You’ve barely been married a month. You can’t keep your hands off of your significant other and vice versa. You (ahem) want to be with him/her night and day every day. Anywhere, anytime is your motto. You two have even been caught in an elevator, doing Aerosmith proud.
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You are in your mid-twenties, single and go to a happy hour somewhere every Friday night. You almost always end up bringing someone home and staying up until daylight, getting hot and heavy. You find that it is getting more difficult to stay out of bed with anyone and thoughts of sex enter your head at any given time of the day or night. You go through your week counting the hours until any given happy hour on Friday night. Your work is not as good as it used to be and people take notice.
You are a happily married salesperson with three kids all living at home. You and your significant other have always had great sex. You made a mistake once of sleeping with another person on one of your sales trips and it was the most exciting feeling you’ve had for years. Now, you can’t stop doing it. Whenever you are out of town, you cruise the bars, looking for someone to pick up. You now go out of town as much as possible and are beginning to not care so much about the sales-end of the trips.
What It Is
WebMD describes sexual addiction as “the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict's thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.” According to Psychcentral, the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” The down-to-basics explanation means that if you crave sex that is not within the confines of what is considered “normal,” cannot control your compulsions and can destroy families’ lives (and your own), then there is a possibility you are a sex addict. The American Psychiatric Association does not list sex addiction as a disorder, interestingly enough. Consider Scenario #3 above. The salesperson is having extramarital relations. If his significant other finds out, he is endangering his marriage. If his sales are falling, there is a loss of income, which hurts the family. If he’s going to bars on every trip, he is spending more money than he normally would. He might put himself in the position of losing his job. Is he using protection, even? If not, he is endangering his health, and that of his wife’s. All of these consequences are indicators of a sexual addiction. Sex addiction is an addiction just like any other, i.e. drugs or gambling. You can’t control it, no matter what the consequences might be. You structure your life around how you can obtain more sex. You try and quit and find out that you can’t. Or you do quit, but become obsessed with it again, only to start sexual activity again. Sex addicts can progress past their initial addiction, just like a drug addict. There is the pot smoker that ups the ante to snorting cocaine and then graduates to shooting heroin.