Sexual Addiction

The term “sexual addiction” is used to describe the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict’s thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.

Sex addicts engage in distorted thinking, often rationalizing and justifying their behavior and blaming others for problems. They generally deny they have a problem and make excuses for their actions.

Sexual addiction also is associated with risk-taking. A person with a sex addiction engages in various forms of sexual activity, despite the potential for negative and/or dangerous consequences. In addition to damaging the addict’s relationships and interfering with his or her work and social life, a sexual addiction also puts the person at risk for emotional and physical injury.

For some people, the sex addiction progresses to involve illegal activities, such as exhibitionism (exposing oneself in public), making obscene phone calls, or molestation. However, it should be noted that sex addicts do not necessarily become sex offenders.

Behaviors associated with sexual addiction include:

  • Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation)
  • Multiple affairs (extra-marital affairs)
  • Multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands
  • Consistent use of pornography
  • Unsafe sex
  • Phone or computer sex (cybersex)
  • Prostitution or use of prostitutes
  • Exhibitionism
  • Obsessive dating through personal ads
  • Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
  • Sexual harassment
  • Molestation/rape

Generally, a person with a sex addiction gains little satisfaction from the sexual activity and forms no emotional bond with his or her sex partners. In addition, the problem of sex addiction often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. A sex addict also feels a lack of control over the behavior, despite negative consequences (financial, health, social, and emotional).

Test Yourself

  1. Have you ever thought you needed help for your sexual thinking or behavior?
  2. That you’d be better off if you didn’t keep “giving in”?
  3. That sex or stimuli are controlling you?
  4. Have you ever tried to stop or limit doing what you felt was wrong in your sexual behavior?
  5. Do you resort to sex to escape, relieve anxiety, or because you can’t cope?
  6. Do you feel guilt, remorse or depression afterward?
  7. Has your pursuit of sex become more compulsive?
  8. Does it interfere with relations with your spouse?
  9. Do you have to resort to images or memories during sex?
  10. Does an irresistible impulse arise when the other party makes the overtures or sex is offered?
  11. Do you keep going from one “relationship” or lover to another?
  12. Do you feel the “right relationship” would help you stop lusting, masturbating, or being so promiscuous?
  13. Do you have a destructive need—a desperate sexual or emotional need for someone?
  14. Does pursuit of sex make you careless for yourself or the welfare of your family or others?
  15. Has your effectiveness or concentration decreased as sex has become more compulsive?
  16. Do you lose time from work for it?
  17. Do you turn to a lower environment when pursuing sex?
  18. Do you want to get away from the sex partner as soon as possible after the act?
  19. Although your spouse is sexually compatible, do you still masturbate or have sex with others?
  20. Have you ever been arrested for a sex-related offense?

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