Books for the Significant Other
One week ago, I took myself to a mini retreat across the United States (New York) and read eight (8) books. The nightmares and panic attacks are less frequent now, and I could safely say that I am in a happier state.
When I discovered Dan’s sex addiction, we both googled for help. Although there are lists of books, we didn’t know what we are expecting. Here, I would like to list some of the books I’ve read that may help you along with a few things I’ve learned from each book.
A. Books for the Significant Other of a Sex Addict
1. Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means
- Distinguishes between coaddiction model versus trauma model
- Recognizes that many partners of sex addicts are not coaddicts, codependents or love addicts
- Validates the trauma that partners of sex addicts experience
- Offers ways that partners could heal
- [I read this book 1.5 months after discovery because I was reading Mending a Shattered Heart by Stephanie Carnes first, as it was recommended by Dan's therapist. I recommend that partners read this book first or read it together with Mending a Shattered Heart because it addresses all the feelings that you experience.]
2. Surviving Your Worse Nightmare: A Guide for the Betrayed by Patti Snodgrass
- From a first person perspective, addresses all of the partner’s experiences that you may experience
- She chose to stay because her husband was remorseful and he was committed to working on the relationship
- In order to stay with her husband, the old relationship must be dead.
- Shares all the ways that she coped and healed
- [This is the first book that Dan purchased for me. I didn't read it because after Dan went to see his therapist about his sex addiction, Mending a Shattered Heart was recommended. Also, this book focuses on infidelity not necessarily on sex addiction. However, after reading this book during my self imposed mini retreat, I found this book tremendously helpful as I could relate to her emotions. In addition, learning the way she mourned, recovered and thrived was useful for me.]
3. Mending a Shattered Heart by Stephanie Carnes
- Describes the stages of grief experienced by a partner of a sex addict
- Discusses sex addiction
- Identifies co-addiction
- [Please note that Stephanie Carnes is the wife of Patrick Carnes. This book is more intellectual and will help you understand sex addiction and why your heart is shattered. This book is based on a co-addict model of treatment, meaning you are a co-addict just because you were/are with a sex addict. Some partners are coaddicts or codependents, while others are not, since some do not know about the sex addiction as it thrives in secrecy. And some are not sex addicts themselves.]
4. The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships by Patrick Carnes
- Discusses the concept of trauma bond or “betrayal bond”
- Identifies various types of abuse
- High warmth and high intention = the best in relationship.
- In order for a full relationship to work, (i) the sex addict must go to treatment to address the addiction and in a support program for recovery; (ii) the partner must be in therapy and in a support program for recovery; and (iii) there must be a period of separation so that the partner can experience living independent of the sex addict and can observe how the sex addict lives when the two are separated.
- It takes about one year of recovery for things to be different.
- It is important for partners to monitor your reactivity to others. Focus on yourself, not the sex addict.
- You don’t have to be “nice” to the abuser. You don’t have to hide his secrets.
- [This book was also very helpful to me because of the concept of the betrayal bond. It was important to realize that you must be separated from the sex addict for a period of time in order to heal.]
5. The Intimacy Factor by Pia Mellody and Lawrence S. Freundlich
- Shares why we need to establish boundaries including emotional and physical boundaries
- Indicates the ways we need to work with our inner child and adult selves to get rid of anger and shame
- Establishes that our childhood experiences may affect how much trauma affects us
- [This book was also very helpful to me in understanding boundaries from a deeper perspective and how to let go of anger and shame.]
6. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Starting Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie
- Discusses ways that partners could detach from an addict and love themselves
- Everyone seems to be a codependent
- If you are a codependent, it provides solutions for you to get out of the cycle of codependency
- [Whether you are a codependent or not, it helps partners to understand that you must detach yourself from the addict and love yourself first.]
B. Understanding Personality Types
1. Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
- Identifies the 10 subtypes of psychopathy
- Sociopaths have no conscience, lack of remorse
- Conscience is a sense of obligation based an emotional attachment
- A sociopath is as cold as ice, cannot love
- To a sociopath, life is reduced to a contest, a game, for dominance
- A sociopath loves to use the pity play to manipulate people
- Learn how to recognize people without conscience
- Elaborates why having a conscience is better
- Sets forth 13 rules of handling a sociopath
- Do not help a sociopath conceal his identity
2. Red Flags of Love Fraud – 10 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath by Donna Anderson
- As a wife and survivor of a sociopath, she compiled stories of survivors of sociopaths
- Characteristics of a sociopath
3. Narcissistic Lovers: Hope to Cope, Recover and Move On by Cynthia Zayn and Kevin Dibble
- A narcissist does not have conscience or pity for victims
- A narcissist devalues and discards after the honeymoon period
- Women (or men) are used as a supply to the narcissist for adoration, praise, fear, admiration, etc.
- A narcissist moves quickly into another relationship before or shortly after he ends the last
- Love is the rush he feels by controlling others and their emotions
- A narcissist is attracted to strength and independence
- A narcissist puts his/her friends before you
- A narcissist “splits” himself/herself into a false and true self
- A narcissist expresses rage without discrimination or moderation
4. In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People by George K. Simon
- Identifies the various tactics that a manipulator uses such as rationalization, minimization, denial, lying, etc.
- Discusses the Slot Machine Syndrome
- It is important to understand a manipulator’s character, what he/she wants and how he/she operates.
- Avoid making threats, just take actions
- Accept only direct responses once you make a direct request
- Set boundaries
- Judge someone’s actions, not intentions