Sex/Pornography Addiction

Bravo to you! Your courage to click and arrive at this place is noted. Sex, differently than alcohol, food or drugs, is perceived to be of a much greater personal and intimate nature. Consequently, I laud you for taking the first step in healing your hurt soul.

No differently than any other addiction, the term “sexual addiction” is used to describe the behavior of a person who has an obsession with sex. A person’s thoughts are so consumed with sex that all else suffers whether it be work, family, relationships, etc. The “drug of choice” for a sex addict can include any number of activities including: excessive masturbation, internet pornography, frequenting prostitutes, anonymous sex, voyeurism, exhibitionism, affairs, serial relationships, and a host of other sexually related behaviors. One’s behavior becomes an addiction when despite efforts to stop — a person engages in the activity repeatedly, even when it causes negative consequences.

Some of the most common symptoms of a sex addict include engaging in distorted thinking, rationalizing and justifying their behavior, lying and blaming others for their problems. Like with any other addiction, DENIAL is at the core of a sex addicts thinking. It just cannot be; there have to be other reasons and causes; please give me a moment and I will think of them.

Risk taking is one of the core behaviors of a sex addict. Rational thinking and common sense depart and the only thing a sex addict can think of is the next experience. We live in a time where we know that aside from the emotional consequences a sex addict and those they hurt suffer, there are also deadly STD’s that put the addict and their partners at grave risk for illness and possible death.

For some sex addicts they progress to illegal activities, such as exhibitionism (exposing oneself in public), making obscene phone calls, rape, pedophilia, voyeurism or molestation. It should be noted that sex addicts do not necessarily become sex offenders.

Behaviors associated with sexual addiction include:

  • Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation)
  • Multiple affairs (extra-marital affairs)
  • Multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands
  • Consistent use of pornography – Cyber and multi-media
  • Unsafe sex
  • Phone or computer sex (cybersex)
  • Prostitution or use of prostitutes
  • Exhibitionism
  • Obsessive dating through personal ads
  • Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
  • Sexual harassment
  • Molestation/rape

Most sex addicts gain little satisfaction from their sexual activity and form no emotional bond with their sex partners. Frequently, the problem of sex addiction often leads to feelings of guilt, remorse and shame. A sex addict also feels powerless over the behavior regardless of the negative consequences (financial, health, social, and emotional).

For those ready to answer some questions, I ask that Men click where it says Men and Women where it says Women. Record your answers with as much honesty as you are able.

Men

  1. Did you suffer emotional abuse or neglect as a child or adolescent? Y___ N___
  2. Do you regret the amount of time you spend online viewing porn, in sexual chats, watching webcams or chatting with hookers? Y___ N___
  3. Were you aware of any sexual problems with your parents? Y__ N__
  4. Are you preoccupied with your sexual thoughts? Y___ N___
  5. Are you distracted by your sexual behavior/activity? Y___ N___
  6. Have you lied about money you have spent on your sexual activity? Y___ N___
  7. Are there significant people in your life who express concern about your sexual activity? Y___ N___
  8. Can you stop your sexual behavior when you know you are at risk? Y___ N___
  9. Do you have more electronic/secretive sex than with healthy romantic partners? Y___ N___
  10. Is your sexual activity kept hidden from friends/partners? Y___ N___
  11. Do you look forward to partners going away or family departing so you can resume your secretive activity? Y___ N___
  12. Have you ever felt disgusted by something you did after it was over? Y___ N___
  13. Do you lose interest in a partner when the newness of the sex has waned? Y___ N___
  14. Do you ever risk getting arrested as a result of your sex behavior? Y___ N___
  15. Has anyone ever been hurt by your sexual behavior; emotionally or physically? Y___ N___
  16. Have you ever been sexual with a minor? Y___ N___
  17. After you have finished with sex, do you feel depressed or regretful? Y___ N___
  18. Have you ever promised yourself or someone else you would stop and broken the promise? Y___ N___
  19. Have your behaviors caused problems at work or in the loss of a relationship? Y___ N___
  20. Have you repeatedly engaged in unsafe or risky sex with no concern for yourself or your partner? Y___ N___
  21. Have you ever had one or more sexually transmitted diseases? Y___ N___
  22. Have you ever cruised public bathrooms, locker rooms or other public places seeking anonymous sex with strangers? Y__ N__

