Sex addiction often has devastating consequences. If you’re struggling to control your impulses, it’s imperative that you uncover the underlying causes so you can heal and move forward. Find out if shame is driving your behaviour.
Sex addiction is widely misunderstood, not least in terms of its underlying causes.
Unfortunately, without a thorough understanding of the reasons your addiction developed in the first place (in conjunction with professional sex addiction treatment), it’s very difficult to recover. For that reason, it’s important to explore the roots of your addiction in order to more fully understand it.
One of the most common causes of sex addiction is unresolved shame resulting from childhood trauma. Read on to explore the link between shame and sex addiction, and what that link means for you.
The Role of Shame in Sexual Addiction
Shame and addiction, to any behaviour or substance, often go hand in hand – but they are especially closely linked in sex addiction. What that means for you is that, if you’re struggling with sex addiction, shame is very likely to be at least partly responsible.
The origin and severity of shame varies from person to person. However, if your sex addiction is partially driven by unaddressed or repressed shame, chances are good that it originates from unresolved issues in childhood or early adulthood.
For instance, if you were raised in an environment that wasn’t sufficiently nurturing or caring, you may still be carrying some of that experience with you. These emotional wounds can manifest as shame, and if you don’t resolve that pain, it can affect your behaviour. In this example, the pain creates a compulsive addiction to sexual activity in an attempt to self-soothe.
Shame can also create sex addiction from other angles, however.
Neglected children, or children who have traumatising experiences, often grow up with a need for external validation from their peers. The inherently intimate nature of sex makes it an ideal crutch for validation, as the exchange of intimacy during sex demands the attention of both people involved. If you unconsciously seek the attention and approval of others, sex can become the means by which you get those things – and stifle your suffering.
The Spiral of Shame in Sexual Addiction
At its core, the shame that fuels sex addiction is really not much different than the insecurities that can fuel drug addiction.
Though they are different types of addiction – one to a substance, the other to a behaviour – they both attempt to relieve psychological trauma. Unfortunately, this isn’t a healthy coping mechanism, and you’ll likely develop even stronger negative feelings about yourself as a result of your actions.
For example, as a sex addict, you may find that some of your partners develop feelings for you that you can’t reciprocate. This is often painful to experience – for both you and for your partner. Experiencing and witnessing that pain often creates more shame and creates further need to act out sexually, continuing the cycle. Stronger feelings lead to stronger or more frequent actions, which further feeds your addiction.
If the root cause of your sex addiction isn’t identified, it will continue to spiral out of control, and your feelings will continue to be compounded by the very sexual activity that you use to quell them. Addressing the root of your shame – and your addiction – is the only way to heal.
The Repercussions of Using Sex to Cope with Shame
Repressing shame with sex might help you feel better at first – which is why you do it in the first place – but it isn’t a sustainable way to cope with your past. A temporary solution that doesn’t address the root cause, such as having too much sex, creates a downward spiral and makes the problem worse.
The repercussions of using sex to cope with shame include:
- Losing touch with yourself and others. As you continue to mask your shame with sex, you your sexual addiction grows in severity. Often, this leads to more shame – and before long, you may feel too ashamed to face your friends and loved ones. If this happens, you may end up distancing yourself from them, or living a ‘double life’ between your sexual partners and others.
- Sacrificing your values. If you notice that you’re doing things that you once considered immoral or unethical just to act out sexually, this is a sign that your addiction is becoming a serious problem.
- Becoming overly self-conscious. It’s very difficult for someone with any type of addiction to face themselves. If you notice yourself becoming less confident in yourself or around other people, it may be because of your sex addiction.
Overcome Your Shame and Sex Addiction, and Live the Life You Want
To recover from sex addiction, it’s imperative that you do everything in your power to avoid subjecting yourself to further shame.
Much of your recovery will involve learning to identify what fuels your actions and what triggers you to feel shameful. Figuring out what stokes these feelings will help you avoid a relapse, and will help you identify, understand and eventually eliminate the feelings that led to your addiction. This is the only way to completely free yourself from your impulses.
However, trying to heal in isolation is extremely difficult. Instead of going it alone, you need to surround yourself with people who will understand – and never judge – you. People who will hear you instead of preaching at you. People like the counsellors you’ll find at The Cabin.
Once you’ve found unconditional support, you can dig deep into your darkness and expose it to the light. Without the secrecy of darkness, there’s nowhere for shame to hide – and in the light, you can truly begin to heal. Contact us today to learn how we can help.