Friday, August 13, 2010
GUEST BLOGGER: Amanda Kane, LSW
Being in a Relationship with a "Sex Addict"...
My phone is ringing off the hook with people who want to talk about "Sex Addiction." Colleagues, friends, media, and clients are all fascinated by 2010's seemingly endless avalanche of celebrity sexual transgressions.
The term "sexual addiction" is used to describe the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense pre-occupation with sex. It is not a formal diagnosis included in the DSM-IV-TR, the “bible” of mental health disorders. But the behavior associated with it can be included in other diagnoses such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a miscellaneous diagnosis called Sexual Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.
Essentially the verdict is still out about creating a formal diagnosis for this problem, but it is a legitimate concern for an estimated 5%-10% of the population.
Sex addiction shares parallels with other addictions, such as alcohol and drug addiction. Sex addicts act-out sexually despite negative consequences. Generally, they have little or no emotional investment in their sexual partners and feel guilt and/or shame after acting-out. But for some people it is the only way they know to relieve anxiety and cope with stress.
Sex addiction makes it difficult for the addicted person to engage is healthy relationships. Sex addicts frequently spend enormous amounts of time and energy in the pursuit of sex. Sex, addicts, like other types of addicts, are not dealing with their feelings and use other means—in this case sex—to self-medicate. The addicted person is not truly present in their relationship if their life has been taken over by compulsive sexual thoughts and behaviors. They certainly aren’t emotionally available for their partner. Sex addicts are focused on chasing their next sexual high, rather than their relationship.