Huffpost Healthy Living
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Barb Rogers Headshot

Sex Addiction: Explanation or Excuse? 5 Common Traits

Posted: Updated:

With alcoholics, you can smell it, drug addicts, you can tell it, but sex addicts don't run around with porn hanging out of their pockets acting out in public. Some hook up in all the places any non-addicts meet, some are indulging in the addiction behind closed doors, and others are getting their high out of magazines, videos, and on the internet.

The majority of the time they look and act like those not addicted to sex. After all, sex is natural. It feels good, and it's what we are supposed to be doing. There is no guideline to tell us what a "normal" sex life is, what is too much, and what determines a person to be a sex addict.

Addicts suffer from a mental obsession, or compulsion, which according to Webster's dictionary is defined as "an irresistible impulse to perform an irrational act." It becomes an irrational act when it causes serious problems in your life but you can't stop doing it. That is not an excuse for inappropriate addictive behavior, but it is an explanation. There are many, including some in the medical field, who do not believe that sex addiction is real. Those who suffer from it know what it feels like to be in the grip of an addiction that is ruling their lives, affecting their relationships, driving them down a destructive path doing previously unimaginable acts.

How do you determine the difference between people who are truly sex addicts, and those who are using the term as an excuse for promiscuous behavior? There are five common traits of sex addicts.

The five common traits are:

1. Unloved - Sex addicts who were victims of incest or molestation (their numbers are many, although some may not want to admit to it) face two serious problems. Since they suffer betrayal by those who are supposed to love and protect them, they lose the ability to trust. And, through their experience, they begin to substitute sex for love. When those two things take place it makes it nearly impossible for the sex addict to have an intimate, long term relationship, and they spend a great deal of time searching for love through physical touch. Like an addictive drug, it takes more and more in their never-ending search for a feeling that will never be satisfied through sex.

2. Untouchable - It may seem odd to say that sex addicts are untouchable because we know that there's a lot of touching going on. However, because of their fear of intimacy they cannot allow others to touch that part of them that goes beyond the physical. It's like someone dropped a metal cage around their heart to protect it, and the only key that will open it is their own readiness to do what is required for recovery.

3. Dissatisfied - Just as we need the basics, i.e.; food, water and shelter to survive in this world, it is important to feel loved. When people are hungry or suffer from severe thirst, they commit extreme acts to get those needs met. When the need for real love is not met, it will leave people with an underlying dissatisfaction that will affect other areas of their lives. A man with an empty belly will lash out at an unfair world, and sex addicts who can't experience love, will do the same. There will never be enough of anything to replace the need for love.

4. Self-Deception - Active sex addicts must continually convince themselves of several things:

• They simply have a bigger libido than others.

• They aren't hurting anyone but themselves.

• They can stop anytime they want to... but they shouldn't have to.

• They can have relationships with others without acting out sexually, either physically or mentally.

5. Secretive - When sex addicts live a dual life -one they believe society dictates, and the other fulfilling their sexual addiction - you can believe there will be a lot of secrets. Some get off on their secret life as part of the high. It's like having sex in public places knowing that you could get caught at any moment. For them, it raises the level of excitement, or so they tell themselves. The truth is that they can't stand the idea of their families and friends knowing the truth. It's about shame.

There has been a great deal of concern recently over celebrities checking themselves into sexual rehab, and questions about their motives. The motivation for addicts to go into a recovery program is that they have more to lose than to gain if they continue in the addiction. Does what they have to lose matter? Apparently it is important to them, whether it's a spouse, a career, or fans; otherwise they wouldn't be seeking help. Recovery from sexual addiction is extremely difficult - through advertising and the media, sexuality it is thrown in our faces every day in so many ways. The alcoholic can abstain from drinking, stay out of bars, away from others who drink, but sexual addicts in recovery will have to find a way to live in a sexualized society.

Rehab is not easy. It's not comfortable. It's certainly not a spa experience. Sex rehab is tough, and only those who are willing to go deep into those dark places that brought on the addiction, and deal with the emotional scars, will find true recovery. There they will be forced to take responsibility for their choices and admit that being a sex addict may be an explanation of the behavior but can never be used as an excuse. When the excuse is gone, so is the justification to continue in the addiction.

From Our Partners