Sex addiction is a progressive emotional intimacy disorder characterized by obsessive and compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Also known as hypersexuality, sex addiction is defined as a disruptive and/or dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy, often in combination with the obsessive pursuit of casual or non-intimate sex; pornography; compulsive masturbation; romantic intensity and objectified partner sex for a period of at least six months.
Like all addictions, its negative impact on the addict and on family members increases as the disorder progresses. The addict engages in sex to numb out or feel a high in order to escape problems to avoid intimacy. However, the consequences of shame, guilt, or broken relationships incite more and greater acting out behaviours. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behaviour to achieve the same results.
Behaviours commonly associated with sexual addiction include:-
- watching pornography (with or without masturbation)
- online and/or phone ‘hook-ups’
- frequent episodes of anonymous / casual sex
- habitual use of escorts / prostitutes
- sensual massage
- extra marital affairs
- compulsive masturbation.
A sex addict will continue to engage in sexual behaviours, even when they have physical, employment, legal or emotional consequences. Sex addicts tend to lie to all those around them, including themselves, keep secrets, and sneak around in order to engage in recreational sexual behaviours. For some, the sexual behaviour is counterintuitive to the person’s core values and beliefs, living a double life to keep the behaviour hidden. For the sex addict, it is all about managing and tolerating feelings, stress, and emotional issues. However, no amount of sex will make the problems disappear.
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