Ask the LifeQuake Doctor

Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Vision Magazine

November 2010 Column

When the Brett Favre case (New York Jets football player) broke in the news with his alleged ‘sextexting’ and other sexually inappropriate behaviors toward a fellow employee of the league, I was called by an ABC affiliate station in San Francisco to  appear as a guest expert on 7 Live with Brian Copeland. This stimulated questions from readers on the sex addiction issue.

Dear Dr. Toni:

My husband has been having an affair and is denying it. Like Brett Favre, he has been using his phone to text a woman he works with conveying sexually suggestive messages. I busted him and he denies that they have taken it to a sexual level.  How can one tell if a person has a sexual addiction? Is it in the numbers? How many people they’ve slept with or if they’ve actually had sex with the person? Is an affair a sexual addiction?

Confused in San Francisco

Dear Reader:

You pose several issues in your letter.  Sexual addiction, like alcoholism is not about how much you act out, it is about how much does it disrupt your life and is it being used to avoid certain feelings.  An affair in and of itself is not a sexual addiction. It most certainly is a sign that the marriage needs addressing. An affair is a symptom of a problem within the relationship. Repeated sexual relationships outside of one’s marriage with various people can be a sign of a sexual addiction.

A sexual addiction is often not taken seriously in our culture. We think that anyone who can get that much action must be ok.  When I did the tv talk show on this subject, most of the audience and facebook responses did not take the issue all that seriously. Sex addiction can kill people just like drugs and alcohol.  You can put your spouse in jeopardy of getting AIDS and I have known clients who put their jobs in harms way. People who were sexually abused as children are vulnerable to this disease. Like all addictions, traumas in childhood can produce compulsive behavior through brain imbalance.

For those needing intensive treatment, there are three residential treatment centers that I know of who work with this addiction: Alta Mira Recovery Programs in Sausalito, California, Pine Grove Behavioral Health in Missisissippi, and The Bridge to Recovery in Kentucky.

Dear Dr. Toni:

My partner is driving me crazy. He once was employed at a private high school and is a gifted teacher. He loves working with kids and loves cooking but he is too old to get trained to be a chef. Due to budget cuts, he was laid off. He has had to take a job working in a butcher shop as it was the only person who would hire him. His age is a factor as he is about to turn sixty. The job involves a fair amount of physical labor and he threatens to quit every day when he comes home.

He is about to qualify for health benefits and will lose that and a steady income if he quits. I am scared he will quit and put us in financial jeopardy. What should I do?

He is having trouble sleeping at night and therefore I am having trouble sleeping at night. Should I let him quit his job?


Dear Jenna:

As the economic recession drags on, many people are facing this dilemma.  Many educated people are taking jobs they are overqualified for.  I believe that the rise of addiction in the workplace may in part be due to people staying in jobs they should have moved on from but were afraid.  Employees are using social media, internet porn, or substances to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of no longer being challenged or as in your husband’s case, underutilized for his real talents.

The fear is real but there are creative solutions. I think the opportunity this presents is to find a way to work with kids that may not be in the conventional vein.  It has been reported that the wealthy are still doing pretty well. Finding a service you could provide that caters to those who do have financial resources may be an answer.  The key is to create something you actually love to do like working with animals so you start a dog walking service, etc. For example, if he loves working with kids and loves to cook, perhaps he could advertise on Craig’s list his abilities as both a nanny and cook for a family.  There are people who would love to have a teacher working for them.  With the trend toward home schooling, your husband could serve as a governess or some such thing. He could make a list of everyone he knows who knows wealthy people and put out the word.

You can certainly show him my column, but I wouldn’t advise taking this on for him. Let him figure this out and simply keep encouraging his efforts, period.

Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist, vocational coach, public speaker, and author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval. She can be reached through her website at http://www.LifeQuake.net or for consultation at 310-712-2600

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