Sex addiction is not an easy diagnosis to make, especially if you’re not a trained expert on the topic. Having unconventional sexual behaviors does not necessarily make someone a sex addict, nor does infidelity, flirting, pornography use or other behaviors that may be troubling. Sometimes it’s easiest to see that someone has a problem with sex addiction by examining the consequences. As with any addiction, a clear symptom is persisting in spite of negative consequences. So, if you think you may have an addiction to some type of sexual behavior or you’re worried your partner does, take a look at how sex is impacting your lives.
What Is Sex Addiction?
If unconventional sex practices don’t make a person an addict, what does? It’s all about the level of obsession with sexual behaviors and the compulsions. A sex addict may engage in any kind of sexual behavior (it doesn’t even have to be sex) to a degree that is out of control. The behavior escalates and causes problems. The person may try to stop or get the behavior under control, but finds he can’t. He is obsessed with thoughts about sex and feels compelled to engage in sexual behaviors as much as possible.
What Are the Negative Consequences of Sex Addiction?
It can be hard to draw a line between what is normal and abnormal when it comes to sex addiction if you aren’t an expert on the topic. Often it’s easiest to decide if someone has a problem by the problems it causes in his life. Take a look at the consequences of your or your partner’s sexual behaviors to figure out if you need to see a professional for guidance or a diagnosis:
- You’re keeping secrets from your partner, especially about sex and sexual feelings.
- You lie about how much you engage in a particular behavior.
- You feel like you’re living two lives and the stress is affecting your emotional well-being.
- Sex with your partner isn’t satisfying anymore.
- You feel distant from your partner and like you have lost intimacy.
- Fights with your partner are becoming increasingly common.
- Responsibilities are not being taken care of because you’re distracted by your thoughts or behaviors regarding sex.
- You are unavailable to people in your life because sex is taking up your time. Your relationships are suffering as a result.
- You’re losing sleep because of time spent engaging in sexual behaviors.
- If your sexual obsessions cost money, you may be experiencing financial difficulties.
- Your performance at work is suffering because you’re not giving it your full attention.
Getting Help for Sex Addiction
If any of the above consequences set off an alarm in your head, it may be time to get some help for sex addiction. Whether it is you or your partner with the problem, a professional experienced in working with sex addicts will be able to diagnose you and suggest treatment options. Being a sex addict does not mean that you have to live your life obsessed with sex forever. As with any other addiction, treatment helps, but is ongoing. Counseling sessions, anonymous support groups and even rehab can all help to give you the tools you need to live a more satisfying life with sex playing an appropriate role. Treatment can also help you regain the healthy and satisfying relationship with your partner that has been damaged by sex addiction. If you are concerned, but still unsure whether your relationship is being affected by sex addiction, reach out and find out.