Research

Supporting and utilizing quality research is an important component of APSATS’ mission.  We strive to integrate the most current key findings into our professional trainings and to strengthen our professional community by making research widely known and accessible.

This page provides summaries of peer-reviewed research articles that have been published within the last decade and that are relevant to the experience or clinical treatment of partners of sex addicts.

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1) Pollard, S. E., Hook, J. N., Corley, P., Corley, M. D., & Schneider, J. P. (2014). Support Utilization by Partners of Self-Identified Sex Addicts. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 40(4), 339-348.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2012.751076

Study type: Quantitative analysis of an online survey

Sample size: 92

Demographics: Age range 21 to 72 years (mean = 44.4); Female (95.6%); Heterosexual (95.6%); Married (82.0%) or in a committed relationship, separated (7.9%), divorced (6.7%), single (3.4%).

Key findings & quotes:

  • Study examined the support resources used by partners of sex addicts.
  • Partners rated therapists, spirituality, support groups, and friends as most useful.
  • Partners rated the mate, their children, and their other family members as least useful.
  • Older partners sought more religious/spiritual support.
  • More educated partners rated therapy as more useful.
  • Rating the mate as useful was most strongly associated with positive relationship outcomes.
  • “Participants who viewed themselves as victims of interpersonal relationship trauma as a result of their mate’s addiction found a wide range of sources of support to be useful, participants who viewed themselves as coaddicts/codependents specifically found support groups to be most useful.”

2) Jennifer P. Schneider, Robert Weiss, Charles Samenow. (2012) Is It Really Cheating? Understanding the Emotional Reactions and Clinical Treatment of Spouses and Partners Affected by Cybersex Infidelity. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 19:1-2, pages 123-139.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10720162.2012.658344

Study type: Qualitative analysis of an online survey

Sample size: 34

Demographics: 29 female / 5 male; mean age 44.3 (age range of 21–71); 48.5% married, 24.2% in committed relationship, 12.1% separated, 12.1% divorced and 1 in casual relationship.

Key findings & quotes:

  • Study examined the meaning of spousal infidelity in the age of portable electronic communication devices and specifically the emotional reactions of those affected by social media-related infidelity.
  • “Results show that even when sexual behaviors are limited to online, partners can lose trust in their loved ones, feel the need to seek assistance, and identify themselves as victims of trauma.”
  • “Qualitative data offer support for the concept that partners’ feelings and actions that were formerly considered indicative of codependency can be normative behaviors of trauma victims seeking to regain control of their lives. Recommendations for clinicians working with partners are presented.”
  • 2% said the cybersex activities have significantly worsened their relationship and 35.3% said that this was a primary contributor to the demise of their relationship.
  • Only 29.4% felt they knew the full truth about their spouse’s online sexual behaviors.
  • 71% have lost trust in their mate.
  • 5% reported feeling like a trauma victim or survivor as a result of the user’s online sexual activities.
  • Two thirds of the partners sought out counseling or help because of this issue.

 3) Rory C. Reid, Bruce N. Carpenter, Elizabeth D. Draper & Jill C. Manning (2010) Exploring Psychopathology, Personality Traits, and Marital Distress Among Women Married to Hypersexual Men, Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 9:3, 203-222.

DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15332691.2010.491782

Study type: Quantitative

Sample size: 85 women married to hypersexual men and 85 in control group for total of 170.

Demographics: Age range 20 to 65 years (mean = 33.8); all Caucasian; 4-year bachelor’s degrees (64%), 2-year associate’s degrees (14%), some college (18%), and high school diplomas (4%); first marriage (n = 71), remarried (n = 8), and separated (n = 6).

Key findings & quotes:

  • “Reports the findings of a study investigating psychopathology, personality traits, and marital distress among a sample of women married to hypersexual men (n = 85) compared with a control group (n = 85) drawn from a combined college and community sample. Psychopathology and personality traits were measured using the NEO Personality Inventory—Revised (NEO–PI–R), and martial satisfaction was measured using the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale (RDAS).”
  • Wives of hypersexual men “did not show any more psychopathology or problematic personality traits than would be found within a community sample. In contrast, wives were significantly more distressed about their marriages compared with the controls. Overall, these findings contradict much of the existing research that characterizes wives of hypersexual men as being more depressed, anxious, and chemically dependent, as well as emotionally needy.”
  • “Clinicians should avoid pathologizing women married to hypersexual men, as they appear overall to be psychologically healthy. This observation, supported by our data, contradicts many earlier findings in the research about this population of women.”

 

4) Stefanie Carnes & Suzanne O’Connor (2016) Confirmatory Analysis of the Partner
Sexuality Survey, Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 23:1, 141-153.

