Hollywood and the media have given us a certain idea of what a sex addict looks like. Maybe they’re multimillionaire actors and actresses constantly taking home other multimillionaire actors and actresses. Perhaps sex addiction even seems a little fun. Why not surround yourself with rich beautiful people all the time? Then, all they have to do is announce their addiction on social media, say that they’re sorry, and enter a 30-day luxury, celebrity rehab program and come out completely cured.
Now, I’m not saying that’s never happened, but I’m saying it’s not how your typical sex addict presents. Not by a long shot.
The word “addiction” gets thrown around in a very cavalier way (I’m addicted to Netflix. I’m addicted to cheesecake), but it actually denotes something very serious. An addiction takes over your life, it isolates you, it destroys your self-worth, it ruins relationships and careers. If you’ve never acted out compulsively in a way you severely regret and can never take back, then you haven’t experienced a true addiction, and sex addicts are true addicts.
There’s nothing shiny or Hollywood about it. It’s as dark and desperate and lonely as a heroin addiction.
How Does the Addiction Start?
Personally, I knew that I was a sex addict from the time that I was eight or nine years old. In my case, the reason was a combination of finding my father’s porn when I was unprepared to handle it, and inappropriate stimulation from my mother. I also grew up in an unharmonious household. I needed a place to hide and a place to feel good. Given everything I had been exposed to, it wasn’t hard for me to sexualize myself or other people.
So, instead of learning how to do household chores, or practicing manners, or any of the other regular things kids do I was scared, angry, and fearful. It was easy for me to just lose myself in fantasy, which is exactly where I stayed.
Nearly every sex or porn addict I talk to has a similar story. They were wounded in some way in their childhood. Perhaps they grew up in a household where a respectful intimate relationship was never modeled for them. Perhaps they were allowed to stumble upon highly graphic material at an age when they couldn’t possibly understand what they were seeing. Perhaps they were abused, molested, or otherwise hurt by the people who are supposed to be taking care of them.
However it happens, a seed is planted very early on in their development, and it grows as they grow.
How Does the Addiction Develop Over Time?
Once the young addict begins using sex or porn to soothe himself (or herself), it can be very difficult to stop. After all, an orgasm is a very powerful experience. It floods the brain with chemicals the same way any other substance would.
The problem is that this addict then becomes focused solely on sex. They don’t focus on forming a relationship, they don’t focus on appreciating a person as anything other than a collection of body parts, and the shame they feel over their actions which tends to keep them isolated. A sex or porn addict doesn’t have many friends. How are you supposed to bond with someone when your favorite activity is something you can’t possibly speak about?
The more they act out and feed their addiction, the more they feel they must live in secrecy. It’s very lonely. There’s no intimacy, understanding, or connection. This is what creates the cycle. They act out when they feel lonely, self-conscious, rejected, upset, or scared, but then after they act out they don’t feel any better. They feel more isolated, they have less confidence in themselves, they are more ashamed and often feel completely hopeless.
Relationships May Still Happen, but They’re Shallow
I’m not proud to say that I lost two marriages to my sex addiction. Many sex addicts have lost relationships with good, trusting people. The problem is that human beings desperately crave true intimacy and connection, but a sex addiction will prevent you from experiencing that. Your inner addict is terrified to leave the comfort and familiarity of the shallow hook-up or of porn sites. It won’t let you get deeply connected with another person because if someone gets close, they’ll find out about the addiction.
Sex addicts may have girlfriends, fiancés, even wives, but the sad truth is that these women are shortly going to realize that the person they thought they were in love with is virtually incapable of loving them back. The addict can’t see a person as a collection of hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes, aspirations, opinions, beliefs, etc. They may only see them as a means of satisfying a sexual urge. Sometimes, addicts actually see their partners in a maternal sense, perhaps looking to regain a relationship they never had with their own mother. The partners of addicts often report that they feel like they’re raising a child rather than working together with an equal partner. Even in a relationship, the addict is lonely, and what’s worse, they are hurting and innocent person with their addiction.
It’s Easier Than Ever to Develop an Addiction Now
I grew up in an era where pornographic material was in magazines, then later on VHS tape. You’d have to buy it or find it, but it definitely wasn’t available on demand. Today, we all carry computers around in our pockets that can serve up porn with the click of a button. Those same little computers can also put you directly in touch with another person who’s looking for a quick, meaningless sexual fling. It’s never been easier to become addicted.
Sex and porn addiction are behaviors that escalate over time. What might start with pictures of women in bathing suits can very quickly escalate up to especially brutal or shocking pornography. Addicts need more and more stimulation to chase the same high. Internet access makes this especially easy to do, so not only are more people becoming addicted, but more people are becoming severely addicted in a short amount of time.
What Can an Addict do About it?
It’s hard to take that first step sometimes. Addicts are wracked with guilt and shame about their own sexuality and talking about it is frightening. Many of them are angry because they don’t know what to do about this, even as the addiction creeps into every aspect of their lives. I’ve worked with men who have lost marriages, custody battles, jobs, friends, homes… literally everything to their addiction.
But help is available. Having been a sex and porn addict myself, I can say with confidence that this is a condition which requires professional help. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to quit cold turkey and white knuckle my way through my own half-baked solution to quitting, but it never worked.
At Neulia-Compulsion Solutions we’ve come up with a program that works. I’m now a man who understands intimacy and connection. I’m a man who understands that real sex starts in the morning when you kiss your wife goodbye and leave for work. I’m a man who is back in control of his own thoughts and actions, having broken the cycle of addiction.
If you think that you may have a sex or porn addiction, I can help you too. All the time you spend on your addiction is time you could be spending elsewhere. You could be forming meaningful relationships, being a good friend, advancing in your career, being the dad you didn’t have, pursuing hobbies, feeling contentment in your life.
It’s never too late to step out of the shoes of a sex addict, and into the shoes of a man who is making the most of his life.