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Really not sure what to do....husband is a sex addict

Community Member

I'm not 100% sure that I'm posting in the right spot but I thought that this post may offend some people, so I shouldn't be posting in the new members area.

To try to cut a very long story short: my husband of 20+ years is a sex addict. When we first moved in together, we had a regular sex life - but looking back on it, not normal. He was always "zoned out", I felt like he wasn't present when we had sex. He was there in person, but certainly not in mind. Within seconds of finishing, he was asleep. He always had his eyes closed, and tried to avoid any kissing, and there was no foreplay at all.

Fast forward a few months, he was pushing me away. He joined Whatsapp and I saw messages on his phone from women younger (after I looked them up on FB) than his daughter (from previous marriage). I told myself that I was stupid for looking at his phone, by the way these messages were coming up on the homescreen. I wasn't unlocking his phone as I didn't know his password.

I realised that something was really off, and I discovered that these messages were all from prostitutes. Some he was in "relationships" with. Buying them gifts, giving them money etc.

I might add that at this point in time, we didn't have a joint bank account. I was continually worried about paying bills and didn't know where all his money was going. He kept telling me that he had to help out his ex-wife or his daughter so I couldn't really question him any further.

I left him once but a couple of days later he got his mother to ring me and beg me to come back. He rationalised everything that had been going on, I now know that he was gas-lighting me.

It got to the point where I had to hire a P.I, I couldn't prove what was going on and I was extremely anxious all the time. I spent thousands having him followed but the PI couldn't catch him. Two days after I sacked the PI, I found proof. Of course, he denied and tried to say I was mad and crazy. I more or less forced him into therapy.

There was individual therapy for both of us, followed by couples therapy for almost two years. Then he cut it all off.

Two years after the therapy ended, I have caught him out again. Screwing prostitutes only several days after the covid restrictions have been somewhat reduced. I have told him to return to therapy or move out immediately. He is going back to see a therapist next week (first available appointment).

I'm running out of space to write but can tell more if anyone asks. I'm stuck ATM - financial reasons

22 Replies 22

Hi aussiemel

I don't think he's compartmentalising things, I think it's possible he doesn't care anymore. Addiction does that to us, maybe he's decided subconsciously he won't change if he knows you'll put up with it. He knows he can get away with it because you have caught him a few times and confronted him about it but you have stayed with him, and I'm not criticising you for doing so.

I think it's possible that he won't change until he realises that you're serious about ending the relationship.

Sex addicts anonymous might help, people share their stories of addiction and there are people in those groups who are changed and remorseful and that might be good for your partner. From personal experience with addiction it can give you clarity or insight and that can be the impetus for change.

Community Member
Hello aussiemel,

It sounds like your dealing with a person who is only interested in his own needs and does not want to acknowledge the needs of other people. Manipulation is surely a sign that he does not care about your mental wellbeing or happiness and only his is important. He seems to see women as just people to be used and not as someone to care for and connect with. He seems to have no morals so I don't think he will ever be anyone's friend in the true sense of the word. Not a good person to be stuck with so I feel for you.

I had the worst night last night, terrible nightmares. But I can't remember exactly what they were about. I do know that when I got up this morning, I am remembering things that he has done in the past. Little things that at the time made no sense, things that I had pushed to the back of my mind.

It's awful, I feel like a zombie. Even if I could get my head together and formulate a plan, I don't have any energy to even begin to put anything in place.

Where to start? What to do?

I can't really afford therapy and last time I went for 2 years, my therapist convinced me that my partner had changed (we had signed an agreement that my therapist, his therapist and our relationship therapist could all liaise). Both my therapist and our joint therapist seemed to take my partner's side. I felt pressured to give him another chance.

I don't know what I did to deserve all this and I don't know what to do next.

There is absolutely no one that I can talk to about any of this.

Hello aussiemel,

You have been living with a manipulative person and your needs and desire have not been met and you have not had any support from others as they are on his side. This type of relationship is a very tiring experience and painful too because of how he has treated you and the affect that it has on your self esteem and he hasn't been giving you anything and only taking from you emotionally. He has isolated you and you are becoming more and more aware of his behaviour which is painful. I think you probably need to join a domestic abuse support group to help you so that they are on your side and he can't manipulate them to be against you or something like that.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi mel

It's so tough when things start coming to mind, as greater clarity helps us begin to make more sense of the past. While such clarity is good, it can also challenge us in the most intense ways. 'Where do I go from here' really challenges us when we've no clear direction at all. I suppose you could say, in a way, it's like waking up from a dream and thinking 'Where am I, what day is it, what time is it?' and so on. It can be like a bit of a Zombie state, where our brain's trying to make sense of things, processing information between our dreaming and waking state.

