Let’s talk “Sex Addiction.” We can also talk “Porn Addiction.” But we do really need to talk.

These days people seem to have “addictions” to just about anything. Some of these things are jokes, like I’m addicted to the New York Times, or Reality shows, etc. The kind I’d like to talk about is way more insidious, dangerous and requires more than seeing a good friend, reading a good book or seeing a very good religious counselor to really get help.  In fact, it requires more than your average, good, therapist.

Dealing with an addiction requires understanding its meaning, it also requires strict behavioral guidelines and a strong support network.

Sex Addiction is not the same thing as having a strong sex drive. It is having an uncontrollable urge to participate in frenetic sexual experiences that cannot be ignored. It is the kind of need that makes peope break the law, steal from close relatives, potentially destroy their marriages and their jobs, etc.

It may sound odd to you, but it’s real.  Though it  seems to be discussed more in the media, I think it gets diagnosed way more often than it should. Much of the time a disappointed spouse, an angry spouse who has been denying sex to her husband,  calls him a “sex addict.”  His incessant need for her is infuriating and causes her stress. That’s not valid signs of a sex addiction.

A sex addict has: accumulated a ton of money on credit cards for hookers, sex clubs, massage parlors, etc. A sex addict is never satisfied.  The need to have sex goes way beyond the wish to be close, to have a release with an intimate lover. It pushes young guys outside their work environment to frequent prostitutes, anonymous internet companions for phone sex, dating sites, you name it. It throws guys often into a world of cocaine and alcohol.  It is pursued under a shroud of secrecy which eventually gets discovered or, because the guy just drops his guard and gets found out.  I say “guy” because it is a problem mostly with men.  Women don’t appear to have a large interest in the casual sex world.  Women binge more on food, clothes, drugs, I guess. Our chronic dependencies are not focused on sex.

So ” Sex Addiction,” is really a compulsive behavior.  It is one that cannot be stopped just by saying ” No more.” Men are not typically aware of the severity of the problem until it is way out of control. Because we live in a culture that describes men as sexual creatures, having a strong drive is normalized. Unfortunately, the trajectory of frightening acting out happens under the radar until it is  out of control.

Sexual compulsivity comes from a. being a man b. being raised in a family where the father was typically: promiscuous, philandering, disrespectful of women, habituated to porn and therefore saw women as objects. He was given attention for his looks or his charm way more than anything deeper or about his worthiness as a person. He was not taught to deal with stress in healthy ways.  He may also have had a “provocative” mom who ie. held him too close, inappropriately displayed her physical attriutes, or abused him. This is the groundwork, the foundation.

I should add that some of these men were also sexually abused or physically abused and their bodies never recover from the overstimulation of those experiences. The body remembers frightening touch, boundary-less touch, and over stimulation. When you’re a child all you know is how things feel not what they mean. Unfortunately, sometimes it feels good and that’s where the experience stays; the context in which it happens remains undisclosed or understood. It just feels so good. In some space, though, there is an awareness that it is also wrong, and shameful.

You’ve heard the phrase “acting out.” That’s what happens with sexually compulsive people. They “act out” the pain they are feeling instead of disclosing  it and understanding it.

And that’s why the need to have the right professional help is so necessary. The worst part of this problem is that to heal, one must be able to recover or create a stable, sexually intimate relationship with someone.   Often, its not the original partner because she has lost her trust and can’t be sexual without being triggered to thinking about all the others in her partner’s past.  If she can do this, with a lot of help, and couples do, the task is formidable and labor intensive.

People who have affairs, look at porn, have roving eyes, are not sexual addicts. They are men and they are often inappropriate men.  But they are not “sick.” Sexually compulsive men are on a precipice about to fall off the edge and never regain their footing.  They need help — Now.

This entry was posted in Just Thinking, Marriage. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.