Sex addiction is a compulsive urge to engage in sexual activity, thoughts, or fantasies in ways that are detrimental to an individual, his or her family, friends, and/or work. It blocks the development of true intimacy in a relationship. Sex addiction is also called sexual dependency or sexual compulsivity. Just because someone likes to masturbate or to have sex frequently doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is a sex addict or has a problem.
For the individual who is caught by sexual compulsion, sex has become something other than an intimate expression of loving connectedness. The pleasure that is inherently present in orgasm or connection with another has been altered and is being used as a balm, an escape, a distraction, rather than being enjoyed for what it does offer.
Sexual addiction does not always result in infidelity to a relationship, nor is all sexual infidelity driven by sex addiction. Generally, it is the male of the couple who has an issue with sexual addiction. However, more and more often women are also having these difficulties.
The natural urge for sex, the way sex is used for marketing purposes, and the explosion of porn on the Internet have created a “perfect storm” of conditions leading to sex addiction. To understand sexual addiction, it can help to understand the impulses and motivations that drive sexual behavior.
The Sexual Impulse
As a human, you have an animal body guided by instinct. You also have a reasoning part of your brain that allows you to work with your instinctive responses. In its basic and natural form — if there has not been physical or emotional damage along the way — human sexual contact feels good, touching feels good, having an orgasm feels good. This is normal and wonderful. The natural desire for sex and sexual pleasure is not an enemy.
Basically, we all want to love and be loved. We quite naturally require human connection at a biological level. The natural sexual impulse can guide you to finding the pleasure of sexual contact, closeness, connectedness, and intimacy with your partner. When your natural biochemical responses produce hormonal impulses, you experience sexual desire. However, when those sexual urges get misdirected and become addictive or compulsive, instead of leading to pleasure and connection, the sex drive can lead to suffering.
Biology and Sex
Our needs for sex, touch, attachment, bonding, and commitment are chemically influenced in different ways at different stages of our lives. The hormone testosterone, sometimes called “the warrior hormone,” is found in both men and women. Men, however, tend to have twenty to forty times more testosterone than women. Testosterone creates an urge for sexual contact, but may also foster the desire to dominate and to be alone. Thus, it’s no surprise that men are more inclined to one-night stands — or that they like to roll over and go to sleep afterward.