What Is Sexual Addiction?
Sexual addiction or dependency is a compulsive disorder that causes the inability to control ones sexual behavior that affects millions of people world-wide. A person with sexual addiction has excessive thoughts or behaviors relating to or obtaining a desired sexual effect. Those that suffer from this obsessive dependency suffer at work, with personal relationships, and other daily activities.
Some of the criterion associated with sexual addiction includes compulsive behavior resulting in adverse consequences. At first, these activities can be pleasurable. But the continued act becomes steadily compulsive until one becomes addicted. Some of these compulsive behaviors include pornography, multiple anonymous partners, repeated affairs, cyber-sex, prostitution, exhibitionism, and voyeurism to name a few.
The inability to control such sexual behaviors leads to depression, anxiety, and other emotional actions. Emotional coping is one way addicts use their addiction to experience a different way of stimulating the brain. Over time, the person becomes addicted pornography or other sexual stimulation to obtain feelings of gratification. But with that, other related issues like abandonment, fear, shame, or guilt are also linked to sexual addiction. Addicts can’t voluntarily disengage from sexual behavior, ending in consequences that disrupt the normal function of a person.
It’s important to recognize the complications that sexual addiction can impart on a person despite the negative consequences. Just like other addictions, these types of sexual behaviors seem to continue despite the effort to stop. Acting out sexually is usually a way to medicate or manage stress, pain, or even substitute for true intimacy. Some signs of sexual addiction include:
- Cybersex or phone sex
- Multiple Partners
- Compulsive masturbation
- Unsafe sexual activity
- Sexual paraphilia
- Preoccupation with having sex
These types of compulsive behaviors derive from mismanaged emotions which can later end in sexual compulsivity. Most often people don’t realize that there is treatment to manage their addiction, continuing to struggle no matter what the cost.
Sexual Addiction and Women
Is there really a difference between a man and a woman who suffers from sexual addiction? Interestingly enough, the answer is yes. Actually, there is a whole collection of misunderstandings and myths that surround women and having an addiction to sex. Since there has not been one set standard to measure addiction between men and women, sexual addiction in women has not been truly acknowledged in society until the past two decades or so. But sexual addiction is a real issue for women for sure, and not just a male phenomenon any more.
When it comes to sexual addiction, it’s really about the mechanics of emotions rather than what people identify it as being sexually intimate. Addictions of any kind prominently stem from an immediate need to satisfy emotional imbalances, and searching for that type of satisfaction with sexual compulsions often leads to an addiction that continues to meet the woman’s emotional disorder.
Women share the same symptoms as men when it comes to becoming addicted to sexual behaviors, usually starting with pornography and infidelity until it grows to the point there is no way to satiate their needs to feel complete. There are several things that can be instantly identified as to why a woman turns to an addiction to sex:
- Most commonly is the impact of childhood verbal or sexual abuse that instigates an emotional need for sex in later years. Childhood sexual abuse not only scars a woman’s healthy balance for nurturing and caring, it also leads to fear and mistrust as their inborn nature to cultivate their unconditional love as a nurturer is offended by others’ unhealthy sexual behaviors.
- Females search for a feeling of completion, and sex gives them the dopamine rush that satisfies them for the few minutes it takes to engage in sex. But if there are emotional imbalances among the reason a woman seeks out sex to feel a bond, the sensation is soon depleted, and they will seek out more ways of receiving the same gratifying feeling through unhealthy sexual promiscuity.
- Many women agree that it’s not about the sex. It’s about the desperate need for acceptance, love, and affection. The feeling of loneliness or powerlessness is also a landmark for women who become addicted to unhealthy sexual behaviors. Often times it is the abandonment a women feels that fuels her addiction for the need to be wanted through sexual impulses.
Where this is only a few of the issues regarding women and sexual addiction, it is safe to say that the components of any addiction have negative consequences. Many times women do not identify themselves as having an addiction to sex or having unhealthy sexual behaviors as they believe it is merely an addiction to love, being co-dependent, or a relationship addiction. Without the knowledge to identify this addiction properly, this leads to events that quickly spiral out of control.
Without a proper understanding of sexual addictions, overcoming them is an unreachable goal. Recovering from a sexual addiction takes knowledge, understanding, and counseling. Getting the proper help is vital for recovery.
Is Sexual Addiction a Real Problem?
The causes of sexual addictions are complex. Many questions arise as to why some people have an inability to control their addictions while others are unaffected. Research provides unlimited sources of understanding as to what causes an addiction and how it can be facilitated.
To further shed some light on the subject, it might be best to look at the definition of what an addiction is. An addiction is a condition of any kind that takes total control over what a person is doing, thinking, or feeling. There are multiple addictions out there such as drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, and even an addiction to sexual behaviors. When the body responds to a pleasurable affect that becomes compulsive and incontrollable, interfering with one’s duties and responsibilities of everyday life, then one is known as having an addiction.
Sexual addiction can be termed as a progressive intimacy disorder that is categorized by compulsive sexual thoughts and behaviors. Once a person becomes an addict, there are negative implications that increase as the addiction progresses‒ such as infidelity or financial ruin. Over time, the addict must find gratification by intensifying their behavior just to achieve the same results.
Another way to define sexual addiction is when someone engages in persistent patterns of sexual behavior until they escalate out of control. Despite the negative consequences, those that have sexual addictions continue to engage in these types of behaviors that risk their health, create financial problems, and destroy relationships with family, friends, and employers. When sexual addiction becomes a problem, it is often due to a person’s inability to have a healthy response to stress, trauma, or anxiety that is caused from everyday life. More specifically, the addict is unable or unaware of the best way to correctly deal with the emotional mechanism which leads them to search out other ways to deal with their underlying emotions.
There are so many things that can cause addictions in today’s world. Compulsive behaviors arise from emotional links in the brain caused from overstimulation. When this type of behavior receives a feeling of pleasure, reward, or relief, it quickly becomes the primary relationship for the addict. Sexual addiction if often a way to cope with loneliness, anxiety, pain, depression or other painful emotions and stressors.
This becomes a real problem as addiction encompasses more than just a compulsive behavior to an emotional problem. It can also be associated with the inability to deal with feelings, exposure to traumatic events, distortions in a person’s ability to connect with self, or other dysfunctional belief patterns that trigger these specific emotions. This ultimately leads to an unhealthy way of living as the brain tries to reward the person for their addictive actions, thinking it is the only way to feel better. As a person continually encounters pornography or other sexual behaviors, it may also be a way to divert negative emotions that they have formed with other people. Some addictions, especially sexual addictions, are difficult to talk about particularly when a person is already struggling to manage what they don’t truly understand.
Just like all addictions, they will manifest themselves in different forms. Sometimes there may only be a few recognizable symptoms. Other times the signs are there, but seeking help is not always the easiest thing to do. Sexual addiction is a real problem that affects people of all types, ages, and social classes.