What are the signs of sexual addiction?
People with sexual addiction often arrange their work and family schedules to accommodate their sexual desires. Much of their time is consumed by fantasies and daydreams of sexual encounters. Sex addicts generally keep their activities— which may include cybersex, viewing Internet pornography, voyeurism, masturbation, and affairs with multiple people—a secret from those around them. They may resort to lying to conceal their actions. After they engage in such activities, they often feel guilty and try to rationalize the behavior in their own mind.
Sex addicts often have the desire to quit engaging in their addictive behaviors. They frequently make plans to end their behavior but do not follow through on those plans, or they stop their behavior for only a temporary period of time. They continually dismiss the negative consequences they experience, which can include marital and work-related problems, STDs, and financial difficulties.
What are the consequences of sexual addiction?
Sexual addiction can affect many aspects of a person’s life, from work and family to health and finances. Sex addicts often arrange their schedules around their sexual activities and are frequently absent from their jobs. Some addicts sacrifice sleep in order to engage in sexual behaviors. In turn, their work performance is affected, which can lead to warnings from their supervisors or termination of employment.
Marital difficulties may result when the spouse discovers the addict’s affairs, preoccupation with pornography, or other sex-related activities. The lack of time the addict spends with the family also becomes a source of disagreement between couples. In addition, both the addict and the addict’s spouse are at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease if the addict has had extramarital relationships.
Financial difficulties are also not uncommon for sex addicts. Addicts spend money while having affairs to buy dinner or pay for hotel rooms. Involvement in prostitution and/or pornographic websites requiring membership fees can result in financial burdens. Unwanted pregnancies can also cause a financial, as well as emotional, strain.
Addicts may even experience legal consequences if they have been involved in voyeurism, exhibitionism, child pornography, rape, or sexual harassment.
Sexual addiction can lead to a relapse or eventual return to use of alcohol or other drugs. Often a sex addict will use alcohol to soothe the guilt of an affair or to bolster self-esteem after a sexual encounter.
In addition, many former active alcoholics and drug addicts used alcohol or other drugs in the past to make them feel more comfortable around the opposite sex and in sexual encounters. If you are in early recovery from alcohol or other drug addiction, it is best to focus on your recovery right now, rather than putting energy into a sexual relationship, thus avoiding possible triggers that would cause a return to use.
There are many resources out there. The websites for the following organizations were chosen for their usefulness and user friendliness.
Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA): The SAA website includes information on sexual addiction, a self-assessment quiz, and a directory of SAA meetings.
Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH): This site contains information about cybersex, treatment for sexual addiction, and the consequences of sexual addiction. It also has a list of national organizations and other websites that address sexual addiction.