What is sex addiction?
Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it can be harmful to you. Sex is not the problem. It is the dependency and the experience of feeling out of control of your desires, actions and thoughts, that someone with addiction needs to overcome.
How do I know if I am a sex addict?
Most people enjoy some form of sexual or relationship behaviour which they engage in because it’s pleasurable. This includes activities such as pornography use, masturbation, visiting prostitutes or cyber-sex – the list is long and varied. We also use sex for comfort so it’s a coping strategy in the midst of a difficult world. However, if that sexual activity, thought or associated behaviour is obsessive and/or destructive, if it is damaging your life in some way and you just can’t stop however much you want to, then you may be a sex addict.
It might be helpful to compare porn addiction with gambling addiction. Addictive gambling can result in money problems, failed relationships or losing your home/job. Alongside these visible losses are associated feelings such as guilt, shame and low self-worth. So, if your sexual behaviour results in losing things you value such as a relationship, or a job, and/or your accompanying feelings are self-critical and harmful to yourself, then you are likely to be experiencing a sexual addiction.
What’s the difference between sex and porn addiction?
Porn addiction is just one element of sex addiction. There is increasing awareness that porn can affect users not just psychologically but also physically. There is growing evidence, for example, that some men experience some form of erectile difficulties due to their use of porn. It is thought that porn addiction is a growing problem due to the availability of online sites and the age at which it is first viewed.
My partner has accused me of being addicted to porn but I have always used it. Does this make me a porn addict?
Not necessarily. It may be because your porn use doesn’t fit with your partner’s relationship values and/or you are both unable to communicate in a way that helps solve the issue. However, if it’s causing a problem between you it may be appropriate for you both to explore the issue together in relationship counselling.
Is sex addiction only something experienced by men?
The simple answer to this is: ‘no,’ although research shows that women are more likely to refer to their issue as ‘love addiction.’ It might include sexual activities but this isn’t always the case and usually involves patterns of behaviour such as serial affairs or continual short-term relationships.
How will therapy work for me?
Sex addiction therapy will initially involve an assessment to find out what your difficulty is and the impact it’s having on your life. We will then identify what you want to achieve and develop ways of reaching those goals that are right for you. I will support you in this by providing a non-judgemental environment that allows you the space and time to explore a different kind of future. It will be challenging but it could also give you the opportunity to develop a sexual lifestyle that is rewarding and fulfilling.