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How Can I Share my Authentic Feelings when my Addict Partner Reacts with Depression, Anxiety and/or Shame?

In Episode 226, a PBSE listener asks a very common question about her interactions with her porn/sex addicted partner:

Hello, I just recently started listening to your podcast and I was wondering if you have, or if you could talk about, how to approach communicating our authentic feelings when our porn addict partner also struggles with depression … I'm always too scared to be fully transparent with him about what I'm feeling because I worry it will make him spiral to a very dark place … I know we won't be able to fully heal and mend our relationship until I'm able to be fully honest with him. For a little context: he is not currently in therapy; I've told him that therapy with a CSAT is one of the things I need him to do to help me feel safe and that I think it will help him in all areas of his life, not just in recovery.

Mark & Steve talk straight-forward and open about this kind of situation—for both the addict and the partner:

For Porn/Sex Addicts: 

  • What is the “reactive” mode all about for addicts???

  • We learned early on that it was NOT safe to be transparent or authentic; to share needs or expect them to be met, etc. So, we learned to go into “I-have-to-defend-and-take-care-of myself” mode. In our relationships with others, IT HAS TO BE ALL ABOUT US!

  • The Survival Brain does NOT want “its way” to be interrupted—”IT” is sure “IT” KNOWS WHAT WORKS!

  • Because we’ve been so isolated, inauthentic and disconnected, we DON’T KNOW HOW TO CONNECT AND BE INTIMATE! So, we compensate with self-protection, deflection, resistance and manipulation strategies.

  • And, because we are disconnected from “healthy  sources” of renewal and intimacy, we go-it-alone—which we can NEVER succeed at—it’s TOO MUCH for anyone! So, in comes shame, fear, depression, anxiety, anger, etc. AND WE TURN TO ADDICTION OUTLETS TO ONCE AGAIN—“COPE ALONE.” 

  • YOU must start advocating for YOU! You must start where you are and take the initial steps forward! If  you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting! Are you ready to finally, genuinely admit—MY WAY DOESN’T WORK! We DO have really deep understanding and compassion for addicts (we are one), yet we know too well that “reasons” too easily become “excuses” and keep us stuck! 

For Partners in Healing:

  • We understand that it is stressful, scary and may even bring about unwanted consequences to share how you're truly feeling with your partner.

  • You have to ask yourself: “what kind off marriage do I want?” 

  • Intimacy means sharing the good AND the bad. Choosing deep connection means letting go of the outcomes.

  • Allowing the feelings of another individual to compromise your own authentic integrity is always an exchange of diminishing returns. 

  • Be loving, but direct:

  1. Be sure to authentically share the things that he is doing well, in addition to areas needing work.  

  2. If there are things that you appreciate about him, express those and the why behind them.

  3. BUT, be very clear about the impact his actions/inactions are having on you, the relationship, etc.

  4. Share what consequences have come about as a result, and what yet may come if there isn’t change. 

  5. Acknowledge your inability to “make” him feel any sort of way, and encourage him to access and/or find needed supports.

Learn more about Mark and Steve's revolutionary online porn/sexual addiction recovery and betrayal trauma healing program at—

Find out more about Steve Moore at:  Ascension Counseling

Learn more about Mark Kastleman at:  Reclaim Counseling Services

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