Social Networking and Sex Addiction Challenges

Woman reaches for a laptopSocial Networking is a great way to connect with so many individuals! It connects you with your family, friends from the past, current friends, and even allows you to make new friends. With so many benefits, are there any potential dangers with social networking? Well, not if you are someone who has strong boundaries, is careful in what you share with others, and gets your emotional needs met in a healthy way. However, if you are someone who has struggled with being inappropriate on the Internet or in relationships, has received false intimacy in unhealthy places, or taken advantage of relationships for your own benefit, then social networking will most likely present some challenges. If there is not a specific focus and set of boundaries on how these challenges and concerns can impact someone struggling with sexual addiction, it can open the door for a brand new set of issues.

So what are some of those challenges that someone struggling with sexual addiction will face in dealing with social networks?
• In the past, there were more limitations to what a sex addict struggled with on the Internet. They mainly had to deal with pornography and chat rooms. Yes, these were very addictive, harmful, and destructive, but with the development of social networking, there are many more opportunities for the sex addict to find a connection and to face temptation that is seen as more socially acceptable.
• Facebook, Myspace, and many other social networking sites can start out seemingly harmless, but when there is a neediness that arises for the sex addict, it opens the door to make familiar connections with those from their past.
• These connections are easier to hide because they don’t appear harmful but can lead a recovering sex addict down a very slippery slope because they will rationalize that it is not pornography or a chat room. But the more they connect, especially if they are having challenging times in their life emotionally, the easier it is to go back to old behaviors of hiding, deception, and getting their needs met inappropriately.

Does this mean that social networking is completely wrong for the sex addict? Not necessarily, but there needs to be some strong boundaries put in place.

Here are a few that have proven to be helpful:

• If the person struggling with sexual addiction and his or her spouse feels comfortable being part of some of the social networks, it would be strongly recommended that the person share all passwords with his or her spouse and accountability partner. This keeps things very open and transparent!
• Have regular check-in times with spouse and accountability partner to see if too much time is being spent on these sites and if the sex addict is getting any “hits” emotionally or physically from any relational connections.
• Make sure the sex addict is very open about all friend requests and does not allow any past relationship partners or “hook ups” to be part of his or her network.
• Be willing to shut down these sites through a filter or by blocking them before they can become an issue or if challenges arise from using them.

The strongest and safest course of action is to avoid these sites to keep any problems, temptations, or challenges off the table. Why open a door that can lead to more hurt and pain after all the sex addict and spouse have been through? If you do feel you can safely manage these sites, be careful to have very strong boundaries in place to keep you safe and for your spouse and family to feel safe as well. Social networks can be fun and a very positive connection for many individuals. Just like a lot of other things, when it is abused it can cause more emotional pain and betrayal for those close to the sex addict. For the person who has faced and is dealing with the area of sexual addiction, social networking brings another tempting avenue into play that, if not handled directly, can lead to a whole new set of issues and pain.

 

© Copyright 2010 by Janie Lacy, LMHC, NCC, CSAT, therapist in Maitland, Florida. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jasmine

    Jasmine

    August 12th, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    Surely it takes two to encourage the sex addict’s actions. If the other person wasn’t receptive to them via social networking at a similar level of engagement, how could they interact in an unhealthy way? Interesting article, Janie. Thanks for sharing.

  • joe N.

    joe N.

    August 13th, 2010 at 2:32 AM

    A friend of mine cheated on his girlfriend for one year until he was caught red-handed.Luckily for him,his girlfriend loved him a lot and decided to get back to him.They are working hard to get their relationship back on track and he shares all his passwords with her and she does the same.This has brought about a new confidence between them and I just hope they do well together :)

  • charlene

    charlene

    August 13th, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    I’d rather my husband was having cybersex with some internet floozie than visiting a prostitute or having an affair with a neighbor or coworker. Online isn’t real life. That I could turn a blind eye to. It’s like reading porn. He’s not going to leave me for her, is he? LOL

  • Janie Lacy

    Janie Lacy

    August 13th, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Hi Jasmine: Great point! The sex addict will know his boundaries and the areas that are a potential danger. However, the person that he is engaging with may like the person for face value and may or may not know their past history.
    Hi Joe: When there is a history of betrayal, it is a very important that the couple established transparency in their relationship. Good for your friend in making those trust-building decisions!

  • Harold v

    Harold v

    August 13th, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    Anything that has to do with interacting with other people can be both an opportunity for something positive and negative as well.

    It all comes down to how the person takes the interaction and what he wants from the relationship.

  • kelly

    kelly

    August 13th, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    You’re being very naive there. Online relationships can feel as real and intimate as offline or even more so. They aren’t all about sexual gratification either. People leave their partners every day for men and women they met online and fell hopelessly in love with. Old flames can hook up no problem now with social networking making it easy to find them. They remember the romance of the old relationship and want to rekindle that.

  • runninfast

    runninfast

    August 14th, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    I would hate to be someone who felt like I could only derive intimacy and satisfaction with someone online! Very sad life that would be.

  • Kev

    Kev

    August 14th, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Kelly speaks the truth. I know. I’ve been there. In a loveless marriage, it’s not a hard decision to make either. I left my wife of fifteen years for my high school sweetheart after we connected again online. Your first love never dies. Today I couldn’t be happier and don’t regret that for a minute. I should never have broken up with my high school sweetheart the first time.

  • Gerald

    Gerald

    August 14th, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    With all due respect Janie, I sure wouldn’t let my wife treat me like a five year old and have all my passwords. That speaks volumes and you know what it says? That she doesn’t trust me. Why else does she feel the need to have them? I don’t have anything to hide either. It’s an invasion of privacy to expect that and I’m a very private person. I would never ask her to do that for me. If she’s insecure that’s her problem, not mine.

  • Victoria L.

    Victoria L.

    August 14th, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    If you have nothing to hide Gerald, then why object? Don’t you want your wife to feel better and not be insecure? All you’re doing by saying no and throwing a hissy fit is making her suspicious. Heck, you’re making me suspicious and I’m not even your wife LOL. As Janie said, it’s about being open and transparent. Since your online activities are innocent, you have nothing to fear or lose by sharing them. Suspicion on the other hand will poison a relationship.

  • Rene

    Rene

    August 15th, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    Thank you Victoria L!! If there is nothing to hide then there is nothing to hide, period. Why not give up all of those passwords? When she sees that there is nothing there then maybe it won’t be such a big deal anymore.

  • Marelvy

    Marelvy

    September 21st, 2016 at 6:14 PM

    Once a cheater, always a cheater! even if my boyfriend shares his passwords with me and everything else. That does not mean that he is being truthful and that he is hiding something. He is feeling obligated to share his information to keep his wife happy.
    I would not be happy with a person who wants to know everything about myself. We all deserve privacy no matter what!

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