Guest: Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: ROBERT WEISS, LCSW, CSAT-S, has served for the past seven years as senior vice president of national clinical development for Elements Behavioral Health. In this capacity, he has established and overseen addiction and mental health treatment programs for more than a dozen treatment facilities, including Promises Treatment Centers in Malibu and Los Angeles, The Ranch in rural Tennessee, and The Right Step in Texas. He was instrumental in integrating Dr. Brené Brown’s The Daring Way™ curriculum into the Elements system. Previously, he developed sexual addiction treatment programming for the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles and an addiction and trauma treatment program in New Mexico.
Segment overview: Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, discusses the ways digital technology affects human sexuality and emotional intimacy.
Health Professional Radio – Digital Technology
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you for joining us today. Our guest is a returning guest and he spent more than 20 years in the treatment of sex and intimacy issues, helping both cheating men and the spouses on whom may cheat. He brings a wealth of the information, and knowledge, and some healing as the author of, ‘Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating’. Our guest is Robert Weiss. Welcome in the Health Professional Radio Robert.
Robert Weiss: Hey, good morning Neal, thanks for having me.
N: Thanks for coming back. We were here in another segment talking about your work in helping people mend broken relationships that are broken due to infidelity of varying degrees. You’re the author of a book, ‘Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating’. Is this just for men?
R: This book is for men. Well, let me back up. This is a book for women to read, so that they get that ‘yes, their men will now understand the pain they’re in and yes, he will now understand what he to do to make it better’. And I just used to the metaphor ‘The Doghouse’ because I have little puppies and when they pee in the house, it means they’ve dirtied the house and they’ve got to go outside and they don’t get their warm fuzzy bed or dog food and that’s a lesson to them. So, if you are a part of an intimate partnership and you cheat on your spouse and they don’t know that, that’s some you’re going to do, you’ve got to dirtied your house and that means you don’t get the same rights and privileges as you had before in terms of love, connection, relationship, and support. And I think men need to understand what it takes to get that back and how long it might be before they get it back.
N: So basically, we are talking about mending because fidelity isn’t necessarily a deal breaker?
R: It’s rarely a deal breaker. Interestingly to me as one of the things we talk in that in other segment is that my work is really about the most profound forms of infidelity, dealing with sex addiction, and compulsive sexual behavior, and internet addiction related to porn and all that. So, I see the worst of the worst. But the pain that the spouse has experienced doesn’t seem to be very different. There’s a question that I once said, asked for you, which is, ‘Is porn cheating?’ Cause that’s a question that I hear a lot. And if I have to answer it, maybe when I was looking at Playboy once in awhile I played or whatever I was looking at, maybe that was or wasn’t cheating but I tell you we interviewed hundreds of women. And everyone says that if they did not know that their guy was regularly looking at porn, they just didn’t know and they found it, they felt like he was cheating. And if they knew about it, they’d already discussed it, it was like, ‘Oh yeah, you look at it’, then they didn’t feel like it was cheating because it had been discussed. The betrayal is not around the sex itself, it’s really around trust. It is, ‘I have betrayed your trust in me and maybe you can’t believe anything I say now because you thought I wasn’t doing this and I was’.
N: Back in the day, 20-30 years ago, maybe 40 years ago, no internet, the sex wasn’t as prolific as it is in movies, in television as it is now. Do you think that the amount and availability now due to the digital age lends more to the profoundness of the infidelity, at least in the mind?
R: Well, I think what we’re seeing is an escalation in sex addiction and porn addiction. I’d started treating before we have an internet. The reason for that is very simple and not to mention, they cheat which is I think pretty sex… And the simple reason is there’s only a couple of words, one of them is access. Because if you think about it, and I know how you …and I’m not going to ask Neal. But, back in the day, if I want to get laid, I had to put on the cheap shirt and some bad cologne and go down to a bar where you barely knew anybody and hope that if I have a good enough wine and my breath was okay at that moment then maybe I might be able to get someone to go home with me and maybe we will have or not an interesting sexual experience and we might have or might not get along. But what do I do now? I simply tick up my Tinder, my Grindr, my SMS, whatever it is and went in 3.4 seconds I can find the geolocation of anyone within a thousand feet for sex. I can just start texting and sexting and within about an hour, I’ll prove it or less, I’ll probably find someone want to go in my house or I can go to the theirs and what’s done is done. It’s not about good or bad, right or wrong. It’s just that when you have greater access to intensely pleasurable experiences without any kind of limitations then more people are going to gravitate toward testing it in out and some people going to get in trouble.
N: Is sex addiction a porn addiction?
R: It’s a literate question, you asked first in sex addiction, porn addiction. To me that’s like saying is a problem with cocaine drug addiction. Because it doesn’t really matter whether it’s porn, or a sexual course, or affair, or constantly flirting with sex addicts, or after is that constant high and intensity of the chase. And they literally lose themselves in it for days sometimes. In other words, they may be sitting with their spouse at dinner but they’re really looking over her shoulder at that waitress’ spot which may not be unusual but they’re also thinking themselves, ‘Oh, If I get up and I go talk to her, and I get her card, we exchange numbers and I can probably set something up before I even get back to the table and finish desert.’ Those are the people I work with.
N: When you’re talking about compulsion, it is truly a compulsion you can’t help yourself, you are truly addicted.
