STAYING after Infidelity - The New Scarlet Letter

Partners have been sharing this theme with me for some time, so in the aftermath of the Ashley Madison hack I knew I needed to write about the experience of a betrayed partner who chooses to stay in a relationship after the discovery/disclosure of infidelity. 

I was asked to write a guest article for about staying in a relationship after infidelity.  Please take a look and let me know what you think:



Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation.  The term comes from the movie with the same name, and it is a strategy where one individual manipulates of the reality of another.  These patterns can range from subtle to extreme, but the impact often leaves the one who is gaslighted questioning their own reality. 

Sexual addicts use gaslighting in relationships at times to preserve their relationship with their addiction.  Throwing their partners off the track, if the addict can keep his/her partner thinking the PARTNER is the problem, then the partner will not as effectively question the behaviors of the addict.  Addicts at times do this overtly and consciously, and at times do it without even realizing it.  Yet the impact of gaslighting on the partner and on the relationship is devastating.  Gaslighting must stop if a relationship has a chance for healing, restoration, and reconciliation.

I found the following article on gaslighting interesting, as it portrays an individual's experience with gaslighting in a relationship and what she learned:


Sex Sells - Who Pays the Price?

The organization Treasures does a lot of great work to help women who would like to get out of the sex industry.  They created a video to address the issues of sex and the sex industry, and I was fortunate to have been interviewed in the video. 


Check it out and let me know what you think:


The Language of Lying

For anyone reading this who is a sex addict or who is in relationship with someone who is addicted, you know that lying is a big part of the addiction: It helps to hide behaviors, get partners off the trail, and I usually find that the first person that addicts learn to deceive is themselves.  Most addicts learn to lie as a coping strategy from a very young age, before it was ever used to mask their addictive behaviors.  Lying helped them to survive in a world or in a family that wasn't safe for them to fully be themselves.

I was forwarded this TED Talk on lying through POSARC ( and thought I'd share it here.  For partners who are trying to rebuild trust in their relationships and in their own intuition, here are some ways you can look at language to better rebuild trust in the truth. 

Let me know what you think!


Partners Finding Their Voice

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned” (William Congreve)

 Truth be told, most men are terrified of women’s anger.  Of course, many will pretend that they are “tough” and not affected.  Yet if they’re honest with you, they’ll agree that women’s anger is difficult for them to bear.  I wish I were somehow “above” this fear, but alas, I am also part of this group.  I could write a volume on WHY this is the case, but I’ll save that for another time.  Rather, I’d like to focus on the assertive voice of a partner of a sex addict, and what impact her voice has on the individual with the addiction.

There are of course male partners of addicts and same-sex couples experiencing the damage of sex addiction, yet the majority of partners I see are female, and the majority of addicts I see are male.  So of course these roles can be reversed, but I want to focus today on the gendered impact of a female partner finding her voice.  When I refer to a partner finding her “voice,” I mean that she no longer sits by and tolerates the behavior of the addict.  Instead, she assertively states her needs, lays down boundaries, and expresses her pain in an assertive way.  And yes, this assertiveness can often look very much like anger.  She IS angry!  And why shouldn’t she be?  The wool has finally been pulled from her eyes, and she can now finally see a relationship littered with lies, deception, betrayal, and sometimes patterns of abuse.  Anger is a protective means of survival.  Was Rosa Parks angry on that bus?  You better believe it.  Was Gandhi angry at injustice?  Absolutely.  Was Jesus angry when he overturned the tables of the money collectors in the temple?  Of course.  Anger is an important means by which true change occurs.  And in the case of a partner of a sex addict, her assertive voice is a way for her to no longer remain in a defenseless, powerless, one-down position.  Her anger makes sense.  Make no mistake: I’m not talking about emotionally or physically abusive anger – I’m talking about her assertive voice that will no longer tolerate her world to be shattered again.

So . . .  How does this impact the addict?  I think it’s safe to say that many sex addicts have this response to anger and assertiveness from their partners if they’re honest: they’re terrified of it.  Whether they come from homes with narcissistic mothers, whether they learned through culture or a faith tradition that women should act a certain way, or whether their views of women have been shaped through their own trauma, men have a difficult time with their partner’s anger.  Most addicts have a belief at their core, “If she knew the real me, and all of the real me, she’d leave me.”  Well, anger for an addict can feel a whole lot like abandonment.  So many addicts will implement a host of strategies to keep their partner’s voice at bay.  Some will defend, some will shut down, some will disappear into shame, and some will turn to patterns of abuse. 

Here’s my encouragement to men and women that are courageously traversing the road of recovery from sexual addiction: 

  • Partners: Keep finding and expressing your voice in an assertive way.  You absolutely have a right to safety, and to have your needs met in the relationship.  Be careful to not go into abuse, as this will ultimately prevent you from getting where you truly want to be if you are trying to work on your relationship.  But keep working to express your voice to heal from the betrayal.
  • Addicts: Hang in there!  The more work you do on yourself and healing from your own pain and shame will give you that much more of an ability to help the incredible work you can do to help your partner heal.  Your responsibility is to be open, honest, and empathic.  This is difficult, but it truly is your living amends for the pain you have caused to your partner.  This process isn’t perfect, but with time, AND your continued commitment to be there for your partner and your relationship, your relationship can continue to heal. 
  • For the relationship: Find safety.  Find moments of tenderness.  Intimacy like you’ve never known it before can continue to be forged through the pain you are going through.  Your hard work to grow and to renew your equal partnership will reap huge dividends in the future.