Sex takes on an entirely different meaning to a person with a sex addiction. What is meant to be a healthy, normal, and pleasurable activity becomes fraught with secrecy, thrill-seeking, guilt, and shame. People who are “addicted to sex” think about sex almost all the time. It is a progressive intimacy disorder, meaning that it gets worse over time. Although it may be possible to hide a sex addiction and many successful people do, as the problem escalates, many sex addicts behave in ways that are destructive not only to their marriages and family, but also their careers, financial health, and emotional well-being. Though people may joke about how much fun it must be to have a “sex addiction,” it’s not fun at all – sex addiction makes life miserable.
Different Types of Sex Addicts
Sex addiction can take many different forms but it always involves compulsive thinking and behavior around sex.
- Sex addicts can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
- Sex addicts can be married, restricting themselves to having sex within their marriage, and still meet the criteria for sex addiction if their behavior is compulsive and out of control.
- Many sex addicts continually seek new and different sexual experiences, engaging in sex with many different partners and/or using prostitutes.
- Some sex addicts restrict themselves to masturbation or viewing pornography (online or in other forms) or having computer sex.
- Some sex addicts pursue extreme sexual activity, including exhibitionism, voyeurism, or obscene phone calls.
- Sex addicts do not necessarily become sex offenders or vice versa. Slightly more than half of convicted sex offenders are sex addicts and about 70% of child molesters are sex addicts.
What is Sex Addiction?
According to the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, sexual addiction involves “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to themselves and others.”
As with other addictions, a sex addict who doesn’t seek treatment is at risk of continuing on an escalating path of self-destruction.
Creating an Action Plan
Sex addiction is treatable but to overcome it requires fortitude and self-awareness. You’ll need to create an environment that offers rewards to reinforce your new behaviors. You need feedback that supports your growth.
Do you have an environment in which you can thrive? If not, here are the steps to creating one. Taking these one by one, write a journal entry describing your response to each of these steps and a plan for incorporating them into your life.
- Embrace your spiritual Being and use its power to face the conditioned fears and self-limiting beliefs of your past human experiences: You are all you need to be.
- You may need a mentor, role model, or counselor to help you on your journey. This may be a professional psychotherapist but you may also find people in your close circle of family and friends who seem to have achieved acceptance of themselves. Seek them out and ask for their help.
- Develop a moral compass. Through the Being at your core, you are connected to all the creatures in this world and beyond. Consider the impact of your actions on others and pursue opportunities to contribute to society.
- Identify your signature strengths and use them to develop a meaning and purpose for your life. This may have to do with your career or vocation but you may have a larger social purpose as well.
- Whether or not you have a biological family of your own, establish and nurture a social network. Don’t hesitate to exclude those who lead you in hurtful directions, but set aside that suffering and welcome new people into your life.
- Develop optimism and humor as two of your most useful life skills. In response to laughter, the brain releases a number of chemicals that enhance mood and decrease the stress response. In fact, the brain cannot distinguish fake laughter from real laughter – so even if there is nothing particularly funny to laugh at, laugh anyway.