Some say sex-addiction is just an excuse for immoral behavior; others contend it’s real and difficult to stop.
In Confessions of a Female Sex Addict , Diamond Sky writes:
The internet has made dating so much easier and conquests are an easy click away. 1, 2, or 3 in a day is easy for me. ..I would consider 5 or 6 to be pushing it. [being faithful to 1 guy] seems impossible to me. ..I know I’m addicted to sex.
In Fast Girl: Suzy’s Story
Suzy Favor Hamilton, writes:
I saw a general physician who could tell that I was clearly not well, and was prescribed a new anti-depressant…
within weeks of taking this new drug was that I suddenly craved sex.
I started taking lots of trips to Las Vegas and soon started paying for sex. I would have multiple rendezvous with men and women during quick trips to Las Vegas, my newfound playground that stimulated my senses. I would progressively up the ante. Threesomes. Sex in public. And soon, I was secretly having sex for money. Seeking risk, thrill and taboo, and it was never quite enough. I was insatiable. I would run a half marathon in one state in the morning and fly to Vegas that afternoon to live my secret life as an escort that evening. All the while my husband and daughter were back home in Wisconsin. Completely unfazed, I would soon become one of Vegas’ most sought after escorts. I loved the life I had created, the rush–and I felt it could last forever.
In MY LIFE AS A 31-YEAR-OLD SEX ADDICT
Jenny’s* boss had just left the office to grab lunch when she felt the overwhelming urge to start touching herself.
Convinced she was abnormal for her inability to orgasm, Jenny bought her first vibrator at the age of 17.
‘I remember locking myself in my room one day, lying down on my bed, and being determined to make myself cum. When I did for the first time, it felt amazing. From then on, I got into a routine of using my vibrator at least five or six times a day.’
Surrounded by her colleagues – one was sat less than two metres away – the then 29-year-old slowly slid her right hand up her skirt, down the front of her tights and gently began rubbing her clitoris.
It took approximately 10 minutes for her to orgasm.
‘If I hadn’t masturbated at that moment, I don’t know what I’d have done,’ she tells ELLE UK.
When Jenny met her boyfriend last year, he was almost six months into a celibacy agreement with a counselor treating him for sex addiction. Just two weeks after their first date, however, her partner relapsed and it wasn’t long before the pair became regulars on the local sex club scene.
‘The first time I went [to a sex club] I was a bit nervous,’ Jenny admits. ‘When I walked in the door, I saw a woman lying on a table with six different men wanking over her body while she gave someone a blow job. I thought it was beautiful.’
At the height of their addiction, Jenny and her boyfriend were spending four nights a week at sex clubs and have spent close to £2,000 over the last year on entry charges alone.
‘If we had the chance to go to sex clubs all day, we would,’ she admits, saying the only obstacle is childcare for her young daughter from a previous relationship.
Recalling one orgy with at least 10 men and women and several onlookers, Jenny says: ‘I remember a mass of bodies and hands touching me all over the place. At one point, my boyfriend put a foot over my vagina to stop people entering me without a condom. I can proudly say I’ve never had an STI in my life.’
Michael Herkov, Ph.D writes:
Sexual addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Like all addictions, its negative impact on the addict and on family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.
For many sex-addicts, the more sex they have, the less interesting each encounter becomes. They seek out more interesting sexual activities, scenarios, etc.
the problem some people have when they act out sexually in ways they feel they cannot control, and which are detrimental to their health and relationships.
Sex addiction of any kind is marked by a loss of control: the person can no longer control the compulsion to have sex, despite negative consequences. Compulsive masturbation, compulsive pornography use, and multiple affairs are a few types of behaviors that evidence this lack of control.5 Keep in mind that one sign or symptom on its own does not equal proof that a person necessarily has a sex addiction. Typically, multiple symptoms need to occur simultaneously to indicate a sex addiction and cause significant distress to you and disruption to your life.
There is controversy surrounding the addiction aspect as well as the historic “sex shaming” that accompanies the term.
More recently, psychologists have suggested the term “hypersexuality” .
Research has shown that this criteria is a valid and reliable way of identifying hypersexuality.
For a period of at least six months:
- An individual experiences recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, sexual urges, or sexual behaviors
- The time spent engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors consistently interferes with other important activities and obligations
- Sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors occur in response to dysphoric mood states (anxiety, depression, boredom, irritability) or stressful life events
- An individual engages in consistent but unsuccessful efforts to control or reduce their sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors
- An individual engages in sexual behaviors while disregarding the potential for physical or emotional harm to self or others
- The frequency or intensity of sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors cause significant personal distress or impairment
For ongoing aftercare, there are several 12-step programs designed to address the specific needs of people with sex addictions. These programs, including Sexaholics Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous, use the same principles found in other well-known 12-step addiction programs. Just as with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, participants attend regular meetings and receive recovery wisdom and support from a program sponsor.
