What does it mean to be love addicted? Sex addiction explained.
Posted Nov 09 2009 8:58am
What do you think of when you hear the words " sex addict"? Do you imagine someone who has sex dozens of times a day? Someone who owns a lot of sex toys? Someone who spends all their time immersed in pornography? While all of these scenarios, and others, can identify someone with a sexual addiction, the crucial part of identifying an addict has to do with the consequences of the behavior and the person's inability to control them. That being said, sex addiction is a relatively recent idea. In fact, it's sometimes called love addiction instead.
So what is sex addiction?
A sexual addict experiences the same type of uncontrollable compulsions that others feel in different forms of addiction (like substance, alcohol, gambling, shopping, etc). In his book ( Out of the Shadow: Understanding Sexual Addiction ) Carnes talks about the compulsive sexual behavior as guiding a misperception of the self.
In simple words: Sex addicts' view of themselves depends on their relationship with sexual behavior. Since they often find themselves unable to control the behavior, they often have trouble with their self-image.
What is sex addiction NOT?
Let us look at some of the NOTS of sexual addiction. Sex addicts are not people who are just hypersexual and get satisfied with their sexual behaviors; rather, they are often not satisfied with the sexual activities that they engage in. Sex addicts are not necessarily Casanovas, but are often normal functioning people who find themselves having to hide their compulsive sexual urges. While some sex addicts do pay for sex, others are compulsive about watching porn and others simply struggle with monogamy. The point is, the stigma of sex addicts as predatory child molesters needs to be put to rest.
How common is sex addiction?
Sex addiction is a major problem in our society. Some estimate that as many as 15 million people in the U.S. are sexual addicts (roughly 8% of all men and 3% of women). Easy access to porn offered by the internet has most likely increased the prevalence of sexual addiction in the past decade. In fact, for most people getting porn addiction help specifically is the problem. The costs for those suffering from sex addiction are also numerous: Relationships and families are disrupted and destroyed, the addict's self-esteem diminishes as they are unable to be productive in other areas of their life; illegal activity (like prostitution) ends up causing arrests, and health is often affected through the contraction of diseases.
Am I a sex addict?
Now, don't immediately assume that you are a sex addict because you fantasize about sex a lot. But how does one know if they are addicted to sex? The simple rule is: no impairment, no addiction. On the other hand, if day to day functioning is effected by the behavior (in this case, something sexual), this may be an indication of a problem. So, whether it be having sex often, thinking of sex, or even just being extremely horny, if it's making a person's daily activities or relationships dysfunctional and if they are unable to control their behavior they may be defined as a sex addict. In future posts we will look more into the symptoms, forms, theories, and treatments related to sex addiction. In the mean-time, keep reading, and if you feel brave enough, share your story; who knows, you may be able to help someone else who is love addicted!!! Question of the day: Do you have any personal experiences with sexual addiction (your own or of someone close to you)? In what ways has it affected your own life?