Navigating Relationships and Dating as a Sex Addict
Sex addiction real or just a convenient excuse? It’s a sensible question. However, there’s a difference between consciously, voluntarily, and even repeatedly cheating on your partner and having no control over your impulses. What’s the main difference? Compulsive behavior. Unlike sporadic acts of infidelity, sex addiction leaves no room for rational choices. “I need a fix.”; be it a one-night stand, pornography, infidelity, or masturbation. “I need the pain to go away. Now.” So, yes, the very thought of treading intimate waters can be pretty daunting. Let’s take this analogy: You’re an active drug addict applying for a pharmacist position.” The struggle is real. All you see: potential candy. At its core, sex addiction is superbly complex, Greek mythology-level complex, to be exact; the “torment of Tantalus” tier. Anyhow, this is all you need to know about navigating relationships and dating as a sex addict.
Understanding sex addiction
So, how do we define sex addiction? Hypersexuality (or sex addiction) can be categorized as compulsive sexual behavior that refers to excessive desires, urges, fantasies, behaviors, and thoughts of sexual nature that the individual cannot control. Like any other form of addiction, it can also cause distress and disruption to all aspects of one’s life. And the cause? To this day, sex addiction remains unrecognized as a formal diagnosis, but it has been associated with a compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD). However, experts have identified several factors that may be associated with what we refer to as sex addiction. Potential causes include:
neurotransmitters (imbalance of natural brain chemicals; high levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin)
frontal love abnormalities
Beneath the surface
Sex addiction can often cause repulsion in others; from a psychological perspective, it subconsciously and intricately intertwines with promiscuity, atrocity, and other ungodly, often obscene, vulgar acts against chastity and morality. So, what lurks beneath the surface? – Coping mechanisms. Instead of using substances, sex addicts use behaviors as their survival coping mechanism. Interestingly enough, it’s never really about the sex; it’s self-sabotage at its finest. These “blasphemous” practices hinder one’s ability to form meaningful, intimate bonds with another human being. Tell it like it is, they say. – Well, then, sex addiction has little to do with immorality and much to do with fear. – Nothing more, nothing less. Once in therapy, the inevitable happens: dating.
Dating and relationships: the reality
Recovering sex addicts face unique obstacles when entering the dating pool. Why? – Because it’s painfully real. For someone who has spent years getting involved with unavailable people will most likely find a present, giving, nurturing suitor spectacularly dull. A rush of blood to the head no more. Similarly, someone who has immersed their entire sexual apparatus in pornography will most likely find those who do not fall on the porn actor/actress aesthetic/behavior spectrum intimidating and will find engaging with a flesh and blood individual an utterly terrifying act. Especially if you’re meeting people after moving to a new town. How does one navigate relationships and dating as a sex addict, then? Before you jump at the chance to meet new people in the area, make sure you’re still riding the sobriety train. Recovery first.
Like all addictions, hypersexuality is a defense mechanism against overwhelming emotions (stemming from childhood). Having failed to develop secure attachment as a child, an adult sex addict struggles to form healthy bonds with others due to a phobia of intimacy. The sole goal of recovery is for the addict to develop and adopt a secure attachment style with a healthy partner. This way, they will experience the true meaning of intimacy and love without fear of hindering any potentially healthy and beneficial relationship. At the base of it all stands a single truth: all human beings crave connection. It’s a universal longing. In learning lies hyper-potential for debunking the addict’s premise of what love, expectations, and boundaries actually are.
The alfa and omega of any healthy relationship: being transparent. What does it mean? If you’re in recovery, withholding information from your third date or your partner can (and will) backfire eventually. By adopting transparency as our interpersonal relationships policy, we allow ourselves to be seen. True colors, no regrets. Behind-the-scenes material. Authenticity. Truthfulness. To any sex addict, this can seem terrifying, as coming clean about the addiction feels like an impossible task, even to the point of doing a 180 and relapsing. Be it as it may, sharing your darkest bits doesn’t necessarily have to be about divulging secrets and details to your other half. It’s about opening up and allowing others to see your layers and authentic dimensions – your pain, your humor. Instead of seeing it as a form of hindrance or even punishment, think of it as a security measure against relapse.
Time: a blessing and a curse
Sex addiction is about instant gratification, so getting accustomed to real-life relationship tempo may induce frustration. Long-term relationships build gradually and are more on the “slow pace” side; so is intimacy. The compulsive parts will have a distaste for the process, but it’s worth the frustration. It’s how healthy relationships are made. Slow penetration. (psychologically speaking) An experienced therapist will successfully guide the sex addict by reminding them that relationships are no shortcuts to happiness. It’s the ride that counts. The gradient. Before you say YES to dating, recovery is mandatory. Treatments for sex addiction include:
Is navigating relationships and dating as a sex addict easy? No, absolutely not. Is it possible? 100% yes. But only after a certified sex addiction therapist gives you the green light. The stage of reentering the dating pool is critical for any sex addict. Remember: you can’t rush it. Or face it alone.
Is hypersexuality really an addiction? Here’s all you need to know about navigating relationships and dating as a sex addict.