Different from the abstinence-based goals of drug and alcohol treatment, though, the goal for those with sex addiction is not complete abstinence, but rather a return to healthy sexual behavior.
Is sex-addiction a myth?
In The Myth of Sex Addiction, Dr. Ley contends:
“when we apply the core concepts of addiction to…sexuality, we find significant gaps that make it extremely difficult to justify sexual behaviors as a form of addition” (29)
“Patterns are seen in many…cultures where men routinely demonstrate their virility and masculinity tjrpugh dexual promiscuity with mistresses and prostitutes” (113)
Of Swingers he quotes one who claims: “Our sensual appetite is healthier/stronger than the average person…We experience life at a totally different level…Our fantasies come true! It’s euphoric & addictive. I am in the [swinging] lifestyle b/c I am intellectually stimulated by it’s members, and physically stimulated through participation. (117)
the scientific community is so robustly challenging to the lack of research behind sex addiction that I would be extremely surprised if anyone could legitimately that sex addiction is generally accepted in the field. (138)
men are constrained by the social expectations placed upon them, by the rigidity of the roles they are forced to assume, as women are. Men do not rule society but exist within it, just as women do (199)
We must start asking the men in our lives…to take responsibility for their sexual behaviors…[to] offer them a context in which they can take responsibility, in which male sexuality is understood…[to] offer them a context where high libido…is not seen as an unhealthy thing, but as an aspect of a person…which they must integrate…within their lives (216)
[sex addiction is] a disorder that has wrested responsibility away from philandering men and excused their bad behavior as being out of their control.
He takes on those who would label it a disease and challenges us to reexamine our approach to male sexuality.
Despite the lack of any scientific research, many seek out professional help for what they are convinced is their sex addiction. Psychotherapists, psychiatrists, sex therapists and other social counselors offer therapies similar to treating compulsive disorders. For example,
I have seen thousands of individuals whose sexual behaviors satisfy every criteria of addiction.
These individuals—both men and women—act on those sexual behaviors repeatedly and, once headed down that path, without the ability to stop. They also develop a tolerance to their sexual activities, most often causing them to engage in those behaviors for longer periods of time or to seek out more intensely arousing situations, images, etc.
To say that these people are not suffering from an addiction is to deny reality.
Many seek a remedy for sex addiction without the aid of practitioners.
Most of the self-help advice calls on the reader to pull himself together, think about other non-sexual thoughts or call on a higher power for spiritual help. An example is from Tom David
In SEXUAL ADDICTION NO MORE: Proven Strategies to Overcome Sexual Addiction
The reason why human are addicted to sex is because they channel their energy on it. You can channel your energy to things that will be beneficial and profitable to you. Life is not only about money, food and sex. There are many other good things in life, many people believe money is everything in life, other people believe they cannot go without food. There was a point in life that I was so obsess about food, I always ensure I eat. Over the years I have come to realize that the most important thing in life is peace. Some people we tell you that the most important thing in life is money. Money is important but the most important is peace. When you are engaging inappropriate sexual activities you lose your peace because of the feeling of guilt and shame. This away the universe is telling us that it is harmful to us. We all need money because it will help us to leave a better life. We should not play with peace because it is very important. Stay away from things that will not give you peace like inappropriate sexual activities and unhealthy relationship
What you need to understand you can quit inappropriate sexual activities; all you need to do is to do the right thing. Probably your mind has made you to understand that you cannot stop the addiction. The truth is you can stop sexual addiction, I have seen people that were so addicted to drugs that work on their self to become clean. Your mind can tell you that you can’t quit inappropriate sexual activities. What you need to understand is that every human being has an inner power. The universe has given every human inner power to change anything in their life. The universe is working for you; the thing is the universe can’t do everything for you because you need to play your part in order for things to go your way. You need to use your inner power to change your thought to the one you desire. Think of other things you enjoy other than inappropriate sexual activities. There are many positive things we enjoy on earth; you can use inner power that has been given to you to change your life. You have the power to push your life to the direction you want it to go.
