Sex addiction. Each word evokes complex thoughts, images, and responses. Put the two together and there is the possibility for controversy and confusion. Is sex addiction real, or is it just the latest cop-out for bad behavior?
Dr. David Ley is garnering attention investigating precisely that question. He says sex addiction is a myth. Unfortunately for those who experience sexual compulsivity or its effects, his characterization registers as a dismissal of the struggle.
I am married to a sex addict. My husband, George Collins, is a successfully recovering sex addict who has made it his life's work to help people with the same problem. His clients are generally men whom he helps escape the cycle of suffering. George counsels male sex addicts and I provide support for the wives and partners. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models & Your Self Esteem
For the guys that come to our practice, the pleasure of sexual activity, including the moment of orgasm, is eclipsed by desire, shame, and a sense that something fundamental is missing. These men are caught in what the American Society of Addictive Medicine calls the "pathological pursuit of rewards." They never can get enough of what won't satisfy them.
When the wife or partner comes to see me, she is generally at the end of her rope. She feels like she might have to end the relationship. She often feels shocked, numb, hurt, ashamed, afraid and/or angry. Or she may just feel confused. Then, as she watches her guy pull himself out of his destructive cycle, she slowly begins see new possibilities for intimacy with her partner. Experts Agree: Cheating Is Not About Sex [VIDEO]
As he shares with her his discoveries about previously hidden influences, often propelled by unseen circumstances from the past, he claims new mastery over himself, and she benefits from his deepening capacities for emotional and physical intimacy. This opening allows her to unravel her own unseen influences. Understanding that her partner's actions are driven byaddiction allows view his struggle with compassion. It's not an excuse to condone his actions; it's a tool to put his struggle into perspective.
Confusion Over The Term 'Sex Addiction'
One might imagine that Dr. Ley and I would adamantly disagree. Surprisingly, we concur on some fundamental points, and where we disagree, I can't help but wonder whether the issue is mostly semantic, especially considering how inflammatory the term sex addiction seems to be. Sex & Sensuality: Where The Nun & The Prostitute Agree
I do recognize, as Dr. Ley points out, that there is no standard definition of sex addiction. For the purposes of this article, when I use the words sex addiction, I'm not referring to the quantity of sex someone is having, but rather to its effect on his life and the lives of those around him.
The average person isn't troubled by his own interest in sex. He enjoys having sex. He doesn't need to keep sexual thoughts, actions, and fantasies a secret. He's not ashamed of his sexual activities. He doesn't wish that he could find a way to stop. For the sexually addicted person, on the other hand, the pleasure of orgasm or sexual activities with a partner gets hijacked, used as a balm, an escape, or a distraction, rather than being enjoyed for what it offers. 7 Signs Your Partner Is A Sex Addict
My husband and I encourage all our clients — and you — not to get stuck on labels. Whether you call it a bad habit, a compulsion, a dependency, an addiction or anything else, if your behavior or your partner's behavior creates suffering, then it is vital that you both recognize that it is a problem — no matter which words you use to label it.
Sex Is Not A Disease
Dr. Ley is absolutely correct in saying that sex is not a disease. In fact, one factor often at play for our clients at Compulsion Solutions is that despite being aware of the pleasure of orgasm, there is a sexually moral overlay. They often don't know anything about the joys of connected, intimate sex. Instead, they believe having sex with their intimate partner is wrong or even dangerous. Sex Addiction From A Buddhist Perspective
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This article was originally published at Compulsion Solutions
. Reprinted with permission from the author.