DOI: 10.1080/10720162.2015.1039151

Study type: Quantitative

Sample size: 8667

Demographics: Individuals visiting the website www.recoveryzone.com were offered
access to free screening tests, including the Partner Sexuality Survey (PSS). Archival data
collected from completed PSS surveys between August 2009 to April 2012 comprised the
data sample. Seventy percent of the sample reported having a husband who was a sex
addict, and 84% were still in the relationship. Two percent of participants were in a
homosexual relationship.

Key findings & quotes:
The Partner Sexuality Survey (PSS) is a 78-item questionnaire that was developed to
identify the impact of sex addiction on the sexuality of the partner.

  • The consequences experienced as a result of the sex addiction included:

o Family Conflict: 64.6%
o Public Embarrassment: 40.1%
o Health Consequences: 38.5%
o Financial Damage: 34.8%
o Loss of Friends or Other Supportive Relationships: 33.9%
o Children Damaged Emotionally: 27.6%
o Other: 23.5%
o Loss of Employment: 9.3%.

  •  Partners reported the following histories of abuse:

o Emotional Abuse as a Child: 36.5
o Emotional Abuse as an Adult: 35.8
o Sexual Abuse as a Child: 24.5
o Neglect as a Child: 18.3
o Physical Abuse as a Child: 15.7
o Sexual Abuse as an Adult: 12.9
o Physical Abuse as an Adult: 12.2

  • Participants overwhelmingly reported that the addiction (95%) and the hiding of sexual
    behaviors (93%) had caused a disturbance in the primary relationship.
  •  Findings support prior research which reveals partners of sex addicts experience significant
    trauma-related symptoms as a result of discovery or disclosure, and that the impact of the
    sex addiction on partners’ sexuality is multifaceted and deserves special clinical attention.
  •  Relational sexual difficulties were strongly positively correlated with sexual aversion (.67)
    and broken trust (.60).
  • Partners with higher rates of sexual shame had higher scores on body image issues (.54)
    and feeling obligated to have sex with the addict (.42).

5) M. Deborah Corley, Jennifer P. Schneider & Joshua N. Hook (2012) Partner Reactions
to Disclosure of Relapse by Self-Identified Sexual Addicts. Sexual Addiction &
Compulsivity, 19:4, 265-28

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10720162.2012.712022

Study type: Quantitative

Sample size: 92

Demographics: “Participants were 92 self-identified partners of sex addicts who completed
an online survey about their experiences. Participants ranged in age from 21 to 72 years (M
= 44.4, SD = 11.9). Participants were predominantly female (95.6%) and heterosexual
(95.6%). Most participants (82.0%) were married or in a committed relationship.”

Key findings & quotes:

  • 78% of partners reported they did not know their mate had issues with sex addiction
    before committing to the relationship.
  • Once the partner found out about the sexual addiction, 90.1% asked their mate for
    additional information. Of the participants who asked for more information, 28.1% asked
    for general categories of behavior, and 71.9% asked for everything to be disclosed,
    including specific details.
  • 16.7% of partners reported their mate took a polygraph test as part of his/her addiction
    evaluation or recovery plan. Of the partners who reported their mate took a polygraph
    test, 46.7% reported the results confirmed what the mate had told them, 20.0% reported
    the results helped them trust or begin to trust the mate again, 26.7% reported the results
    helped their relationship, and 26.7% reported the results were very upsetting to them.
  • “After the initial disclosure, 41.1% of partners reported they separated for a period of
    time, 15.6% moved into separate bedrooms, and 43.3% stayed together. Among the
    partners who separated for a finite period, the separation lasted an average of 10.2
    months with a range of a few days to 2–1/2 years.”
  • Reasons the partner agreed to get back together after an initial separation included:
    49% of partners noted the mate got help; 27% of partners noted commitment or love;
    and 10% of partners noted children or financial considerations.
  • The total number of relapses of sexual acting out varied widely: 27.2% reported one
    relapse; 33.3% reported 2-5 relapses; 7.4% reported 6–10 relapses, and 32.1% reported
    than 10 relapses.
  • 41.3% of partners reported that the term “co-addict” or “co-dependent” described them,
    while 40.2% said they didn’t, and 18.5% said they did somewhat.
  • 76.9% of partners reported identifying themselves as a “victim of interpersonal
    relationship trauma”.
  • “1/3 of partners reported their relationship to be excellent or good (32.6%), slightly less
    than 1/3 of partners reported their relationship to be ok (28.3%), and slightly more than
    1/3 of partners reported their relationship to be poor or very poor (39.1%).”
  • 54.1% reported their sexual relationship worsened after the disclosure of the relapse;
    25.9% stayed the same; and 20.0% improved.
  • 38.5% of partners reported that the disclosure of the relapse has damaged the
    relationship to the point that the partner could not trust the mate again.