Women

  1. Do you believe you have a sexual problem? Y___ N___
  2. Do you often justify or minimize your sexual activity to yourself or others? Y___ N___
  3. Do you find yourself distracted by your sexual thoughts when you don’t want to be? Y___ N___
  4. Do you regret the amount of time you spend seeking sex or romance? Y___ N___
  5. Has paying for sex ever challenged your finances? Y___ N___
  6. Have any of your sexual activities ever caused physical or emotional harm to anyone? Y___ N___
  7. Are you able to stop your behavior when it contradicts your values and beliefs? Y___ N___
  8. Is your online sex behavior greater than your intimate romantic partners? Y___ N___
  9. Do you keep your sex activity a secret from friends and partners? Y___ N___
  10. Do you value your free time so you can do what you want sexually? Y___ N___
  11. Do you frequent adult book stores, strip clubs and other public places of known sexual activity? Y___ N___
  12. Do you believe that pornography/casual sex have kept you from long term intimate relationships? Y___ N___
  13. Do you lose interest in a partner when the newness of sex has worn off? Y___ N___
  14. Do your encounters ever out you at risk of being arrested? Y___ N___
  15. Do you have unprotected sex (oral, anal, vaginal) with anonymous partners? Y___ N___
  16. Have your activities ever caused emotional or physical harm to others? Y___ N___
  17. Have you ever had sex with a minor? Y___ N___
  18. After having sex, do you feel depressed or angry with yourself? Y___ N___
  19. Have you made repeated promises to stop your behavior only to break the promise? Y___ N___
  20. Has your sex behavior had negative work or relationship consequences? Y___ N___
  21. Do you routinely pay for sex? Y___ N___
  22. Have you ever had sex because of a momentary arousal only to regret it after? Y___ N___
  23. Have you ever cruised public bathrooms, locker rooms or other public places seeking anonymous sex with strangers? Y__ N__ 

     

Cyber Sex

  1. Do you spend increasing amounts of online time focused on sexual or romantic intrigue or involvement? Y___ N___
  2. Are you involved in multiple romantic or sexual affairs in chat rooms, Internet or BBS? Y___ N___
  3. Do you not consider online sexual or romantic “affairs” to be a possible violation of spousal/partnership commitments?
    Y___ N___
  4. Have you failed in attempts to cut back on frequency of online or Internet sexual and romantic involvement or interaction?
    Y___ N___
  5. Does online use interfere with work (tired or late due to previous night’s use, online while at work etc.)? Y___ N___
  6. Does online use interfere with primary relationships (e.g. minimizing or lying to partners about online activities, spending less time with family or partners)? Y___ N___
  7. Are you intensely engaged in collecting Internet pornography?
    Y___ N___
  8. Do you engage in fantasy online acts or experiences which would be illegal if carried out (e.g. rape, child molestation)?
    Y___ N___
  9. Has your social or family interactive time decreased due to online fantasy involvement?
    Y___ N___
  10. Are you secretive, or do you lie about the amount of time spent online or type of sexual/romantic fantasy activities carried out online?
    Y___ N___
  11. Do you engage with sexual or romantic partners met online, while being involved in marital or other primary relationship?
    Y___ N___
  12. Are there increasing numbers of complaints or concerns from family or friends about the amount of time spent online?
    Y___ N___
  13. Do you frequently become angry or extremely irritable when asked to give up online involvement to engage with partners, family or friends?
    Y___ N___
  14. Has the primary focus of sexual or romantic life becomes increasingly related to computer activity (including pornographic CD ROM use)? Y___ N___
Common Characteristics of Sex Addicts
  1. We use sexual thoughts and behaviors as our primary coping methods.
  2. We use sexual arousal as our drug of choice.
  3. We have a pattern of compulsive, out-of-control sexual behavior: behaviors that are illegal, illicit, or believed to be “bad”.
  4. We lack emotional intimacy.
  5. We progress to more out-of-control behaviors in frequency, intensity, and/or risk as our tolerance increases.
  6. We may have periods of control or strict abstinence.
  7. We experience mood shifts around our sexual acting out, e.g., anger, fear, guilt, remorse.
  8. We have a family history of sexual shame and/or addiction.
  9. We are often victims of childhood sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse.
  10. We ritualize sexual behaviors.
  11. We feel extreme shame about sex.
  12. We lack a healthy sexual identity.
  13. We associate excitement and risk with sex.

As with many addictions, destructive behavior develops as a means to cope with difficult emotions or experiences. Stopping addictive behaviors is definitely possible, as can be attested by the thousands of recovering alcoholics who have worked the AA 12-step programs.

However, getting to what’s underneath these destructive tendencies and finding healthy alternative ways of responding to life can be a daunting task and is often best accomplished with the help of a skilled professional. I am a psychotherapist, a sex addict in recovery, and have been helping men and women who struggle with a variety of sexually compulsive behaviors.

Many people struggle with sexual compulsive behavior for many years before they reach out for help. And often they have never talked about it to anyone. If you find that you’ve answered “yes” to at least five of the questions above, you may have an addiction that is centered on sexual activity. Help is available! You just have to call.

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