Affairs & Infidelity: Choice not Addiction

As we explored in It’s Not Infidelity - It’s Sex Addiction, despite popular culture labels, the idea of sex addiction is not based on any diagnostic criteria and was again recently excluded from the DSM (American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Claiming ‘sex addiction’ as cause and justification for infidelity seeks to legitimize the infidelity itself. That the label is becoming so prevalent in popular culture (despite its lack of psychological or mental health validity) allows many cheaters to use it as a defense for their choice to cheat.

So why do so many faithful partners buy in? Having a ‘professionally ratified’ excuse for their cheater’s affair(s) to protect themselves from the reality of rejection and deliberate betrayal, has its appeal. The faithful partner can justifiably shrug off all sense of the cheater’s culpability, and any feelings of personal treachery. This salves the emotional distress that the faithful partner experiences because the act of infidelity becomes impersonal - it wasn’t my cheater, it was my cheater’s sex addiction that made them do it.

Infidelity & Affair Help: The Myth of Sex AddictionPerhaps more pernicious is what subscription to a ‘sex addiction defense’ augurs: Exonerating a cheater of their ‘crime’ allows the faithful partner to idealize the relationship, to ignore the personal harms, and to hold a ‘condition’ or ‘disease’ accountable instead of their cheater. The struggle in the post-affair-discovery relationship becomes about fighting sex addiction, not about personal or relational growth and change.

If the same conditions exist after an affair as existed before it (since there is no ‘cure’ for this mythical sex addiction condition), it’s reasonable to predict that the same issues exist. Where the same issues exist, it’s entirely feasible to surmise that further affairs may well be in the relationship’s future.

Faithful partners who cling to the sex addiction excuse do themselves a disservice. Failing to hold the cheater accountable bodes ill for the real personal exploration and change that is necessary to any lasting or tangible change, or any assurance of fidelity in the future. Without change an affair is as likely in the relationship tomorrow as it was yesterday.

Justifying and excusing infidelity and affairs by virtue of ‘sex addiction’ is little more than the A Stupid Mistake Defense. Affairs are not caused by ‘mistake’ or by ‘sex addiction’. Affairs are caused by choice and dressed up by the cheater in whatever Sunday hat they predict the faithful partner will like most.

Tethering oneself to a contemporary myth instead of facing the reality that a cheater chose to have an affair, regardless of the consequences to you and the relationship, is little more than giving your implicit agreement to their continued infidelity.

~ Wayfarer


Sex Scandal Reflects a Choice, Not a Disease

by David J Ley Ph.D

Infidelity & Affair Help: Psychology

Allegations of sex addiction are thrown around in latest celebrity sex scandal.

In yet another celebrity relationship split, the host of TMZ Channel’s “My Fair Wedding” is accused of being a sex addict, and that this alleged affliction is the reason for the couple breaking up. But, in a new twist to this old story, the couple involved are both men. David Tutera is the host of the show, and provides an entertaining realty-show forum where he takes over wedding plans and gives people “wedding makeovers.”

Ryan Jurica is David’s partner of ten years, and the couple is reportedly expecting twins from a surrogate. But, according to recent reports, the couple is splitting up, and documents suggest that it is because Ryan believes his partner’s sex addiction has destroyed their marriage. Allegedly, Ryan accuses David of hiring prostitutes on a regular basis, and that despite numerous attempts at relationship counseling, David’s sexual behaviors have simply led to the destruction of their relationship.

I’ve argued often and loudly that sex addiction is not real, and is merely a pop psychology term that has been adopted by the media and society at large to describe any problematic sexual behavior. I’ve also argued that sex addiction is a stigmatizing label that calls many male sexual behaviors a disease, especially those of gay and bi males.

Gay men tend to have far more sexual partners than heterosexual men, and even when they are in monogamous relationships, gay men continue to have sex with their partners at higher levels than heterosexual or lesbian couples. But, gay men very often have open sexual relationships. Some have suggested that as many as 70% of gay relationships are sexually non-exclusive, allowing one or both partners to have sexual encounters outside their marriage. Gay advice columnist Dan Savage has written often of his arrangement with his husband, and I’ve seen this many times in the gay community, with gay couples that go to bathhouses together, or that pick up other men for threesomes. Many gay men look at the modern polyamory movement with some amusement, as sexually open relationships have been a common fixture in gay relationships for a long, long time. And, in contrast to this current scandal, many such relationships are very healthy, and long-lived.

So, it’s not surprising that David and Ryan’s relationship involved some aspect of sexual openness. Presumably, Ryan was okay with some level of David’s outside sexual activities enough to keep working on the relationship. But, based on current reports, it sounds like it finally got to be too much for Ryan to manage, within the confines of their relationship.

That’s the real issue here. Is David a sex addict? No, categorically, as there is no such thing. Sex addiction is not a recognized disorder or diagnosis. Does he have difficulty controlling his sexual activity? Only he can answer that question. But, according to reports, he’s made sexual choices that hurt his partner, and their relationship, and he continued to do so. That’s a relationship issue, a marital issue, and a personal choice.

David is a rich, famous, successful celebrity, who has recently had the financial wherewithal to satisfy his sexual desires. Like a lot of famous, rich celebrity males, he chose to explore that sexual smorgasbord, with apparently little respect to the wishes or feelings of his partner. That’s a personal choice, that reflects his desires and values, not a choice that reflects a disease. Ultimately, David is responsible to Ryan, and to their children, for his actions. Calling them the result of a disease merely distracts from the real issues – David’s apparently selfish choices.

One fascinating sidenote here – as gay marriage becomes a legal reality in more states, the commonness of open sexual relationships in gay relationships is going to force couples’ therapists and the marriage industry to confront their bias against open sexual relationships, as more and more gay couples walk in the door, without an expectation of sexual fidelity.



“I'm not a teacher, only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.” ~ George Bernard Shaw