Anything can become an addiction and this includes everything from video games to alcohol. Some of these addictions, like alcoholism, are recognized by the general public and here there is often a lot of support in place for sufferers. In other cases however, such as in the case of sex addiction, the whole subject remains somewhat more taboo and under wraps. Sex addiction is of course an embarrassing problem for many of us, while at the same time it might seem to others as though it’s not a ‘real’ problem – owing to its lack of dangerous ‘side effects’ or (apparent) chemical basis.
All this means that a sex addiction can go for a long time without being discovered. What also doesn’t help is the fact that, like many addictions, it’s hard to define precisely when an overly active sex life becomes an addiction.
However a sex addiction is a very real problem, which can have a profound impact on a sufferer’s life. At the same time it’s a problem that can only get worse without some kind of intervention, which is why it’s so important to identify when you have a problem and to seek help. Here we will look at what makes a sex addiction.
What Is a Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction, also sometimes known as sexual addiction or hypersexuality, occurs at any point where the individual’s sexual appetite and behaviours feel out of their control and at the point where this begins to affect their ability to live a normal and happy lifestyle.
There are many ways in which this might manifest itself. While there are various different diagnostic scales and measures used to assess the state of a sex addiction, generally they include such points as:
• Persistent failure to resist impulses toward sexual acts
• Engaging in sexual acts for a greater period or longer duration than initially intended
• Desire to stop indulging in these persistent acts
• Gradual need to increase the intensity/risk/frequency of sexual activity in order to get the same gratification
• Giving up social or career commitments in favour of sexual acts
• Lack of time for other things caused by large amount of time spent engaging in sexual activities
• Continuation of sexual behaviour despite recognizing the harm it’s causing
• Restlessness, violence, distress, anti-social behaviour used to achieve desired sexual activity
Most of these points are included by Patrick Carnes, who proposed one of the most popular (though still controversial) theories of sexual addiction. Of course these behaviours needn’t always refer specifically to sexual acts between multiple people – but they can also refer to solitary pursuits such as masturbation or just watching porn.
Sex addiction can affect anyone, but statistics suggest it is more common for some people than others. Specifically it is most likely to affect those with addictive or obsessive compulsive personalities to begin with, and this may also correlate with low self-esteem, self-destructive behaviour, hormone imbalance (perhaps caused by a particular stage in life such as puberty of menopause), alcoholism, drug use or escapist tendencies.
Generally any addiction is described as a state of behaviour that is ‘outside social norms’ and that affects the routine of daily life or the ability to forge and maintain relationships. However, the reality is that anything is a problem as soon as you feel it is or suspect it is. If you aren’t entirely happy, or are concerned with your own behaviour, then you shouldn’t over think it and should seek help as soon as possible before the issue progresses. This is the most certain way to break the cycle.