How to Control Sex Addiction?
Like many addictions, sexual ones come out of nowhere and controls your life. It can be debilitating for those who suffer fiercely and takes years to overcome. However, acknowledging the issue and actively changing is the first big step. We’re going to help you. The first step is noticing the symptoms and patterns — hidden in plain sight; these can be hard to spot in yourself and others. After this comes then breaking the habit. Taking each step when you can be strong and brave, you shouldn’t ever feel shame for suffering from a mental health issue (more common than you think).
Understanding habits in yourself can identify other areas of improvement in your life. Problems feed into each other. Fixing one will alter others and improve the quality of life. The root of sexual addiction varies in intensity and reason; for most, it can be used as an implicit sign of commitment phobia. What’s the best way to avoid a serious relationship? Develop a mental health issue that makes it impossible to be monogamous. This isn’t something most decide to form but is a subconscious defense mechanism to fear. Others love it for the validation or the sense of control one can achieve through intercourse.
Sex Addiction Symptoms: Female Perspective
The medical term for the sex addict is nymphomaniac, and this term is rather often used towards ladies to describe women obsessed with sex. Signs of sex addiction in women can vary but have fundamentally key themes. We will first go over the symptoms that affect all, then we will describe the extra symptoms you may see in yourself or women around you.
- Sex controls you. As soon as sex controls your day-to-day habits, that’s the first sign you need to re-evaluate things.
- Habitual masturbation. Masturbating is healthy and natural; you should be able to enjoy it without consequences. However, when a habitual pattern begins, and your life becomes impacted by this...it’s time to start asking the difficult questions; you’re maybe the person addicted to sex.
- You’ve had multiple sexual partners and affairs—a clear sign of commitment issues along with an inability to control. Expressing yourself through sex is fine, but when you put your sexual health at risk, along with cheating, then you may have a problem.
- You’re involved in risky sexual activity. Putting your sexual health (or general health) in harm’s way for sex can be a sign of sexual addiction.
- You rely on pornography, computer sex, and phone sex. Some visual stimulation is completely fine, but when you’re spending most of your time watching this stuff, then it becomes unhealthy.
Regarding women, they suffer more from psychological symptoms and thus makes it harder to spot. Sex isn’t positively encouraged for women in society. Subsequently, when women find themselves amid a sexual addiction, there’s an added layer of shame. They’re not expected to be sexual beings, rather sexualized beings. The sex addiction symptoms for a female are:
- Neediness in relationships.
- Increased isolation, seclusion, and secrecy.
- Debilitating use of masturbation.
- Unplanned pregnancies
- Frequent sexually transmitted diseases/ infections.
Symptoms can hide in plain sight, so identifying them may take some soul-searching. However, it’s the most important step in the journey of recovery.
What Makes Someone a Sex Addict?
As Google would tell you, sexual addiction is defined as a “compulsive participation or engagement in sexual activity [...] despite negative consequences”. It has been argued that sexual addiction has the same neurological qualities as drug addiction; so, when questioning if you are worthy of help, know that you are. Help will always be offered to those who need it, no matter how much of a lost cause of a sex addict you may see yourself.
Sex addiction can embody itself in alcoholism, too — this is where the phrase was first coined. In an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the mid-70s, many found themselves using their addictive tendencies in sex to aid in their explanation of the powerless chaos they experience during an alcoholic episode. This addiction is more common than you previously thought.
There’s no recipe on how to make a sex addict, although there are common personality traits amongst our fellow sufferers. Here’s what sex addict say about how they feel:
- Loneliness. It’s harder to form meaningful connections when you’re fighting off strong connections with people.
- Unloving. Past relationships or upbringing can lead to a standoffish approach to love.
- Dishonesty. Lying to themselves and others, they are in constant denial of a societal taboo.
- Discontented. A feeling of discontent arises when people push people away but still have a void to fill in their lives.
- Deceptive. Part of the thrill is derived from lying/ cheating.
Clearly, not a one size fits all, but these traits can be combined with the symptoms of sexual addiction to identify it in yourself and others. Sexual addiction manifests itself in many forms; we’ve curated a list so you can decide what type you most subscribe to.
- Fantasy sex. You need a fantasy of some sort so that you can enjoy the sexual act. A way of disassociating yourself from the act.
- Seductive role sex. You want to use your charm to get the best man/ woman in bed — you lose interest afterward.
