Discovering that the person who you thought you could trust, that you depended on and shared a life with, has an active sex addiction can be crushing. Not having a clear understanding of what exactly their behaviours involve creates anxiety, fear, and shock.
Many betrayed partners who just discovered their partners acting out talk about the need to do detective work, to snoop, spy, and investigate, on their spouse so that they can gather more information about the addiction and find out exactly what has been going on.
For some betrayed partners this investigatory behaviour can be disturbing, and for others it can create a sense of control. It is important to know that this behaviour is normal in betrayed spouses.
Although every individual’s motive may be different for investigating the hope is that you are aware of what purpose it serves for you. In Robert Weiss‘ podcast Sex, Love, & Addiction 101 the guest, Michelle Mays, states the following:
In order to stay in the relationship, they [betrayed spouses] have to understand what has happened, they have to have the full scope and depth of the betrayal so they can start to contain it. Because without all of that when you are still dealing with the shadowy threat of secrets and lies you feel like there is no end to what you might discover, its a very uncontained experience I think a lot of times what they [betrayed spouses] are trying to do is get some edges, you know, find the edges of the betrayal.
-Michelle D. Mays, LPC, CSAT-S
It is important to stay in tuned with what your motives are while investigating. As time passes and your recovery continues to strengthen it may not be as necessary to sleuth because you have chosen to leave the relationship or you and your partner (who is also in recovery) are attempting to repair the relationship and rebuild trust. One therapist stated that the trust in relationship is broken by the lies of the addiction, much like an arm can be broken by a brutal impact. You may need a cast on the arm to heal the break, however you do not want the cast on permanently. The cast can represent behaviours like investigating. Immediately after discovery sleuthing can help create feelings of safety and containment, however engaging in these behaviours permanently can be destructive in the long-term.
While Investigating You Partner’s Acting Out Behaviour Be Mindful of The Following :
- You Might Not Like What You Find
As you investigate your partners digital history, look for credit card statements, and follow up on cell phone records be mindful that you may discover information that is difficult or disturbing to process. This is important to realize as you may be re-traumatized with what you find on your own. Often having a full therapeutic disclosure is a safe way of discovering any new information.
- Sleuthing is Your Only Way to Self Sooth
Being triggered by fear, a sense of uncertainty or an action by your partner may be enough to go digging. However, as you continue in your recovery it can be helpful to diversify ways to self sooth through grounding exercises, communication with your partner, connecting with a friend, talk with your therapist or any other number of self-soothing activates that work for you. When detective work is the only way you can feel at ease this can cause distress for you and limits your ability to recover from the trauma.
- Investigating in Order to Avoid the Realities of What You Have Discovered Already
Looking for and focusing on dates, details and history can create feelings of control and certainty. If you have looked into your partners past and found information that relates to their addiction and you continue to sleuth this can be a way of avoiding the pain and loss associated with the information of what you may have already discovered.
If you have found out that your partner has a sex addiction and you would like support for the betrayal trauma recovery process please know that there are individual therapists, like myself, online supports, and resources that can be helpful in your recovery journey. Do not hesitate to ask me any questions below, or share your own story of how you may have coped with sleuthing behaviours after finding out about your spouses addiction.