Understanding the Warning Signs of Sexual Addiction

Imagine living in a world where your every thought was consumed with obtaining sex. Imagine, for example, that your drive to have sex with another was so strong that it prevented you from carrying out daily activities, such as going to work, attending to your household chores, paying your bills or attending to other important obligations. In fact, imagine that this compulsion to have sex was so overpowering that it caused you to forsake your family, relationships and perhaps, even your own personal safety.

Does this strike a chord of familiarity with you or someone you know? If so, you are not alone.

The typical behaviors that have just been described are common signs of a person suffering from what is known as sexual addiction. To be sure, it is a problem that is often misunderstood and widely undetected. So how do you really know if you or someone you love may be suffering from this affliction? Consider the following behaviors as possible “red flags”. What follows are some of the more common characteristics of a sex addict, however they are not intended to serve as a complete behavioral list.

Typical Characteristics of Sexually Addictive Behavior

  • A constant preoccupation with thoughts of engaging in sexual activity, which often interfere with your ability to function normally.
  • Having anonymous sex with strangers on an ongoing, continual basis.
  • Going into and staying in debt for the purpose of obtaining sex with prostitutes. This may also includes multiple online subscriptions to pornographic Web portals or “sex chats”.
  • A need (dependence) on sexually explicit material in order to become sexually aroused and/or to reach orgasm.
  • Abandoning personal relationships, including those with friends and partners and instead opting for anonymous sexual encounters.
  • Trading drugs for sex.
  • Prostituting for purposes of excitement and not for money.
  • Exhibitionist activities, including exposing oneself in a car, theater or in places that others are intended to witness.
  • Looking for sex in public places, including public bathrooms.
  • Manipulating others to have sex through the use of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Exposure to sexually transmitted diseases due to ongoing, unsafe anonymous sex.
  • Obsessing over sex to the point where it interferes with your ability to work, communicate with others, or in any way live normally.

Sexual addiction is indeed serious. It affects countless numbers of people around the world and destroys lives in the process. Sexual addiction is a family disease, meaning that it affects not only the addicted individual but also the entire family unit. It is also a disease that is progressive in nature, meaning that it does not get better on its own, nor does it go away over time. Some people benefit from counseling as part of a comprehensive approach to treatment.

It is important to state that just because you enjoy having sex does not mean that you are sexually addicted. In fact sex is a healthy activity. However, the problem comes into play when your need for sex becomes such that it turns into a dependency. If this has become a concern for you or someone you care about, consider reading more information on the topic. An excellent online source is Sex and Love Anonymous (SLA) at http://www.slaafws.org. There are also a variety of books on the subject, including Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes and of course, Confusing Love with Obsession. By reaching out for help, you are really reaching in.