Having a healthy sex life is a good thing. In healthy doses, sex helps:
- boost your immunity
- reduce headaches
- improve your bladder control
- relieve stress
- to look and feel younger
Sexually expressive individuals are often seen as happier and more confident and generally tend to have more fulfilling relationships.
But unfortunately, the issue arises when someone can no longer control sexual impulses regardless of how detrimental the consequences might be.
Sex Addiction- What Is It?
Sex addiction is often defined as a compulsive engagement in any sexual act regardless of the possible negative consequences. Interestingly, not all medical professionals consider sex addiction important enough to list it as an official diagnosis.
So, clinically, this can present challenges for those who suffer from sex addiction, especially when getting the treatment and support needed for long-term abstinence.
In addition, because it remains mostly unrecognized regarding mental health, the diagnostic criteria for this addiction are typically vague.
Sex Addiction Symptoms
- A continuous urge for sexual encounters often followed by regret, shame, depression, and guilt.
- Someone who engages in sex with many partners and has extramarital affairs.
- Continuously engaging in pornography, phone sex, and/or online sex.
- Continuously thinking about and engaging in sex with little time for other interests and activities.
- Taking part in risky sexual behaviors, like regularly visiting sex clubs and having intercourse in public places with prostitutes.
Causes of Sex Addiction
There are many theories regarding the causes, some more concrete than others, but research suggests that sex addiction mainly occurs as a result of the following:
- When a person has been diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
- An individual having a strong need to control impulsively
- An individual who uses sex as a means to cope with past trauma (childhood sexual abuse)
- Someone who has been diagnosed with a relationship disorder
According to some research studies, biochemical factors in the brain may play a role in sex addiction. Changes in the brain or biochemical abnormalities can significantly increase the risk of a person becoming a sex addict.
Medications like antidepressants and psychotropic medicines are proven to aid in treating sex addiction. This suggests that biochemical shifts may be responsible for an increased probability of an individual becoming a sex addict.
So, what do you do if you suspect that you, or someone you know, is addicted to sex? If you’re still unsure, read on to find out the top signs that you or someone else may need help.
Top 15 Signs of Sex Addiction
1. Responsibilities Are Neglected
As with any other addiction, sex addicts constantly put their wants and desires for sex ahead of job responsibilities, family obligations, and almost anything else that isn’t related to sex.
Doing so can lead to job loss, financial difficulties, and even separation or divorce if the neglect continues. Too often, they spiral out of control, and the individual loses everything.
2. Partaking in Sexual Activities with Many Partners
Individuals who are sex addicts are often unable to commit or remain loyal to their partners because of their insatiable appetite for sex.
Because of this, it typically results in them engaging in dangerous behaviors like cheating and participating in sexual acts with several partners (at once or separately.) In addition, research indicates that those who sleep around have a much higher risk of STIs.
3. Always Dismissing Their Risky Sexual Activities
Most people would ponder What would happen if caught? or What is the consequence of contracting a sexual disease from sleeping around? A sex addict rarely thinks about these issues.
While they may briefly consider these questions, it still doesn’t stop them from forging ahead with the act because, for them, the payoff (sexual encounters) is far more rewarding than any consequence.
4. Using Trade-Offs for Sex
Almost every addict is willing to trade currency and time for illicit sexual acts because their craving and desires are too powerful to resist. If they’re broke or busy, it doesn’t matter. Addicts are willing to spend their hard-earned money and carve out any time to satisfy their urges.
5. Inability to Talk about the Issue
If you have ever attempted to talk to a drug or alcohol addict about their abuse, you’ll get a sense of what it’s like speaking to a sex addict. You’ll most likely experience the same problems with an individual addicted to sex. Two major issues include
- An inability to open up and discuss the problem
- A level of denial regarding their issue
Unfortunately, the initial confrontation can be problematic and frustrating for those family and friends concerned for their loved one.
But the key is to offer understanding and compassion while expressing your concerns. Then, if they don’t open up the first time, eventually, they may soften their resistance.
6. Cannot Reduce the Time They Spend on Sexual Activities
Like drug or alcohol abusers, sex addicts often find cutting down on their activities challenging. Unfortunately, over time, sexual urges get stronger rather than weaker. They often deal with an internal struggle to minimize their time on sexual activities, which can make them feel even more guilty.
7. Displays Strong Disinterest in Their Partner
This is one of the most apparent signs of a problem in the relationship. One partner wants to have sex, and the other doesn’t. When one partner starts withdrawing from sex, it may be a sign of a deeper issue.
Note that this doesn’t always signify an issue with sex addiction. But if withdrawal from sex is evident with other red flags, then it’s likely that sex addiction could be a contributing factor.
Ways Sex Addiction or Porn Affects the Families
You may think your children are too young to understand your addiction. However, kids can comprehend when their parent is irritable and moody, two common symptoms of sexual addiction. Here are 3 obvious and 3 hidden effects of sex addiction on children and families.
