Navigating Sex Addiction Requires Looking Inward
Some common questions people have when they come to therapy for sex addiction are “is this really a problem?” This is especially true for issues that people deal with such as porn addiction. A lot of this relates to the controversy surrounding whether or not sex addiction is an actual addiction.
Process addictions can get confusing, because they involve things that we also need in our lives. You really have to look inward to figure out whether or not your sexual behavior is extreme or out of control.
What sex addiction is not.
I think the best thing to get out of the way if you’re not sure if you’re dealing with a sex addiction are a bunch of myths. There are people out there that throw the term sex addiction around, and this makes an actual compulsive problem even more confusing.
- Sex addiction is not non-heterosexuality. I know that’s a double negative. Unfortunately, sex addiction is a term that has been used as a weapon against LGBTQ folks, as well as others. Peoples’ sexual orientations can be quite complex. We have seen people over the years who have had affairs or sex with people of various genders. You’ll see terms out there like “same-sex attraction” for example that is often linked by these “therapists” to sexual compulsivity. There are gay men who are also dealing with sex addictions, but being gay, pansexual, bisexual, etc. isn’t an equivalent to a sex addiction. This is also true about kink, polyamory, and other non-traditional relationship and sexual desires and styles. Unfortunately, there are a lot of therapists who will immediately put you in a category of sexual compulsivity, rather than helping you explore your orientation and desires in an open way.
- Sex addiction does happen. There are some out there who will claim you can never have a compulsive, habitual issue around sexual behaviors. Honestly, most of these professionals are ill-informed about what they’re even pontificating about. Unfortunately, sex addiction has gotten highly politicized and rather than focusing on helping clients explore this issue for themselves, the controversy has focused on helping therapists claim the expert market on this issue. If you’re interested in learning more about the controversy, please check out my book, Bridging the Sex Addiction Divide. Even worse, some of these therapists will blame partners for the sexual behaviors, rather than actually helping you examine your behavior for yourself. If you’re spending extensive periods of time and energy avoiding the things that are important to you, harboring secret behaviors, and numbing with a specific sexual behavior, it’s quite possible it’s a problem.
- Sex addiction is not just “a lot of sex” or sexual desire. I will hear people talk about sex addiction being wanting a lot of sex and being “horny all the time.” Let me be clear. This is not an addiction. Now, there are times where people’s sexual desire is involved in their sexual addiction recovery. This is usually because people have to navigate through redeveloping boundaries in their relationships and working through betrayal. However, just wanting a lot of sex isn’t a sexual addiction by itself.
Sex addiction requires introspection.
These myths are why sex addiction requires a lot of looking inward. At the beginning, it’s a good idea to look at your sexuality and sexual behavior and identify what boundaries you need to make so that things don’t get out of control again. If you struggle with keeping things to your plan, then I recommend you find a skilled therapist to assess what is going on and helping you examine the plan.
Your plan will continue to develop as you do your work, but it’s good to start examining this right away.
Beyond your plan, you’re going to need to do a lot of looking inward. This is because there are often a lot of blind spots, shame points, and places of confusion around sex addiction. For example, porn addiction usually involves a lot of poor sexual education. This doesn’t mean that simple sex education will correct your problem.
Unfortunately, these developmental gaps tend to lead to more current problems in your boundaries, your sense of sexual self-awareness, etc.
The issues often are more expansive than sex.
Although the behavior involves sex when it’s out of control, there are usually underlying issues. This can include anxiety, depression, relationship issues, avoidance, and a list that is much too extensive to completely list here. If you really want to make a long term change involving sex addiction, you have to work on the root issues that are going on in your life. This takes time. And unfortunately, it can even start off even slower because you may be in a crisis in your relationship because of betrayal.
Over time, you’ll have to look at different aspects of your life to learn about what impacts you and triggers you. This can be very intimidating at the beginning, but most people end up appreciating all the awareness and knowledge that they develop.
Overall, I really think this type of work is best done with a therapist. Although, you have other relationships that can help you look at various areas of your life, therapists can help you look at things on several different levels. This can also help if you end up learning things about yourself that feel overwhelming.
Making lasting changes around sex addiction can be a challenge, but it’s definitely possible. The deeper you look into the problem, the more likely you are to build the connections you want to have, have a sex life with boundaries, and heal your relationships with others and yourself.
If you’re in Texas and looking for a therapist to help you deal with a sex addiction, please feel free to contact us today.