Why “Sex Addicts” might not be Addicts After All. {Adult}

Via Heather Dawn
on Mar 29, 2016
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Aimanness Photography

As a yoga teacher I’m often confronted with yoga falsehoods like, “this inversion can reverse blood flow.”

Um, no. Our veins and arteries would definitely disagree with that statement.

As a life coach who specializes in self-empowerment, I also work with a lot of clients dealing with relationship or dating issues. There are many falsehoods in this world too such as, “I think I’m a sex addict.”

Sex addiction is popular and lucrative business for many professionals in the sex therapy field. Claiming someone is a sex addict can also lessen accountability and make it easier to forgive a person whose sexual behavior was hurtful because as an addict it was “beyond their control.”

When it comes to sexual addiction there is usually an underlying issue like anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive behavior in which lots of sex and sexual release can be a relief. But, compulsion and anxiety are not addiction.

Everyone has different sexual libidos, erotic interests and ways they like to get off. This doesn’t make someone a sex addict.

As long as everyone is consensual and having a good time, the idea of enjoying too much sexual play is ridiculous.

Sex addiction gained popularity after the 1998 Clinton scandal. Before then it was primarily the religious circuit that used that label to shame people who had affairs or expressed sexual diversity. Despite its pop culture popularity, it’s very important to be aware there is still no diagnosis labeled “sex addict” in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as of 2016.

Dr. Chris Donaghue, Clinical Psychologist, author and sex therapist, challenges the very system he was trained under in his new book, Sex Outside the Lines: Authentic Sexuality in a Sexually Dysfunctional Culture. In his book Dr. Donaghue asks important questions like, “Who is creating the standard for what it means to have a healthy or normal sex drive?”

Studies show that we are a nation of sexual hypocrites—our behaviors are at odds with our beliefs.

For all our progressive sexual ways, American society can’t wait to jump on someone who seems a little too progressive, free, different or outside of what is considered sexually acceptable.

“Reputable” sites like webmd or psychcentral.com offer a list of symptoms that could make a person a sex addict:

1. Exhibitionism (That’s most of Twitter and half the reality shows on TV)
2. Unsafe or random hookups (One night stands are super dangerous stuff, I guess).
3. Attending strip clubs or adult book stores (There goes all of Vegas and Miami.)
4. Multiple Affairs or Serial Dating (Philandering isn’t sex addiction and monogamy isn’t the only game in town.)
5. Watching Porn (Porn sites get more views than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. Is the entire globe addicted then?)

This is clearly a list of fairly common sexual behavior.

Treatment programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous questionnaires range from wanting to know if we keep secrets about our sexual or romantic activities from those important to us or are driven to have sex with people or in places we wouldn’t normally choose. (Yes, that could also be called privacy, excitement and novelty.)

So, before we start labeling people sex addicts or wondering if we are a sex addict, let’s consider these things:

1. Learn the difference between a compulsive behavior and an addictive one.
2. Know there is no medically supported diagnosis of “sex addict.”
3. Just because we like more porn or sex that’s different from our partner or friends, doesn’t make us a sex addict.
4. The sex addict symptoms you find online are usually religiously or financially motivated.
5. Read three books: Sex Outside the Lines, by Dr. Chris Donaghue, The Myth Of Sex Addiction, by Dr. David Ley and Mating in Captivity, by Esther Perel Ph.D all of whom are highly regarded psychologists and sex therapists.

Sex is great. Lots of sex is even better. And as long as it’s consensual, enjoy it any way you like.



Author: Heather Dawn

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Aimanness Photography/ Flickr




About Heather Dawn

Heather Dawn is a life coach, meditation and yoga therapist. She specializes in self-empowerment and personal transformation with her clients and students. She is the co-host of a weekly sex, love and relationship show and podcast called, “Getting it On with James and Heather.”


5 Responses to “Why “Sex Addicts” might not be Addicts After All. {Adult}”

  1. Hi says:

    Yeah one night stands can be dangerous actually. Have you ever heard of STDs? STIs including HIV are the most common diseases in the world. Sex is perfectly fine as long as people aren’t adding to the global spread of sexually transmitted diseases. You haven’t said anything about using protection in this article, safe sex. That’s the important message to put out there – always use protection and don’t spread diseases.

    I personally *love* sex to be honest my boyfriend is fucking amazing, I’m such a lucky woman!! 🙂

  2. Heather Dawn says:

    Thanks for your feedback! Sure one night stand can be dangerous with the spreading of STI's, but so can committed relationships when referring to the transmission of STI'S. Often times partners have an STI history prior to meeting their partner, they don't tell their partner about because they are afraid of being unloved or rejected. Or a partner has an affair with unprotected sex and can't share that with their partner due to the shame. A person who is knowingly carrying an STI and doesn't take precaution is cruel, careless and can be dangerous pending the disease, but not a sex addict. Addiction refers to being out of control, this scenario would have been a choice. It's also important for us to take precautions for ourselves in partnerships with sexual health. Keeping our own health updated and staying on top of our partner(s) as well. It may not be sexy, but it's smart and necessary. Err on the side of caution. In this article One nights stands were referred to as a diagnosable thing that means you are a sex addict. That is a wrong diagnosis. Sex Addiction is not Compulsion. And great on your relationship! It sounds wonderful!!! Enjoy every minute of it.

  3. Jos says:

    Wanted to thank you for being brave enough to speak sensibly when it is likely to just get you slammed by the 'let's control the world by attacking every opinion that doesn't support our world-view' crowd. Thank you.

  4. guest says:

    Umm, I'm fairly open minded and liberal but, I must say, I was a little annoyed when my fiancée at the time went on many business trips and came home to give me herpes. I'm sure the sex was consensual between him and the 18 year old who gave him herpes, however, that sex was not consensual with me! Nor was getting herpes from having sex with someone I trusted wholeheartedly.

    We broke up and he did get counselling for his issues whether you want to call it sex addiction or not is irrelevant. Some people do need help.

  5. Heather Dawn says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm very sorry to hear of the disappointments and betrayals you had to deal with. I am also glad to hear that all parties involved got counseling . But, my article is NOT about STI's. And it's NOT about philandering and cheating on someone. Those are issues which will be discussed on The James and Heather Show in upcoming episodes. This article was solely about Sex Addiction being a term that is wrongly and inaccurately diagnosed by far too many professionals and lay people. A term that is often attributed to people who cheat and pass on sexually transmitted diseases. They are all separate issues. There is no term in the DSM whatsoever about a sex addict. Therefore treating a supposed sex addict brings up lots of questions when there is no real medical diagnosis for one. That was what this blog was about. As a matter of a fact, a woman above in the comment section also commented on STI's as a repercussion for " sex addiction" when really it a repercussion of unprotected sex and not being honest with your partner(s). Those are choices people make in their sexual life, and very unfair and risky ones to those who are involved. And as you experienced and I mentioned above in another comment, STI's are spread even when in committed partnerships, they are not the results of someone who is addicted to sex. They are the result of someone who was either lying, filled with shame, philandering or knowing rolling the dice by practicing unsafe sex when they were in fact carrying an STI. I always recommend keeping an open conversation between partners about your love life together. Get tested regularly. Every 6 months to be on the safe side when you go for your physical. Keep open dialogue between partners in committed relationships. Don't assume just because you have a long history together. Everyone keeps things private. Everyone. It's part of being human. Sorry for your struggles and wishing you a happier, healthier love life. Your sex life and love can still flourish with an STI. You just have to take precautions.