A sad truth about most relationships is that either one or more partners has the impulse to hide things from their significant others. One of the things we like the least about relationships is being vulnerable, and we shield ourselves from vulnerability by hiding our true feelings and maybe even our actions. The worst part is that this is especially the case when things in the relationship arise that, while it might be uncomfortable to talk about, the necessity of talking about such things is needless to state.
Sex is an extremely important part of any relationship. When the factor of sex is either missing or sub-optimal in a relationship, other problems will inevitably arise due to a general dissatisfaction by one or more partners.
Sex addiction is just like any other addiction. It involves dependence, compulsiveness, a negative alteration of one’s life, and lying. When one has a sex addiction, one will inevitably seek out multiple partners. This ought not to be conflated with open relationships or any other form of non-monogamy. Non-monogamy is a healthy form of having multiple partners, where appropriate boundaries are set and everyone involved is in agreement with the sexual outcome
Sex addiction, by contrast, is the compulsive seeking out of sexual stimulation multiple times a day every day, to the detriment of oneself and one’s relationships. For instance, sex addicts might miss out on work or on important occasions just to get a “fix” of sexual stimulation, by either seeking out a partner, masturbating, or watching pornography.
If you are in an open relationship, you might ask yourself: “does my primary partner or myself have a sex addiction?” Given that your primary partner and yourself have greater access to multiple sexual partners, it is fair to ask this question. After all, if you’re seeing more people and you are prone to sex addiction, this gives you more lee-way to fuel the fire with more sex.
Fundamentally, the answer to this question will boil down to the most important aspect of any relationship: the factor of communication. Let’s say that you and your primary partner have set ground rules which state that you must tell one another about any secondary partner that you have. If you catch your partner not telling you about a secondary partner somehow, while this is not a definite sign that they are a sex addict, it is certainly a sign that something is wrong.
In that specific case, you have two equally valid options: the first is to simply ask your partner about what you have seen. Tell them, “I noticed you’re seeing someone you didn’t tell me about. What’s going on?” The other option is to simply keep an eye on them. If they’re sneaking off into the bathroom or going out at strange hours after this first incident, you really need to have a talk with your partner. Again, it isn’t necessarily that they’re hiding being a sex addict, but its clear that they are hiding something.
There are other important signs to keep an eye out for. If your partner feels guilty about having sex, is obviously preoccupied with sex, is having sex impede their life and relationships, is getting themselves into dangerous situations for sexual purposes, and you are catching them lie about it often, it might very well be the case that your partner has a sex addiction. Usually, it isn’t the case that hiding transforms into sex addiction: rather, hiding is an intrinsic part of sex addiction which one needs to keep one’s eye out for.
Sex addiction is a serious mental condition that can have major negative consequences to one’s quality of life. In light of this, it is important to note that there are treatment options for sex addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, support groups like AA or NA, and even certain medications might be able to help you with your addiction. It is important to seek treatment, because if you are dealing with addiction, not only are you hurting yourself, but you are hurting those around you. Work towards being honest with yourself and others about your addiction. That is the first step to getting better: by admitting that you have a problem and wanting to fix that problem. There is no shame in seeking help.