What Greg Taught Me

What Greg Taught Me

From Symposium Storytelling Evening 2019

By Joe Kort

May/June 2019

I’d been a therapist for 25 years when Greg and his wife, Lisa, came in for treatment. In my experience, husbands whose wives drag them into therapy for sex addiction are usually resentful and closed off. But Greg seemed relaxed and open right from the start. Lisa, frowning, sat stiffly with her arms crossed over her chest.

At 45, Greg had already retired from his tech job and was now flipping houses to bring in some extra cash. Lisa, an executive assistant at a national nonprofit, had been shocked and disgusted when she’d stumbled on a link to Greg’s browser history on their computer and found it was full of porn. She was a devout Catholic and deeply involved in her church; Greg had lost interest in religion many years before.

With his porn-watching habit now out in the open, Greg had confessed to a recent interest in exploring new kinds of sexual activity, like swinging with other couples, gay sex, and bisexual forays. But Lisa’s visceral revulsion had made him question whether this was “normal,” and he’d readily agreed to therapy. He said he was open to the idea that he was a sex addict, but he wasn’t really sure the label fit him. All he wanted, he said, was to see where his newfound sexual curiosity might lead him and, while he’d never force Lisa to do anything she didn’t want to, he’d like it if she joined him.

Lisa couldn’t identify with any of this. Just thinking about the kinds of things her husband was finding on the internet horrified her. She…

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Friday, June 14, 2019 3:35:15 PM | posted by Missu
This article seemed to minimize the serious and dangerous consequences of sex addiction. Past traumas and compulsive behaviors were not explored. I kept thinking the therapist was going to recognize his need to transfer the case to a colleague due to his personal struggles with the same issues as his client. Whose needs were being met from this therapeutic relationship?

Monday, May 13, 2019 9:06:15 AM | posted by Jim
Thanks Joe so much for being vulnerable and sharing your personal growth story. I am a psychologist who came out in my late 40's and divorced my wife. I too began exploring my sexual interests as I came out to family and friends. I also had to evolve my view of sexuality as you did from an addiction model to an exploration model. In 2009 I wrote a book about my coming out. It can be found at my website. I have been with my gay husband now for 29 years. Our relationship has endured because we have been open about our evolving sexual interests and follow our agreements. Since the book was written 10 years ago, we continue to evolve with respect and love.

Thursday, May 9, 2019 8:38:41 PM | posted by Brad
It's a very interesting story for sure. There are a small percentage of people I have seen, 2 out of about 100 who came in thinking they were a sex addict, but there was this shame AND curiosity that was present. A heterosexually married man raised in an area of the country where being gay was not just bad it was completely dangerous. All of his acting out was with men, which was a clue, but not proof that something else besides sex addiction was going on. It became apparent over the time of working with him that, even though he felt shame from his "acting out" with men it was really about his pain in accepting his true sexual orientation. He was really sexually exploring like a teenager high on his own newly discovered hormones! Though he was very much an adult, he needed all this exploration to find his sexual orientation, that he had stuff away "in the closet" for so many years. It was truly inspiring. However, the other 90+ clients I have not seen this being the case. Sex addiction is very real, affects 3-6% of the population. Sure there are sex addiction therapists that will miss some of these important defining issues, and that is not terrible. It is also frightfully bad when a married couple come to therapy and the wife finds out about her husband's frequent, hidden pornography use, that hurts her to the core and the first thing the therapist says is, "well you will just have to accept this. What your husband does in private is his own business." This happens too much. It is not uncommon for therapists that have no training in this area. But why does this story, when the author was clearly battling his own conflicts and searching for the wrong answers because of him wanting to deny his sexual preferences, why does this mean sex addiction doesn't exist? How does that work?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 2:56:50 PM | posted by Paul Joannides
Excellent article and a brave transition in your own beliefs and your own personal life.