If you are reading this, you may be a husband who has been accused of being a sexual addict. Or perhaps you are a woman wanting to understand what is normal sexual activity between partners. Either way, you probably want to know the difference between sexual addiction and a healthy sex drive. We hope to clarify the distinction between sex addiction and healthy sexual interest to help you have a realistic outlook for sexual relationships here.
What is libido?
Libido is a term used by Sigmund Freud to define the way that our sexual instincts achieve expression. In modern terms, we describe libido as our sex drive or a person’s desire for sex.
Men and women have varying libido levels at different points in their lives. And sometimes your interest in sex might not match your partner’s, which is normal in long-term relationships. But what is a healthy libido? And where is the line between a healthy sex drive and sexual addiction?
Healthy libido vs. sexual addiction
What’s a healthy libido? Often, we want to compare the number of times we have sex in a week or a month with our partner against population averages. But when making the distinction betweenn healthy libido and sex addiction, the frequency of sexual relations is LESS IMPORTANT than the psychological factors which drive sex. As long as sexual activity between a married couple is the outward manifestation of love and caring between them, the desire for frequent sex is rather normal. Likewise, if a woman complains that her husband is a sex addict because he wants frequent sex and she does not, she may want to look into the possiblity of sexual dysfunction (see below).
Conversely, if a man uses sex to escape the natural, healthy need for intimacy…he may be a sex addict. This is because all people with sexual addictions have one thing in common: to some degree, every sex addict fears intimacy and turns to fantasy to meet his or her needs for a healthy, loving intimate sexual relationship.
In other words, husbands are not necessarily sex addicts because they want to have sex. Even if they want to have a lot of sex. A strong libido may simply be caused by testosterone levels, a strong determinant of sexual interest in men. Instead, sexual addiction manifests and is accompanied by sex addiction signs such as avoiding emotional involvement, using euphoric recall during sex or going against your own values during sexual activity. More on defining sex addiction and marriage.
Is sexual dysfunction present?
One final thing to consider when reveiwing differences in libido is possible physical causes for lack of interest in sex. If a woman experiences any of the following, she may be one of roughly 40% of American women who can be diagnosed with sexual dysfunction:
- anxiety about sexual performance
- difficulty becoming aroused
- failure to derive pleasure from sex
- inability to achieve orgasm
- lack of sexual desire
- pain during intercourse
- reaching orgasm too rapidly
In sum, a woman’s sexual responsiveness is not the same as a man’s. Reduced interest in sex can be caused by a number of medical or psychological reasons, and is treatable. If you or your partner feel less interest in sex, talk frankly with your doctor. Treatment such as medicine, counseling, or both can help.