Sexual Addiction - What is it?
Sexual addiction is, in its simplest form, a normal sex drive that has become obsessive, to the point that behavior is out of control. Sexual addiction is referred to as a 'process' addiction, as opposed to a substance addiction like alcohol or drugs. In a process addiction, the euphoric feeling (or "high") comes from chemicals released into the brain, rather than from an external source. As the mind becomes accustomed to the release of these chemicals, it searches out for continued sources of that high. This could be from eating, the adrenaline rush of competition, putting yourself in dangerous situations, or from sexual stimuli. Sexual addiction can take on many forms, from the use of pornography and masturbation to repeated sexual affairs, patronizing prostitutes, and voyeurism. In extreme cases, sexual addiction can involve molestation, rape, and even murder. The many forms of sexual addiction have one thing in common, the behavior is done in secret, and the sex addict becomes skilled in hiding this secret life from those closest to him.
Sexual Addiction - What Causes it?
Sexual addiction is rarely caused by only one factor, but is more likely a build up of conditions over time. In my own case, I was exposed to porn at a very young age, and often escaped into the fantasy world of pornography and masturbation, rather than risk rejection from real girls. Even after marriage I kept up my habits, which put a wedge in my marriage that I didn't understand, and led to divorce. Sexual addiction is something that was a part of my life for over 30 years without me realizing it. For other people, causes for sexual addiction can include traumatic experiences in their childhood such as physical and/or sexual abuse, abandonment, or emotional trauma. Whatever the causes the root is simple: it is sin. Until we learn how to overcome the addiction, we continue to fail.
Sexual Addiction - What's the Problem, it's only Sex?
One of the most serious problems with sexual addiction is the way it affects our relationships. As I mentioned above, my sexual addiction came into my marriage, and damaged my relationship with my wife. As a result of my past use of pornography, I had a much higher sex drive than my wife. When we started having children, her sex drive began to drop even more as the stress of taking care of infants and toddlers started to take its toll on her. So I found myself satisfying myself much more often than she satisfied me. Closeness in a marriage is a combination of the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the relationship. Unfortunately, when one aspect of the relationship starts to break down, the others tend to suffer as well. While I was looking inward for physical satisfaction, I turned inward for my emotional and spiritual needs as well. As I turned away from needing my wife for my emotional needs, I also quit meeting her needs. The result was separation and divorce after 13 years of marriage and three children together. This is not unusual, as sexual addiction, at its core, is all about selfishness. The sex addict becomes obsessed with meeting his own needs at the expense of those around him. And selfishness in any form is damaging to a marriage relationship.
The other major problem with sexual addiction is its progressive nature. While lingerie ads and R-rated movies can be visually exciting to a teenager, that excitement doesn't continue for the sex addict. The need for more and more stimulation leads into more explicit, hard-core pornography, adult movies and websites, and eventually into acting out the fantasies that are formed in the mind. The first consequence of this acting out is that the wife ceases to be a unique person, worthy of honor in the relationship. Instead, she becomes an object of sexual gratification. Eventually, this too becomes mundane, and the sex addict seeks thrills of an increasingly illicit nature.