Can a person be addicted to sex? The debate is one that has riddled professionals in the mental health community for years—and the argument is increasingly dividing the industry. At Safe Harbor Christian Counseling, we understand that the technical classification of this condition remains loose; however, we also recognize that those who struggle with an obsessive compulsion to have sex should be afforded an opportunity to seek thorough help in recovery.
Catching Sex Addiction Before It Happens
As the public becomes more aware of sexual addiction and the many ways it can take form, more mental health professionals are working to highlight prevention efforts. Sex addiction can develop from a myriad of behaviors—all of which may have unique psychological roots. Here are just a few signs that sex addiction could trouble you or a loved one in the future:
• A New Ability to Lie
Although many of us may tell “white lies” from time to time, lying can actually be very difficult—especially when deceiving an individual that has already gained our trust, such as a friend or family member. While you may not be lying about having sex with multiple partners, cheating or developing an attachment to pornography, it is important to recognize a new ability to lie. For instance, if you find yourself becoming comfortable in lying about financial indiscretions, feelings or other events—you could become more willing to be dishonest about sexual behaviors in the future.
• Arousing the Senses
Yes, love, sex and flirtation are all part of being human—it is how we find our partners and express passionate emotions with those we care about most. But individuals can end up crossing the lines of “expression” that could be a gateway to sexual addiction. For instance, individuals who find themselves becoming addicted to porn may find that they are developing an insatiable desire to have sex.
Others may discover that their comfort level in flirting with other individuals—simply to arouse sexual thoughts or feelings—could suggest a future dependency on sex. This warning sign is particularly important to pay attention to if you are in a committed monogamous relationship and the flirtation is occurring with people other than your partner.
Recognizing these signs and a new preoccupation with sex—and the need for compassion—is essential and could help many prevent sexual addiction in its tracks. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these signs, it is worth exploring the many ways counseling can assist with the problem.
The Signs of Sexual Addiction
Like any addiction—sexual addiction does not discriminate; it can impact single people, married individuals, men and women. In addition, the symptoms and signs of sex addiction can vary depending on the individual circumstances of the individual. As such, if you have become concerned about your sexual behavior or noticed a change in your personal decisions, it is important to assess the possibility that sex addiction is present.
• Cheating on a Partner or Engaging in Sex with Multiple Partners
Cheating on a partner does not necessarily mean that one is a sex addict; however, if the infidelity is defined by interactions with many partners there is a possibility the dependency exists. This is especially true if a partnered or single individual is engaging in sex with people he or she has no real personal connection to, when the goal is simply to have sex and not connect on any other level.
• Indulging in Risky Behaviors
In terms of sound mental health, sexual relations should come about through a series of conscious decisions that both partners make. When these decisions are abandoned, it is important to acknowledge that addiction may be playing a role in illicit activities. For instance, individuals who engage in unprotected sex or abuse substances during these relations could be sexual addicts. Others who change the way they approach sex—such as by using violence or intensifying the sex—may also be defined as sexual addicts.
• Hiding the Activity
In addiction, users will typically hide illicit activities as a result of feeling shame. If you or a loved one is lying about increasing sexual activities—or the extent of these relations—there could be a chance that you are no longer keeping the event “personal,” but rather hiding it for other reasons.
• Avoiding Responsibilities
In sexual addiction, sufferers may find that the desire to engage in these relationships is all-consuming. As a result, those who are deep in sexual addiction will begin to put their work, home and social responsibilities to the side. If your attention to important life responsibilities has lapsed while engaging in increased sexual activity, it could be time to seek help for addiction.
Seeking Help for Sexual Addiction
Sexual addiction can be a difficult problem for many to face—the personal nature of sex compounded by the growing stigma and disbelief of the problem can discourage many from seeking help. However, hiding sexual addiction is not a solution to the problem.
Safe Harbor offers many counseling options designed specifically to help those troubled with sex addiction, as well as those who are looking for ongoing guidance in their recovery. Our Sexual Addiction Track provides comprehensive counseling that can include individual therapy, support group counseling, intensives and couples counseling.
Please contact our qualified staff today at 1-800-305-2089 to learn more about these options and schedule a counseling appointment.