The step-by-step process by which we reacquaint ourselves with healthy pleasure is part of reviving our ability to recognize what is going on inside of us. Once we can properly identify our emotions, needs, and wants, and attune to our bodies, we must learn how to communicate that truth to others. Speaking our truth with respect and listening to the truth of others with respect are the basic necessities of healthy relationships. But, because sex addicts have damaged relational skills, in self-defeat they put all sorts of blocks in the way of relationship and connection.
Because of the wounds they have endured, leaning to relate is one of the most challenging tasks we undertake in our lives. As we have explored, the issue of betrayal is huge for sex addicts and so, in turn, is the restoration of trust.
Most recovering sex addicts are terrified of re-creating painful or shaming experiences. We teach ourselves to sexualize our feelings in order to buffer ourselves from being emotionally vulnerable. Sexual addiction becomes the defense against real or imagined emotional rejection.
Aware of it or not, the wounded sex addict learns to approach all potential and real relationships through the filter of his relational history. His intuition tells him that being close to or vulnerable with another is not safe. When a new person comes into his life, he will screen this person through his filter, and the message that will be relayed is: DANGER!
By the time sex addicts have arrived in treatment, they usually have few, if any, friends. They may have many people in their lives, but most of their relationships are based in enhancing their sex addiction.