Sex and love addiction has the same progressive patterns as other addictions. The sexual addict struggles to control their behaviors, and feels guilt over their constant failure and lack of “willpower”. Their loss of self-esteem get bigger and this fuels the need to escape even further into their addictive behaviors. This cycle will repeat. A sense of powerlessness cripples the life of an addict.
Love and sex can be addictive and as destructive to relationships as compulsive substance abuse. The high hinges on physical or psychological arousal, and relationships can be fueled by desperation. Love addicts go through life with desperate hopes and constant fears. Fearing rejection, pain, unfamiliar experiences, and having little faith in their ability or right to inspire love, they wait and wish for love, perhaps their least familiar real experience. The sex addict follows a routine or ritual leading to acting out on desires, and is then overcome by feelings of denial followed by shame, despair, and confusion.
Addictive sexuality is destructive. The behavior depends less on the actions – more on the motivation. Sex addicts lack the ability to control or postpone sexual feelings and actions. What happens is that the need for arousal often replaces the need for intimacy. Eventually, thrill seeking becomes more important than family, career, even personal health and safety.
Signs of Sexual Addiction
•Preoccupation: continual fantasies about sexual prospects or situations, which can trigger episodes of sexual “acting-out”
•Ritualization: a preferred sexual activity or situation is often stereotyped and repetitive
•Compulsion: continual engagement in sexual activity despite negative consequences and desire to stop
•Despair: guilt or shame over inability to control behavior or feel remorse
•Other behavioral problems, particularly chemical dependency and eating disorders
Signs of Love Addiction
•Is all consuming and obsessive
•Avoids risk or change
•Lacks true intimacy
•Is manipulative, strikes deals
•Is dependent and parasitic
•Demands the loved one’s devotion
What is Sexual Anorexia?
Sexual anorexia is an obsessive state in which the physical, mental, and emotional task of avoiding sex dominates one’s life. Like self-starvation with food or compulsive dieting or hoarding with money, deprivation of sex can make one feel powerful and defended against all hurts. As with any other altered state of consciousness, such as those brought on by chemical use, compulsive gambling or eating, or any other addiction, the preoccupation of avoiding sex can also be devastating. In this case, sex becomes a furtive enemy to be continually kept at bay, even at the price of annihilating a part of oneself.
Dependency and Treatment
As with any addiction, recovery from sex and love addiction is a process of change. It requires taking specific steps to break through denial and owning the harmful actions of the addiction. This is not a one-time process. It takes time and effort to stop the addictive cycle from occurring.
Love and sex addicts experience withdrawal symptoms. Working with a professional or support group can help guide the addict through the process of healing. In some cases this includes talking about childhood experiences of abandonment, or feelings of pain, fear and anger. Emotions may surface, and this can help find what is causing the negative acting-out behaviors.
History and Rise of Sex and Love Addiction
- 1946 – Otto Fenichel mentions Love Addiction in “The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis”.
- 1976 – Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous is founded in Boston.
- 1987 – The American Psychiatric Association recognizes Sexual Addiction in DSM-III (the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
- 1998 – National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity is established
- 2011 – American Society of Addiction finally recognizes sex addiction.
Did you know that 40 million people are logging into porn sites every day?
83% of Sex Addicts have other addictions, such as alcoholism chemical dependency, eating disorders, compulsive working and spending or gambling problems.