The more I talk to people both in and outside the rooms of recovery, the more I read on the subject, and the more I look at our society and the sick way it approaches issues of sex and sexuality, the more convinced I become that sexual addiction is a widespread problem. That being the case, and having recently done some research, I thought I’d write about it in the hope that some readers might find it helpful.
Sexual addiction shows up in different ways, such as inability to stop viewing pornography, inability to stay away from relationships and/or sexual liaisons that are not in the best interest of ourselves or our legitimate relationships, and even in sexual and social anorexia — the lack of desire for sex or any kind of intimate relationship with other human beings.
People who are sexually addicted often become emotionally involved and/or become sexual with people whom they barely know, or — in the case of “hookups,” don’t know at all. Once involved with someone, they often remain in such relationships — or pursue them with unrealistic zeal — even when they are painful or destructive. They may get involved in one relationship after another, and sometimes more than one at a time. These need not be overtly sexual, because the compulsion to pursue relationships at any cost is in itself evidence of addictive issues.
Sexual addicts are unable to differentiate among neediness, physical attraction, pity, and/or the need to rescue others from what they perceive as unhealthy situations. They feel empty when alone, even though they may fear intimacy and commitment. They compulsively use sex to relieve stress, and as a substitute for nurturing relationships, or to control the behavior of others.
Many sex addicts attach themselves to people who are emotionally unavailable. This is especially common if they have similar relationships in their childhood that they may feel compelled to “get right this time.” They resort to romantic and sexual fantasies to fool themselves into thinking that they are getting what they need, without confronting the fears that go along with relationships, such as fear of rejection, abandonment, or simply the fear of being emotionally intimate with another person. They idealize others romantically, then blame them when they are unable to fulfill unrealistic expectations.These relationships and fantasies often occupy addicts to the extent that other parts of their lives suffer or fall apart completely.
One of the major earmarks of sexual addictions is the old “doing the same thing and expecting different results.” This keeps victims enslaved to their emotional dependencies, the excitement of illicit or new liaisons or compulsive sexual activity, even when these things are no longer bringing the relief that is being sought. Or, fearing the vulnerability caused by their neediness, they may shy away from any kind of intimate involvement, whether it be emotional, romantic or simply social. They may even consider this anorexic behavior to be healthy, forgetting that if you turn around and head in exactly the opposite direction, you’re still in the same old rut.
Not all sex, love and relationship addicts match up with all of the above. However, if any of these characteristics ring a bell, you might want to go the site below, where there is a 40 question “test” that might illuminate the situation more fully.
More Information: http://www.slaafws.org
For those whose lives have been affected by a relationship with a sex addict: http://www.cosa-recovery.org/