Symptoms of Sex Addiction

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The symptoms of sex addiction vary by the person afflicted. There is no single behavior or activity that clearly makes a person a sex addict. Generally, symptoms are related to excess. Behaviors that might be considered ordinary in some circumstances become problems when they interfere with other areas of life or cause physical damage. This makes symptoms a matter of degree instead of specific actions.

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Common symptoms and signs of sex addiction

  • Having sex with multiple and/or anonymous partners.
  • Engaging in chronic sexual activity with prostitutes and/or sex workers.
  • Masturbating excessively, even to the point of injury.
  • Habitually using pornographic materials and engaging in sexual objectification.
  • Having or desiring to have sex in response to some psychological issue such as stress or depression.
  • Improper pursuit or forcing – rape, pedophilia, or stalking might be the criminal outcome.
  • Compulsions to have sex in circumstances that are harmful or inappropriate, without regard for consequences.

Underlying mechanisms of sex addiction

Sex behaviors are part of our biological makeup. It is only when these natural drives are coupled with psychological problems that sex addiction emerges. Current addiction therapy seeks to decouple the underlying problem from the harmful expression. The attempt is to discover what is driving the behavior other than the pleasure of orgasm.

For this reason, symptoms may mirror other treatable illness. Sex used to combat depression would be a common example.

Other characteristics of sex addiction are:

  • Inability to change behavior despite trying.
  • Focus on sex and sexual thoughts, even when they are not wanted. A period of obsession then leads to the behavior.
  • Using sex as an escape from problems.
  • A great deal of time spent in preparing for, engaging in, or recovering from episodes.
  • Damage to finances and financial goals from behaviors.
  • A belief that sexual conquest and seeking are natural and normal even though the harmful consequences can be demonstrated.
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