Sex addiction is a word that is thrown around quite a bit these days. Lots of people want to diagnose a loved one, debates are had on whether it is truly an addiction, and there is discussion of when does sexuality cross the line to an addiction. If you are reading this blog and questioning whether you have an issue with sexual addiction, I hope to give you a bit of clarity. I do want to say, if you are questioning if you have an addiction, seeking a professional evaluation is essential. Guidance and support are very important for addiction recovery.
There is no definitive line that tells you whether you are a sex addict or not. Here are three key components to addiction that may help you see if you are struggling with addiction.
- You feel shame. If looking at pornography causes you shame, dismay, or self-loathing there is a good chance it has gone too far. If you are feeling bad over events you have missed, lost time with your family, giving up healthy habits for sex, or shameful over what type of sex you have or watch there is a good chance you are struggling with addiction. Shame is always present with addiction. You feel shameful so you act out to not feel the shame, which causes you more shame and pushes you to act out more. It is a pretty vicious cycle. Do not fool yourself into thinking just because your shame is small and not felt all the time that it is okay. It has a lot of potential to get worse.
- You have tried to cut back or quit unsuccessfully. If you have ever told yourself, “This is the last time” but have done it again, it is probably time to take action. So often we rationalize ourselves into being able to have our addiction. “She will never find out.” “I’ll talk to that other woman just one more time.” “I need to watch some porn so I can sleep tonight, but tomorrow I will sleep without it.” All of these are faulty thinking. You rationalize it in the moment to make it okay when you know it is not okay.
- You have experienced consequences from the behavior. These are NOT just legal consequences. Just because an alcoholic has not had a DUI, does not mean they have not experienced negative consequences from their drinking. Consequences can be legal, occupational, relational, health, or financial. If your porn usage is affecting your marriage, you are having negative consequences from your behavior.
Sexual addiction can create immense damage in your life. From losing your family, losing your job, or even facing legal consequences. If you think you are struggling with a sexual addiction, it is time to get help now. You can be in recovery with the right support and guidance.