While some people may think of it as a punchline (after all, who doesn’t want to have more sex?), sexual addiction is as real as any other compulsive behavior – and just as dangerous. The difference, however, is that the signs can be harder to spot.
Unlike alcohol, drugs, food or shopping habits, where there’s weight gain (or loss), hangovers or track marks, a new wardrobe or overwhelming credit card debt to indicate the addiction, the tangible evidence of sexual compulsion can be kept a secret for a very long time – often until it’s too late for the people involved to save their relationships. If you’re concerned about your own sexual attitudes and behaviors, or those of someone you care about, consider the following characteristics of sex addiction… and don’t be afraid to get help! If you want help identifying a sex addict, contact one of our psychics today.
It would be easy to assume that “sex addicts” flaunt their sexuality… the showy dresser with the bad reputation, the player who has slept with his whole social circle. And while these personality types may very well be struggling with issues surrounding sex and compulsive behavior, the real indicator is not to be found in the act itself, but in the person’s attitude about it. What is normal behavior for one person can be dangerous for another. As such, “acting out” alone is not a real indicator of sexual compulsion. The primary common characteristics found in all sex addicts is shame about their behavior.
Whether or not this shame manifests as admitted guilt or embarrassment is a different story, however. Rather than that, this deep-seated, nagging feeling that something is wrong with their behavior can translate into excuses or reasoning about it. The woman who sleeps with her husband’s best friend for example, may say she wasn’t being satisfied at home or call it unrequited love. A man who chooses to use porn repeatedly (instead of having sex with his lover), may say this behavior is normal or just part of being a man… In either case, the addict has lost all recognition of his lover as a person with sexual and emotional needs, at least in so far as that they are completely trumped by their own sexual demands.
Whether it’s the thrill of the chase, the endorphin rush of the act, or an inexplicable obsession to see everything in a sexual context (obsession with sex is another indicator of a problem), the one thing sex addicts cannot do is have a successful, connected intimate relationship. That’s not to say they can’t sustain some form of a relationship, because very often, they do. But frequently, those pairings are abusive. Manipulation to get sex or to get out of trouble (or avoid the admission of having it elsewhere) is a common theme. Likewise, secrecy plays a big role. Consider the Internet porn addict or the person who goes cruising for anonymous sex – it’s not exactly dinner table conversation. Sex addicts can often seem to be hiding something when it comes to their sexual lives, which is extremely hurtful to the partners they’re neglecting or mistreating. They may even shut off to sex altogether with their mate, while seeking satisfaction elsewhere.
Like all addictions, sex addiction has been proven to be chemical. Likewise, as the addiction progresses, the addict’s tolerance grows. An alcoholic who used to get their fix from two or three drinks a day, moves up to a bottle. A weekend drug habit blossoms to an every day need. So it goes with sex addiction as well. Whereas the first affair may have provided a high thanks to the neuro-chemicals released in the body, eventually, the sex addict needs more to get off (if they can get off at all) and the downward spiral begins. It is here where the signs start to show.
In the throes of addiction, this can mean spending money for sex (either on prostitutes or potential scores), illegal behavior (like groping, self-exposure, soliciting prostitutes) and oftentimes other addictions, like alcohol or drugs – which seem to make it easier to cope with the sexual behavior. Sex becomes their answer for everything. It’s what to do to celebrate successes, to alleviate pain, to take out aggression. And most notably, it’s no longer fun… yet, in this stage, the addict will, do anything, give up anything… destroy everything to get it.
If this sounds like someone close to you, please encourage the person to get help from a counselor or professional organization. Good luck.
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