As we begin the process of wrapping up the 10 Things I Hate About Your Addiction series we are going to take a look at two related character traits often found in sex addicts: pride (this week) and narcissism (next week).
After these posts, my husband, Michael will be posting on "10 Things I Hate about My Addiction" — just to show that some addicts and recovering addicts are quite aware of the poisonous traits they struggle with.
“I hate pride and arrogance…” — Proverbs 8:13
Pride is a condition that is common to humanity. All of us have, and will, struggle with it from time to time. Moreover, there’s a continuum of pride extending from occasional episodes of thinking ourselves superior to narcissistic personality disorder. The bible doesn’t speak of the latter issue, but rather (in English translations) groups the whole continuum under the terms “pride,” “arrogance” and “haughtiness.” Throughout scripture God repeatedly expresses his unhappiness with it all.
The sex addict who has fallen into the trap of pride may exhibit the following:
- Self-centeredness and preoccupation with his own image
- Insensitivity to the feelings of other people (but not entirely lacking in empathy)
- Occasional enviousness or jealousy of others
- Prone to seeing criticism where none is intended
- Believes that the rules (including God’s) should be more applied to others than to himself
Such a man may dominate conversations at parties or make himself the center of attention in large groups. He shows limited interest in others and doesn’t usually recognize when he’s hurt someone’s feelings. He turns most conversation back to himself, even when he’s supposed to be ministering to others.
How it Plays Out
Sex addicts struggling with pride often:
- Work hard to create a public “good guy” image; are not willing to let their true, faulty self be known
- Show poor boundaries with women/men – become quickly attracted to those who positively reinforce their public image
- Undermine the ability of those around them to speak their feelings, concerns about them; people feel like they are "walking on egg shells" with the addict
- Blame their spouse for the relational problems
- Directly or indirectly declare their own wounds to be greater than their spouses/ children’s/ those of the people they’ve used, etc.
Oh Woe is Me
As regards this last point. I’ve frequently heard sex addicts say something like, “she spends all this time complaining in the counselor’s office about my porn addiction, but what about her… (pick one or more of the following) raging, nagging, complaining, etc.
To such a man, I recommend reading Ezekiel chapters 16 and 23. When God wants a metaphor for the most horrific desecration of our relationship with him… what does he turn to? Complaining? Raging? No he uses the metaphor of adultery and out-of-control lusting and sexual acting out.
Breaking a covenant relationship through such behaviors is on a completely different level than a wife’s negative behaviors post-disclosure (or even “pre”). In the Beyond Betrayal chapter on boundaries I quote Dr. John Townsend as saying there’s a big difference between “imperfect” and “poisonous.” Complaining, nagging and (reactionary) raging: imperfect. Habitual infidelity: poisonous.
Next week, as we explore the topic of more extreme pride, i.e. narcissism, we’ll look further at what underlies pride. For today, those of us who like ska can listen to the song below by Christian band, The Orange County Supertones, and see if we can pick up their thoughts on what’s behind pride.
In the coming weeks I’d like to do an “Ask the Experts” post. In preparation for this post, send in your toughest questions for the sex addiction therapists and partner trauma specialists. I will route them (minus your name) to experts on the IACSAS (International Association of Sex Addicts) board. This post will also be used as a blog post on the IACSAS site.