None of us want to think that our spouse or partner might have a sexual addiction problem. However, if the thought has ever crossed your might at all, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen some warning signs, and are simply looking for more answers. Sex addiction is harder to spot than something like an addiction to alcohol, or drugs of another kind – but it can be no less harmful to the person going through it, and the relationships that surround them.
Whether you suspect your partner might be struggling with sex addiction, or you’re just curious about the symptoms, there are a few distinct characteristics to look for. Healthy sex in a relationship is normal, and encouraged. But, sexual addiction is something entirely different, and doesn’t fall within the realm of healthy sex. Let’s take a look at a few common characteristics of sex addicts, to help present a clearer picture.
1. Sex Dominates – If sex dominates your partner’s life, it can be a problem. It doesn’t need to be the act of sex itself, but it can be something they talk about constantly, or seem to think about constantly. In men especially, they may use an excuse, saying it’s just ‘because they’re a guy,’ and while men do tend to think about sex more often than women, it absolutely shouldn’t be the cornerstone of their entire lives.
2. Masturbating – Regular masturbating can be normal (more so for some than others), but creating a habit out of it, or feeling a need to masturbate frequently when you’re in a relationship can be a sign of something deeper going on.
3. Detachment – Sex addicts don’t usually engage in sex for the emotional aspect of it, and where you might want to feel connected with your partner, they might be in it for the physical rush alone. Unfortunately, sex addicts can also get ‘bored’ with regular sex because of this very reason. There’s nothing in it for them except physical stimulation, and that can get old after awhile, so they’ll look for newer means to satisfy themselves, which leads to…
4. Multiple partners, prostitution, cybersex, pornography, and/or multiple affairs – Sex addicts are never fully satisfied, so they will look to have interesting and even ‘dangerous’ sex as a regular part of their lives. By filling their lives with these activities, it can eventually carry over into every aspect of their lives. You may notice they stop spending time with family and friends, or they lose a job, etc. As the addiction gets deeper without any active help, the person struggling with it can lose everything.
Sexual addiction therapy can be a safe and effective way to work with someone dealing with sex addiction, when they are ready to face the problem. If left alone, sex addiction can grow into something extremely dark, and can really ruin an individual’s life, and the lives of everyone around them.
Drew Tillotson, PsyD., Psychologist, Therapist and counseling for Sexually addicted or compulsive men and women in San Francisco who are straight, gay, and bisexual both Individual and Couples therapy, Consultation and Supervision and specializing in Sex Addiction Therapy San Francisco