If you suspect that your partner might be sexually addicted, there are several signs and symptoms you should look for. Some are applicable to all forms of addiction; others are sex addiction specific. None of these signs and symptoms are definitive in terms of saying, “Yes, my partner is an addict,” but if you see several of these behaviors in a loved one, you will probably want to investigate further.
Signs and Symptoms for Any Type of Addiction
- Deceitfulness: Active addicts are excellent liars. They fib and make excuses with cold, calculated precision, especially when it comes to protecting their addictive behaviors.
- Gaslighting: Addicts often try to hide their addiction by pressuring you to believe their lies and excuses, however feeble these may be, instead of trusting your own feelings and intuition.
- Mood Swings: Some addicts can seem hyperactive and extremely happy, followed by periods of depression, irritability, and lethargy. Other addicts can seem pleasant and mellow, followed by periods of anxiety, paranoia, and anger.
- Physical Isolation: The easiest way to keep an addiction secret is to hide from anyone who might recognize the problem. This may look like “sneaky behavior” as much as isolation.
- Emotional Withdrawal: Addicts are notoriously non-intimate. They almost never willingly share about their feelings and problems.
- Trouble at Work or in School: Over time, addicts lose focus on just about everything that doesn’t involve their addiction. As such, work and school tend to suffer. That said, many addicts keep up appearances in these arenas for long periods.
- Financial Issues: Active addictions cost money. Even addicts with jobs that pay extremely well tend to live on the edge financially.
- Declining Physical and/or Emotional Health: As with work and school issues, changes to health and appearance are usually gradual and therefore difficult to notice, but they are almost always there.
Signs and Symptoms Specific to Sexual Addiction
- Sexual and/or Romantic Secrets: Sex addicts lie and keep secrets about their sexual and romantic activity. If caught in a lie, they often attempt to cover it with more lies.
- Failure to Keep Promises Regarding Sexual Activity: Sex addicts often promise to change their sexual and romantic behaviors. Sometimes they even follow through for a few days or weeks, but eventually they’re right back at it.
- Sexual and/or Romantic Detachment: Sex addicts tend to be more sexually and emotionally involved with porn, virtual sex, online chat, smartphone apps, and sexual and romantic intrigue (either online or in-person) than with their loving partner.
- Unwillingness to Discuss Sexual Issues: Sex addicts typically don’t want to talk about their sexual behavior or its consequences. Their consistent reaction to concern about their sexual activity may be anger, denial, defensiveness, and/or blaming.
- Lack of Empathy About Your Feelings: Sex addicts seem to not care that their sexual behavior upsets their loved ones. You may find that you feel unimportant and disrespected because of this.
Once again, none of these signs and symptoms are definitive in terms of saying, “Yes, my partner is an addict,” but if you spot more than one, you may want to take action.
If you think your significant other or anyone else you care about might be sexually addicted, help is available. Residential treatment for sex addiction is available at Seeking Integrity: Los Angeles, as are online workgroups for male and female sex addicts. Seeking Integrity also offers online workgroups for betrayed partners and couples.