Sex addiction, or the clinically preferred term “hypersexual disorder”, is a reality that society prefers to keep in the dark.
It is so much more than a desperation for sex, just as an eating disorder is never solely about food. Trauma, depression, anxiety and pain can drag anyone into this addiction. It’s a very real, deeply rooted problem that is volatile and dangerous; the physical, emotional, social and professional lives of these addicts are at stake. Here are seven signs of a sex addiction to look out for as well as possible solutions:
1. Using Sexual Behaviors to Escape Problems
Do you rely on anonymous sex and excess sex and masturbation to ease anxiety and pain? Although sex is a natural, healthy stress reliever, it crosses the line into risky behavior if it’s all you rely on. Instead, try four positive stress relievers suggested by the American Heart Association: positive self-talk, emergency stress-stoppers, enjoyable activities, and daily relaxation such as yoga and meditation.
2. Lying to Hide Your Sexual Activities
Do you lie to your family, friends, or coworkers about what you watch online or why you can’t attend events? Dishonesty is a blazing red flag; you know rationally that others will believe your behavior is unhealthy. A double life is so stressful on your body and mind; I promise you that there is so much relief in finally coming clean. If you acknowledge the issue to yourself and loved ones, you’re one step closer to treatment, counseling and freedom.
3. Constantly Thinking About Sex
Do your thoughts revolve around the next sexual experience you’ll have and how to obtain it? Do you plot out your day in a way that best accommodates the satiation of your urges? If something prevents you from engaging in your desired behavior, do you feel angry, anxious or vexed? Do you struggle to feel pleasure from other activities you once enjoyed? Rampant sexual thoughts that steal your focus from work, family and other responsibilities are a definite sign of addiction.
4. Excessive Time and Money Spent Feeding the Behavior
Do you find you get sucked into a downward spiral of porn websites? Do you spend a hefty portion of your time engaging in sexual activity or planning and seeking your next encounter? Do you frequently pay for sex in any form? Do you skip work, social events and basic outings to pursue sex? Do you push all other forms of entertainment aside until your time is entirely consumed by it? As with any addiction, it exhausts all of your resources.
5. Failing to Stop Despite Earnest Attempts
Do you attempt to stop these behaviors but consistently fail to do so? Even if you have a willpower of steel, addiction has a vicious way of rewiring the brain until the only thing that puts it at ease is the very thing that destroys it. If you feel completely out of control, it may be time to seek professional help.
6. Seeking More Intense Sexual Experiences
Are you seeking progressively intense, frequent experiences in order to feel satisfied? Like a drug or alcohol addiction, the grip and demands of a hypersexual disorder escalate until the behavior becomes more extreme and frequent. If there is no longer any action that can alleviate how you feel, a sex addiction may be the culprit.
7. Crossing Moral or Legal Sexual Boundaries
Do you engage in unprotected sex or perform sexual acts in public? If you find yourself crossing the safety, legal or comfort boundaries of yourself or others, you may want to take a hard look at the possibility of a sex addiction. Your life is precious, so I urge you to do what needs to be done to protect yourself and your future.
If these signs have been a revelation for you, please take this to heart; admitting a sexual addiction is the first step to recovery. There are always underlying emotional issues that can be addressed and worked through, so there is no shame in disclosing the reality of your mental state. It can afflict anyone, regardless of social stature, intelligence, success or lifestyle. You deserve to be whole, and your family, friends, and loved ones need and want you to be healthy.
By Angela Lambert
Photo by: Stuart Caie (Flickr)