Experts believe that millions of Americans have sex addictions. So, if you have reason to think you’re dating a sex addict, you may be right.
This post explains sex addiction and the traits to look for when determining if you’re dating a sex addict.
What is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction is an inability to control sexual thoughts, impulses, and desires. It’s also known as compulsive sexual behavior, hypersexuality, or hypersexuality disorder. A person with a sex addiction cannot control their desires, which leads to severe emotional distress. Their sexual behaviors affect their mental and physical health, job, and relationships.
People with hypersexuality go to great lengths to keep from getting caught. This secrecy is the result of shame and guilt about being out of control of their choices. If you’re wondering if you’re dating a sex addict, it suggests you have strong reasons for these thoughts.
Common signs of sex addiction to look for include:
- Your partner isn’t interested in activities that don’t include sex
- They spend excessive time pursuing sexual outlets such as sex workers or pornography
- You see them neglect their day-to-day responsibilities preferring to pursue a sexual release
- They aren’t interested in non-sexual touch, like cuddling or hugging
- Stressful situations lead to an increased desire for a sexual outlet
- They are emotionally unavailable and resist authentic intimacy
These behaviors stem from using sex as a coping mechanism. Sex addiction often occurs as a response to trauma. When a person survives trauma such as abuse, neglect, or the death of a loved one, they look for ways to cope. Trauma causes the brain and body to go into fight-or-flight mode. This mode turns off all unnecessary systems in the body and activates a sort of shock response.
To get the body out of the fight-or-flight mode, they need dopamine. Dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter released when a person does something pleasurable. Sexual arousal and release are some of the most readily available sources of dopamine. It’s something they can control, unlike their traumatic experience. It makes them feel better temporarily.
Over time, when a person learns that sexual release makes them feel better, it becomes a habit. That habit can turn into sex addiction.
Signs You’re Dating a Sex Addict
If you’re dating a sex addict, you may not notice the behaviors at first. Initially, the relationship seems healthy. But, over time, you may find yourself questioning things about your relationship.
If you’re worried you’re dating a sex addict, look for these behaviors:
- Sexual Focus. Sex is a significant focus of your relationship. And your partner avoids non-sexual touch like a loving embrace or platonic cuddling.
- Keeping Secrets. Your partner cheats or hides sexual behavior. They may stay up until 3 a.m., then clear their internet browsing history. They may be overly protective of their phone. Secretive behaviors like these are red flags for infidelity.
- Risky Behavior. Your partner engages in high-risk or unsafe sexual behaviors. These behaviors may include using the services of sex workers, refusing to use condoms, or having anonymous sex.
- Lack of Commitment. Your partner is a serial dater or has no long-term relationships. They may always be in relationships, but none of them are with long-lasting partners.
- Self Focus. They’re extremely controlling or confident sexually. Your partner either isn’t concerned with your sexual pleasure at all or fixated on being the best you’ve ever had.
- Makes Excuses. Whenever you raise your concerns, your partner always has excuses. They may even get you questioning your sanity to hide their behaviors. By the end of the discussion, you may not even be sure why you’ve forgiven them.
- Suspicion. You think your partner is a sex addict. Suspecting this alone is indicative that something isn’t quite right.
If you’re dating a sex addict, you have to determine the best next step for you. They can change their behaviors, but they have to want to seek help. If they do, they are capable of having a loving and healthy relationship. But it may take support that you must determine if you’re willing to provide.
Why Can’t They Control Their Sexual Behavior?
If you’re dating a sex addict, they may not be able to control their actions. These behaviors and impulses have developed over years of using sex as a coping mechanism. When you repeat the same actions as a response to a feeling, it forms a neural pathway, making it a learned behavior.
A person with sex addiction learns that their sexual behavior makes them feel better. So, when exposed to stress or trauma, they know that sex or masturbation will “fix” the negative feeling. Therefore, their brain tells them to repeat the actions they’ve always done to make themselves feel better.
How Does Sex Addiction Impact Relationships?
Sex addiction can impact every aspect of a relationship, regardless of whether the relationship is new or long-term. It isn’t an issue that you can ignore until it “goes away on its own.” Sex addiction won’t just disappear. The person has to identify the root cause of their addiction and treat it and the behaviors associated with it. Dating a sex addict isn’t easy.
Sex addiction negatively impacts relationships by:
- Creating a Lack of Trust. You never know where your partner is or what they’re doing. You worry about their fidelity. And may even become controlling because you can’t trust them.
- Extinguishing Vulnerability. Sex addiction is an intimacy disorder, which means your partner struggles to experience empathy or show their feelings.
- Creating Codependence. Constantly forgiving your partner for lying, giving them money, and ignoring warning signs are all examples of enabling their addiction. They become dependent on you for all the unconditional love and support you give them. As a result, you may lose your feeling of self-worth.
- Causing Betrayal. Infidelity and constant lies plague your relationship. You feel like you can’t trust your partner or anything you thought about your relationship.
- Experiencing Shame. You feel shame for yourself and your partner. You’re ashamed that you’re staying with them and forgiving them. And they’re embarrassed that they can’t control their behaviors.
If you’re dating a sex addict, you may worry that it’s hopeless. It’s not. There is help out there if you’re both willing to seek it out. There are steps you can take today to build a lasting and trusting relationship.
Can You Save Your Relationship if You’re Dating a Sex Addict?
If you and your partner with sex addiction are willing to work together, real change can happen, and you may be able to save your relationship. But it will take commitment.
The first step is speaking with your partner and getting them to acknowledge that their sex addiction is a real issue. With the acknowledgment that they have an addiction, healing can begin.
Identifying the initial traumatic experiences that lead to their sex addiction may not be as simple. At Begin Again Institute, we know how complex trauma is. Your partner won’t have to fight their addiction alone. Our Certified Sex Addiction Therapists know how important it is to get to the root of the addiction. The uncovering of the past is an integral part of our treatment process. Getting support improves the likelihood of recovery.
We also offer a unique Partner Support Program to help you heal from your betrayal trauma.
You and your partner deserve to be in a loving relationship. Find out how Begin Again Institute can help you and your partner find a deeper connection.