Buddy wrote: “I have a sex addiction to calling phone sex. My wife knows and she was upset. And she wanted me to stop. I tried but unsuccessful, and she told me that if she finds out I did it again she would leave me. I want to stop. I have seen a professional about and it didn’t work. I don’t want to lose my wife or my family. Please, any help would be appreciated. I just found your videos today, found you really insightful, and not judgemental.”
Liz says: What you’re calling an “addiction” I suspect is really just “What I enjoy doing conflicts with what makes my partner happy”. Meaning, it’s not that you’re actually addicted (click here for the definition) but that it’s something you gain so much pleasure from that it’s difficult for you to walk away. Many couples deal with variations of this. She enjoys belonging to the PTO but her husband wants her to quit because her responsibilities make her so busy that it takes away from time with him. He loves extreme sports but his wife asks him to quit because now that he’s a father she’s worried about him dying and her child growing up fatherless. No one would seriously say the PTO mom and the mountain-climbing dad were addicted if they continued after their spouses asked them not to. The difference with your situation is that your wife probably feels like you’re cheating on her.
It’s not just physical sexual activities that count as cheating. Anytime you create a relationship with someone else that is expected to be reserved for your significant other, it’s cheating. In this case, you’re directing your sexual energy toward various strange women instead of only sharing that energy with your wife, and she wants to be your only sexual partner.
Oftentimes when we want to continue doing something that we know we shouldn’t (or are being told we shouldn’t) we tell ourselves things to justify continuing. This is called Cognitive Dissonance. It’s easier to justify inaction than it is to change and take different actions. It happens a lot when our actions don’t match our values/beliefs. In your case, you might believe you’re a loyal, good husband and if someone were to say “But your love for phone sex is not what loyal, good husbands do”, you might justify it by telling yourself “But I’m not actually cheating on her, I’m not hooking up with other women so there’s no risk of falling in love, or impregnating another woman, or catching an STD.” Instead of changing the behavior, it’s easier to tell ourselves things that allow us to not feel bad about continuing.
I am wondering if you’re mildly depressed. Sometimes people dealing with frustration and discontent in life seek escapist activities in an effort to feel excited about something, to feel alive, to be so engrossed in something that they temporarily “escape” their problems. That activity could be almost anything (video games, shopping, drugs, alcohol, sports, gambling, sex). When you were seeing a professional about all this, did you discuss this possibility?
Or, it could be that what turns you on the most just happens to be incompatible with the kind of marriage your wife wants.
Here’s the bottom line, continuing to seek your sexual thrills via phone sex workers is communicating to your wife that she is less important to you. Whether that is true or not, that is what your behavior is telling her. If you love her and can’t imagine life without her, then you need to take care of her and your relationship. Re-direct that sexual energy you were paying other women to take, toward your wife. Have a deep, brutally honest talk with her about how you are feeling and what you want from her, then let her do the same and really listen to what she says. You both can’t heal and move forward positively until you both feel heard and understood. And if you two decide to try counseling, find a sex positive therapist.