How can I stop addiction to sex

You can stop addiction to sex by understanding what compels sexual compulsion and then changing the way that you relate with yourself. More here on stopping the cycle of sex addiction.

minute read

Breaking up is hard to do.

Especially when you are trying to create a new identity for yourself and move from acting with a sex addiction brain to becoming a loving companion. So how you can understand sexual compulsion and help yourself get over sexual addiction? We explore here and invite your questions about sexual addiction at the end.

Why is it so hard to stop acting out sexually?

Stopping, really stopping, a sexual compulsive behavior or addiction presents a major challenge. Some of us can actually stop or at least curb our behavior but we never really feel out of the woods. We continue to feel that we are prone to relapsing. Intellectually we may know that the bad choices we might make are harmful, even wrong, yet we still know that if we get to a certain tipping point, all logic or maturity might just fall away. But why is that we just can’t seem to really let go of our acting our behaviors – “our inner addict” — at least not all the way? Why we can’t stop looking at women, can’t stop feelingaddicted to porn, can’t stop contacting sex workers…is because sex has become a security blanket.

Letting go of the inner sex addict

How do you let go and finally break up with “your addict”? Many people who struggle with sexual compulsive behavior look at their struggle as a sort of Jekyll and Hyde or good versus evil battle. If you are a person who grapples with a sex or porn addiction, have you ever considered that your acting out behavior is something, some aspect of you that you actually rely on? It can be helpful to check out the ways the use of porn or sex works for you. How does this behavior, your addict, attempt to help you cope with your problems?

Your identity as a sex addict: friend or foe?

It is possible to begin to look at your addict as a friend, not a foe. I believe we often overlook the emotional relationship or dependency we have on sex or porn. It’s like that favorite toy or activity that we used to use to feel comforted, to feel safe. I often conjure up an image of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts character, Linus, and his attachment to his ever-dependable blanket … the quintessential comfort object. These items—teddy bears, blankets, a favorite toy, for example—provide familiarity, and safety during trying times. As children and adolescents, we may have used comfort objects to soothe, to cope, to feel better when we experienced hard feelings. They helped us bridge the gap as we matured through the stages of our human development.

If you’re struggling with sex addiction, might porn or addictive behavior be working like a security blanket? Think of how long you have actually had your behavior around. Perhaps at first maybe it was just fantasy and masturbation. Eventually you progressed to more frequent and/or severe behavior. Your comforting behavior, your addict, has likely traveled with you for most of your life. Maybe you relied on porn for many reasons—like when you were bored, lonely, angry, etc. to self-soothe. In this sense, the addict is like an old friend that provides familiarity and (short-lived) comfort. But, is this addict part of you a friend who really has your best interests in mind?

How to change the relationship with yourself

If it is hard to break up with your addict, how about growing him up instead? How can you go about changing the nature of this relationship? Can you see what your addict is trying to accomplish and then find other ways to cope rather than acting out sexually?

Here are some questions to examine to help you do that:

  • How long has your addict been around? At what age did you start acting out?
  • How does your addict help you? What do you get out of acting out sexually?
  • What would it be like to stop? Can you see a life without acting out? Have you experienced that already and what was it like?

Understanding this concept can be an important step in actually changing your behavior. Examining why you act out, the relationship you have with your sexual behavior, will begin to tell you how and why you rely on your addiction. Then you have a chance of either breaking up with the addict part of you — or helping that aspect of you to mature, helping that part find ways to find comfort and safety that are not detrimental.

About the author
James Gallegos, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is a therapist at Compulsion Solutions, an outpatient counseling service specializing in the treatment of those who suffer from the results of sexually compulsive behavior. From his offices in Walnut Creek, California, James works with people from all over the world both in person and by phone.


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    1. Hi Eli. Addiction is a complex brain disease, and should be treated like that. Intimacy is only a small part of the treatment.

  1. Hi Aaron. Intimacy = connection. There are two books that can really help you with these questions you are asking yourself. 1. Understanding and Treating Sex Addiction by Paul Hall. 2. A Couples Guide to Sexual Addiction by Catharine and George Collins. Good for you to reach out. Exploring these issues can lead you to a place of peace.

  2. I have literally been a sex addict a long as I can remember. It started with fantasies of spanking and discipline when I was 5 years old, acted out, role-playing with neighbor girls. In hindsight, now, I finally understand that I lived in a home where the most intimate moments I hade with my distant and non-affectionate parents were when they took me over their knees and spanked me. Spankings were far more frequent than hugs, and in my craving for connection and structure (since I was mostly alone as a child) the framework I understood was that the height of intimacy was to spank/be spanked. But at age 40, intellectually grasping this now, after 35 years of thinking I was a deviant pervert, its very hard to readjust. I compulsively hire escorts on a regular basis, to come to my home so I can sternly make them stand in the corner and then take them over my knee. No matter how I intellectually recognize I am playing out a childhood experience, the feeling of warm, safe completeness during this ritual remains more appealing than any other experience in my life. If I spend the next 10 years in therapy trying to rewire my brain, my life will still be only 20 percent healthy. Is it really possible to just change my brain’s reward systems after all this time? Or am I simply adjusting to other people’s needs, because most women gew up believing that the height of intimacy is to be told that they are wonderful and beautiful and perfect, rather than that they are a naughty girl and need to be spanked? To me, both statements are lies… just different lies, based on different childhood mythologies

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