Ahhhh ,the art of confrontation. It has taken many many disastrous attempts before we figured out the “dos and don’ts” of confrontation. When you throw sex addiction into an already tricky situation, there are lots of emotional potholes to navigate.
Just because we have a system doesn’t always mean we use it, and often we end up with major blowouts. However, the following list are 5 things that are surefire ways to get an emotionally unsafe, hostility charged atmosphere to work out confrontation with a sex addict. Whether it’s about finding porn on the computer or frustration with the dishes being left out, the art of confrontation is a beautiful system that- when worked- works. But the ins and outs of our system will be posted another day. Here’s what NOT to do:
5 WAYS TO GUARANTEE DISASTER WHEN CONFRONTING A SEX ADDICT
1. Shame, shame, shame
Early in our relationship, I would find porn on the computer and leave post it notes with shaming notes on them. I would yell. I would scream. I would shame. THIS DOES NOT WORK. Anyone struggling with sex addiction is already enveloped in a tsunami of shame. Adding more toxic shame to the heap is almost a guarantee that there will be an unfortunate outcome.
Sex addicts are sex addicts because there has been trauma in their lives. Threats will touch on that trauma, bringing it to an epic level, which fuels the addiction. Threats will never work. You can take away an addict’s money, time, friends, possessions- it doesn’t matter. If they want to act out, they will. If you threaten, it will make things worse.
3. Ambush with no warning
Our experience has shown that sex addicts do not like surprises. Ever. Even “good” surprises like birthday presents. Surprises are never received well in our home, and we both have learned that the quickest way to a scream fest is for me to surprise him with a conversation that he is not prepared well in advance for. The two outcomes that usually happen with a ‘surprise’ conversation are screaming, OR- in his freaked out attempt to disarm, lying.
4. Conversations in enclosed areas
Take two emotionally charged people, one extremely sensitive situation, and put those elements together in an enclosed, inescapable area- say a car- and you have a recipe for disaster. If there is not escape plan (physically) for BOTH parties, don’t have the conversation.
5. Use “you” statements, and throw some “always” and “never” sentences in the mix
Confrontation needs to be about understanding. When an addict hears “You ____, you_____ you_______ and the words ‘never’ and ‘always,’ they immediately go on the defensive and the conversation has effectively been rendered useless. If you are going to confront successfully, employ “I” sentences, keep the focus on yourself and how YOU are feeling, and don’t pretend to know what the other person is thinking.