Addicted to sex? Symptoms of sex addiction

To understand whether or not you’re addicted to sex, symptoms require an evaluation of how compulsive sexual acitivty is, whether or not it’s harmful, and how sex affects your life. More from expert Dr. David Jacobs here.

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Are you a sex addict?

Sex addiction has fully entered the vernacular. Just turn on the TV or browse the internet and you’ll see reports of celebrity scandals attributed to different kinds of sex addiction, advertisements for sex addiction treatment, and debates on why sex addiction is or is not an actual addiction.

Sex addiction as a compulsion

Whatever the case, I think the common usage of “sex addiction” has developed to mean compulsive sexual activity of some kind. Is there a causal contributory role for biology in compulsive behavior? Professional opinion is divided. Calling a behavior compulsive is to say that somehow self-control has been compromised with regard to the behavior under consideration (in this case sex), but the person may simultaneously be functioning at a very high level in other areas.

The person who acts compulsively may struggle against the compulsion and feel tormented. If the individual acts in a manner that is personally ego-syntonic, there is less inclination to say he is acting compulsively. Acting from compulsion is not conceptually compatible with acting in a manner that is congruent with one’s own values, tastes, and standards. Of course how a person feels about his sexual activities may dramatically change post-discovery and confrontation by another person.

So am I a sex addict?

I think what should be considered is the following:

1. How compulsive (judged from the inside) is the activity?

2. How harmful or damaging is the behavior to yourself and others?

3. How much thought and effort is made to hide what you do?

4. How much of a distorting effect does the activity have on your life as a whole and how much destruction and mortification discovery will cause?

If you answered the preceding questions with “a whole lot” and “very much so”, then you are probably well advised to admit to yourself that you have a problem with sex. Most people delay trying to come to terms with their problem with sex until a life changing crisis occurs. Sometimes some good comes out of a life changing crisis, but you can’t count on a happy ending.

Some things may end that you don’t want to end. A line from a Bob Dylan song may be appropriate: “You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.”   Still, it will be very helpful to look into sex addiction counseling or forms of psychotherapy to treat possible sexual compulsion and get to the root of the problem.  Help is out there!

About the author
David H. Jacobs, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in practice in San Diego, CA and an analyst/critic of contemporary psychiatry. Dr. Jacobs has been in practice for over 20 years and works primarily with clients with addictions. He is also the associate editor of The Journal of Mind and Behavior and Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry.


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  1. Sex is awesome to be honest but obviously when u are i. A relationship for a year or more you want to fuck someone else that s just human nature .But if ur partner satisfies you then you wouldn’t cheat

  2. Sex would not cause a problem as long as your act doesn’t harm a person in any way. When it gives you a great pleasure which doesn’t cause a threat to your health or society, addicting to it won’t make you a ‘wrong-addicted’ guy. Everybody has addictions which are good and bad simply with its cause. A person could be love addicted, education addicted, peace addicted etc… Those are not wrong addictions as same as unharmfull sex… We need to be careful of people’s strategies trying to change our perception to make their customer base…

    Enjoy sex, but without harming others or yourself..

  3. I really don’t believe I’m a sex addict like my husband says, but I do hide my lesbian sex thoughts and hide my masturbating from him. So I see there is a little problem. When my husband and I have sex it’s great, I just want more and more, I even tell him just let me give oral to you. He calls me nympho. Hurts my feelings.

    1. Hi Just Tara. Wanting more doesn’t make you a nympho. It seems to me that you desire and satisfaction is not complete. Maybe, you should consider therapy sessions for you and your husband.

  4. Hi I believe I have a problem with this, I masturbate 4+ times a day and have sex daily, I am always horny I get erect just thinking about it. For instance if I went and bough shoes and the girl ringing me up is ok looking I instantly begin to think of how we would do it, where we could do it, how long ect ect and I have a porn collection that is mind blowing. is this just being a man or do I have a problem

    1. Hi Bob. It’s best to see a psychologist and get assessed. To be honest, your thoughts and habits seem a bit excessive when compared to most men.

  5. I have done some research on sex addiction and I am a sex addict. I also have bipolar disorder and when I looked up some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder it says High interest in sex. Would that happen to be true could my sex addiction coming from my bipolar disorder.

    1. Hi No Name. I suggest you consult a professional before making any conclusion about your addiction.

  6. I do a self shock type of thing, I just get very emotional where I think that trigger at high speeds almost like I reset reboot my mind. It’s a little dizzy but helps me, 3years sex free just like to help people find the right cure

  7. I just left my husband because of his addictions. He is an alcoholic, drug user and now within the last year u have to realize his addiction to porn. It has become so bad. He blames me, but I know it’s not. But I am so hurt. I decided to leave. He is angry at me and now he is trying to make his family believe I was cheating. Lets mention I had no other place to go, but his family. So that’s where I am now with his family. We would all like to see him get help, but chooses not to. I was a stay at home just a for tear and now trying to get back to work to provide for my two children. Um lost and devastated.

    1. Hi Leslie. Did you try counseling or family therapy? He may need it individually to work on his problem, but I believe it will be helpful for you all to sit together and understand his condition. That way, you will know what you are faced with. Remember what they say “Know your enemy”. It all depends on whether you are willing to face this with him or is he completely out of the picture for you.

  8. My husband is addicted to sex,alcohol and cigarette and he also smokes marijuana. He is usually able to keep off for a while like a year and he then relapses. My husband was a pastor but we lost almost everything becos of this addictions. I need God’s help and grace to get over all the emotional trauma. I have two great kids to look after.

  9. All I ever think about is sex. I’ve cheated so many times and feel very guilty. I don’t know where these sex fantasies are coming from. I even get horny watching someone kiss. Am I’m addicted to sex or is this totally normal?

  10. I think many people are addicted to sex in some form or fashion or maybe even seriously with may aspects of the addiction. Some people just want sex all the time and use sex to drown out or satisfy emotional trauma that they might have suffered in the past. They might also use it to cover up low self esteem and make themselves feel better about themselves. The porn industry continues to grow every year with the ease of viewing it on your phone and tablets. This is only making the problem worse and opening up access to this addiction to a younger and younger audience unfortunately. The only way to get past this terrible addiction is with excellent sex addiction treatment.

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