Sexual Addiction

Like most addictions, sexual addiction is a way some people choose to blockout painful feelings. They use sex so often to “medicate” themselves that their sexual behavior becomes their major coping mechanism and the thing that they turn to whenever they feel stress. The addict spends a lot of time pursuing sexual fantasy as a way of blocking out sexual (and other) reality.

There are biological, psychological, and spiritual reasons that are so powerful that they can compel an addict to “act out sexually.” Sadly, most addicts are unable to stop or even reduce their sexual behavior by themselves. Without treatment or help of some kind, a sex addict – just like any other addict – will put his/her need for sex above everything, risking work, reputation, health, and ultimately marriage.

Sex Addiction vs. A “High” Sex Drive
The desire for sex is not unnatural, of course. The difference between a sex addict and a person with a high sex drive is that the non-addict enjoys sex for it’s own sake. And when a non-addict’s partner says, “Not tonight,” it doesn’t present a problem. For the addict, a refusal is the same as a rejection, and the addict’s way of coping with that rejection is to seek sex somewhere else … either a different partner or through excessive masturbation.

Masturbation is the first sexual behavior that most people experience on a repeated basis. It often starts in very young childhood. It is frequently where a sexual compulsion starts, and can lead to other compulsions like an addiction to pornography, or to engaging in unsafe sex with multiple partners. Ultimately, the addictive behavior replaces healthy sexual activity with his/her partner.

When Fantasy Takes Over
As sexual addiction grows, a sex addict may begin to experience sexual anorexia. When this happens, the addict chooses a fantasy world over reality. Sexual addicts satisfy themselves or have sex with others rather than engaging in sex with their spouses.

Living with a sexual addict can be extremely damaging to the non-addicted partner who ends up feeling abandoned, alone, and “shut out” from his/her spouse’s most intimate life. For this reason, it’s important that the non-adicted partner do everything possible in pursuit of “self-healing.”

For some spouses, “healing” may mean working with a therapist, either individually or with the sex addict, to try to save the marriage. The first step will be confronting the addict about his/her addiction. Then will come the difficult process of breaking the addiction and re-establishing trust and commitment. This can be especially challenging if the addict has engaged in one or multiple extra-marital affairs.

Other partners may feel an affair means that the sanctity of their wedding vows has been violated and the marriage bond destroyed. For them, divorce is the only alternative and their “healing” will include seeking out a legal professional skilled in family and divorce law.



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