Make an Appointment: [email protected] | 901-248-6001

  • Low Self-Esteem and Compulsive Sexual Behavior

    How Low Self-Esteem Affects 
    Compulsive Sexual Behavior

    Generally speaking, compulsive sexual behavior usually results from a need to avoid uncomfortable, negative feelings. Sexual acting out and porn for example function as an anesthetic, much like other addictive substances. In other words, it’s a behavior that dulls unpleasant sensations, fears, resentments and loneliness. While many factors can play a part in developing compulsive sexual behaviors, one of the most important ones is low self-esteem. That’s why, in the rest of this article, we’ll look into how low self-esteem affects compulsive sexual behavior.


    What are Compulsive Sexual Behaviors?

    Before we get into the roots and causes of compulsive sexual behaviors, we need to define what the term means. It’s an obsession with sexual thoughts, desires, or actions that are difficult to control, make you feel guilt and shame afterwards, and have a detrimental impact on your relationships, employment, health, or money. Hypersexuality and sex addiction are different terms used to describe compulsive sexual activity.



    Common Symptoms of Compulsive Sexual Behaviors

    There are a few signs that a person could be dealing with obsessive sexual activity, such as:

    They have frequent, intense sexual fantasies, cravings, and actions that consume a lot of their time and feel uncontrollable.

    They feel compelled to engage in particular sexual practices and experience a release of tension afterward, yet they may also experience guilt or sorrow.

    They’ve tried vainly to curb or restrain their sexual fantasies, impulses, or actions.

    They use compulsive sexual behavior as a form of self-medication for issues including stress, loneliness, sadness, and anxiety.

    They struggle to build and maintain wholesome, secure relationships. While both parts of this can be true, more often than not, the latter part is more noticeable in people struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors. They might find it easy to start a relationship but impossible to maintain it.  They have an intimacy disorder.  This often leads to short-lived romances based on passion and impulsive decisions and usually ends in divorce. To get better, they must first recognize the pattern and work on getting a fresh start and avoiding triggers. For some, it’s been proven really positive to move after the process and start fresh in a new environment.


    Low Self-Esteem Vs. Low Self-Confidence

    People often confuse these two, although they’re not the same. We act with confidence. We are what we think of ourselves. When we have low self-esteem, we experience a sense of worthlessness. The emotion of low self-esteem is highly damaging. It tends to creep into practically every aspect of our life. Our jobs, coursework, interpersonal interactions, friendships, pastimes, and downtime. The feelings we’ve just discussed not only contribute to low self-esteem but also cause it.


    Self-Esteem and Compulsive Sexual Behavior

    There are a few factors that cause compulsive sexual behaviors, but also be a result of these behaviors. These factors are anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, and, as we mentioned, low self-esteem.

    Low self-esteem can be both the cause and the result of compulsive sexual behavior. Simply put, a person with low self-esteem will look for any kind of validation and may find it by acting out and engaging in sexual behaviors. The connection between the assurance they feel when participating in acts like this and the worthlessness they feel when they’re not,  usually contributes to developing compulsions. Of course, some people are more prone to addiction than others, which also has to be taken into account. Moreover, it should be noted that studies showed that men are somewhat more likely to experience this kind of low self-esteem that contributes to compulsive sexual behavior as a means of validation.


    The diagnostic standards for obsessive sexual conduct are still up for dispute. Different sets of standards are used to diagnose the illness. A formal diagnosis for compulsive sexual conduct does not exist at the moment. This is because there isn’t enough proof that it can actually be diagnosed as a medical illness.

    These criteria are not more often used in the diagnosis of compulsive sexual behavior because there is insufficient evidence to support the link between obsessive sexual conduct and the psychological circuits of addiction.

    The debate about compulsive sexual conduct as a real mental disease has grown due to the rise in instances of the activity and its effects. Before major health authorities include compulsive sexual conduct as a single diagnostic, more empirical data are required.  However the World Health Organization does recognize compulsive sexual behavior as a true disorder.



    Treatment for compulsive sexual behavior can be challenging since sufferers often try to justify their actions and cognitive processes. People who suffer from compulsive sexual behaviors often deny that there is an issue at all.

    Current treatments aim to lessen mental health symptoms and control excessive cravings for sexual activity. Methods also support the development of positive connections and behaviors.

    There are several possible therapy options, including:


    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    This form of psychological counseling offers a range of strategies and resources to assist the patient in altering their behavior. CBT can help a person develop new, healthy coping mechanisms and lessen impermissible sexual desires.


    Prescription Drugs 

    These might include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine, as well as anti-androgens, like medroxyprogesterone. FDA has not authorized any pharmaceuticals for treating this disease, even though a doctor may prescribe these medications to lessen sexual cravings.



    In order to overcome obsessive sexual behavior, friends and family support is essential. People may find it challenging to comprehend and tolerate compulsive sexual conduct, particularly if it has previously harmed relationships.

    A solid support system, however, can aid in developing healthy sexuality and lower the likelihood of undesired sexual conduct.


    Final Thoughts

    Although there are many other factors at play, low self-esteem also affects compulsive sexual behavior in many ways: both as a cause and as a result. While compulsive sexual behavior isn’t an official diagnosis yet, it’s essential to take this behavior seriously. It can have enormous consequences on the everyday life, work, and relationships of those who suffer from it.


    Did you know low self-esteem and compulsive sexual behavior are linked? Continue reading to find out more about compulsive sexual behaviors.

    Photos used: