What Is A Sex Addiction, And Is It A Real Thing?

Last updated by Katie M.

When we hear about sex addiction, Michael Douglas, Tiger Woods or Leïla Slimani’s novel “Adèle” come to mind. But what really is sex addiction? How can it be defined? Can we compare it to drug, gambling or alcohol addictions? Having sex how many times per day constitutes a sex addict? We’ll answer all your questions.

Contents: 

What is sex addiction?

Definition of sex addiction

According to the dictionary, “addiction is a process by which a human behavior allows access to immediate pleasure by reducing a feeling of internal discomfort. It is accompanied by an inability to control this behavior despite being aware of its negative consequences.”

An under treated addiction

The concept of sexual addiction was introduced in the mid-1970s in Boston by a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. This illness was later the subject of a book by Patrick Carnes in 1980 called Out of the Shadows. Today, it is still much debated and influenced by religious beliefs.

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Understanding sex addiction

The behavior of an addict

A real addict can’t stop thinking about sex all the time and performing sexual acts with a partner or with themselves through masturbation. We talk about an addiction when this behavior prevents them from living normally or from having a normal professional and social life. For example, as soon as they have a few spare minutes, a sex addict will always look for a place to masturbate, a person to have sex with or will watch pornography.

Sex addiction takes several forms:

  • compulsive masturbation
  • addiction to pornographic websites
  • debauched visits to swinging or strip clubs
  • addiction to dating apps
  • use of cyber sex

Sex as a way to calm down

As with every addiction, the aim is to chase away anxiety and calm your mind. The search for pleasure is a way of thinking of something else and occupying your mind positively in order to calm yourself down. It’s this constant search for calming down that pushes you to constantly repeat a sexual act, but once this feeling of calming has disappeared, a feeling of something missing remains, which is typical behavior for an addiction. This lack translates into despair, sadness, depression and emptiness.

The difficulty defining a sex addict

The problem with defining sex addiction, unlike addictions to smoking or drugs for example, is that it’s difficult to quantify. If a couple agrees to have sex more than 3 times per day, that’s fine. However, if one partner only wants to have sex 3 times per month and the other 3 times per day, that’s where they will have a problem and one of them may accuse the other of being addicted to sex.

To summarize, sex addiction is characterized by:

  • A loss of control over sexual behavior
  • sexual dependence expressed by a compulsive need to act despite the potentially negative consequences
  • Psychological suffering linked to this dependent behavior (guilt, shame, depression…)

>>> Find out why sex is so hard to talk about


Note: Sex addiction never leads to aggressive behavior. This addiction leads to the consumption of sex, flirting, seduction, but never aggression. Predators or rapists aren’t sex addicts.


Curing a sex addiction

Behind this addiction, there is mainly a problem of anxiety (even generalized anxiety disorder), stress and anguish. Sex addiction can also stem from a trauma, it’s a way of disconnecting from your emotions. Another cause to be treated may be attachment disorders. Sex then becomes a means to fill this void in many ways. In short, there are many possible causes of the addiction and only a professional analysis can determine them. These deeper problems can be treated with psychotherapy, psychoanalysis or with the help of a sexologist. It’s therefore work to be done with a professional, and it can take time. Like with all addictions, the patient must admit their dependence and want to be cured. Without the will of the addict, there can be no cure.

Editor’s note – Don’t be afraid to talk about it

Taking the first step and making an appointment for a consultation about a sex addiction can be very difficult. The fear of being judged often prevents addicts from getting treatment. But sexologists are there to listen to the person suffering. An addiction is the result of great psychological suffering, whatever the type of addiction. You therefore shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it and seek help.
🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!

#BornToBeMe


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Article presented by Katie M.

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