Sex addiction has been getting a lot of attention over the past couple years thanks to a number of high profile celebrities who have made sure that it stays in and out of the headlines, such as David Duchovny, Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Charlie Sheen, Amy Winehouse, and Bill Murray. It has garnered so much attention, in fact, that it is being classified as a full-on addiction by some folks (usually the folks who claim to have this addiction).
Addiction or Excuse?
If you’ve wondered if you might perhaps be a sex addict, perhaps an even more important question is what the true purpose of this wonderment is. Sex addicts most often flare up after being caught with another person, and they’ve discovered their current relationship is at risk. It is just too easy to say you have no control over your need for sex, and many psychologists say that it is more of a compulsive behavior than a true addiction. This statement has been challenged by recent animal studies which suggest trauma to certain parts of the brain may contribute to uncontrollable, biological desires for sex. Whether or not these animal studies can be extended to human behavior has not yet been decided.
The difference between a compulsion and addiction is that a compulsion is a habitual urge that is difficult to quit, but not impossible. An addiction is a neurobiological behavior that occurs repeatedly despite its negative consequences, and is therefore much more consuming and difficult to master (control). This is a very important distinction between the true sex addict and a promiscuous lover. The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health claims that only three to five percent of the population can be truly classified as sex addicts. The remaining self admitted addicts are likely using this classification as a means to justify their cheating to both themselves and their partner.
Questions for the Real Addict
There are a number of tests/questionnaires designed to inform a sex junkie just how serious their condition really is. What these questions are designed to do is determine if your actions are uncontrollable, diminishing your quality of life, putting your relationships and life at risk, and increasing your chances of being arrested for lewd conduct. One of the most difficult aspects of having a sexual addiction, is it’s not something you can likely quit cold turkey. Sex is, after all, a part of most everyone’s life. For this reason, some experts distinguish healthy sexual enthusiasm from unhealthy, by how much it either adds or takes away from your daily life.
For example, if you are a newlywed couple who enjoys spending the entire day making love, that may actually be increasing your bond, and could therefore be considered healthy. If you are a couple with three kids, and find yourselves engaging in 12-hour sex marathons, this might not be so healthy. It is all a matter of where you are in life, and how your behavior is effecting yourself and those around you. Below are five important questions to ask yourself about your current sexual behavior. If you answer yes to any one of these, it might designate at least a tendency towards sexual addictive behavior.
1. Secretive: You have lied in order to continue your sexual behavior? (Leading a double life)
2. Hurtful: Sex (masturbation) gets in the way of functioning in your job and relationships.
3. Shameful: You feel guilty and dirty after sexual encounters, yet continue to engage in them.
4. Financial Burden: Do you spend excessive money on inappropriate partners and pornography?
5. Scapegoat: Do you use sex to escape from daily life, anxiety, and other problems?
Sex addiction is difficult to treat and even more difficult to classify, but if you’ve found your way to this article out of concern for your current promiscuous behaviors, chances are your already a candidate!