What is Co-Sex Addiction?

Co-sex addiction can be defined as the mental state of a codependent involved in a primary relationship with a sex addict.

Co-sex addiction refers to a situation in which an individual becomes codependent with a sex addict. This is different from other types of codependency. Sex is so core to one’s identity that sexual transgressions within a committed relationship are more damaging than are other process or chemical addictions. It is one thing for a spouse to be unable to put down the bottle and quite another for him or her to be unable to refrain from sexual behaviors outside their committed relationship.

Often individuals who have tried to maintain a loving relationship with a sex addict will exhibit symptoms similar to those of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a constellation of symptoms first identified in soldiers returning home from Viet Nam. The co-sex addict has often experienced a similar level of trauma and may identify with the following behaviors:

  1. Be unable to concentrate
  2. Be hyper-vigilant
  3. Have sleeping or eating disturbances
  4. Have obsessive preoccupation
  5. Experience emotional turmoil
  6. Take on excessive responsibility
  7. Experience a compromise or loss of self
  8. Suffer from irritability
  9. Have recurrent disturbing memories

Research has shown that co-sex addicts tend to come from families similar to sex addicts. Both report rigid (high expectations, inflexible rules) and disengaged (little connection between members, no one talks about feelings) family systems. Approximately the same percentage of sex addicts and co-sex addicts report histories of sexual, physical abuse and emotional abuse in childhood.

The co-sex addict deserves the same level of care as the sex addict. We now know that if both partners get into recovery simultaneously, the chance of the relationship surviving is much greater. Even if the relationship does not survive, the likelihood that partners will find another sex addict or co-sex addict to hook up with is great unless each partner gets help.