Sex And/Or Love Addiction
SEX AND/OR LOVE ADDICTION
Sex addiction, love addiction, and porn addiction are disorders of emotional intimacy characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that an individual may feel unable to stop, to the detriment of their health, safety, and relationships. Sex, love, and porn addiction can affect men and women of any age.
The life of someone struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors is often unmanageable, and the consequences of untreated sex addiction can include disrupted relationships, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy, extortion, or arrests. Compulsive sexual behavior can take many forms, including, but not limited to: excessive masturbation, obsession with pornography, sex for pay activities, or anonymous sexual encounters. Individuals struggling with sexual addiction may also experience tremendous shame, and may utilize sexual behavior to cope with shame, anger, fear, anxiety, stress, guilt or loneliness.
Love addiction is characterized by an obsession with the feeling of euphoria and excitement generated by relationships, or the fantasy of one. Love addicts may engage in a pattern of intense, painful or obsessive relationships or stay in unhealthy or co-dependent ones. It is common for those in a love-addicted cycle to fear pain, rejection, abandonment, and loneliness. The person in a love addiction cycle often syncs up with someone in a Love Avoidant cycle, which can reflect a fear of engulfment and obligation driven relationships. This toxic tango is incredibly painful for both partners, and often difficult to break free of without third party help.
A cycle of addiction/compulsion occurs with both sex addiction and love addiction, so it is critically important for treatment to address the impact of addiction in the addict’s life, and to address shame reduction. Therapy is particularly useful in assisting an addict in identifying triggers, rebuilding relationships, learning healthier coping skills, and establish sustained healthy intimacy and sexuality.
SEXUAL ANOREXIA THERAPY
Anorexia is most commonly referred to as an eating disorder that involves restricting food out of the intense fear of gaining weight. When anorexia is discussed in the realm of sexual disorders, it is characterized by the compulsive avoidance of sex due to an extreme fear of intimacy. Sexual anorexics essentially have a “loss of appetite” for sex or any type of romantic-sexual encounter. This often creates severe anxiety around the act of sex as well as the emotional aspects of sex and intimacy.
Sexual anorexia is a form of addiction because it involves a compulsive avoidance of sex that ultimately rules or overpowers the life of a sexual anorexic. Like other types of addiction, sexual anorexia can interfere with one’s daily life and ruin relationships. Therapy for sexual anorexia can limit and stop the destructive thoughts and actions of the disorder and help sufferers regain a healthy perception of themselves and sexual intimacy.
The symptoms of sexual anorexia can include the following:
- Ongoing fear of sex-related matters, such as intimacy, sexual contact, pleasure, STDs, etc.
- Preoccupation and/or obsession with sexual matters relating to themselves and others
- Negative attitude towards sex and body appearance
- Shame or guilt from past sexual experiences
- Self-destructive behavior as a means to avoid or stop sex
TREATMENT FOR SEXUAL AVOIDANCE
It is not uncommon for sexual anorexics to also have coexisting obsessions or struggles with other forms of addiction, including those with food or substances. It can also be difficult to determine if your sexual avoidance is intense or severe enough to warrant treatment. A qualified professional with expertise in sex addiction can help you filter what is healthy and normal and what is addictive and destructive.
If you are concerned about you or your partner’s feelings about sex, intimacy or sexual expression, you can get help from a certified sex therapist at Modern Intimacy. Our treatment programs are created and facilitated by trusted therapists who bring extensive knowledge and expertise in sex addiction and sexual anorexia.
Sexual desires and urges are considered a healthy and very normal part of the human body. However, when sexual thoughts turn into a preoccupation or compulsion that controls your daily life, it can be considered a hypersexual disorder. Hypersexuality, which is often used interchangeably with sex addiction, can affect both men and women.
The most common warning signs of hypersexual behavior include the following:
- Extreme sexual drive
- Preoccupations with sexual thoughts/fantasies
- Pursuit of non-intimate sex
- Excessive pornography
- Compulsive masturbation in place of relationships
- Sexual objectification of partners
- Frequent pursuit of risky sexual fantasies with disregard to well-being of self or others
If not recognized and treated, hypersexual behavior can be destructive to marriages, families and lives. It is a form of compulsive or addictive behavior that should be addressed by a qualified therapist or clinician.
EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR COMPULSIVE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
Compulsive sexual behavior has recently been recognized by the World Health Organization as a mental health disorder. Compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD) is categorized as an impulse control disorder and defined as “a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior.” This can involve both the act of sex as well as sexual fantasies.
The trademark characteristics of someone with CSBD are “repetitive sexual activities becoming a central focus of the person’s life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities.” Psychologists agree that compulsive sexual behavior disorder refers to an underlying brain mechanism, which can help reveal the most appropriate and effective treatment approach for the behavior.
There are many causes, influences and contributing factors that can lead to the development of CSBD. It may begin as a simple fantasy to escape boredom or relieve anxiety. Others may engage in hypersexual behavior as a result of a childhood trauma or attachment disorder. It is critical to first understand the reason for these hypersexual behaviors in order to move forward with an effective treatment option.
At Modern Intimacy, we are equipped to help men and women suffering from compulsive sexual behavior. Our Los Angeles clinic employs two renowned clinicians who are certified sex addiction therapists. We help clients recognize the cause or trigger of their impulse disorder and teach them how to control this destructive hypersexual behavior. Our personalized therapy programs help clients rebuild relationships, learn healthier coping skills and ultimately establish healthy intimacy and sexuality.