Sex is normal. It’s a part of our human nature. It’s also taboo. Sex can be great. Sometimes sex can be bad. We like to talk about sex without actually talking about it. Sex is everywhere. We see it in pop-culture, in movies, social media, and in common day-to-day jokes. So, it’s easy to say that sex is apart of life. But is there a point where sex goes too far?
What about sex addiction?
So many get worked up about what exactly characterizes a sex addict. Why not call it a playboy, hedonist, or a freak – but, “how can anyone be addicted to sex?” Some may call it sexual compulsion. However, by acting out with sex, we dose our brain with dopamine and other chemicals that excite, distract, and cover up the underlying distress or emptiness we’re suffering from. Those suffering from sexual addiction will go to great lengths to hide their behaviors, live a double life and often become secret and withdrawn. Sexual addiction can become serious and additionally cause great harm (physically and emotionally) to the person in the addiction as well as to others surrounding them.
If you don’t have a problem with any of these, our hats off to you! Go get laid. However, if you begin to raise your eyebrow to more than one of these signs on our list, you may need to see what exactly is going on and find someone to talk to, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem.
Part of the “high” for a sex addict is fantasizing about, planning, or pursing sex. The majority of their decisions revolve around sex and how they can get their next fix if they aren’t having sex. Often after, shame sets in, and to combat that the addict goes back into preoccupation with sex, continuous a cycle.
Living A Double Life
For those active in sex addiction, there may be a cast of secrets hidden that they are ashamed to tell anyone. If it’s cheating on a significant other, lying about where the person may be, or how they spend their money may be a sign that there is an issue. Sex in itself is a private matter, however, if someone is lying constantly to keep their image afloat about sex, there may be reason to look into sex addiction.
Most times just like an addiction to a substance, sex addicts lose the ability to choose not to engage in sexual fantasies or behaviors. They often tell themselves they are going to quit or cut back, and make promises to themselves or others that they are going to stop. However, typically those in active sex addiction fail to live up to their words.
Increase In Tolerance
Some people are into some odd stuff, some aren’t. There are a myriad of different things that people do to get off, and whether or not you like to be tied up, or walk your girlfriend on a leash isn’t the issue. However, if your sex world becomes your whole life, you may need to go deeper and deeper to “get off.”
Over time, tolerance may build and many sex addicts can find themselves engaging in sexual behaviors they never thought they would be partaking in. This could be acting out in massage parlors or hiring prostitutes or escorts. Some also act out in ways that violate their own moral code, spiritual beliefs or even the law. Some escalate to viewing illicit or bizarre images, and others simply lose increasing amounts of valuable time and energy to sex.
Being Involved In High Risk Situations
For those who’s tolerance increases, they can also put themselves in high risk situations. This happens when the addiction becomes out of control. Maybe your spouse is upstairs and you’re having sex with someone else on the couch, or you spent your whole paycheck at the strip club. Maybe you gave your credit card number to your dominatrix. With these types of behaviors you can also be at higher risk physically (i.e. sexually transmitted diseases). Whatever the case may be, what started off as fun can end up as something deeply destructive down the road.
Those situations can include employment loss detrimental employment, financials, or relationships with family and friends, or even situations that put your physical health at risk, i.e. sexually transmitted diseases, then your sex life has crossed the line and is now officially a problem. what can start off as fun, can wind up as something deeply destructive down the road.
As with substance abuse withdrawal (i.e. physical symptoms), sexual addiction doesn’t tend to manifest itself physically but more emotionally and psychologically. Sex addicts in withdrawal can become depressed, restless, lonely, and irritable. While most sex addicts do experience these types of feelings of withdrawal, it is not necessary for a sex addiction diagnosis.
Denial can keep sex addiction alive and thriving. It keeps addicts out of touch with the reality of their addiction and can keep them in fantasy mode. When in denial, they are unwilling to see the effects of their sexual behavior, and they ignore the warning signs of their addiction that would be obvious to someone else. When in denial, sex addicts often externalize blame for the consequences of their behavior onto others, and make excuses for their acting out.