R: I think number one, I want to say that there’s a difference in cheating and addiction. Someone may cheat for a variety of reasons, addiction is really a deeper psychological underlying issue. But yes, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s porn or gambling, when you have a very powerful pleasure. Let me try this for you, we only have one pleasure center in the brain. In other words, we only have one set of neurons that deliver to us pleasure. We get a little bit of that pleasure when we smell a flower, we get a little bit of that pleasure when you’re at dinner with friends, we get a bunch more if we smoke a cigarette, or do some heroin, and the most dopamine or the most pleasure you can experience as a human without drugs is orgasm. So yes, while 90% of the folks that I know, have no problems seeking out sex for recreation, procreation, or whatever purposes they want to have it, the people that I worked with, the more trouble is by working it or dealing with sex as a way of emotionally escaping and kind of like very much like drinking.
N: Oh, so it’s very much like drinking. Is the treatment very much like treatment for drugs and alcohol addiction, is this the same thing?
R: Well, let me just say two things about that. One is that when people don’t understand sex addiction and I completely understand that they may not. How could sex be an addiction? I would say that most people don’t really understand alcoholism nor that they have to because if they drink and they have a half glass of wine and they put it down or they get drunk at New Year’s maybe once in awhile. They don’t understand why alcohol is a problem for other people why they can’t put it down but if you’re an alcoholic you can’t have that casual drink because you going to end up in serious trouble. You don’t even know where you will end up. In the same way, 90% of the population, if they have the sex they want and that’s consensual among adults and that’s up to them. None of my business. But there is a small percentage of population who like alcoholics get hooked on, be aroused or excitement that leads up to sex and they use that as a way to escape more difficult emotional situations. So yes, they use sex addictively.
R: In your experience, have you ever worked with a couple whether straight, or gay, or whatever that both of them are addicted to porn, internet porn or say going online and finding other people to hook up with in certain combinations. Is that something that you’ve encountered? Or is it normally (crosstalk).
N: I’ll tell you what I see more often is the man, for example, and this doesn’t has to be a man. More typically, the man is in a lot of porn and his spouse doesn’t feel comfortable with it. She doesn’t like it, she doesn’t feel good about it, she compares herself to these images, or she feels that she’s not good enough or he was looking at that, why is he needs hurt, it creates a lot of self-doubt in women often when someone’s looking or a man if his woman is looking at a lot of porn than him. It’s funny how guys don’t think about that. Imagine you looking for your spouse and there she is or he is and looking all these porn and you’ll say ’Wait, what about me? Aren’t I important? What about, why is it? I don’t look like that and all of that.’ But anyway, let me give you the answer to your question. Treatment, let me just give you the basic answer in treatment. It’s more about how sobriety and healing is defined for a sex addict. Because if you are a compulsive gambler, or you have a problem with alcohol and drugs, you can stop and never go back. No one says that you have to drink to have a happy life or you have to gamble to have a happy life. So in some ways, it’s very black or white. For those kinds of issues, it’s on or off but when you get to things like eating disorders, compulsive and addictive eating, or compulsive and addictive sexual behavior, then you have natural current functions that you don’t want to eliminate. I don’t want anybody saying ‘Oh, I have really healed my eating disorder, I don’t eat anymore’. That will not make a lot of sense. Surprisingly, in natural current functions as much more about setting a baseline for what that person perceives as healthy for them based on their circumstances like to gay 24 year old kid single, probably had different sobriety plan than the straight guy who’s married in 57. But each is trying to follow some kind of guideline that help support the life that they want to live without dipping into problems sexual behavior.
N: Let’s talk about your presence on the internet since we’re talking about the digital technology that’s promoting huge amounts of porn and what not. If we navigate off to your site, robertweissmsw.com, what would we expect to find there?
R: Well, you’ll find a lot of resources for cheating, for infidelity, for sex addiction, for intimacy disorders. There’s places where people can find support groups and non-for-profit closed up support, books to read. I’ve really tried to make this site as informational as possible. This is not a question you want to go to your neighbor and say, ‘Hey, I’m just curious. What is sex addiction? My husband might have it.’ (crosstalk) But, there are places online where you can find that information and my site is one of those places, so thank you for asking this.
N: Have you ever treated someone on an in-patient basis for sex or porn addiction?
R: Actually, the last probably 8 years of my career has been creating treatment environments for people who have sex and intimacy disorders. So, I have the privilege of having started the only women’s programs in the country that are gender separate completely for women. I have a men’s program down in Tennessee the place called “The Ranch” and we have to understand but at times somebody has a residential Level A. Their sexual behavior is gone and by the way, it’s not that what they’re doing, is not that their doing anything illegally or not necessary. It’s just the repetition of their sexual behavior that cause their sexual behavior be exhaustion that it provides that my folks are … and we need to kind of clear the boards, talk a bit everything we’ve done, set a new complete for helping to live their lives and then begin to try to clean up the mess they’ve made. Sometimes it takes some time.
N: Now, your new book is ‘Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating’. Where can we get it if it’s out?
R: I think you can find it at any online outlets and most of the larger bookstores that as I found with those most books around sex, I would suggest you simply download it (laughs).
N: Great. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you Robert.
R: Thank Neal. I appreciate it, you’re asked me in.
R: You’ve been listening in the Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard, in studio with Robert Weiss. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm, and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.