Reviewed by Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
When some people hear about sex addiction, they think that it’s not a real problem. Sex is something that is good, and why would someone need to be worried about becoming addicted to sex? It’s actually a huge problem that has impacted the lives of millions of people. Various types of sex addiction can turn people’s lives upside down if they aren’t able to get treatment.
If someone in your life is exhibiting unusual sexual behavior, then you might be worried about them. It’s even possible that you could be concerned about yourself and want to see whether you might have a sex addiction. There are various sex addiction symptoms that you can look out for. Read on to learn more about sex addiction, sex addiction symptoms, and how you can deal with sex addiction effectively.
Types of Sex Addictions
There are many types of sex addictions that you can wind up encountering in your life. Someone could have a sex addiction that is completely different than yours. It’s good to know more about the types of sexual addictions out there so that you can know what to look out for. The most obvious one involves being addicted to having sex and wanting to seek it out no matter what.
If you have this type of sex addiction, then you might feel the urge to have sex as often as you possibly can. People who are addicted to sex in this fashion will try to have sex all the time if possible. This has caused some people to make very risky moves to try to get sex. There are also types of sex addiction that cause people to seek out specific sexual situations. For example, someone could be addicted to experiencing sexual pain or they might be addicted to dishing out that pain.
Being addicted to sexually masochistic or sadistic behaviors isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Sex addiction can involve certain types of sexual fetishes, but that doesn’t mean that all people with those fetishes are sex addicts. Some sex addicts don’t even necessarily have sex with other people at all. There are many people who are simply addicted to performing sex acts on themselves.
Compulsive masturbation habits are another type of sex addiction that can plague your life. Some people get so addicted to masturbation that they choose to just stay home and masturbate most of the time. This might sound comical to some, but it can ruin a person’s life over time. People could lose their jobs or ruin relationships because of having compulsive masturbation habits.
This is also closely tied to another type of sex addiction. Being addicted to watching pornography is something that many people struggle within modern times. Porn has become so easily available that it’s tough for many people to avoid the urge to look at it. Some of those who become addicted to watching porn will have a tough time maintaining normal relationships. It’s something that has the potential to be just as serious as any other type of sex addiction.
When it comes to recognizing sex addiction symptoms, it’s important to know that most of them are emotional. There are very few verified physical symptoms of sex addiction, and it’s going to make the most sense to recognize certain emotional behaviors when you’re trying to determine if someone needs help. That being said, the one physical symptom that you’re likely to notice with sex addiction is that it will make you feel immobilized.
What this means is that your sex addiction can stop you dead in your tracks. When you’re addicted to sex so strongly, it’ll be like you can’t go on without it. Even if you try to pull away from sexual activities, you’re going to feel like you can’t help yourself. The urges are so strong that you aren’t able to truly resist them. This is why so many who have sex addiction problems wind up needing to seek out professional help.
A Lack of Healthy Boundaries
Lots of sex addicts don’t have normal healthy boundaries like other people do. In a typical relationship, people will have boundaries and they will not let people push them to do things that make them feel uncomfortable. If you don’t seem to have any limits when it comes to sex, then that could be a symptom of your addiction. You don’t care that much about normal limitations because you might be willing to do whatever for the sake of seeking sexual pleasure.
Of course, people who have an open mind when it comes to sex aren’t necessarily sex addicts. You can be willing to experiment while still having healthy boundaries. Not having proper boundaries is just a sign that you might be addicted to sex and incapable of making rational decisions because of your addiction. This can change when you seek out professional help for your problems, though.
Feelings of Emptiness
Feeling like you’re empty inside after sexual encounters are over might become common. Lots of people who go through sex addiction issues note that they feel very empty. Some of them try to use sexual pleasure as a way to fill a void in their lives. Your feelings of emptiness might make it tough for you to stay alone, and this could cause you to continue to seek out sex partners to keep yourself from feeling empty.
It’s a cycle that perpetuates itself by making you feel the need to keep looking for sex. When you aren’t having sex, it’s forcing you to confront the things that you’re doing. Having sex allows you to forget the issues in your life, but that feeling of euphoria that you get from sexual encounters will be fleeting. This is why it’s so important to consider seeking out help when you’re a sex addict.
Feelings of shame are very commonplace when you’re going through issues with sex addiction. Many men addicted to sex will note that they feel shame about cheating on their partners. The same thing is true when women are cheating on their spouses or simply being very promiscuous. Some might feel shame because they understand deep-down that what they’re doing isn’t healthy. You might even feel shame due to your spiritual or religious background.
Fear of Abandonment
Do you feel afraid of being by yourself? Would you say that the fear of abandonment is so strong that it causes you to try to latch onto people? Some of those who are showing signs of sex addiction will have significant abandonment issues. This could stem from being abandoned at some point in the past, but it’s hard to say for sure without being professionally diagnosed. Many people have fears of abandonment that are tied to emotional moments in their lives, and these issues could be contributing to your sex addiction issues.
Easily Jumping Into Relationships or Sexual Situations
One of the most important sex addiction symptoms to look out for is how easily you jump into relationships or sexual situations. People who are addicted to sex will be a lot more likely to get emotionally or sexually attached to others quickly. You might be more willing than usual to jump into bed with someone that you don’t even know. Your sexual urges take over and they keep you from making the best decisions.
Staying in Bad Relationships
Sometimes people who are addicted to sex will have a tendency to stay in sexual relationships longer than they should. A sex addict might be struggling with some of the other emotional symptoms mentioned earlier. Fear of abandonment can play a role in someone not wanting to leave a partner, but it can go deeper than that sometimes. Certain sex addicts will stay in relationships that are abusive just because they don’t want to lose their regular sex partners.
If you or someone that you love is willing to subject themselves to abuse for the sake of sex, then that is definitely not a good thing. It’s best to encourage someone in this situation to seek out help. It can be very tough to be put in a situation where you feel like you’re stuck in a relationship due to your condition. Sex addicts can get help to try to turn things around, though.
How to Treat Sex Addiction
You can treat sex addiction by getting help from sex addiction anonymous groups. Groups like this operate very similarly to alcoholics anonymous, and they can be quite effective for treating your condition. You can attend meetings that work just like AA meetings do. Professionals are there to help guide people down a better path so that they can turn things around in their lives. It can take time to fully turn things around, but you can do it when you have the right support.
Aside from these meetings, there are also facilities that can help sex addicts. There are some sex addiction rehab centers that can help people to get through trying times. When you’re facing an existential crisis due to being a sex addict, it can be good to get this level of help. You can abstain from sex so that you can start to turn the corner and get closer to living a normal life again.
Many people who are addicted to sex will also need to seek treatment for anxiety symptoms and depression. If you’re worried about whether you’re depressed, then you can take a depression test to figure things out. Addressing your mental health will make it much easier to alleviate your sex addiction symptoms. Eventually, you should be able to get back to having healthy relationships. Help is available to you and you don’t have to continue to fight sex addiction by yourself.