I had the opportunity to see the new movie “Thanks for Sharing” while at the annual (SASH) conference in Boston. I decided to go to the movie screening and watch with the “eyes of a partner,” unlike most of the attendees who watched from their personal and/or professional experience with sex addiction and the addict. Most in the group loved the movie, stating it accurately portrayed the horrors and difficulties of the addiction, recovery, and especially the life-line of fellowship in recovery.
There are many aspects of the movie that I love!
The movie does justice to the reality of the addiction and the role of community and fellowship in the recovery process. There are some very intense sexual scenes that clearly depict the emptiness and pain experienced by addicts as they “act out.” Their faces show no joy or fulfillment or ecstasy – only emptiness and great pain, followed by incredibly debilitating shame, emptiness, imprisonment.
The movie does a great job of depicting the invaluable role of the recovery community for the addict. The sex addict characters in the movie are there to support one another through the ups and downs and temptations of the recovery process. In the movie, as in recovery, this is where there is real connection, honesty, risk and support!
Depiction of the partners earn “thumbs down.”
It should come as no surprise that I am not totally excited with the movie’s depiction of partners. There are two in this film; the first is the wife of many years of a sex addict who appears to be the leader among this group of addicts in recovery. The second is a girlfriend who is dating one of the guys and learns of his addiction after finding a “sobriety medallion,” about which she questions him. The character responds in ways we can expect – surprise, confusion, and apprehension. This is quickly followed by her going overboard trying to be sexy for her guy, which he finds triggering. Then she asks to see his phone when she finds him on a call in the middle of the night (talking to a sponsor it turns out). After an uncomfortable altercation around her not “trusting” him, she leaves.
Later you see the two with the older couple, and the younger woman asks the older about what it’s like living with someone with this addiction. Here is where it gets a little trite. The older woman responds that she works on staying on her “side of the street” and… “after all, I picked him – what does that say about me?”
At that point, I was ready to walk out, but I continued watching the movie to the end. I don’t want to give away the love story, so I won’t tell you how the younger woman decides to deal with loving a sex addict.
Tough to Watch, but Hopeful
There is a very difficult stretch of scenes where there is a relapse. The graphic sexual content includes prostitutes, masturbation and sex with an emotionally damaged woman who is obviously doing her own trauma re-enactment.
There are successes in this movie, including depictions of real commitment to change. There is restoration in broken relationships and broken lives. There is hope in this movie. It is just at times very difficult to watch, if this addiction has touched your life in any way.
Should Partners See “Thanks for Sharing”
I would suggest if you want to see this movie, go with a group of your support people. Don’t go alone. For a first viewing, I wouldn’t recommend going with your spouse either, as you may be so triggered by wondering if he is triggered by the content that you won’t be able to pay attention to the film and its messages. I went with a group of about 200, all of whom understood sex addiction and its dark side and believe in the hope of recovery. I was in great company.
I’m now waiting for the movie about partners of sex addicts….