The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” In other words, individuals with hyper-sexual disorders continue to engage in certain sexual behaviors despite any health risks, financial problems, ruined relationships or trouble with the law as well as many other medical, occupational, legal, social, and emotional complications. Behaviors that indicate sexual addiction include the following:
- Compulsive sexual behavior patterns with prostitutes, casual app-based hook-ups, or multiple affairs
- Compulsive abuse of porn, sexting or cybersex
- Using seduction, sex or other schemes to attract or hold onto partners
- Inability to enjoy relationship or sexual intimacy without abusing alcohol and other drugs
- Drug and alcohol addictions driven by co-existing sex and relationship problems
- Emotional isolation related to living a double life
- Obsessive dating and endlessly searching for “the one”
- Mistaking sex and romance for love
- Using sex, romance, drugs or alcohol to mask loneliness or unhappiness
- Focusing obsessively on sexual/romantic fantasies via Internet affairs, romantic books and films as opposed to engaging in intimate relationships
- Personal and/or professional boundary problems related to intimate and sexual behavior
- Consistent involvement in emotionally unavailable, troubled, addicted or abusive relationships
These compulsive behaviors are often fueled by an anger or fears of intimacy, and have their roots in the sexual shame that can stem from the addict’s culture or family. Acting out sexually can be used for various reasons, including to medicate emotional pain, manage stress, or as a substitute for true intimacy. As with other addictions, there is usually an escalation of these behaviors due to tolerance, as the individual continues to pursue the “high” regardless of the costs in his or her personal life.
Because of the historical and cultural shame associated with sexual behaviors, it is only recently that that sexual addiction has been acknowledged by treatment professionals, though there have been some that have argued that hypersexuality as a disorder doesn’t exist or is exaggerated. Nevertheless, acknowledgment of compulsive sexuality is growing and help is now available to those who need it. If you or someone you love is struggling with compulsive sexual behavior, StepHouse Recovery Center offers a team of specialists that can help through one-to-one coaching therapy, guided meditation and psychological education in a safe, compassionate and discreet manner.