The Unsexy Truth About Sex Addiction. ~ Kimberly Lo

Via on Jul 14, 2013

unfaithful

In my years as a yoga practitioner and instructor, I have met several people who are current or recovering addicts.

This isn’t a surprise. Like any community, the yoga community represents people from all walks of life. As someone who has a number of addicts in my extended family, I was familiar with various forms of addiction. There was one sort, though, that I was not familiar with and that was sex addiction.

If you mention addiction in conversation, most of the time the tone becomes quieter and/or the faces of those around show a mixture of empathy and sympathy. Mention sex addiction, though, and it’s more likely that what will follow is a series of laughs and winks and comments like, “I wish my partner suffered from that!” Despite the fact that an estimated three to five percent of the American population alone suffer from it, many people doubt that it actually exists.

One of the biggest misconceptions about sex addiction is that these are people who simply have high sex drives. They aren’t. While people with high sex drives enjoy sex and tend to have it more frequently than most people, they are not actually addicted. Their sexual drive does not interfere with their daily lives nor do they necessarily have multiple partners at the same time. (In fact, many people with high sex drives are in monogamous relationships.)

With sex addicts it is a different story. They often alter their lives to fit around their addiction. The ones I knew worked for themselves or in jobs where they could set their own hours. In at least one of the cases, one of them worked in a profession that put him in touch with a lot of young, single women.

Other common myths and misconceptions are that sex addicts are rich, powerful, good-looking, and/or not getting enough sex with their current partner. None of these are necessarily true. Sex addicts come from all walks of life, can be male or female, and the vast majority are as ordinary as they come. In cases where they are extraordinary in some way—Michael Douglas and Tiger Woods are two very well-known celebrities who have gone public and shared that they sought treatment for sex addiction—many either outright dismiss it by saying, “Oh, they just happened to get caught cheating!” or  in Woods’ case,  are left scratching their heads wondering why they were stepping out in the first place given that their spouse was arguably far more attractive than the women he was supposedly having sex with. What many don’t get is that a sex addict isn’t concerned with having any sort of real relationship with their sex partners. To put it bluntly, as long as the other person is willing to put out, they will have sex with them.

Years ago, I became friends someone who was a bona fide sex addict. He was and still is one of the most charismatic people I ever met. Blessed with intelligence, physical attractiveness and the ability to connect with various groups of people, I saw how sex addiction ruined both his professional and his personal life. Every time he entered into a new relationship, he was convinced that the new woman in his life was “the one” who would, in his words, “keep [him] good.”

Needless to say, it never happened.

I asked him once why he bothered with relationships. Why not just date or hook-up and let everyone know he did not want to be in an exclusive relationship with one person? He looked at me as if I were crazy. The truth is that he wanted to be in a relationship. He longed for real intimacy even though his sex addiction prevented him from ever experiencing that.

It was then and there that the reality of his situation hit me like a ton of bricks: he didn’t want sex—he needed it. Like a heroin addict who had stopped getting high a long time ago, he didn’t even enjoy sex anymore. For him, it was just a task.

Ultimately, we parted ways because I got tired of hearing him lie to himself and those around him, and I was not strong enough to watch him destroy himself and deny that he had a problem. When I last heard from him a few months ago, he was mourning the loss of a nearly two year relationship. He claimed he had been faithful to her despite the fact that she told several people that she caught him replying to a personal ad for a sex partner on Craigslist. I believed her. As we parted ways, I told him that I really hoped that he would find some sort of inner peace. I meant it then and still mean it, but in all honesty I do not think that will ever happen until he and others with his addiction get the professional help they need.

While sex addicts can be helped with therapy, it is a lot easier said than done. Like many addicts, sex addicts may be in deep denial. Plus, anyone who has ever tried to change their own behavior can relate to how hard it is to do so. When choosing a therapist, it is helpful to find one with a background in sexual addiction. There are also support groups in some areas for sex addicts and their partners.

