Attention — 31 October 2003
What can be done about a womanizer?

Over the years I have witnessed the agony of women who are in primary
relationships with womanizing men. I have listened to their stories of
betrayal, shame, abandonment, neglect, and emotional abuse. I also felt
compassion for them as they often spoke of the love they still felt for
the straying men in their lives.

A womanizer is a man who repeatedly gets emotionally and sexually
involved with other women while being in a primary relationship. He

indulges in flirtatious behaviors, attracting women with his charm and
wooing conduct. Womanizing males are often very charming, appealing, and
may even seem vulnerable, which many women find most endearing. Along with the playful seduction come flattering words, gifts,
entertainment and fun activities bestowed upon his momentary love interest.

Lying is a necessary companion of all illegal and immoral conduct. The
womanizer spins a web of intricate lies, cover-up stories and false
alibis to sustain his double life.

Sex is not necessarily what he seeks, but it is the ultimate form of
female acceptance. Some people term womanizers as sex-addicts, I prefer
to view them as validation-addicts. Not that this distinction alters any
of the behaviors, or condones them.

It simply emphasizes that these males are deeply insecure about their
worth and personal appeal. They desperately need the repeated
reassurances of many women to validate their desirability. Since this is
a quest of external validation, which is not matched by their internal
esteem, it is unquenchable. No one woman ever suffices.
A womanizer is a tragic person. He keeps creating greater and greater
messes in his life and is never secure for more than a moment. He exerts
immense energy, at great cost, for short-lived rewards.

As with any addiction, when confronted, the womanizer is very contrite,
feel remorse, promises to alter his conduct, to only resume his
escapades shortly after the emotional storm subsides.

It is important to note that not all men who stray are womanizers. The
term only applies to men with a repeated pattern of infidelity. The
nature of the womanizer’s pursuits are multiple and intense. The man
himself is often very clear whether he is seeking a new relationship, or
a conquest. He also knows how insecure he feels when he is not pursuing
a new love interest.

Interestingly enough, wives of womanizers are often very sweet, loyal,
trusting and even naïve women. They are typically very non-intrusive and
may be quite gullible. Because these wives are often very decent
themselves, they accept the tall tales. They cling to the flimsy thread
of the possible – rather than the probable explanation. Sometimes they
are in denial of the intolerable reality.

It may take the wife years to become aware of her husband’s dalliances.
Even when the evidence is glaring, some women still allow for the most
unlikely explanation for their husbands_ blatant transgressions.

“I think it is possible for my husband to have spent a weekend with this
woman at a resort, not being involved, just helping her with her current
life’s difficulty.” “Not all encounters between opposite genders are
necessarily sexual”. These comments, made by devoted wives of
womanizers, exemplify the logic some women use to avoid dealing with
their cruel reality.

The wife is often unprepared to face reality because it will shatter her
life and family, as well as devastate her trust and love for her
husband. She may be in denial because of financial dependence, fear of
abandonment, or the dread of facing overwhelming life-altering changes.
She may feel guilt about her part of this crisis and may be willing to
forgive him under promises of cessation.

The tragedy is that many womanizers are very much in love and in need of
their wives. The steady, loving and supportive partner, is seen by the
man as the family’s anchor. He often respects, admires and cherishes his
wife and can not see himself without her. Yet, in his weakness he
re-offends.

There is a parallel pattern for females _ the seductress. It is similar,
yet not identical to the womanizer. ( More about her in a future column).

What can be done?

® Realize that womanizing is an addiction. It needs to be defined and
treated as such.
® Since addictive behaviors mask intolerable feelings, these must be
discovered and treated.
® The womanizer is the only person who can decide to alter his ways and
seek the help he needs.
® Most addicts are best treated in an intensive residential treatment
program followed by ongoing therapy and attendance in SLA (Sex and Love
Addiction) twelve-step program.
® His behavior is no reflection of his wife’s capacity as a partner.
® Womanizing behaviors are not evidence of lack of love for the primary
partner.
® Denial, rationalizations, excuses and forgiveness do not help bring
about recovery. Both partners must understand the nature of the
addiction and commit to dealing with it.
® Accusations, angry retorts and character attributions are destructive
and must be avoided.
® Women must safeguard their own well being, which at times may require
separating from the womanizer.
® Recovery is possible. It takes awareness, time, energy, money and
commitment.

The rewards of recovery from addiction are immense. Those who have
succeeded can attest to the new life they have gained and the joy they
have attained in their relationships.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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