Common Questions About Sexual Addiction

What’s the difference between sex addiction and a high sex drive?

Sexual libido exists on a spectrum of what is considered “normal” and healthy, and as you can imagine, is different for each person.

Someone with a high sex drive is satisfied with sex and seeks it within the context of a committed and emotionally connected relationship. It’s not about getting a “fix”.

In contrast, a sex addict typically seeks object sex rather than relational sex. If they are in a committed relationship, they may fantasize about others rather than staying present with their partner during sex. They may have multiple partners – fantasy or real.

They may prefer solo sex, through masturbation or using pornography, over sex with their partner. They can often feel their drive is insatiable and, over time, out of control or dominating their life. The sex addict, similar to other types of addicts, spends a lot of time and money planning for, engaging in, and then covering up or hiding their behaviors.

Can you be addicted to masturbation?

Yes. This is by far the most common sex addiction. This often is the first sexual behavior many will have on a repeated basis.

This is usually where a sexual compulsion starts and this behavior, regardless of other acquired behaviors, usually stays active.

Masturbation often starts early in adolescence while the brain is still developing and becomes an easy outlet to deal with stress, boredom, or other emotional distress.

Can someone be a sex addict and not be sexual or intimate with their spouse or partner?

YES! This stage of sex addiction is called Intimacy Anorexia, one of the subtypes of sexual addiction identified by Douglas Weiss, Ph.D. who specializes in the treatment of sexual addiction.

In this stage of sex addiction, the addict actively withholds emotional, spiritual and sexual intimacy from their partner. The addict-anorexic avoids relational sex and, hence, this couple has sex infrequently and often only at the non-addicted partner’s request.

Intimacy anorexia can be a “stand alone” behavioral addiction, without a history of sexual addiction or acting out. It is not uncommon for sexual addiction to feed intimacy anorexia and vice versa. In fact, if both addictions exist and only one is treated, relapse occurs at a higher rate than if both are addressed in recovery.

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