Sex Addiction Brings Isolation, Severe Relationship Problems
Like alcohol or drugs, people with sex addiction find it impossible to manage their impulses and cravings for sexual activity despite the consequences. Among the list of consequences for sex addiction – such as loss of career, finances, and family life – many people with this complex condition describe an extreme sense of isolation and separation from close relationships.
Though sex addiction remains a focus of increasing scientific research into the ways the addiction affects the brain and the factors that cause it, many people continue to misunderstand the addiction as one marked by sexual pleasure.
On the contrary, people living with sexual addiction describe feelings of hopelessness, desperation, depression, guilt and shame associated with sexual acts. As the addiction progresses, they lose their ability to stop themselves from engaging in sexual behavior, yet many remain fearful of asking for help even as the addiction destroys their personal relationships, as addressed in a recent article.
For some, the addiction can be masked by denial for years. For others, the ongoing need to keep their behaviors secret brings unbearable stress and shame.
Symptoms of sexual addiction can vary from person to person, but may include:
- Increasingly obsessive and unwanted thoughts about sex
- Inability to resist the urge to act on sexual thoughts, such as having sex with multiple partners or in inappropriate settings
- Feelings of anger, guilt or shame following the sexual behavior
- Increasing removal from home life and social settings to engage in the behavior, to the point of deep isolation
Addiction experts believe many people with sexual addiction have deep-rooted problems such as establishing and maintaining intimate connections with others, further complicating the emotional isolation linked to sexual addiction. Even in a committed relationship, the person with sexual addiction may separate themselves from those bonds by acting out sexual behaviors with others – but remains unable to stop themselves.
Professional treatment is needed to overcome sexual addiction and move toward recovery, and often includes treatment with a spouse or partner to help the couple heal from the deep emotional wounds of sexual addiction.