Unfortunately, I continue to see more and more clients in my office who are struggling with sexual addiction. . . here are 5 signs you may have a sexual addiction. Even though sexual addiction is still not recognized as an official diagnosis in the diagnostic manual, I see client after client whose lives have been torn apart and shattered by this addiction. It can be kept hidden and in isolation much easier than many other addictions. Because of this, often the consequences can be extreme. If you have even thought this may be a problem in your life, here are some signs you may be all too familiar with.
You Have Tried To Stop
Never again. This is a pretty popular phrase among addicts, and sexual addiction is no different. You promise yourself, “this is the last time I have a one night stand,” “this is the last time I have to catch up on work over the weekend because I spent work time watching pornography,” or “this is the last time I will lie to my wife.” Addicts can often stop for a few days or sometimes even months, but the addiction always finds its way back. Then find yourself planning to watch 15 minutes of pornography, but before you realize it has been 2 hours. You find yourself having more one night stands or even doing acts that could have legal consequences. Be honest with yourself, if you have tried to quit and have not been able to shake the behavior, there is a good chance you are an addict.
Your Behavior Continues To Escalate
Alcoholics need just a couple of beers the first time to get drunk. The next time they may need 3, then 4. Eventually they find themselves needing to down a 12 pack to have the same effect. Sexual addiction is no different.
If pornography is your addiction generally it starts with pretty vanilla porn for short periods of time. Eventually the type of pornography escalates to more and more risky porn. Sometimes watching things that may have disturbed you before. It may start with a one night stand, but then even one night stands aren’t quite enough to get you the high you need. Maybe it turns into a full blown affair or acting out in sex clubs or with prostitutes.
Just as the person who was drinking three beers never in his/her life thought they would be drinking a 12 pack, one day you wake up and have no idea how you got to where you are. This will only continue to escalate until you find recovery. When the riskiness of the addiction goes up, so does the intensity of the potential consequences.
You Continue The Behavior Even After Consequences
One sure sign of addiction is consequences. Even if you haven’t experienced consequences yet, with addiction they are sure to come. People often think of legal consequences when they think of consequences of sex addiction or alcohol.
Of course legal consequences can be a big deal, but there are lots of others to consider as well. There are legal, financial, occupational, health, and relational. If you wife continues to catch you watching pornography and you experience her anger or distancing, but you continue to engage in watching pornography you are continuing this addictive behavior even after experiencing consequences.
I have had more than one person in my office that have put themselves at extreme risk of legal or health consequences that don’t even realize it until I point it out. That is the scary side of addiction. We can often convince ourselves that what we are doing is “okay” or legal, when it is very clearly not.
Taking a look at your behavior in a rational and non addictive thought process may open your eyes to consequences you never considered. I have had people lose their jobs, their relationships, and even arrested. All of them said the same thing…I never thought it would go that far.
You Isolate And Choose Your Addiction Over People Or Activities That Are Important To You
Addiction increases with isolation. The less people can see how out of control your behavior has become, the easier it is to get away with it. Living in denial is much easier without having anyone holding up a mirror to you and showing you what is really happening or how bad it has gotten. If you find yourself pulling away from friends, canceling plans, or disconnecting from your spouse and kids, it may be a good indication that your behavior or addiction is getting out of control. Addicts tend to slowly isolate over time and eventually find themselves in a position with very few people around them they connect with, sometimes only having contact with those they can act out with.
It is time to take a hard look in the mirror if you have lost friends or a hobby that use to give you pleasure. Connecting with your family may just be too much to give when you thoughts are obsessing on acting out.
Your Life Is Unmanageable
If your life is just not working anymore, it is time to face the truth. There is a saying in AA, people get sober when they are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” If you are exhausted, if you are facing severe consequences, if you have pushed away people you care about, it is time to fix your life. Something I hear from almost every recovering addict, is the amount of relief they feel when they start down their recovery journey. They don’t have to wake up every day soaked in guilt and shame. They no longer have to lie to those they love. You are the only one that can look in the mirror and know when this addiction is destroying your life.
When you are in the darkness of addiction on a day to day basis. It can be hard to ever imagine being able to live a different life. There is a life of freedom, connection, and true honest and intimacy that can come from a life in recovery. It is not an easy road, but it lead to a beautiful tomorrow. Now is your chance to take that road.
Related article on sex addiction by Christy Aloisio . . . https://healingheartsofindy.com/struggling-sexual-addiction/