- Voyeuristic sex. You rely on visual stimulation to be aroused.
- Exhibitionist sex. You like the attention/ reactions you can get from this pursuit.
- Paying for sex. Self-explanatory, but you find pleasure through the purchasing of sexual experiences/ interactions.
- Trading sex. When you gain a level of control through bargaining or selling sex.
- Intrusive sex. When you find pleasure in violating someone’s boundaries without their knowledge. This is a very dangerous form of sexual addiction.
- Anonymous sex. You like high-risk encounters with strangers.
- Pain exchange sex. You like the masochistic side of sexual play.
- Exploitative sex. sex becomes all about dominance and power over a vulnerable person — another form of dangerous sexual addiction.
Like any kink or mental health issue, sex addiction comes in different shapes and sizes. All things sex addicts say are fitting with the individual suffering. You may not have found your kink on this list, but this doesn’t belittle your experience. Talking about it and sharing our story amongst safe communities is a great way to work through it.
Breaking Sex Addiction
Now that you’ve explored what makes a sex addict and the signs of said addiction, it’s time to discuss the next steps. If you’re ready for help, then there’s a range of treatment plans available to you. It’s difficult to know what’s best suited to you but decide through trial and error. Try them on for size and decide what you could sustain long-term. Recovery is long but worthwhile.
Different Types of Treatment
- Therapy. A classic one that is proven to help those who truly seek it.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Used to modify thought processes to alter your behaviors and mood.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This method encourages the patient to zone in on a traumatic memory whilst having visual stimulation. It is suggested that this removes some terror/ emotion from the memory/ thought. #
- Psychodynamic Therapy. Used when the issue is buried deep and needs extra work to tap into the unconscious content of the patient’s mind.
- Group Therapy. For those who prefer a sense of community, this is a great place to meet like-minded individuals.
- Support Groups. Like group therapy, but removes the pressure of deeper conversations. Be a part of the community but take your time to get involved.
- Couples’ counseling/ marriage counseling. If you’re a sex addict in a relationship, this form of treatment allows your partner to get involved. How can they help you on your journey of recovery?
Recovery isn’t linear. Take your time to process what you’re feeling and then decide what treatment might be best for you. It could be years down the line or next week but do it when you’re ready. Additional to treatments, there are ways to help yourself outside of the structured realm of therapy. We’ve broken these down into easier steps for you, and it is a great way to ease into therapy or to aid it.
Simple Steps to Break the Addiction
The first step is always the biggest, and if you’re reading this, then you’ve already taken it! Here are more steps you can take!
- Get support. This can be anything from a friend to an online community. Whoever, you can trust is where to as for support.
- Try to drop the shame/ embarrassment. Thousands of people suffer from the same mental illness and aren’t something to be laughed at. Understand that is your journey and an important one.
- Remember, you’re not alone. Find online communities of people going through the same thing. You’d be surprised how common your thoughts/ feelings are.
- Speak to loved ones. If you can, share with your family what you’re going through. Having that layer of support will come in handy later.
- Self-reflect. To understand the problem, you must understand the root. Focusing on your mental health/ triggers may guide you to the root of your problem. A big step in recovery!
- Explore positive changes you could make. This could be moving, changing your style, finding a new hobby. Anything to feed the soul and give you extra purpose.
- Remove the triggers. People, objects, alcohol, and stress — all different types of triggers. Remove the trigger/ the temptation and watch your habits change.
- Find healthy habits. Exercise! We couldn’t recommend this enough! Working out and eating healthy isn’t all about losing weight. Do it to improve your soul. The better your lifestyle is, the more energy you have and the reduced risk of stress (and therefore triggers).
- Focus on a goal. Big or small, setting a goal gives you something to work for. Otherwise, you can be staring into the abyss of recovery. It could be hooking up with fewer people each month or watching less porn. Whatever you feel is beneficial/ attainable. Don’t set unrealistic goals, as this the number one cause of relapse.
- Celebrate the little accomplishments. Additional to your goals, celebrate every win! Did you skip masturbation? That’s brilliant! Find a way to reward yourself that’s in line with recovery. It could be a sweet treat or a relaxed workout day.
Your journey of recovery may be long or short but starting today brings you closer to success. Reading this article is the first step in your recovery now, you must ask what you want. Are you ready to kick this mental health issue? Or do you need more time? There’s no right or wrong. All you need to do is find help when you’re ready.