As a counseling psychologist I am often approached by clients who initially basked in the availability of companionship, but eventually start to wonder if their new hobby has become dysfunctional.
When addressing sex addiction there are actually multiple types or models. A newly emerging pathology is often called “love addiction” but the description is not as wholesome as the name. Love addiction may either describe an obsessive and destructive obsession with one person or the need for multiple romantic partners that can offer self-esteem and a sense of desirability. In the latter, sex may not even be a primary motivation.
In traditional sex addiction, the pursuit or chase may be a major component but the eventual physical release is the core motivator. Sex addiction may be virtual, such as found on internet sites, in pornography, on dating apps or in activities that involve another person. In sex addiction, the addict uses people or sex the same way an alcoholic uses booze: the use of external stimulation to change internal feelings.
The potential harm from untreated sex addiction may include: exposure to disease; financial difficulties; loss of social standing; damage to existing relationships; and an inability to maintain healthy future relationships. People suffering from sex addiction report a higher level of shame and isolation than most people with other addictions.
While a person addicted to drugs or alcohol generally needs a complete abstinence program to recovery, the sex/love addict needs to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy behaviours, based on their individual values, and create a lifestyle that keeps them in the “safe” zone.
By examining the motivation and mechanics of this kind of addiction, the person can reboot their values and behaviours and eventually maintain healthy romantic relationships.
If you are concerned about your sexual behaviors, professionals are available to speak to confidentially.