Since sex, like food, is an integral part of many people’s lives, and each person’s appetite is different, at what point does normal sexual behaviour cross a line and become ‘sex addiction? The short answer is when sexual activity becomes an obsession that brings with it increasingly negative consequences – both to oneself and others. What are the signs that this is happening?
Signs of Sex Addiction
Sex addiction develops in similar ways as other addictions, such as gambling or drugs, in the sense that sexual behaviour initially triggers a reward system and is enjoyable, but over time requires an increase in the amount of sexual activity needed in order to satisfy cravings. What used to be pleasurable now brings with it negative feelings.
For many people living with sex addiction, they are probably aware that something is wrong with their behaviour but cannot pinpoint why they are acting in such a way. While the signs and symptoms of sexual addiction vary from person to person, here are the most common.
Preoccupation with sex
Are you thinking about sex more than usual or spending hours at work planning where you will later go to find sex? Are your decisions (e.g. what you wear or where you will drink) revolving around sex? Oftentimes, thoughts about sex and sexual fantasies become obsessive and can distract the addicted person from work or from family responsibilities.
Feeling out of control
Are you no longer able to go a day without sex or watching porn? Do you sometimes feel like you have no control over your sexual cravings? Do you wake up the morning after a sexual escapade unsure of what happened or why you engaged in certain behaviours? Are you spending large amounts of money on sex or activities leading to sex? If you are feeling a loss of control in any way, then this may be a sign that sex is becoming an addiction for you.
Increasing needs, decreasing pleasure
Do you no longer get pleasure from sex, or are your cravings getting out of control? Sex addiction often makes you crave sex but not really enjoy it when you do get it. Sometimes there is even the feeling of numbness or a need to up the level of sexual behaviour, with addicts turning to behaviours that they would not have occurred to them at the start of their addiction (e.g. paying for sex).
Are you embarrassed by your sexual behaviour or feel the need to hide it from family and friends? Are you using sex as a way to distract yourself from other problems such as money or work issues? Addictions can distract you momentarily but over time lead to more adverse feelings, can impair other aspects of a person’s life, and even destroy relationships.
There are an increasing number of people these days who are addicted to porn – one of the many types of sex addictions. Related behaviour has been getting increasing amounts of media attention, with celebrities such as X-Files and Californication actor, David Duchovny, admitting himself into rehab in 2008 for porn addiction.
Another actor Terry Crew has been talking publicly about how watching porn can become an addiction. Crew said that, while others may say that watching porn is not or cannot become a real addiction, he used to spend many hours each day watching porn – to the point where it nearly destroyed his marriage. He entered rehab for his addiction and now posts videos on Facebook, informing others about the signs and symptoms of porn addiction and how to overcome them.
Signs of Porn Addiction
The signs of porn addiction include an increasing preoccupation with watching porn, sometimes for hours at a time. A porn addicted person often becomes unable to be turned on sexually without watching porn. They experience a decrease in real-life sex, as it does not seem as appealing, and retreat into pornography as a way to make life seem more exciting.
Ran Gavrieli, a recovering porn addict, spoke at a TEDx conference about some of the common problems associated with watching porn. He suggests that people should stop watching altogether in order to reset their sexual desires and in a healthy way.
Overcoming Sex and Porn Addiction
It is one thing to simply stop watching porn or stop engaging in sexual activity, but in order to overcome the problems that initially led you to become addicted, you first need to identify them.
If you are concerned that you may be suffering from sex or porn addiction, then seeking help is important. The Cabin Singapore is a leading outpatient clinic that offers treatment for sex addiction through comprehensive counselling that enables clients to integrate sex back into their lives in a healthy and fulfilling way. Contact us today for more information or to book an appointment.