My husband says he’s not monogamous. He’s wanting an open relationship. I’m not sure what to do. How do I know if he’s not monogamous or if he’s dealing with sex addiction?
I’m sorry what you’re dealing with. This is very difficult. I understand this, because I did something similar when I was at my lowest point.
The Karuna Healing approach is to be sex-positive and religiously and morally neutral. We believe each person should decide for themselves what sexual behaviors align with their values. However, some people are so stuck and so desperate that they may delude themselves into thinking they prefer a sexually gratuitous lifestyle. We want our values to drive our behavior. Not our behavior to drive our values. It’s quite common for folks who have failed at attempts to control their sexual behavior to come to a belief they are not monogamous and view it like a sexual orientation.
Polyamory, swinging, and open relationships appear to be rarely successful when the pivot in the relationship from monogamy into this new lifestyle comes as a response to failed attempts at managing out-of-control sexual behavior. If your husband has had sexual compulsivity issues, and is now pressuring you to accept an open relationship, I would advise strongly against this.
I hope you can establish firm boundaries. I hope your husband is open to therapy and work to reduce shame, heal from trauma, and transform himself into a person who can align his sexual behaviors with his values. It’s possible.
Finally, to your question of whether this is sex addiction. It might be. Might not be. It doesn’t matter exactly. I find it to be usually a blend of addiction and narcissism that can be healed with therapy.
Rob Terry is a therapist for clients in Utah and coach for clients outside of Utah and across the globe. He specializes in sex addiction recovery for individuals and couples. He integrates the CSAT, OCSB, and Minwalla models for individual recovery and Gottman Method, RLT, and ERCEM for couples recovery. He is betrayal trauma informed. His therapy modalities are IFS, ACT, CBT, EMDR, and Attachment Theory.