Let’s be honest, everyone is addicted to something. Coffee. Alcohol. Food. Smoking. Gambling. Work. Sex. Whether it be a behaviour or a substance, humans find it easy to become addicted to.
When you think of someone struggling with ‘sex addiction,’ you might imagine a man having constant sex, but sex addiction doesn’t just look the same for everyone. Sex addiction doesn’t only impact men; it can affect anyone, no matter their gender or sexuality. Men and women can be impacted by sex addiction in unique and different ways.
We use the term ‘sex addiction’ here as we get that this is a term most people would use to define what they are dealing with. We want to discuss sex in positive terms, so we are looking at sex addiction as a person having a strong sexual appetite. It removes the stigma of sex addiction and makes it easier to discuss concerns and work through them in this context.
WHAT IS SEX ADDICTION?
Sex addiction, much like other forms of addiction, is complex. It can impact people who are in relationships or are single. It doesn’t even have to involve actual sexual intercourse. Some sex addicts are not sexually active but find that masturbation or thoughts of sex take up a large part of their life.
A person may not be able to remove thoughts of sex from their mind easily. People addicted to sex may find that sexual thoughts and ideas impacts their mental processes during the day. They find themselves thinking a lot about sex. It can distract them from work, their families and personal relationships.
People dealing with addiction sometimes find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships with others, particularly long term. They may turn to porn, affairs, visit sex workers, and engage in 'bad' sexual behaviour to fulfil on their sexual thoughts. Fears of intimacy can distance people from partners and their social circles.
A key takeaway about sex addiction is noting the difference between compulsive sex and sexual desires. Having quirky or unique sexual desires is okay (but we’ll save talking about fetishes and kinks for another day), however obsessing over them or being driven by them could negatively impact the quality of your life.
Remember, though, that sex addiction isn’t inherently wrong, and it certainly does not make you a bad person.
As we’ll discuss later, sex therapy can help to reduce the grip and impact that unwanted sexual thoughts and desires might have on you.
Before we can work on dealing with sex addiction, we first want to identify where it comes from. Sex addiction isn’t driven by a desire for sexual enjoyment or fulfilment, however being driven to have sex can be as impactful as sex addiction.
There are different views on where sex addiction comes from and what it really is. Some argue that sex addiction is a coping mechanism, much like other forms of compulsive addictions. Others argue that there is a biological component. Some say it relates to lower self-worth and self-esteem. For some with sex addiction, sex is used to deal with stress, depression, anxiety, or even unresolved trauma.
No matter the origins, unlike drinking, eating and gambling problems, sex addiction is still seen as socially taboo to speak about. People don’t want to talk about it and stigma around sex makes it even more to seek help and to discuss it with others. Sex addiction is something associated with infidelity or engaging with sex workers, which may add to feelings of shame.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF SEX ADDICTION
Experts have found that the normal characteristics of sex addiction remain the same irrespective of gender, sexuality, psychological makeup or life history.
Some of these behaviours include:
· Compulsive sexual urges, including compulsive masturbation
· Being unable to limit or control sexual behaviour
· Frequently engaging in risky sexual behaviour such as unprotected sex
· Increased tolerance, sometimes resulting riskier or more intense sexual behaviour
· Inability to fulfil responsibilities at work and home due to prioritising sexual behaviour
· Withdrawal symptoms when trying to cut back
THE FIRST STEP IN DEALING WITH SEX ADDICTION IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT
Admitting that there is a problem makes it possible for you to address it. By problem we mean that your sex addiction is affecting your quality of life. It’s impacting your relationships, your work, your health or any other area of life that’s important to you.
The most effective way of breaking the cycle is to discover the personal reasons and factors that have contributed to your addiction. Acknowledging the impacts of your situation is a powerful place to start.
This is where Sex Therapy Perth is especially useful. Being able to share with a supportive person who is non-judgmental and open is essential to supporting you to having a great life.
WHY COUNSELLING WORKS
Counsellors and therapists help free you from that little voice in your head, the one that you can’t seem to control or quiet. They work with you to discover yourself in new ways, ways that empower you and give you the freedom you want.
Sex counselling and sex psychology has proven to help people in improving their sex lives. It is used to treat sexual concerns, help people overcome problems around sex, and to normalise their sexual activities and desires. Your counsellor will work with you to discover the background that had your sex addiction develop and will train you in how to implement strategies and practices that support you.
Sex therapy, and counselling in general, works because it gives you the power to deal with what you are dealing with. It puts you back in the driver’s seat in this area of your life. A sex therapist or sexologist does not take a side or tries to force an opinion on you. A counsellor recognises that you have all of the skills and knowledge you need to help yourself, you just don’t have access to that. They work with you to discover for yourself your own healing.
HOW SEX THERAPY WORKS
Sex therapy and counselling is all about allowing you to talk through your experiences, worries or concerns. This helps you come to terms with fears and reduces the grip that unwanted sexual thoughts and behaviours have on you.
Your sex therapist or sexologist will discuss strategies with you that can help address your sex addiction. They can include behavioural and thought exercises that can help reduce performance anxiety and fear of failure and alter unwanted behaviours. They will help you grow skills in that give you control over your sexual behaviours. T
WHY YOU COULD BENEFIT FROM SEX THERAPY
Sex addiction can be relatively harmless, but it can also creep into other areas of your life, including work and relationships. It can significantly impact the overall satisfaction you have with sex and your life. This is when talking to a professional counsellor, sex therapist or psychologist really helps.
At Sex Therapy Perth, we understand that it is very normal for people to deal with issues around sex, including sex addiction. We specialise in working with people who have questions or concerns around sex, dating, intimacy, relationships, sex or porn addiction, sexuality, fetishes and kinks, ‘non-traditional’ relationships and infidelity, just to name a few.
Even if you are unsure about trying sex therapy, you may still find a conversation with a therapist, psychologist or sexologist beneficial. It can help you look at your life and if it any parts are being affected by your sex addiction. If you feel that your quality of life and relationships are being affected, then a sex therapist can really help you.
We believe that a healthy sexual outlook is essential to building good relationships and crafting a positive outlook on life. Sex Therapy Perth offers specialised sex therapy and counselling for men and women.
While we are based in Como, in Perth, Western Australia, if you are from elsewhere, you are welcome to seek an online or phone appointment. Find out more at www.sextherapyperth.com.au or if you are ready to make an appointment please click here.