When Sexual Addiction is Ruining Your Relationship

Sexual addiction is described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Like all other addictions, its negative impact on the addict and on family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.

For some sex addicts, behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the widespread use of pornography or phone or computer sex services. For others, addiction can involve illegal activities such as voyeurism, exhibitionism, obscene phone calls, child molestation or rape. Sex addicts do not inevitably become sex offenders. Furthermore, not all sex offenders are sex addicts. According to psychcentral roughly 55% of convicted sex offenders can be considered sex addicts. About 71% of child molesters are sex addicts. For many, their problems are so severe that imprisonment is only the way to ensure society’s safety against them.

According to a sex poll of over 8,000 women conducted by WomanSavers.com, over 54% of women said they were sexually molested by an adult male as a child. Statistics such as these are shocking and confirm how serious of a problem sexual addiction actually is in our society.

Society has accepted that a sex offender’s actions stems not from sexual fulfillment, but rather out of a disturbed need for power, dominance, control or revenge, or a perverted expression of anger. More recently, however, an awareness of brain changes and brain reward related with sexual behavior has led us to understand that there are also powerful sexual drives that motivate sex offenses.

Overcoming Sexual Addiction

The consequences of sexual addiction may be devastating to not only the addict but also those close to him/her. It can leave an addict isolated, immensely anxious and depressed to the point of being suicidal. Low self-esteem, hopelessness, shame, and despair are also common feelings experienced by sex addicts. The ramifications of sex addiction do not end on an emotional level but rather, continue onto medical, financial and legal ones too.

Medical consequences of sex addiction may include HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, genital herpes and gonorrhea. In addition, genital injury may result from unnecessary sexual activity or the use of foreign objects for sexual stimulation.

Financial consequences of sex addiction may include the loss of one's job, getting sued over sexual harassment or sexual abuse charges resulting in legal fees. Purchasing pornographic material, use of prostitutes, calling 900 phone numbers and traveling for the individual purpose of sexual contacts can create enormous debt in credit card bills and exhaust the financial resources of an addict often many times to the point of bankruptcy.

Legal consequences of sexual addiction include the arrest and incarceration of sex addict. The addict's out of control lifestyle make him to engage in high risk, illegal activities such as voyeurism, exhibitionism, inappropriate touching and the solicitation of prostitutes.

A basic approach in recognizing any addictive behavior is to assess whether it is creating irresistible trouble in your life and yet you choose to return to it despite the problem.

If your sexual behavior is exhausting your time and energy and it causes you to compromise your core values and the beliefs that you hold dear to your heart then there is cause for alarm. Seek help through therapy or join a Sexaholics Anonymous group. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.