“A sex addict is also emotionally anorexic – they must be in order to continue participating in isolated behavior such as being addicted to pornography and being promiscuous or having multiple affairs. All of these secretive behavior patterns affect a family and home.”
~ Christopher Dines, The Kindness Habit: Transforming Our Relationship to Addictive Behaviours
When people usually think about addiction, they typically picture someone who drinks to excess, abuses drugs, overeats, or perhaps gambles too much. But mental health professionals understand that “addiction” can be any activity that a person compulsively engages in to the point that it negatively affects their life.
That can include sex.
Sexual addiction goes far beyond enjoying sex or pornography. It means that your desires and your actions have gone beyond your control and are now hurting other areas of your life.
What Are Some Problems Caused by Sexual Addiction?
Sex addiction can take up so much of a person’s time and energy that it makes their life unmanageable:
- Broken trust
- Destroyed relationships
- Health issues
- Problems at work
- Legal difficulties
- Disinterest in anything non-sexual
So what is the cut-off point? How do you know when you have crossed the line from a healthy interest in sex to an addiction?
Sign #1 That You Might Be a Sex Addict– You Can’t Control Your Actions
One of the biggest signs of sexual addiction is when you engage in activity even when you don’t really want to or know you shouldn’t. Some examples of compulsive sexual behavior might include:
- Continually cheating on your spouse/partner
- Having sex/masturbating in inappropriate or dangerous places – at work, in public, etc.
- Sleeping with someone who you’re not attracted to
- Not using protection, especially if you have already contracted an STD
- Visiting prostitutes or illicit massage parlors
Sign #2 That You Might Be a Sex Addict – You’re Leading a Double Life
Everyone wants their sex life be private, but there is a difference between discretion and secrecy. If you feel that you have to lie about or actively hide your sexual behaviors and desires, you might have a problem.
Sign #3 That You Might Be a Sex Addict – You’re Obsessed with Sexual Material
Sexual addiction is more than simply enjoying pornography occasionally. It crosses the line into addiction when you are excessively preoccupied with sexual images and material to the exclusion of other interests and activities.
- Spending an inordinate amount of time online searching for and viewing pornography
- Blowing your budget on phone sex lines, website subscriptions, or in adult shops
- Having profiles on multiple dating or sex websites – especially if you are in a committed relationship
Sign #4 That You Might Be a Sex Addict –You’re Constantly Looking for “More”
One of the hallmarks of addiction is a loss of interest or enjoyment in formally-pleasurable activities. For sex addicts, there is always that next bigger thrill – more explicit, more outside-the-norm, and sometimes, more dangerous.
Wanting variety occasionally is one thing, but NEVER being satisfied with a regular lovemaking session with your spouse or partner could mean that your desires are out of control.
Sign #5 That You Might Be a Sex Addict –You’re Getting in Trouble at Work or with the Law
Having such a profound inability to control the sexual behaviors that you engage in activities that could get you arrested and cause you to lose your job definitely points to an addiction.
- Visiting prostitutes
- Going to illegal “massage” partners
- Having sex or “sexting” with minors
- Possessing child pornography
- Using your work computer or phone to view sexual material
- Having sex or masturbating at work
Sign #6 That You Might Be a Sex Addict – It’s Affecting Your Personal Relationships
Engaging in any sex-oriented behavior that you engage in that you have to hide from your partner or that could seriously damage your relationship could be signs of addiction–especially if you have been caught before and are unable to stop yourself, despite the consequences.
Yes, it usually means being unfaithful, but anything that damages trust between you and your partner is “cheating”. The key is if you are having to do these things in secret.
- Visiting strip clubs
- Going to adult theaters
- Calling phone sex lines
- Pressuring your partner sexually
Sign #7 That You Might Be a Sex Addict –Even YOU Are Worried about Your Behaviors
Sexual addiction is just like other addictions – irresistible compulsions make you behave in ways you never thought possible and afterward, you are consumed by negative feelings:
- Suicidal ideation
It is estimated that up to 80% of people with intimacy disorders have a family history of addiction. Many sex addicts will turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to self-medicate, hoping to ease their mental anguish.
The best treatment for ANY addiction is a plan that is tailored to the individual, based on scientific data, and focused on total-wellness – physical, emotional, spiritual, and nutritional.
Northpoint Recovery offers just that –a personalized treatment strategy for each person, based upon the latest accepted protocols, traditional 12-Step philosophies, and promising holistic therapies.
If you need help for sexual addiction or any type of substance abuse disorder, call Northpoint Recovery today for a free and confidential intake assessment.