Desperate men, and the women who love them, often call seeking counseling for something that they’re not quite sure about. The words ‘sex addiction’ are thrown around a lot, considering that celebrities have probably helped to make it more prominence in the cultural consciousness. Just like other concepts, like bipolar disorder, or ADHD, I think that people are not quite clear about what all entails sex addiction.
First off, any addiction will be characterized by a preoccupation with the person/ object/drug that is sought out. The addiction overshadows one’s ability to function in their life, and the need for sexual gratification takes first priority, enslaving the person to its whims. It is a myth that people can just “stop having sex” if they truly have a sexual addiction. The addiction is in control of them, not the other way around.
It’s important to note that sexual attics don’t receive pleasure from the act of sex; it’s a compulsion that needs to be gratified through the act of sex, or some sexual contact or simulation. That’s the addiction part. There are usually no emotional bonds to the people who are engaged with the sexual addict.
With the men that I work with in counseling, sexual addiction, or, to a lesser extent, being chronically sexually distracted, the concepts are the same. Men who are so disconnected and avoidance of the painful emotions that they experience, often shut them down to such a large degree and use sexual compulsivity to distract and avoid those emotions that do not come to light. The sexual compulsivity takes hold, and men are caught up in the helpless submission to meeting to have sex, but the real work lies well underneath it. I work with men who have an incredibly difficult time accessing those negative emotions, or their pain, grief, fear, rejection, or inferiority that dwells at the bottom of their heart. A lot of men who deal with this experience shameful feelings, and a lot of guilt, so I work with those things, as they tend to universal it come up with men struggling with this situation.
The addiction, when it takes hold, usually ends up destroying parts of a man’s life, including his primary relationship, his professional life, and his personal life. The addiction is so strong that it necessarily has to come first, and all of the energy that an addict has is used to feed the addiction, not into other, healthier places in his life.
Here are some bullet points to consider if you think you might have a sexual addiction. According to WebMD’s Symptom Center, I found these behaviors to characterize someone who is a sexual addict:
- Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation)
- Multiple affairs (extra-marital affairs)
- Multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands
- Consistent use of pornography
- Unsafe sex
- Phone or computer sex (cybersex)
- Prostitution or use of prostitutes
- Obsessive dating through personal ads
- Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
- Sexual harassment
If you have a sexual addiction, it’s hard to just “stop having sex.” That doesn’t do you any help, or respect the difficulties that you experience with the addiction. If you think you might have a sex addiction, really only professional help could assist you to both curb the addiction and deal with the underlying issues that are rooted in your sexual addiction. It’s nothing to feel ashamed about, because there are plenty of people in the world who struggle with various forms of sexuality. You are certainly not alone, and there are people to help, but you have to take the first step and ask for the help yourself.