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When Your Ex is a B Movie

Old girlfriends and old boyfriends, ex-wives, ex-husbands, old lovers; all can come back to haunt you whether you are a sex addict or not.  But if you are a sex addict or the partner of a sex addict in recovery the drama of an ex can end up being anything from a raunchy summer flick to a horror movie.

The ex-lover can present different kinds of challenges at different stages of recovery.  Here are some of the movie scenarios you need to avoid and why it is important to do so.

The “Un-dead”

If you are in the early stages of sex addiction recovery, you may not yet have developed the relationships skills necessary for a healthy relationship.  You may have let go of your sexually addictive behavior but you may still be susceptible to problematic relationships.  Given that you still struggle with issues of trust, fears around intimacy, and so on, it will be challenging to really commit to a relationship.

Given also that you probably still have some insecurities and fears of abandonment it may be hard to ever really leave a relationship.  Many sex addicts (and the people who love them) resolve this by having an on-again-off-again relationship.  When your fears start to creep in, you are likely to see the partner as the problem. Neither partner can get past this point.

As the partners pull away they will eventually feel the emptiness and want to “give it another try.” Never being able to be alone means never entirely letting go.  This is truly a dead end (no pun intended.)

“Fatal Attraction” the Prequel

Many recovering sex addicts have a history of old relationships that involved partners who were themselves troubled, intimacy disabled and “drama queens” or “kings.”  This of course works quite well for a practicing addict as it distracts from the relationship and provides the room and the justification for the sex addict to lead a double life.

After the addict is in recovery, this type of ex-partner may still decide to turn up and cause trouble.  This can take the form of stalking, crisis phone calls about the kids, high profile suicide attempts, you name it.

The problem arises when the recovering sex addict actually buys into the drama because of an unconscious need to get back into the old pattern, the need to be needed, the excitement of the chaos, etc.  This is a point to be wary because it can be a road that leads back to addictive behaviors.

“The Way We Weren’t”

It is very often the case that relationships from the sex addict’s past were not relationships at all but were instances of addictive sexual acting out.  In other words, you may convince yourself that the relationship was a real and meaningful one when in fact the person was just an “acting out partner.”

Chances are the nature of the relationship was in some way inappropriate. The ex could have been an active participant in behaviors that the addict now deems addictive and wishes to avoid.  This could include situations that involved payment, ones that were built around dangerous activities, or ones conducted entirely long-distance by phone or sexual chat rooms and so on.

The old sex buddy may not even understand that the sex addict has changed and may just expect to take up again.  This is obviously a very hazardous blast from the past.

“Sex Lies and Facebook”

Suppose you are a sex addict in good recovery and in a new and healthier relationship.  The ex is no longer a threat, right?  Wrong.  What about when you stumble on your ex online or are contacted by your ex “innocently” to “just catch up?”

In this case you not only make your new partner completely crazy but you also endanger your own recovery.  You may let your guard down.  You may forget that every “intimate” relationship you had prior to recovery either supported your sex addiction or was addictive behavior itself.

Sure, sometimes an ex is just an ex.  But for sex addicts it is important to remember the old saying “You may be done with the past but the past isn’t done with you.”

When Your Ex is a B Movie

Linda Hatch, PhD

Linda Hatch is a psychologist and certified sex addiction therapist specializing in the treatment of sex addicts and the partners and families of sex addicts. Linda also blogs on her own website at

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APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2019). When Your Ex is a B Movie. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Dec 2019
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