addicts dread summer as well. They remember past summers and the pain they felt. They remember the sex addicts ogling, necks craning for a better look, distractedness and sexual acting out. Partners feel angry at the sex addicts, society, and the women and men who are wearing summery, even see-through sexually provocative clothing. They wonder how they can rebuild trust when they are bombarded by images that remind them of the sex addicts' transgressions.
It is important to recognize that this is not about blaming the people enjoying summer. Everyone has the right to feel the sun on their skin and wear what they choose. This is about sex addicts addressing their own vulnerabilities-both to manage them and to understand them.
I encourage sex addicts and partners to talk about these issues. Talk to each other. Enlist the help of their support system. Take positive action. Prepare for these threats to recovery. Develop and use relapse prevention plans that identify vulnerable feelings, thoughts, behaviors, times, places, people and create strategies to constructively deal with these triggers that appear like spring flowers under the melted snow.
Sex addicts often fear that if they talk about triggers and their worries about relapse then their partners will be more upset rather than reassured. This may happen initially until partners realize the sex addicts are consistently being responsible and accountable for their behavior.
Honesty. Integrity. Communication. This is the kind of transparency that helps summertime to become a time when the living truly is easier.
Shari Cohn, LCSW, CSAT is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist providing
Sex Therapy, Sex Addiction Therapy and Psychotherapy
to the Madison, Wisconsin area for over twenty years.
Shari specializes in counseling sex and porn addicts, partners of sex addicts,
abuse and trauma survivors, ptsd and sexual problems.
"Reclaiming Sexuality…Reclaiming Your Life…One Step At A Time"