Your Boyfriend Just Told You He Cheated Because He's a Sex Addict. Should You Stay or Should You Go?
At this point, attacking his car with a baseball bat might seem like a perfectly reasonable idea, but stop and consider the situation before you make any decisions. He has cheated on you. You can stay or you can go. But let's talk about what it means that he calls himself a sex addict.
There are several reasons he might be claiming he's a sex addict. Ariel Castro, the Ohio man who allegedly abducted three women and held them captive for more than 10 years, has said he is a sex addict. This kind of high-profile case can have a trickle-down effect, and other men might soon see this as a plausible "get out of jail card" and decide to follow suit.
1. He really is a sex addict. In this case, you're in for some deep, soul-searching work, but if he is ready to admit his mistakes, feels horrible about what he did to you, and truly wants to change--it might be worth it to hang around.
2. He's not really a sex addict. He feels so bad about the mistake he just made that he Googled the definition of sex addiction, and now he's sure he's a sex addict, even though he shows no signs of sexual obsession or compulsion.
3. He doesn't even know the definition of a sex addict. But he sure doesn't feel bad about his affair. He's saying he's a sex addict for one reason. It's an excuse.
Sexual addiction is a debilitating way to live. Sex addicts live in a state of obsessive preoccupation that decimates their relationships, their careers and their very beings. So if he is really an addict, and he's ready to do anything to get help for it, you're not the only one in pain.
While psychologists do not agree on whether out-of-control sexuality should be called an "addiction" or an "obsessive-compulsive disorder," they all agree that the addict suffers. One 1991 study by leading sex addiction expert Patrick Carnes, showed that out of 752 male and 180 female sex addicts surveyed, nearly all of them reported strong feelings of shame, isolation, loneliness, hopelessness and despair as a direct result of their addiction.
While the field of sex addiction research is new (the Carnes study was the first of its' kind,) cheating on your partner is not. He may not be a sex addict, but just a typical human male.
According to anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of The Anatomy of Love, what you're going through is fairly typical. Every 10 years, the Statistical Office of the United Nations takes a census, and in a sample of 58 different populations from all over the world, divorce peaks at the four-year mark—for all couples.
Fisher has a theory about this finding, “The human pair bond originally evolved to last long enough to raise a single child through infancy. The four-year human reproductive cycle may be a biological phenomenon.”
Evolutionarily speaking, having a child draws a man and a woman together at least long enough to raise that child through infancy. After that, the drive to stay together is weakened, and divorce or separation is more likely.
Whether he is a sex addict, a guy with commitment issues, or just a typical human male with "the four-year itch," it's important to take stock of your relationship.
If you're ready to deal with the long and arduous task of helping your mate heal from sexual addiction, which often involves grieving his own childhood sexual abuse, you might have a chance at a healthy relationship one day. If he's exhibiting healthy shame, taking responsibility for his actions, contributing a great deal to your relationship, and ready to do anything it takes to get well, you might consider staying.
However, if you sense he's just playing the "sex addict" card in order to gain sympathy for his actions, you'll be better off cutting ties. A seasoned sex coach can help you make sense of it all. In any case, take the time to invest in some serious self-care. Your boundaries have been violated, and you need to give yourself time to heal.