For any type of addiction recovery, certain situations can be full of triggers and you need to be prepared to handle any issues that come up in different scenarios. For people that suffer from sex addiction, social obligations can lead to a lot of stress as they try to cope with the many feelings and desires that can be brought up when they are at parties, weddings or other types of gatherings. People in recovery are used to structure and routine to help manage their symptoms and social obligations are often unpredictable situations that can cause problems.
For someone with a sex addiction, parties with alcohol could have led to reckless behavior and casual sex with strangers in the past. People in recovery from sex addiction need to learn strategies to help them deal with the types of social triggers that could potentially lead to relapse. Here are some tips for handling social obligations while still remaining abstinent
1. Make sure to keep close friends around
Feeling of loneliness can often trigger people with sex addiction so it is important to stay connected with people you know and feel comfortable around at a social gathering. If you have a few friends at a party you can always talk to them anytime you are feeling stressed or worried about the situation. If you are not going to know anyone at a certain party you can bring a friend with you who knows about your recovery and can be there to support you and hold you accountable.
2.Try bookending – calling someone before and after
If there is no way to get a friend to go with you to a party then a common strategy for people in recovery is to use “bookending” when they go into a potentially triggering situation. This means having a trusted friend, sponsor or family member to call before and after the party so that they know everything went smoothly. Talking to someone right before and immediately after can provide comfort, support and most importantly will keep you in check so that you are less likely to relapse.
3.Avoid parties with exes or old casual partners
Seeing someone who you might have had a sexual relationship with in the past whether it was a serious relationship or a casual hook up can be problematic. If you are invited to a party where you know an ex or prior partner will be attending it might be best to sit it out. If this is an obligation you can’t get out of then make sure to limit your time there and don’t engage with these people from your past more than necessary. Reconnecting with old partners can often lead to relapse so keep any conversations brief and cursory if possible.
4.Create boundaries before going according to your sobriety plan
People in recovery from sex addiction may be at various stages of sobriety and have already set certain boundaries for themselves. If you are in the early phases of recovery and are remaining completely abstinent from sex then you can create specific boundaries for parties such as avoiding flirtation or conversation with attractive strangers. For those in later stages of recovery who are open to dating you might want to have different limits that still allow you to meet a potential romantic partner but avoid casual sex. You will know what your triggers are and can create a specific set of boundaries to stick to before you go into a social situation.
5.Be aware of your emotional state, leave early if necessary
Although sex addiction involves compulsive behavior and acting on desires, beneath those actions there are actually deep seated emotions like anger, loneliness, depression or fear. If you are at a party and you are not remaining mindful of your emotional state you are more likely to act out as a way to cope with your feelings. Being able to identify your feelings and use strategies like deep breathing can help prevent them from becoming overwhelming. If you are having trouble dealing with your feelings then have an exit plan ready. Whenever you find a party is too stressful or too much for you to handle then you should always feel entitled to take care of yourself by leaving early.