Sex Addiction can encompass a wide variety of compulsive behaviors. Whether you struggle with a single unwanted behavior or many, we have come to view sex addiction as a progressive illness. While some of our behaviors may have at first seemed fun or exciting or even been well-meaning exploration, in time they came to cripple us emotionally and/or physically, often leading to painful and dangerous situations and circumstances and ever worsening consequences.
We experience powerlessness over our behavior
The one common element for most addicts is our experience of powerlessness over our behavior(s) resulting in a life that we cannot manage. We made repeated attempts to stop our compulsive behavior only to find ourselves back in the same situation again. We’ve come to refer to this as powerlessness. Because of our personal powerlessness, many of us have lost relationships, faced difficulties at work, experienced financial troubles, and faced arrests or legal problems. We may find ourselves losing interest in anything not related to sex.
We live a life that we cannot manage
When cycling through this behavior, we often experienced tremendous pain, shame, and self-loathing. Friends and loved ones were hurt and confused by our inability to stop our harmful behavior. We felt alone and unlovable, often rejecting those closest to us as we continued down the spiral of addiction. In our fear and hurt, we often lied and hid our behaviors, creating a façade of “being okay.”
We lie and hide our behavior
Sex addiction can be all consuming, taking enormous amounts of energy, time, and money. As our disease intensifies, we establish patterns of behavior, which we call rituals, leading us to ‘act out’ our compulsive sexual behaviors. When our acting out occurs, we go into a deep state of denial, becoming numb to our feelings and oblivious to the consequences of our actions. In some cases, we were even oblivious to the world around us, losing track of time and ignoring our obligations. Afterward, we often felt shame and despair coupled with feelings of hopelessness and confusion.
We had to admit we had a problem and needed help
We had to ask ourselves:
- Do you keep secrets about your sexual or romantic activities from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?
- Have your needs driven you to have sex in places or situations or with people you would not normally choose?
- Do you find yourself looking for sexually arousing articles or scenes in newspapers, magazines, or other media?
- Do you find that romantic or sexual fantasies interfere with your relationships or are preventing you from facing problems?
- Do you frequently want to get away from a sex partner after having sex? Do you frequently feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter?
- Do you feel shame about your body or your sexuality, such that you avoid touching your body or engaging in sexual relationships? Do you fear that you have no sexual feelings, that you are asexual?
- Does each new relationship continue to have the same destructive patterns which prompted you to leave the last relationship?
- Is it taking more variety and/or frequency of sexual and romantic activities than previously to bring the same levels of excitement and relief?
- Have you ever been arrested or are you in danger of being arrested because of your practices of voyeurism, exhibitionism, prostitution, sex with minors, indecent phone calls, etc.?
- Does your pursuit of sex or romantic relationships interfere with your spiritual beliefs and development?
- Do your sexual activities include the risk, threat, or reality of disease, pregnancy, coercion, or violence?
- Has your sexual or romantic behavior ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or even suicidal?
We reached a jumping off point where we had to be honest with ourselves and admit that we had a problem and needed help. Whether we felt alone or not, we all found (one way or another) a fellowship of men and women who shared many of our struggles. We have found a common solution to our collective problem in the program of recovery and fellowship of SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous). If any of this has resonated with you, we encourage you to explore the resources on our website, call our hotline, and seek out an SAA meeting in your area. No matter how far down the scale you’ve gone you can always find hope. It works if you work it!
If you answered ‘Yes‘ to more than one of the above questions, we encourage you to seek help
- Call the SAA ISO main office, at (800) 477-8191
- Call the Triangle Area Info Line at: (800) 921-1896
- Attend a meeting to learn more about the 12-Step program and Fellowship of SAA.
- Read additional material about sex addiction
SAA Pamphlet – A Pathway to Recovery