A lot of people have heard of the term ‘sex addict’, but did you know there is also something called a ‘love addict’? Love and sex are both important in our lives. Both can feel great and are part of human nature. Having a sexual libido and wanting to have sex is perfectly normal. The same goes for meeting someone new and falling in love with them. So when is this behavior considered an addiction? According to Dr. Carol Clark; “anything can be an addiction if you do it despite negative consequences to yourself or others”. The neurochemical process is similar in all addictive processes; where a release of different hormones including adrenaline, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, emit a feeling of euphoria.
Have you reached the tipping point where you feel something is going on with you? Let’s debunk it even further…
What is a sex addict?
A sex addicts is described as having persistent and escalating thoughts that have a negative impact on them. These are often characterized as being uncontrollable and overpowering. Sexual addiction does not have to do with the amount of sex a person has, but how it negatively affects a person. For example, sex addicts may watch pornography or seek out sexual encounters compulsively, to the extent that it has a negative affect on their family to their relationships. They are often times in denial of the big impact it has on their life. According to research 3 to 6% of the populations are affected by sexual compulsive behavior.
Sex addicts use sexual acts (examples; watching pornography, talking to online escorts or women, seeking out prostitutes or having sex with stranger) as a way to escape current thoughts and detach oneself from reality. The addictive cycle starts with thoughts about how to ‘act out’, finding new ways to get relief and pursuing those thoughts. The further along the addiction is the more the need to engage in risky behaviors that achieve the desired effect. Sex addicts tend to end up in a web of lies, trying to cover their addiction. Their rationale and denial allows addicts to escape feelings of low self-esteem and self worth, feelings of abandonment or trauma, and depression or anxiety.
What is a Love Addict?
A love and a sex addict are similar in terms of the chemical reaction that goes on in their brain. Their ‘drug of choice’ however, is not sex but a particular romantic experience. Love addicts tend to jump from relationship to relationship. They are afraid of being alone or rejected. However, once in a longer relationship they feel detached, irritable, and unhappy because the rush of love has lost its luster. Even though many opportunities arise that can lead to have an intimate healthy relationships. They much rather prefer continuing to ‘fall in love’ again.
The love addict will use these relationships as a way to deal with their low self-worth and allows them to escape problems they do not want to deal with. Their partners are used as objects to medicate their emotions, rather than forming a genuine bond. This type of person will most likely drop everything for a partner and become enmeshed. This mean that they loose sight of their personal boundaries. One indication is become obsessed with the other person and loosing sight of your own individuality. This often leads love addicts to choosing partners that are abusive to them or demand a great deal of emotional energy. Their partners may use sex to keep them in a relationship. Or the love addict might use sex or fantasy to fill a void.
Which one are you?
Love and sex addicts don’t discriminate in gender. Although publicly the media has focused a lot of its attention on male sex addicts, especially after Tiger Wood’s scandal, both men and fwomen can be sex or love addicts Both the love and the sex addict seeks to fill a void with something that is outside of themselves-whether it is a person, an experience or relationship. They believe this will provide them with the emotional stability they lack. Both individual and group work can help you move beyond this addictive cycle. Individual counseling can help you u create an emotional awareness and psychological stability to be able to have intimate relationships. Additionally, 12-Step self-help programs such as SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) can help re-direct your life and find healthy habits.
If you believe you or your loved one suffers from either of these types of addictions contact a local counselor to help you move out of a destructive life pattern to a healthier one.