Sexual addiction, like any other addiction, is a sickness, and should be treated as such. It can appear in many different ways, and certainly doesn’t have to just be an obsession with the act of intercourse itself. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who shows any of the following signs/symptoms, there’s a chance they could have some kind of sexual addiction:
Constantly ‘sneaking’ around, lying about their activities
Excessive use of pornography
Pressuring you into sexual situations, even if you’re not comfortable
Is prone to sexual affairs and infidelity
Granted, being a sex addict doesn’t excuse any of these behaviors, and all of them can lead to an extremely unhealthy, and even emotionally abusive relationship. But, what’s important to take into consideration is your own well-being. If you’re dating a sex addict, the idea of getting them help, or them admitting they actually need help is one thing. But if they’re choosing to remain in the detrimental patterns of their addictions, it can be harmful to your health and mental state.
How can this happen so easily? Well, chances are, if you’re experiencing any of those behaviors with your partner, your focus on a day to day basis is on them, and their struggles. You may constantly find yourself wondering what you can do to help, or how you can change their behaviors. As a result, your partner may become extremely dependent on you, which can be very unhealthy, as they can then turn that dependency into a more controlling nature, making you feel trapped.
Whether this is a pattern in your relationships and you’ve experienced it before, or this is the first time you’ve ever gone through something like this, it’s important to take care of yourself, first. If you’re harming your own well-being, you’re probably also enabling your partner to continue on in the patterns they’re used to when it comes to sexual activity, and no one benefits from that particular situation. There is help for sexual addiction, but the person struggling has to want it – you can’t want it for them, and you can’t push them to change without at least some willingness from them.
It’s a difficult decision to make, especially when it comes to someone you care about, but one of the best ways to get your partner help, and make sure you’re taking care of yourself at the same time, is to put some kind of hold on the relationship. This will stop your partner’s dependency on you, and can free you from the confines of an emotionally-unstable relationship with an addict. It can be a harsh reality, but in the end, seeking help for yourself, before your partner also seeks professional help, can be the best thing for you personally, and the best thing for your relationship in the end.
Dr. Drew Tillotson, a licensed Clinical Psychologist in full-time private practice with over 25 years of experience. My office is located in the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. I work with adults in both individual therapy and couples work. I Specialize in sex addiction therapy in San Francisco.