Sex addiction is a dysfunctional preoccupation with sex that continues for a period of at least six months, despite negative consequences and attempts to either quit or curtail the problem-causing behaviors.

Stated more simply, sex addiction is an ongoing, out-of-control pattern of sexual fantasies and behaviors that causes problems in a person’s life.

Sex addiction is diagnosed based on three primary criteria:

  1. Preoccupation to the point of obsession. Sex addicts spend hours, sometimes even days, fantasizing about, planning for, pursuing, and eventually engaging in sexual acts (with self or others). They often “lose time” when floating around in their sexual obsession.
  2. Loss of control. Most sex addicts try, usually repeatedly, to either quit or cut back on their sexual behaviors. Sometimes they even succeed for a short while. But before they know it, they are back where they started, losing themselves in sexual obsession.
  3. Negative consequences. Sex addicts typically experience the same basic consequences as other addicts—problems at work or in school, relationship woes, financial issues, declining physical and/or emotional health, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, isolation, arrest, etc.

If someone identifies with these three criteria, it is quite possible that person is sexually addicted. If so, it’s likely they are compulsively engaging in one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Hour after hour of porn and/or webcam use, with or without masturbation.
  • Losing themselves in hookup apps and similar technologies—dating sites, video chat, sexting, etc.
  • Constantly “hunting” for sex—cruising in the car for sex partners, surfing online for sex partners, hanging out in the steam room at the gym, etc.
  • An ongoing pattern of intense and highly sexualized affairs or brief “serial” relationships.
  • Consistently having casual and/or anonymous sex with people met online or in-person.
  • Consistently visiting strip clubs, adult bookstores/theatres, and other sex-driven environments.
  • Paying for (or being paid for) sex, sensual massage, eroticized domination, etc.
  • A pattern of unsafe sex—unprotected sex, sex with strangers, sex in public, etc.
  • Consistently seeking sex without regard to consequences—damaged relationships, financial issues, arrest, etc.

This listing of typical sex addict behaviors is wildly incomplete. That said, at least one or two of the activities listed above are nearly always among the behaviors that any sex addict struggles with.

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If you think you or a loved one might be suffering with sexual addiction but you aren’t sure, we suggest taking our free, anonymous, 25-question Sex and Porn Addiction Self-Test. For treatment, consider residential rehab at Seeking Integrity: Los Angeles or one of Seeking Integrity’s low-cost Online Workgroups for Male Sex Addicts.