As things start becoming more clear mel, you'll need to catch your breath a bit and get your bearings. Sit with your questions a little and your statements, such as 'Where do I go from here?' or 'I can't believe I'm just realising all this now'. I imagine you may be thinking it's easy for me to say when I suggest these are positive questions or statements but as clarity becomes greater, I'm hoping you'll begin to see these in a new light. Past statements, in comparison to those, could have been more like 'I feel stuck in this situation' and 'I just don't know what the problem is'. From my own personal experience, enlightenment can at first present as rather torturous in some ways before we see it for what it is. A little sappy to say but...it's our way out of the dark. Actually, very sappy 🙂

I love interpreting dreams/nightmares. The mind is pretty cryptic the way it works in this state. Your dreams may reveal a lot, possibly even the way forward. If you can work out a way to remember them, write them down and try and interpret them, this could provide even greater clarity.

You mention 'I don't know what I did to deserve all this'. I know it's going to be pretty challenging but try and apply this statement to the process you're now facing, seeing the light. You did a heck of a lot to deserve this clarity. You worked hard, you questioned often, you searched for answers and you even worked hard to trust others when they weren't worthy of such trust. You are amazing. You are strong. You are determined. You are forgiving. You have searched for optimism and change for so long long. Brace yourself, here it comes. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open to opportunity, try not to keep your focus on him. He may do nothing more than distract you, to anger and resentment.


Community Member
Mel how are you feeling now? I hope that you’ve had some time to catch some air and find some clarity. This is an overwhelming situation to be in but you have more control than you can perhaps see in all of this. You matter. Please remember that and be sure to update us. You do have people to talk to, we are here and we hear you.


I've been having nightmares every night, they aren't the same all the time but they are terrible and I'm finding it really hard to sleep. In fact I'm scared to sleep because the nightmares are awful.

I feel sick in the stomach and have had a lot of headaches. My GP is on holidays due to COVID (she is over 60 and not taking any risks).

I'm self-employed and in danger of losing all my work due to the virus, if we have a second wave I'll have no income so I can't even contemplate moving out.

I don't want to look at him and he is working from home ATM which is really difficult as he's here all the time now too.

I still feel like it's all surreal and can't really be happening. I'm probably not making sense, sorry.

You’re making complete sense and what you’re describing is the feeling of being overwhelmed by everything and a sense of being out of control. What have your nightmares been about?

Covid is amplifying everything because it creates an environment that can make us face things we don’t want to face. Whether it be someone’s presence, lack of work so not staying occupied, too much time in our own thoughts. It’s tough. We are here though. Keep talking it out. It can help to get these things out of your head.

Up until last night, nightmares that I remember vividly have been the following:

* me locked out of our house and being able to see him through the window having sex with another female

* me in a car with my brother driving around town looking for partner and finding him at a motel with other women

*me believing I'm trapped in a room with my ex-partner (someone I split with 22 years ago because he physically assaulted me and I haven't seen him since - or thought about him for years)

*me completely lost - with no money or phone

Then last night it was my grandma was really sick and no one would let me see her (she's 93 and lives alone) so I'm waiting until a respectable time this morning when I can ring and check that she's okay.

Yes COVID is making everything hard. I doubt that I would have found out he was cheating again if it wasn't for COVID. The receipts wouldn't have been in his wallet, they would have been shoved in a drawer at his work.

If only this wasn't my life!

Those dreams seem very aligned to your underlying concerns of his behaviour, the financial concerns, a sense of losing your identity breaking away from the life you and perhaps not feeling that you have the support network to leave what you know as well.

I’d strongly suggest speaking to a counsellor who specialises in divorce or separation. Sometimes they can help break down the barriers and show us away to find the clarity and hope that we need when making such a big decision to leave this type of life and create a new one where you feel you may matter.

There will be hard times and it will feel like the scariest thing you’ve ever done until you suddenly wake up one day and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. It takes time to build up the strength to make any decision about how to go from here. Whether you stay or leave, you will need time to think through the pros and cons and ultimately you will gain peace when you know you’ve made the right decision. Right now you are half in and half out because you don’t want to leave but also don’t want to stay with the way it is either so you’re going to feel confusion and anguish.

I‘be stayed in past relationships for fear of how much worse things could be if I left but I wrote down all the challenges I’d face and wrote down some realistic actions that I could take to combat those issues and then suddenly it made it really clear that whilst leaving could make things a little tricky to begin with, it would be harder and more exhausting to stay. I took the plunge and in the end, I’ve never regretted having life upside down for a little while to mean more happiness.

I also think the feeling of being alone and in the unknown is one of the biggest mental roadblocks when leaving a relationship but each time I’ve realised I not only already felt alone anyway but also more stressed than I’d be if I was just spending my days doing what made me happy instead of worrying about the other persons nonsense. Again that takes time but you suddenly find yourself feeling lighter, spending more time figuring out what makes you happy in life and focusing on the important things in life without the baggage weighing you down.

This is of course just my own experiences but I hope it gives you some hope.