Defining a sex addiction is not as straightforward as you might think. Understanding the different manifestations of this disorder can help you know if you might be struggling with a sex addiction.
Recognising the Reality of Sex Addiction
Though long buried under stigma and scepticism, the therapeutic recognition of sex addiction is now gaining ground. The often evolving field offers both understanding and hope for those struggling with this type of addiction. Sex addiction affects an estimated 12 million people, includes all genders, and manifests in many different ways.
What is Sex Addiction?
A sexual addiction occurs when sexual behaviour is compulsive, obsessive, characterised by a loss of control, and/or continues despite the presence of negative consequences. Research has shown that sex addiction generally develops as a coping mechanism for trauma or extreme stress, but can also be a co-occurring disorder with another type of mental health issue, or related to a neurological disorder. Types of sex addiction include:
- Fantasy sex – sex is not pleasurable without indulging in a fantasy surrounding it
- Seductive role sex – sex becomes about the conquest, and interest is quickly lost afterwards
- Voyeuristic sex – sexual pleasure depends on visual stimulation
- Exhibitionist sex – sex is about drawing attention and gaining a reaction from others
- Paying for sex – sexual pleasure is gained through the purchase of sexually-related services
- Trading sex – sex is bartered or sold to gain a sense of control or leverage over others
- Intrusive sex – sexual pleasure is derived from violating someone’s boundaries without their knowledge
- Anonymous sex – sexual pleasure is driven by high-risk encounters with total strangers
- Pain exchange sex – pleasurable sex is achieved through inflicting or experiencing emotional or physical pain
- Exploitative sex – sex is about power and dominance over a vulnerable person
Levels of Consent in Sex Addiction
The types of sex addiction are further broken down into three levels based on the degree of consent that occurs during sexual behaviour. The first level involves compulsive actions such as masturbation, viewing pornography, or engaging in consensual sex. Level two encompasses behaviours that are non-consensual but considered to be lesser offenses, such as flashing or voyeurism. Behaviours exhibited in the third level are dangerous and abusive, causing serious damage to victims.
Do I Have a Sex Addiction?
People struggling with sex addiction generally report feeling trapped within a cycle of periods of hypersexuality, which often bring relief from negative feelings, followed by feelings of shame, anxiety and low self-esteem. Common features of a sex addiction include:
- The need for sex dominates all other aspects of life
- Habitual masturbation
- Sex with multiple partners, including frequent extramarital affairs
- Engagement in inappropriate or risky sexual activity
- Frequent use of pornography, phone sex, or computer sex
Like any addiction, sex addiction carries both physical and psychological risks to the person struggling with it, and can cause long-term health and relationship problems. If you think you may be living with a sex addiction, talking to a professional therapist is an important step in re-taking control of your life.
Reclaiming Intimacy at The Dawn Rehab Thailand
At The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab in beautiful Chiang Mai, Thailand, we offer a signature addiction programme designed to help our clients achieve and maintain long-term recovery through the development of positive coping mechanisms and healthy habits. Our team of compassionate, Western-trained counsellors and psychologists will create a customised plan designed to help you identify the root cause of your struggles and methods by which to heal. Call us today to learn about how we can help you reclaim a healthy, positive, loving relationship – both with yourself, and others.