Unfortunately, some people use the label “sex addiction” to define any type of sexual behavior that doesn’t meet their personal, religious, or moral standards. Other individuals use sex addiction as an excuse for sexual misconduct. Basically, they get caught engaging in inappropriate, problematic, possibly even illegal sexual behavior, and they blame their actions on an addiction, hoping to avoid or at least minimize the judgment and/or punishment they get. Recognizing this, it is helpful to understand what sex addiction is NOT.
- Sex addiction is not fun. Sex addiction leads to shame, depression, anxiety, and a wide variety of negative consequences, just like every other form of addiction. Sex addiction is not about having a good time any more than heroin addiction is about having a good time.
- Sex addiction is not an excuse for bad behavior. Under no circumstances are sex addicts absolved of responsibility for the problems their choices have caused. In fact, part of healing from sex addiction is admitting what you’ve done, accepting any consequences, and making amends as best you can.
- Sex addiction is not related to sexual orientation. Neither homosexual nor bisexual arousal patterns are factors in the diagnosis of sexual addiction, even if those arousal patterns are ego-dystonic (unwanted). Being gay, lesbian, or bisexual does not make you a sex addict any more than being straight makes you a sex addict. Sexual addiction is not in any way defined by who or what it is that turns you on.
- Sex addiction is not related to fetishes or paraphilias. Nontraditional sexual turn-ons (kinks, fetishes, paraphilias) are unrelated to sexual addiction. As stated above, sexual addiction is not in any way defined by who or what it is that turns you on.
- Sex addiction is not just a guy thing. The common perception is that only men are sex addicts. This is not true. Plenty of women are sexually addicted, though they tend to talk about their behavior in terms of relationships rather than sex.
- Sex addiction is not the spouse’s fault. Sometimes sex addicts blame their significant other for their addiction, saying things like, “If I got enough sex (or hotter sex) at home, I wouldn’t act out in my addiction.” This is a lie. It’s like blaming orange juice for alcoholism, as in, “If orange juice tasted better, I wouldn’t need to cut it with vodka.”
- Sex addiction is not the same thing as sexual offending. It’s possible to be both a sex addict and a sexual offender, but addiction and offending are not the same thing. Most sex addicts do not become sexual offenders.
- Sex addiction therapy is not sex negative. Some people worry that sex addiction therapists are trying to be the new sex police, imposing moral, cultural, or religious values on sexuality, thereby creating a narrow version of sexual health. This is not the case. Certified sex addiction therapists fully understand that sex addiction has nothing whatsoever to do with who or what it is that turns a person on, and they treat their clients accordingly.
If you think you might be sexually addicted but are still unsure, please click here to take our updated Sex Addiction Screening Test. Residential treatment for sex addiction is available at Seeking Integrity: Los Angeles, as are online workgroups for male and female sex addicts seeking recovery.