What is Sexual Addiction
Sexual addiction, according to Rob Weiss, is also known as “hypersexuality” or “hypersexual disorder”, is a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy and behavior, often involving the obsessive pursuit of non-intimate sex, pornography, compulsive masturbation, romantic intensity, and objectified partner sex. This adult obsessive pattern of thoughts and behaviors continues for a period of at least six months, despite the following:
The following criteria can be used to diagnose sexual addiction (3 or more):
- Promises made to self and others to change the sexual behavior.
- Attempts made to self-correct the problematic sexual behavior.
- Significant, directly related negative life consequences such as emotional turmoil, physical health challenges, career problems, relationship instability, and legal challenges.
They also typically have difficulty with “genuine” intimacy in committed relationships and use their sexual addiction behavior to escape painful and difficult feelings. The sex addict typically cycles through an addictive cycle of preoccupation, ritualization, compulsive sexual behavior, and despair or shame.
Some other signs of Sexual Addiction are as follows:
- Loss of control: Which means clear behavior in which you do more than you planned or wanted to.
- Compulsive behavior: This would constitute a pattern of out of control behavior over a period of time.
- Preoccupation: This would mean obsessing about or because of the behavior.
- Losses: This would mean losing, limiting, or sacrificing valued parts of life such as hobbies, relationships, family and work.
- Withdrawal: This would mean stopping the behavior causes considerable distress, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, or physical discomfort.
If the individual struggling with sexual acting out behaviors does not receive treatment and recovery, overcoming sexual addiction can be very difficult. Partners and spouses of sex addicts also have their own negative consequences that require help as well. We have partnered up with local Certified Sexual Addiction Therapists who can help the partner and the couple dealing with sexual addiction.
Sexual health is very important and a later focus in sexual addiction treatment. Sexuality should be an important and balanced part of our journey in life. However, when sex becomes the most important focus, or when we deprive ourselves of healthy sexual and committed intimacy, our sexuality acts as a barrier filled with shame and self defeating judgments. It also isolates us from healthy connection with others. Healthy sexual behavior or sexual health, on the other hand, develops true intimacy and attachment. It is characterized by joy, trust, respect for each other, and safety.
Sexual health can occur with individuals dealing with sexual addiction with proper recovery. Healing from sexual addiction requires commitment, direction and consistency and focusing on nothing less than full recovery. In doing so, sexual addiction recovery becomes a life shift that opens up hope and the possibility for change.