One important aspect of sex addiction recovery entails the ability to develop greater empathy toward others, especially toward one’s partner. Empathy can be defined as the ability to sense others’ emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be feeling.
When the addict’s acting-out behavior is fully disclosed or discovered this can be so damaging to the partner that she may actually experience a form of PTSD. The shock, anger, and hurt resulting from sexual betrayal can, at times, feel completely overwhelming. At other times, those feelings may temporarily subside, only to erupt without warning.
This is the emotional roller coaster the partner will experience as a result of the trauma. The addict needs to be extremely patient and understanding toward his partner. Her frequent mood swings are normal responses to betrayal trauma and will not be resolved overnight.
If you find yourself getting impatient with your partner’s emotional volatility, you may want to engage in imaginary role reversal. Try to imagine how you would feel if your partner had engaged in the same sexual infidelities in which you were involved. How would you be feeling about her many acts of deception and betrayal? Do you think you could get over the emotional wounds in a day, week, or month, or would you be on an emotional roller coaster for quite some time?
Accepting, and empathizing with, the roller coaster emotions of your partner is part of your responsibility to her and facilitates her healing. This will require patience and persistence, but the potential rewards for you, your partner, and the relationship are great indeed.