Is public sex a symptom of sex addiction?

Moral overtones pervade discussions of nudity and sexuality in the United States. So is sexual behavior in public settings a sign of sexual addiction, or simply not accepted as anti-thematic to ideals of romantic love, monogamous relationships, and long-term commitments? We explore here.

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Sex in public as a problem
Public sexual activity is viewed as a community problem in the United States. ublic sexual behavior is governed by local jurisdictions (county, city or state governments) and jurisdictions vary in the specific criminal charges attached to these behaviors. For example, flashing in public may be classed as either indecent exposure, public indecency, or lewd conduct, depending upon jurisdiction definition.Although by definition, sexual behaviors in public are generally consensual and the people involved in the sexual acts willingly engage in them, many people view sex acts in public as a threat to the moral decency of its citizens. However, there are widely different perspectives on public sex. For example, some people do not believe sex behavior is a public safety threat and view the behavior as a “Victimless crime”, while others view nudity and sexuality in public as threatening and dangerous. So how do we collectively define public sex? And does having sex in public necessarily mean that you are a sex addict?

What is public sex?
So how is public sex defined in terms of acts and locations? Firstly, public sex is defined by what is “public”. “Public” is generally found to mean any place other than a private residence. Secondly, sex in public is defined by the exact acts or behaviors performed outside of the home. Public sex includes a range of behaviors including:

  • anal intercourse
  • exhibitionism
  • fellatio
  • flashing
  • mooning
  • mutual masturbation
  • solitary masturbation
  • solitary nude sunbathing
  • streaking
  • vaginal intercourse

Public sex – Am I a sex addict?
So, does having public sex mean that you are a sex addict? Not necessarily. Sex addicts anonymous provides a good measuring stick. The group makes a distinction between SEX BEHAVIOR and NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES. They define sex behaviors that come from sexual addiction as “any sexual behavior which is abusive, high-risk, painful, costly, or compulsive”. In other words, if you have sex with your partner in the car in the park, this does not mean that you are a sex addict. However, if you continually or can only have sex with a partner in the car in the park, feel unconnected with the partner, get a thrill from doing so, risk arrest, fantasize or obsess about the act, and experience remorse, guilt or pain afterward, you need to take a look at the behavior.

Another consideration for people engaging in public sex is whether or not the sex is anonymous or intimate. One characteristic of addiction, particularly for sexual addicts, is difficulty maintaining a committed relationship and instead seek sexual situations of intensity, which lead to arousal, stimulation and impulsive acting-out. Furthermore, when sexual behavior becomes an escape from other problems, such as loneliness, depression, anxiety or stress…public sex may be problematic. But the main mark of sex addiction is loss of control. When sexual thoughts, feelings or behaviors impair daily functioning, you’ve got a problem.

Test yourself for sex addiction
In closing, I find public sex to be neither offensive nor worrisome. I feel free in not needing to worry about what other people do. However, if you think that you might be USING SEX IN PUBLIC as a way to avoid problems, get a “fix”, or to engage an impulsive need … you may want to dig a little deeper and ask yourself some questions. To test your risk of being a sex addict, check out the self-tests for sex addiction at the Sexual Recovery Institute . Or answer the self-assessment questions from Sex Addicts Anonymous .

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About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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