First, I want to say “thank you” to all of you who have thanked me over the years for my work on behalf of betrayed partners.
In the past year, I have become clearer about where I want to focus my efforts and who I want to serve, which is something I encourage every person to do — whether they are female, male, or do not identify in the binary. I am of the firm opinion that each of us is most effective and can have the biggest impact when we are engaged in work we love, that gives our life meaning, and serves those we feel drawn to serve.
And that means I can’t serve (or please) everyone, and that is as it should be.
Each of us is constantly faced with choices between what is right for us, and what will please others. If I stand in my integrity, I must choose what is right for me and accept the consequences, which sometimes include the disappointment and criticism of others. I hope you too will stand in your integrity in your work, your personal life, and with those who have betrayed you.
I understand how gender-specific language or being unable to join a group because of your gender (or for any other reason) may cause feelings of being left out, isolated, or excluded. I understand, because women have been made intimately and extensively familiar with these same experiences and feelings.
I’ve been hearing from many of you recently that you are angry, offended, or otherwise unhappy that I use gender-specific language when I talk about betrayed partners, or that my online community, Thrive Community for Women, is exclusively for women.
I hear you, and here’s my response.
When I wrote Moving Beyond Betrayal four years ago, I worked closely with my publisher, Central Recovery Press, to alternate references to gender throughout the book. In fact, in the original manuscript, pronouns were alternated with each chapter. The problem was, it just didn’t work.
From Moving Beyond Betrayal, “A Word About Pronouns:”
In an effort to honor the diversity of marriage and the many faces of intimate partnerships, I originally attempted to vary the pronouns throughout the book by referring to the sex addict as “him” in some chapters while using “her” in others (and vice versa for partners). However, this method led to incongruent or confusing examples of behaviors and scenarios, and generally seemed to do little but distract from the subject at hand. Adding “or her” to every mention of “him,” and “or his” to every instance of “hers,” seemed just as convoluted. In the end I resolved, for the sake of simplicity, to simply keep with “him” and “his” throughout when referring to the sex addict and to “her” and “hers” when speaking of the partner. I ask the reader to stay cognizant of the fact that what is being said of male sex addicts of course also applies to female ones, and that what is true of female partners is equally applicable to their male counterparts.
The challenge remains today. Because the overwhelming number of partners who have sought my support, guidance, and help — in person and virtually — over the past 12+ years have been women, I use the feminine pronoun most often, and regularly use her/him, her/his, etc. in blog articles, other printed work, and in my podcast or live presentations.
To those of you who feel excluded, angry, and left out that my online community is exclusively for women, I want you to know that from the time the community was founded in 2016 to the end of 2019 there were no barriers to any man who wanted to participate. During that time, two elected to join us.
I wholeheartedly agree that there is a need for communities of support and other resources for betrayed male partners.* I am just one of thousands of capable professionals for whom this is a ripe opportunity. And I am confident and hopeful that one — or many — will step up to serve you and your unique needs with the respect and attention you deserve.
I honor each of you, and I stand for your thriving,
*March 9, 2020 Update:
My colleague, Staci Sprout has a new resource exclusively for men who have suffered emotional/sexual betrayal:
A support and information website create for men who have suffered emotional/sexual betrayal caused by their female partners. Even more specifically, for men whose partners are showing symptoms of sex, love, relationship or pornography addictions. Fantastic sections on Resources, Men’s Stories (add yours!), as well as a survey to collect more information on the often hidden yet very real experiences of men who are betrayed by women. https://www.malepartnersoffemalesexaddicts.com