by Brian Whitney
You've been hanging out with this guy for a while and everything is great. That's what you tell people. The truth is, everything is not so great. Things he says and does don't add up. When you're together, there is often something forced, even fake, about how he relates to you. Maybe you're beginning to find out things about his sex life that he has tried to hide. Maybe he has some odd sexual proclivities. What used to be charming or thrilling is starting to freak you out.
The guy may be going through a tough time. He may be a sexual dynamo. He may be banging someone else. Shit happens. But there may be a different answer.
I did all 10 of the things on this list, in all of my relationships. Some of them lasted for years. I was often accused by women of being a selfish, lying a**hole or a straight-up freak, and I was both of those things. But they never knew the truth: I was a sex addict.
The list is a compilation of everything I've learned about sex addiction in my own experience and treatment and from many other men in groups I've been part of. Obviously, it focuses on heterosexual relationships, but these behaviors are common to LGBT sex addicts, too.
Most doctors would prescribe treatment to help your sex addict get his obsessions and compulsions under control. When he stays up until 3 a.m. looking at cyber porn or jerks off eight times a day, he's dosing his brain with dopamine and other chemicals that excite, distract and otherwise cover up the underlying distress or emptiness he suffers from.
"The sex addict's impulse is to cover the pain of feeling damaged, whereas the opportunist's impulse is to take whatever he can get without having remorse. Sex addicts feel very guilty and ashamed of their behavior, and greedy individuals do not," said Joe Kort, a sexual addiction therapist and a doctor of sexology. We sex addicts are generally filled with shame and self-hate, and are deceitful because we feel that if we are found out we will lose everything.
So what do you do if your partner is exhibiting three or more (my estimate) of these signs? Start off by talking to him. (Ending the relationship will still be an option in an hour or a day.) Don't assume the worst just yet.
But be prepared for deception. When I was confronted, I lied and continued lying, and tried to persuade my partner that she was full of shit. You never know, though: He may be relieved to have it out in the open.
1. He lies all the time.
How do you know when a sex addict is lying? He opens his mouth.
Because the addict is keeping a secret -- and living a double life -- he's also covering it up. He's typically not where he says he is, but that may be just the beginning of the lies. He may tell you he makes more money than he really does. He may lie about his past. He may tell you he's working late but then comes home smelling like booze. The lies he tells might have nothing to do with sex, but the fact that he is a compulsive liar is itself a warning sign.
2. He cheats on you.
This is a tricky one. A lot of guys cheat.
Maybe he has some "character flaws" (like being a narcissist), maybe he's super-attracted to someone else, maybe he no longer likes you and is on his way out. To qualify as sex addiction, the cheating has to be pretty much nonstop. It can take a million different forms. At my worst, I was carrying on three or four relationships at once outside of my primary one.
When you suspect your partner of cheating, you're probably right. You're also probably furious. When you cool down a bit, this is the time not only to confront him but to dig a little deeper. This might save you both a lot of pain in the future.
3. He has had no long-term stable relationships.
It may be that this guy has had no serious relationships, although he has had a lot of sex. Or he may have left a trail of relationships that failed for no discernible reason.
Either way, this is a big red flag if he's in his 30s or 40s. Because what makes you believe you are "the one" who is going to break this pattern of failure? Falling in love with this man may have made you feel very special. But addiction is stronger than infatuation or even love.
4. He masturbates all the time, even after sex.
You just had some of the most awesome sex of your life. You've never felt closer to him; you fall asleep with a smile on your face. A half hour later you wake up and he's beating off next to you in bed.
Don't be all "Oh, he doesn't think I am attractive. Why is he beating off when I'm right here?" You're smarter than that. This is not about you, no matter how much it affects your self-esteem. If a guy is masturbating compulsively, it's because he can't stop beating off.
5. He's into some kinky stuff sexually.
He may be tying you up and blindfolding you, or choking you (for the thrill, not to hurt you). He may have an odd fetish that you accept because you love him. No consensual kinky behaviors are odd unto themselves. People do what they do.
But if his sexual interests become all-encompassing, and if you are being pushed physically or emotionally beyond your comfort zone, then your dude clearly has some issues that may add up to sex addiction.
6. He is secretive about his phone and computer use.
Typically, the ringer on his phone is always off and he always takes it with him. If you ask to use it, he acts uptight. He never leaves it lying around.
When he's on the computer, he minimizes the screen if you come to talk to him. He always logs out of his email and Facebook, even if he just goes away from his computer for a couple of minutes. If you ask to use his computer, he logs out of everything.
Now, your guy may be a garden-variety cheater, or maybe he likes porn way too much. But if he has some of the other signs, too, he may be seriously sexually obsessed or compulsive.
7. He is extremely confident and controlling sexually.
This is another issue that by itself is not a big thing, but combined with other issues could clue you in to a problem.
Not only is he a good fuck, but he's in charge the whole time. He has to be. You may end up feeling that you're less his sex partner than someone being led around and controlled.
Some sex addicts don't care whether you get off or not; others want nothing more than to be the best sex you have ever had. But whatever your addict is into, he's going to start doing it to you.
He has had plenty of partners in the past and, as he describes it, all of them were in his thrall. Maybe you're lucky. Maybe you're with a sex addict..
8. He flirts all the time.
Woman at work "love" him. When you go out to a bar, if a cute girl is bartending, he chats her up. He talks to the young woman behind the register when you shop. He still sends birthday cards to ex-girlfriends. He sends fun texts to your female friends, never crossing the line, of course.
Basically he flirts with every woman who catches his eye. With some guys this is just their way of getting out that dark side, and flirting is more or less innocent fun. With a sex addict, it's a way of getting off and often of grooming potential victims.
9. When you call him on any of his shit, he manipulates you and turns things around.
If he's caught, he'll do his best to make it seem that he's innocent, even to the point of questioning your integrity or sanity for suspecting him.
The mind of a cornered sex addict can be like an animal caught in a trap. When it's all going down, he will fight and claw and pretty much do anything necessary to avoid admitting that he might be the freak he believes, deep down, the world thinks he is.
He also spends a lot of time being suspicious of you and acts like you're the untrustworthy one. When a person has a habit of treating others badly, they often think that others are capable of treating them the same way.
10. You think he might be a sex addict.
If you suspect he is one, he probably is.
You aren't stupid or crazy. You see what you see. You know this guy better than his family, his friends and maybe even his previous partners.
Don't try to persuade yourself that nothing much is going on. Recognize it and talk about it. The worst place for you, and your addict, to be is the place that stays within the lie.
You may assume, after all you've been through, that he won't be receptive to talking, but you have some influence here. If you come at him with "You fucking asshole, I know you cheated on me," you won't get an honest response. But if you can find it within yourself to ask if he has a problem, and letting him talk about it without shaming him, he may surprise you. That said, you're not his therapist, and your first priority is to you.
I acted out sexually for 25 years before I trusted a woman enough to talk to her about it. I had never believed that I could tell someone how fucked up I was and have her still be my friend. It was because of that conversation that I went and got help.
Brian Whitney, a pseudonym, is the the author of 37 Stories About 37 Women and Am I Pleasing You, and the co-author of books written with adult film stars Porsche Lynn and Rebecca Lord. His previous piece for Substance.com was about what it was like to work at a wet house for homeless alcoholics.