3 Obvious Effects Include
3 Hidden Effects Include
8. Minimized (Or Loss) Of Sexual Functioning
Loss of sexual functioning tends to happen in young males who watch a lot of pornography. This is because they can’t match the sexual “high” experienced in porn with an in-person partner. This is one reason erectile dysfunction occurs.
When a male (or female) watches porn, the dopamine levels increase to a high level, which conditions the body to desire that same level. However, when indulging in “real life” sex, the conditioning reduces the capability to function.
9. Feelings of Guilt or Remorse after Sex
Guilt and shame often go hand-in-hand with most addictions. For example, regarding eating disorders, the more an individual eats, the guiltier they feel. The same is true for sexual addiction.
While it may feel satisfying during the act, the shameful feelings kick in shortly afterward. To them, it feels sexually satiating when they engage in risky behavior. Immediately afterward, feelings of inadequacy follow until they receive the next “fix,” and the cycle continues.
10. Constantly Viewing Pornography
Another sign that someone may suffer from sex addiction is constantly viewing porn and engaging in sexual fantasies. Unfortunately for addicts, real-life sex will never live up to the scenarios seen in porn on television or online.
11. Hiding Habits from Family and Friends
As with most addictions, reclusive and secret behavior is a common denominator. Many individuals feel people will judge them for their behavior, so they keep it hidden from loved ones.
In addition, they may feel embarrassed to talk to anyone about it, even those closest to them, due to the stigma attached to sex.
Because of the addiction, you’ll need to engage with it several times a day and often in settings where it is inappropriate. This leads to people sneaking away from social events or from work to watch porn. They may also become irritated if questioned about their whereabouts and what they were doing.
12. High Levels of Anger or Irritability
Because addiction rewires the brain’s reward and pleasure system, it may make an individual angry or irritable if they can’t engage in porn when they wish. So, someone with a sex addiction can quickly anger in social situations if forced to remain in a setting where viewing porn is not an option.
13. Financial Issues
We touched on this earlier, but it’s more than simply paying your last dollars for sexual satisfaction. Pornographic material is available on the internet at little to no cost. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those addicted to sex can sustain their habit cheaply.
When an individual becomes increasingly rooted in their addiction, there is often a heightened need for more diverse, explicit material to obtain the payoff. This tends to make individuals engage in paid-for subscriptions to harder-core sites with more explicit content (OnlyFans.)
They may also need to engage in real-life porn, such as hiring prostitutes, attending sex parties, and going to sex shows. Most of these activities are expensive, so a family man must engage in further deception with his spouse to cover the expenses.
14. Blame and Denial
With most addicts, you will play the blame and denial game. An individual with an addiction will most likely deny having a problem. This is a common warning sign.
The person with the addiction may not believe they have an issue, even if it’s affecting their relationship with others and their daily lives. In extreme cases, the addict will blame a sexual partner for their increased porn consumption.
15. Feelings of Depression and Withdrawal
Withdrawal is a common indicator that points toward addiction. It happens when a person suddenly ceases using a substance. The same is true for sex addicts. Withdrawal symptoms occur because the brain has become increasingly dependent on the specific stimulus to function properly.
When that stimulus is removed, it can cause psychological and physical side effects and be distressing and painful. So what begins as withdrawal becomes depression because you’re no longer receiving that “high.”
Why Is Porn So Addictive?
After YouTube, Facebook, and Google, pornography ranks as the highest internet search, with approximately 2.9 billion searches yearly. Because of its greater level of availability and exposure, it’s difficult to avoid its internet presence.
Porn has also now become more socially acceptable. Decades ago, porn was considered dirty and unacceptable. The only people who watched it were the ones that did so secretly.
Today, people trade pornographic videos and memes without a second thought. If you click on the wrong link, pornographic images pop up on your screen, inviting you to sign up for their website.
While porn can sometimes be a part of a healthier sex life for some individuals, it can also be a debilitating addiction for others and may affect many areas of their daily life.
This causes the brain to have trouble producing the chemical on its own, so it becomes dependent on porn to make those pleasurable feelings. This is how the addiction cycle begins.
Sexual Addiction-What to Do
Do Not Overreact
Often, we want to “fix” the issue immediately, so we jump into making unwise decisions. However, in an anxious state, people are likely to judge and be impulsive with their suggestions. Therefore, the ideal method is to do some research first. Collect information on where to get help so you can pass it along.
Seek Professional Help on How to Talk to Your Children about Sex Addiction
Any addiction is a delicate matter when discussing it with children. However, talking about a sexual obsession with a child requires extra care.
Whether the children are still at home or older and have left the nest, seek assistance from a licensed professional who can help you and your partner figure out what information you should share and when and how to share it.
Some therapists prefer family visits but then see the children for individual sessions to help process how they deal with the issue without parental influence.
Like all other addictions, you can successfully deal with sexual addiction. However, you must first recognize that you have an issue. Once you do, seek counseling either individually or with your family. Then, you can get back on track with the proper assistance and the love and support of your family.