1. When people talk about sex addiction, some people might laugh and say things like, “I should be so lucky.” So what is sex addiction, and how serious is it?
Sex addiction is laughed about until people understand it. People laughed about alcoholism in the 1940’s, but now we understand the impact that this addiction has on that individual and the family. Sex addiction, like other addictions, is when someone uses sex in a compulsive manner. They are usually trying to cope with issues from their past in effort to escape the present. They often live double lives and make many efforts to stop and fail.
Sex addiction like other addictions is serious due to the impact on their life and the lives of their family members. Sadly enough since the Internet, sex addiction is growing like wildfire in all age groups.
2. When you hear the word sex addiction, people think straight away about men, but is this the case or can women become addicted to sex?
Women can be and are sex addicts. They are the soccer moms, women at bars or on the Internet who regularly act out with others or themselves. Many female sex addicts have multiple addictions and struggle with depression according to our study in the book She Has a Secret.
Female sex addicts are usually more discriminate in their profile of acting out behaviors or people. Female sex addicts often suffer with more shame about their addiction and take longer to seek professional help than their male counterparts.
3. Why do people become sexually addicted?
People become sex addicted for several reasons. The largest reason for sexual addiction is related to sexual abuse or other forms of abuse. Statistically, more than eighty percent of sex addicts, male or female, are sexually abused. Secondly, some sex addicts are trying to medicate a depression or bipolar chemical imbalance with sexually addictive behaviors. A third reason some become sexually addicted is that their orgasmic response is repeatedly attached to pornography and fantasy. This behavior creates attachments outside of reality to the object world. This makes relational sex less satisfying and more difficult for the addict. Lastly, another reason some become sexually addicted is because they have sexual anorexia (avoidance disorder) and use a sexually addictive behavior to avoid relational-type relationships.
Although there are several reasons people become sexually addicted, there is still hope. If someone chooses recovery they can become sober and enjoy a life free from their sexual addiction.
4. So what is the difference between sex addiction and a high sex drive?
Someone with a high sex drive can enjoy relational sex. They can and do enjoy a connection to the person and not just the body they are being sexual with. A person with a high sex drive can also be satiated after a sexual encounter.
A sex addict on the other hand is trying to get “it” or “some.” They are looking to get off and not to connect with a person. Afterward they are not satiated. Since they almost always have object-type sex they do not get satiated as one would with relational sex, which satisfies. Often the addict has secrets and lies where a high libido person does not need to have secrets.
5. Is masturbation normal and can you become addicted to it?
I identify masturbation in two different categories. A “B” type masturbator doesn’t disconnect from their body, they don’t lust, use porn or fantasize. This type of masturbator rarely becomes compulsive in masturbation and rarely will masturbate during marriage. A “C” masturbator disconnects from their body, uses lust, fantasy and porn in their fantasy (can’t imagine not using these) to masturbate. If this person consistently attaches neurologically to objects and fantasies there is a much greater chance that this person will maintain an active masturbation life even after marriage. So it depends how you masturbate (type “B” or “C”) that determines if you moved toward becoming sexually addicted.
6. Is pornography normal and can you be addicted to it?
Pornography is a permanent part of our western culture. If someone regularly uses pornography combining it with masturbation they create a neuropathic response. Remember Pavlov’s “ring the bell, feed the dog”, or that monkey that kept hitting the button for more cocaine? Classical conditioning can also occur with pornography. When this groundwork is active, a path for addiction can develop.
7. Can someone be a sex addict and not be sexual with their spouse or committed relationship?
Absolutely and this is the worst type of sexual addiction. I call this the sexual anorexic sex addict. They will have sex with their self or others, but leave their spouse alone emotionally, spiritually and sexually for long periods of time. Here are the nine criteria for sexual anorexia:
- Withholding love from partner.
- Withholding praise or appreciation from partner.
- Controlling by silence or anger.
- Ongoing or ungrounded criticism causing isolation.
- Withholding sex from your partner.
- Unwillingness or inability to discuss feelings with partner.
- Staying so busy that they have no relational time for the partner.
- Making the problems or issues about your partner instead of owning their own issues.
- Controlling or shaming partner with money issues.
If someone struggles with sexual anorexia, both people usually need help. If you answered yes to five or more of these for yourself or your spouse, get more information from our website drdougweiss.com.
8. How do you know that you are addicted to sex?
Here are some questions to know if you are addicted:
- Have you had sexual behaviors that you wish you could stop?
- Do you feel abnormally driven by your sexual drive?
- Have you been in relationships just for sex?
- Has masturbation been ongoing even after marriage?
- Has pornography continued for you after a long-term committed sexual relationship?
- Does your sexuality seem to be dragging down your personal potential?
- Do you find that you spend a significant amount of time online, viewing pornography or grooming others for sexual encounters?
- Have you experienced an unwanted sexual encounter during childhood or adolescence?
- Has monogamous sex grown to be boring?
To score yourself give yourself one point for each yes and read the below recommendations
It does not seem that you are presently an active sexual addict. If your concern continues, I recommend that you get more information such as the book, The Final Freedom.
It seems that you may be struggling in the area of sexual addiction. Your first step would be to gather further information. I recommend the Final Freedom: Pioneering Sexual Addiction Recovery book. If you want more practical techniques for your behavior, I recommend the 101 Practical Exercises workbook. If your behavior continues, consider going to a sex addicts anonymous group or a 12 Step Support group . If you feel that you need to discuss this with a counselor, call for a telephone counseling appointment at (719) 278-3708.
You are probably sexually addicted. It’s recommended that: 1. You gather more information from our sex addicts recovery materials. 2. Go to a support group as soon as possible. 3. Seek professional help. Counseling is available at Heart to Heart Counseling Center by calling 719-278-3708.
9. What is it like to live with a sex addict from a partner’s or wife’s perspective?
Living with a sex addict is difficult. Our research shows that sex addiction impacts their spouse’s self esteem, depression and weight gain to mention just a few. She often is clueless about his behavior then “bam” gets hit with this realization. She stays believing he will change but without support groups or professional help he fails again and again. The most important thing for a wife to know is that he was sick before she met him. Sex addiction usually starts in adolescence. It’s not about her sex, her body or how clean the house is. She also will probably need support to heal from the damage of living with a sexual addict.
10. Can sex addiction be cured?
I know people can become free and stay free from sexual addiction. I have been clean for more than eighteen years, and I see people get free in our counseling center every week. It is a recovery process, which is dependent on why someone became a sex addict. Often 12 Step groups and therapy are part of this process. Today it is so much easier to get information and help than it was eighteen years ago. I want to encourage anyone to take the first step, after that it gets easier. I have seen thousands of people get free from sexual addiction.