Although the stereotype of sexual compulsion is male, this issue can affect women too. Women are more likely to experience feelings of guilt and shame than men, and social stigma makes it difficult to face up to their problem, even though it is having a destructive effect on their lives. But it is vital that women get help: unprotected sex with strangers can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, marriage breakdown, pregnancy and puts women in dangerous situations.
A real-life story
Susan a young professional working in the City of London describes her experience of sex addiction:
“I grew up in a very supportive family who gave me lots of love and affection”¦but I went away to boarding school. The other girls bullied me and I felt rejected. When I discovered that boys liked me because they thought I was pretty, the affirmation was intoxicating. I elicited attention as much as I could from boys. I lost my virginity at the age of 13 and whilst other girls were jealous and bullying the attention was soothing. The strange thing was that sex didn’t give me pleasure.”
Susan’s experience echoes many sex addicts’ behavior in that the act of sex is not as important as the rituals or ‘romance’ surrounding the build-up to it.
Wanting to be wanted
“I had a series of relationships at the same time which I felt guilty about but kept going. The thrill of being wanted kept escalating. I went into rehab for an alcohol problem and it was only when I was in a controlled environment that I and everyone around me realised I had a problem. My flirting, my provocative dress, and an affair in treatment led to an intervention. It was the first time I saw my behavior in context and realised how unhappy I was.”
Recovery from sex and love addiction
Following a period of treatment for low self-esteem and early trauma it is possible to alter the thinking patterns and the compulsion to behave negatively can be reversed. Spirituality plays a part in this process by encouraging the patient to be less narcissistic. It is possible to recover from sex and love addiction. Susan and John did with the help of a 12 step programme, honest self-appraisal and guidance from an expert traumatoligist.
“I didn’t realise how happy I could be or how unhappy I was. I am engaged to a lovely man and my outlook on love and sex has completely changed. I treasure moments of intimacy and I am grateful everyday for the help and healing I received.”
Treatment and self-help groups
Behavioural addictions and dependency on drugs and alcohol usually go hand in hand. If you are worried about your own behaviours or those of a family member or friend, call us and one of our experienced therapists will help guide you through different treatment options. If you are worried that you might be developing an obsession with sex or love then visit your local Sex Addicts Anonymous group or visit Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous.