Love & Sex Addiction
 

 

Love Addiction

Love addiction is finally being recognized as a serious problem with serious consequences. It can be defined as being obsessed with a person, fantasy, or relationship and mistaking this for love. Love Addiction can look different in different people. One common denominator is that being love addicted feels as if you are hanging on by a thread, and the obsession naturally brings very little sense of consistency or stability to one's life. Your life may begin to revolve around this person/fantasy or relationship. Some find themselves unable to be without a relationship. Often times people describe relationships as their “air” feeling unable to function if they are not partnered with someone. Others may become obsessed with a person long after they are physically and emotionally gone. Some get obsessed with a romantic fantasy and get lost in daydreams and delusion. All of these different versions of love addiction interfere with the ability to be in the present moment and cope with reality.
Most of us can relate to parts of this description and have experienced a relationship/person/fantasy that may have occupied a lot of our thoughts and feelings for a time. However, look below to see if you can recognize yourself in the symptoms and consequences of love addiction that are listed. If so, a professional can help you better understand the roots of your problem and overcome this issue.

Symptoms of Love Addiction (this is not a complete list):
Excessive fantasy;
Denial of painful feelings;
A need for drama;
Intense jealousy;
Abandonment of your interests, friends, time alone, etc.;
Losing yourself completely once in a relationship and a loss of personal boundaries;
Increased use of alcohol, food abuse, drug intake, spending;
A feeling of impatience about the relationship and wanting a ‘happy ending’ right away;
All or nothing feelings: love/hate; pain/ecstasy;
Lack of consistency in the relationship;
Lack of stability in the relationship, there are lots of ups and downs daily/weekly;
Enmeshment;
Neglecting personal responsibilities and self-care;
Denial despite warnings and concern from trusted friends;
Fear of expressing feelings especially anger ;
Confusing lust and love;
Difficulty focusing and concentrating;
Increased anxiety and depression;
Our entire psychic space is occupied by thoughts of lover or fears within the relationship.

Some consequences of love addiction (this is not a complete list):
Loss of job;
Loss of custody of children;
STD's;
Chronic illness;
Destructive coping methods including excessive drinking, food, sex, and spending;
Increased anxiety and depression;
Suicide attempts or self-harm behaviors such as cutting, eating disorders etc.

*Information incorporated in this section is taken from Susan Peabody's Addiction to Love.*


Love Addiction Recommended Readings:

1. Facing Love Addiction by Pia Mellody
2. Escape from Intimacy-Untangling the“Love”Addictions: Sex, Romance, Relationships by Anne Wilson-Schaef
3. Is it Love or is it Addiction by Brenda Schaeffer
4. Addiction to Love: Overcoming Obsession and Dependency in Relationships by Susan Peabody
5. Women Who Love too Much by Robin Norwood
6. Finally Getting it Right- From Addictive Love to the Real Thing by Howard Halpern
7. Help! I’m in love with a Narcissist by Steven Carter and Julia Sokol
8. How to Break your Addiction to a Person by Howard Halpern
9. Women, Sex and Addiction by Charlotte Kasl

Love Addiction Weblinks:

1. Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous www.slaafws.org

2. Stanton Peele's Love and Addiction website www.peele.net

3. www.brightertomorrow.net

4. Addiction and Recovery Information www.selfgrowth.com

5. Sex and Love Addiction Information www.webmd.com/hw/healthy_sexuality

Sex Addiction Helpful Weblinks

1. S-ANON www.sanon.org

2.Sexual Compulsives Anonymous www.sca-recovery.org

3. Sexaholics Anonymous www.sa.org

4. Sex Addicts Anonymous www.saa-recovery.org

5. COSA (Codependents of Sex Addicts) www.cosa-recovery.org

6. Sexual Recovery Anonymous www.sexualrecovery.org

 

Sex Addiction


Sex Addiction is no different from other addictive processes. A preoccupation with sex consumes the addicts energy and life. However it is important to understand that Sex Addiction can look different in different people and involves a wide range of activities, obsessions and compulsions. On one side of the spectrum, a sex addict may masturbate frequently, or become obsessed with porn (whether that means surfing the internet, going to video stores, or buying magazines). This can involve obsessions and rituals characteristic of an addiction. This process can continue despite negative consequences in the addicts life, or progress to more dangerous behaviors such as: going to strip clubs, having unprotected sex with a lot of partners including hookers, exhibitionism, lewd behavior etc. On the extreme end of the spectrum is the abuse and exploitation of children, as seen in pedophilia.

According to the SAA website, “the essence of all addiction is the addicts experience of powerlessness over a compulsive behavior, resulting in their lives becoming unmanageable”. Sex Addiction interferes with a person’s life on a lot of different levels: financially, physically, socially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Often times sex addicts find it impossible to maintain real intimacy with a person they are in a relationship with, despite desperately wanting to. They might find themselves unable to have sex with their partner, and only excited when engaged in their rituals and obsession. Many addicts are in denial about their problem because of the immense shame that they feel. If the addict is in a relationship, it’s usually the partner that feels inadequate, frustrated and confused; they know something is wrong but they don’t know what. The Sex Addict is living a double life and may find themselves at the strip club and not know how they got there, or in the video store looking for porn all weekend long. The addict has a ‘love affair’ with their addiction, which leads to negative consequences, loneliness, lack of respect for oneself and others, and ultimately despair, shame and hopelessness. In extreme cases, sex addiction can lead to arrests, and life threatening disease and STD’s. Intervention and therapy is crucial. If you see yourself or your partner in the above description, contact a therapist who understands and can help you with your addiction.

Below is a Self-Assessment test that I’ve gotten from the SAA website. If you do see yourself in the questions below, I suggest going to the SAA website and checking out a meeting.

*taken from the SAA website*

A Useful Tool for Self-Assessment

Answer these twelve questions to assess whether you may have a problem with sexual addiction.

1. Do you keep secrets about your sexual or romantic activities from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?

2. Have your needs driven you to have sex in places or situations or with people you would not normally choose?

3. Do you find yourself looking for sexually arousing articles or scenes in newspapers, magazines, or other media?

4. Do you find that romantic or sexual fantasies interfere with your relationships or are preventing you from facing problems?

5. 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?

6. 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?

7. Does each new relationship continue to have the same destructive patterns which prompted you to leave the last relationship?

8. Is it taking more variety and frequency of sexual and romantic activities than previously to bring the same levels of excitement and relief?

9. 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.?

10. Does your pursuit of sex or romantic relationships interfere with your spiritual beliefs or development?

11. Do your sexual activities include the risk, threat, or reality of disease, pregnancy, coercion, or violence?

12. Has your sexual or romantic behavior ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal?

 

Suggested Readings:


1. The Sex Addiction Workbook by Tamara Penix Phd. and Sbraga and William T O' Donohue

2. Don't Call it Love: Recovery from Sex Addiction by Patrick Carnes

3. Sex and Love Addiction Treatment and Recovery by Eric Griffin-Shelley

4. Oversexed and Under Loved: A recovery Guide to Sex Addiction by Douglas Rubin

5. Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sex Addiction by Patrick Carnes

6. Facing the Shadow by Patrick Carnes

7. Sex Addiction by Ralph H. Earle

8. Women, Sex and Addiction by Charlotte Kasl

9. Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men by Robert Weiss LCSW

 

 

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