Lastly, if you are the partner of a sex addict, it’s important to educate yourself about co-dependent behavior as well as know that it is not any failing on your part. Often times the partners of addicts, especially if they are women, may believe that they aren’t attractive enough, sexy enough, etc. to keep their significant other from straying. This simply is not true. Also, the only person any addict can really change for is themselves. With that said, those who do successfully modify their behavior have a lot to look forward to not the least of which is having the ability to use sex as a means of intimacy and connecting with someone they truly care about.

 

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Ed: B. Bemel

 

About Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.

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12 Responses to “The Unsexy Truth About Sex Addiction. ~ Kimberly Lo”

  1. BruceCasteel says:

    Addiction is a very sad reality of our over-consumptive society!

  2. Melissa Horton Melissa says:

    I so appreciate your post, and the strength you took to walk away from your friend. Without those like you, I would have never realized I had a real addiction, not would I have felt the despair that led me to seek help. It is certainly a powerful topic, one that is not easy to discuss nor well received. Again, thank you.

    • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

      Thank you, Melissa. Good luck with everything. There is a lot of shame around sex addiction but IMHO, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Again, good luck on your journey.

  3. Monica says:

    Such a great post. Thank you. In so many ways sex, and selling thru sex/sex appeal, is such a huge part of our society yet talking about sex in many families, with our teenagers in healthy, loving ways, even with our sex partners can be repressed. Even shameful. I really appreciate your post.

    • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

      Thanks, Monica! We live in a culture obsessed with sex. I can see why some may think we all have a sex addiction. My goal in writing this was to set the facts straight on what sex addiction actually entails. I appreciate your comments!

  4. floridgush says:

    Great story! It's sad that people are so quick to write off sex addiction as fluff. Problems are problems. That we have a culture that thinks it's better to point and laugh at problems we don't have or understand rather than respond with sympathy is far more alarming to me than someone who can't easily restrict his or her carnal cravings.

    I think in a lot of cases, the addiction is actually for something very specific that comes from sex. I wouldn't call it sex addiction by a long shot, but earlier in life I was promiscuous to a point where I would sleep with anyone who would have me. I eventually figured out it was the validation of being wanted/desired I was hooked on, and not so much the sex (although the two get so entwined, it can be hard to pry them apart).

  5. Yvonne says:

    I was married to a sex/fetish addict. Sweetest, nicest man ever. But a destructive addiction that has ruined every intimate relationship he has ever been in. Sad part is, he knows it but continues to lie to himself about it. I too wish him all the best. I learned some hard but awesome lessons in this relationship. I don't regret it at all. 2 lessons, when someone tells you who they are…believe them the first time and second, when you see red flags, don't ignore them. You can't change someone who is unwilling to change themselves.

  6. Rebekah says:

    My ex-husband is a sex addict (he has other compulsive behaviors as well), and also charming, good looking (very physically fit) and completely in denial about how his compulsion(s) control him. At one point, when he was getting treatment for it, he told me that he needed to masturbate a few times a day just to stay "numb" from what would otherwise be, intrusive (and painful?) thoughts. He was on multiple dating sites, in addition to ones like Ashley Madison where people can find easy partners, and yet, we were sexually intimate several times a week. It rules him still and although I am so grateful to be out of the relationship, I still shake my head at how "damaged" and distrustful I am of all possible relationships because of the secret life he led for years.

  7. Libor says:

    Your friend was not lucky to recognize the signs of addiction [soft way] which are just thoughts (leading to sex ads browsing, in his case). The meditation-thoughts control might have helped … Being a charismatic person why would he go for the ads anyway? Probably since he wanted to be faithful… Well, he was fit to recognize the harmful action and did not follow with the ads. Supposing he did not lie, his 2 years partner was probably a bit controlling when she would not forgive the browsing or let it in oblivion…

    • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

      It's interesting, but I think he turned to yoga, meditation, and various self-help to "cure" himself. He was very heavily involved in a form of self-help and not unsurprisingly, a lot of his sex partners came from that community. (His charisma and looks certainly helped, too.) One of the reasons I stopped associating with him was that it was terrible to see him preying on people who were already vulnerable.

  8. Craig says:

    Thanks so much for this article. I've already shared it with my clients. It's not too often that I see an article about sex addiction from the Yoga community. I'm grateful that you've shared your story.

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