To quit sexual addiction one of the things you need to do is to stop the watching of porn, it may not be easy at first when you start working on yourself with time you will begin to make progress
There are lots of things that can cause sexual addiction one of them is the desire for pleasure. We humans will love pleasure that is why will are attracted to sexual implicit materials. The pleasure we derived from inappropriate sexual activities is not beneficial for us that is why we have the feeling of guilt and shame. We keep on doing things that lead to sexual addiction this is because of pleasure. You see lots of people can spend hour’s online watching pornography materials and video because they want to satisfy their sexual desires. When we begin to engage in sexual activities it begins to affect our thought and our thought affect our thinking. The kind of thought we will be thinking is to engage in more sexual activities which is not of help to us. The more time you spend in inappropriate sexual activities the more the mind and brain we demand for it. One of the ways you can stop sexual addiction is to ensure you do not engage inappropriate sexual activities. If you are the kind of person that spends time in the internet find away to abstain from pornography materials because the more you view these things, the more they affect you
Other advise a more holistic approach. For example, Dr. Trafford writes
In Sex Addiction: Life-Changing Ways to Eliminate Sex Addiction, Relieve Sex Cravings, and get Rid of Negative Thoughts
One frequent recurrence you see in sex addiction is the gravitation towards domination and/or submission. Now, we will look briefly into the science of this, but the fundamental point to be aware of is that this is a result of your cravings and out of control urges. Porn addiction can lead to the dom-sub addiction, as can perpetual desires and lustful eyes. When you see those you are attracted to in a lustful way, this creates a repetition in your mind. This repetition perpetuates and evolves and eventually, you begin to pick up on aspects of the collective psyche. Remember, your brain is a powerful transmitter and receiver of consciousness and we are all connected through a shared psyche. It is like a chain reaction; you become so accustomed to seeing one type of image or visual (via porn scenes or through your mental desire projections) and this begins to affect your emotions, inner physiology and spiritual awareness (the awareness of higher values and being connected to others). This, in turn, shifts your brain to a certain ‘channel,’ a certain frequency and thus you begin to tune in to the vibrations being emitted from this channel.
In terms of domination and submission, there will always be a natural element of these energies in any healthy, loving and passionate partnership (relationship) as it is part of the collective shadow and psyche; human nature has a dark side. Yet in relationships, this dark side is not that dark at all when explored in a loving, mutually respectful and intimate way. Allowing yourself or your partner to express their dominatrix side can be very healing and can develop trust, a deeper bond and a deeper love and respect for one another. The same is true for submission. However, outside of a loving, mutually respectful relationship where dom-sub fantasies run wild and there is a real lack of caring for the other, this may not be the case. Furthermore, allowing these energies to run wild with lack of caring and intimacy can lead to extremist sexual tendencies such as sadism and masochism. Sadism can be seen as the evolved form of domination and masochism the evolved form of submission. Both involve a lot of pain and suffering when the individual is not in their ‘character’ and is more connected to their authentic self and emotional body. It is important therefore to recognize that you have certain needs, desires and fantasies but to express them in the right way. Turning to porn, meaningless one night stands or prostitution, where your need to dominate is exerted in a less than holy or positive way, is not healthy. It keeps you trapped in the cycle and affects the neurons in your brain, therefore having a negative and destructive effect on your emotions, well-being and all subsequent thoughts and daily realities. Domination and submission should only be performed when developing trust with an equal and exploring yourself either in a playful or healing way. Simultaneously, if you are in a partnership where one of you has permanently taken on a dominant or submissive role, then this too can be unhealthy. There are many dynamics to this; however, the key is to focus on what you do want and not what you don’t. Keep your thoughts and intentions positive and engage in the sexual healing and touch techniques for couples shared earlier. This will help you stay connected to the real love and bond you share and not some destructive desire to dominate your partner or be submissive to their will. There is only pain, repressed emotions and hidden suffering here. Society, Patriarchy and the Masculine
Playing with your partner will allow you to explore each other on many levels and explore each other’s boundaries simultaneously. Playful foreplay also allows you to change your mindset towards sex and passion as ‘playfulness’ increases feelings of friendship, platonic bond and lightheartedness. Playfulness can, therefore, help alleviate the seriousness associated with sex cravings and some of the other acts associated, such as domination, rough sex and fantasies. Mindful foreplay essentially allows you to develop sensuality due to the patience and ‘taking it slowly’ element involved. When you are mindful, you are considerate and attentive to your partner’s needs and also better aware of your own needs. Mindfulness in foreplay and pleasure will enable you to recognize the parts of yourself which don’t just desire senseless, hardcore stimulation or lustful, secretive naughtiness. There are parts of you that crave sensual touch, gentle stimulation and depth of feeling. These can all shine through and be brought to light with mindful and sensual foreplay.
One of the best ways to heal your sexuality and develop positive associations is to engage in controlled masturbation. Self-pleasure is the best term to use and something you may benefit from shifting your consciousness to. Masturbation can have many negative connotations, mainly due to its links with porn and impurity. Changing your mindset to self-pleasure, therefore, and engaging in it in regular cycles can greatly help overcome any addictions or unhealthy cravings.
Concluding remarks. Sex addiction may be very real for some. Professional organizations such as the APA have not accepted it as a personality disorder. Nevertheless, people afflicted seek help. The absence of a diagnosis and a standard treatment provides opportunities for many to prescribe a myriad of therapies. Until the disorder is classified, it’s a “buyer beware” situation.