When I went to college, I became involved in addicted sex

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on August 10th, 2008 - Last updated: November 21st, 2023
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Dear Stanton:

Oh my, where do I start? I am a married 34 year old full time student at a very prominent university. I am very successful in college. I am currently an honor student and also received an academic scholarship during my freshman year. To look at me you’d think “she has the world by the tail!” Only hidden deep inside me I feel I am addicted to sex!

I have a 9 year old son and want to be an elementary teacher. I believe in God and have a somewhat good foundation with my faith. My husband and I have been married for 11 years. I have always worked but until August of 1997, when I quit my fulltime job and was so lucky to be able to chase a dream….get my bachelor’s degree.

But somewhere along the road I have strayed. I became involved with two different men at different times over the last year. My first affair was with a 24 year old college student. Our affair lasted 7 months until he graduated. Then he moved to another city and things ceased. My husband never suspected a thing. I fell head over heels in love with this guy and went into severe depression for two months after he moved away. I have analyzed this situation over and over again….and my conclusion was that it was merely a physical relationship. We met for sex…..period.

My second affair became shortly after the first one ended. I met the second guy through America Online. We talked for a few months, then phone calls, then the meeting. Which on my part was very dangerous. I met him in a hotel room alone!!! I didn’t tell anyone where I was going or nothing…I later realized how self-destructive this could have been. Anyways, we met and nothing happened the first time. Then after several chats on AOL, I met him again a month later for dinner. After dinner I ended up spending the entire night with him in a hotel room again. But we didn’t have intercourse. We were very intimate but we didn’t have intercourse. Meetings that followed were the same also. We agreed to “fool around” but not have sex. Then it happened.

His wife went away for a weekend, and I made love to him in their bed….is that sick or what? The romance/affair after that didn’t include sex then until the end of October of 98. And I have avoided him since that. I haven’t seen him since then because I lost it. I broke down and totally lost it. I fell deeply and madly in love with him…and what we agreed upon from the beginning was that we never would expect a commitment from one another. Why would I ever get involved with someone who couldn’t make a long term commitment?

I’ve been to several psych doctors for my depression…but I haven’t told any of them the truth. In the meantime, my marriage has fell apart and I’m headed out the door. I lie all the time….I lie to my family to be with this guy, I lie to my friends, I lie all the time and I can’t stop. I have looked to God to give me strength to stay away from boyfriend #2 and it has helped me alot. My friends that know what’s going on say I’m in need of something and searching for it. In the meantime, I feel if I don’t stop this crazy search for romance, or love, I’m going to self-destruct. I’m sorry I never read your book, but I did come here to the Internet for some solutions and found your website most interesting. Oh by the way, one doctor I went to said that my depression was because I was raised with an alcoholic father. I did some research on that too. (Adult Children of Alcoholics) I feel so bad for what I have done to my husband. (Even though he offers me no sexual encounters.) I thought maybe the reason I did this was to spite him because he didn’t give me what I needed in bed; so I went searching. I just don’t know the answers and maybe you don’t either. At least writing this offers me some relief.


Dear Linda:

You have a right to expect sex in your marriage, and to resent its absence and to feel that you are missing something you want and enjoy. Also, the absence of sex indicates that there are deeper resentments and problems in the relationship. Did you ever ask your husband why you didn’t have sex and tell him how you felt about it? You don’t really describe your relationship with your husband, but it seems to have fundamental flaws. So the fact that it has fallen apart and that you are headed out the door is not surprising. You are allowed to do that and to try to create a more fulfilling relationship. Perhaps going to college has broadened your horizons or made you want to have more than you were getting out of the relationship. Hopefully, this is a genuine reaction rather than simply a matter of being overstimulated by your surroundings.

However, missing sex, you seem to be pursuing that primarily, rather than seeking to create a better relationship than the one you had with your husband. That’s a way to form addictions, rather than to have a chance for something more fulfilling. Of course, the deficiencies in your relationship combined with your failure to acknowledge the deficiencies and to get out of the relationship have led to your surreptitious encounters and to your lying to your friends. You seem to feel guilty — why else would you refuse to tell the truth to therapists whom you are consulting for depression?

If you can’t fix your marriage and you’re unhappy, don’t apologize — change your situation. Go on normal dates and seek someone and something more satisfying. You have a right to do this; acknowledge to yourself and be honest with everyone else (including your husband and son) that this is the case.

All best,

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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