It isn’t easy to admit to being a sex addict. Most of us will make up any excuse for why our behavior is normal, acceptable, or at least understandable. But these five lies sex addicts tell themselves often prevent them from getting the help they need:
I have a bigger sex drive than other men.
Active sex addicts often think they have an unusually voracious sex drive that others cannot understand. This is because when he is desperate for a “fix” he confuses his addictive obsession with a sex drive. But it isn’t a sex drive, it’s just an addiction drive. When an addict is triggered—and by “addict” I mean those addicted to any substance or behavior, not just sex—he finds it difficult to focus on anything other than his drug of choice. Sex is the sex addict’s drug. And while it is unimaginable for a drug addict to say he has a bigger “drug drive” than others, it is not unimaginable for a sex addict to believe he has a bigger sex drive than others. Don’t worry. Once the sex addict gets a little sobriety behind him, he will see he’s just like other men. He doesn’t “need” sex more or less than others do.
I Wouldn’t Do This If My Life Were Easier/Better.
Some addicts think the conditions of their life are so stressful, unfulfilling or abject, they resort to sexually acting out. They may even imagine that if they had a better job, less stress, more money or a more loving partner, they would not visit prostitutes or spend so much time on pornography.
The truth is very little in their current life drives their addiction. Even if they had a better job, more money, a different partner or whatever, they would still act out.
My husband is a good example. He thought if he had an affair he would stop his compulsive sexual behavior. He engaged in a lengthy, very stupid affair that hurt a lot of people. Did the affair prevent his addiction from extending to pornography and prostitutes? For a couple of months, yes, and then it did not. Why? Because the root of his addiction wasn’t in his present life. There was nothing wrong with his present life—except his sex addiction and the real reasons behind it.
I Am Only Responding Naturally to A Culture Of Sex!
Some people imagine it would be unnatural not to be sexually promiscuous—indeed, addicted to sex—considering how much sex is being sold to them through the media or “flaunted” before them by half-clad women (I am sounding very heteronormative here…it could just as easily be half-clad young men!).
I have some sympathy with their point of view because we are being marketed sex all the time. The reason women often dress to “look sexy” is because we imagine doing so is the only way to seem attractive, and doesn’t everyone want to be attractive? We live in a culture in which women are encouraged to show their bodies; other cultures tell women to hide their bodies. In some cultures, a woman wearing a short skirt would fuel desire; in another it fuels anger.
But I’m not making a political statement here. I’m commenting about the way culture teaches us how to respond to the human form. We are taught how to respond—with desire or revulsion or anger—but we imagine we have entirely “natural” biological responses. And while there is some truth in our biological desire to procreate, there is nothing “natural” about responding to sexual images by the need to have sex with strangers. Addicts can sometimes imagine they have no choice in the matter, but that is just another myth.
Here is a more concrete example: some may imagine that heterosexual men are all naturally attracted to certain aspects of the female anatomy—large breasts for example. There are pornographic magazines devoted purely to gigantic breasts. But it turns out that there is nothing particularly natural about heterosexual men being attracted to large breasts. A study report in 2013 Archives of Sexual Behaviour makes this statement:
Further analyses showed that men’s preferences for larger female breasts were significantly associated with a greater tendency to be benevolently sexist, to objectify women, and to be hostile towards women.
There are a number of studies that show that the more educated a man is the less likely he is to prefer large breasts. So, if a heterosexual man’s sexual response to breast size is culturally derived—what else might be? Apparently, everything. A 2016 study at Leiden Universities showed that sexual responses can be learned and unlearned even in the case of neutral images. That is, the images themselves aren’t of people or parts of people and yet they can be used to derive a sexual response from the viewer.
Sex With Many Women Is A Male Instinct
Is sexual addiction just a modern medicalisation of the totally “natural” response that men have to deliver their sperm to as many women as possible, thus propagating their DNA widely? Not at all. If we want to compare humans to the animal kingdom we are far more like “K-strategists” (elephants and penguins, for example) than “R-strategists” like mice and dogs. K-strategist males invest heavily in a relatively low number of offspring and are often monogamous.
But we needn’t compare ourselves to animals—I only do so because I often hear the moronic animal kingdom argument made by men who would like to imagine they have sex with great numbers of women as a natural “Darwinian” response. We can focus instead on comparing ourselves to our own human origins. The University of Montreal’s 2016 study on Homo sapiens concluded that “modern man, or Homo sapiens, would have been monogamous while exhibiting tendencies toward polygamy over the course of evolutionary history. These findings are consistent with studies in evolutionary psychology and anthropology that depict contemporary human populations.”
I Can Stop On My Own
This may not be a myth. If you can stop sexually promiscuous behaviour, you probably aren’t an addict. There are no sex police out there telling you how much sex you should or should not have, and I am certainly not going to tell you. However, if you cannot stop sexually compulsive behavior, if every day is a question of where you are going to get sex next, or if you cannot stop yourself having sex outside your marriage or partnership because of what you imagine is just “too much temptation” or opportunity, you may want to reconsider going it alone.
Because addicts of any sort rarely, if ever, recovery from addictions on their own.
True sex addicts need help to get over a sex addiction just like a drug addict needs help to get over a drug addiction. The myths listed above are only part of a much longer list that often prevents men and women addicted to sex from getting the help they need. My husband would be utterly lost without his 12-step program. He needs daily contact with other recovering or recovered addicts, daily reading, meditation. He needs guidance from a number of other sources, too. Mostly, he has to understand that his current life conditions—whatever they may be—do not drive his condition. Sex addiction is part of a struggle to take life on life’s terms, to respond to ordinary disappointments or set-backs in an emotionally mature way.
As for the cause of sex addiction—well, that’s for another blog. But it goes back in time, stretches out through years; sex addiction is anomalous and complicated, but with the help available today, it is not untreatable.