Couple sitting on a couch. The man has his back turned on the woman

Did you know that sex addiction is an intimacy disorder?

Sexual addiction isn’t about sex at all. It’s about fear of being truly close to another person.  

Trauma is at the root of addiction. People use sex, porn, and masturbation to help them cope with their intimacy and authenticity difficulties. 

To understand sexual addiction, you also need to understand intimacy disorders.

What is Intimacy?

Intimacy is much more than anything sexual. It is a willingness to express your vulnerability and share it with other people. It’s a deeper-level connection with others.

Intimacy manifests itself in four key ways:

  1. Physical Intimacy. Physical intimacy is more than just sex. It is desiring and receiving loving physical touches from another person. Holding hands, hugging, or kissing are all forms of physical intimacy. 
  2. Spiritual Intimacy. If you are a spiritual or religious person, you’ve likely experienced spiritual intimacy. This intimacy is sharing your faith and beliefs with another person. It’s discussing these things that are important to you as a way of expressing vulnerability and acceptance. 
  3. Intellectual Intimacy. This type of intimacy is having lively debates, discussions and sharing your interests with another person. Creating a bond over ideas and meaningful conversations forms the foundation for a healthy relationship. 
  4. Emotional Intimacy. The willingness to express yourself is crucial in healthy relationships. For example, talking to a loved one about your needs and feelings creates a feeling of trust and authenticity. But to be truly intimate, the other person has to listen and really hear what you say. 

What is an Intimacy Disorder?

A person with an intimacy disorder fears connection with other people. It doesn’t matter if the connection is emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or emotional, it frightens them. As a result, they avoid opportunities to experience and develop intimacy with another person. They may not even realize they are avoiding intimacy. Instead, they may think they’re protecting themselves from being vulnerable. 

Sex addiction is an intimacy disorder. At the core of sex addiction is an inability to be empathetic. Intimacy cannot evolve without empathy.

A couple sitting on the kitchen counter. The man is looking down and the woman is folding her arms looking away

Symptoms of an Intimacy Disorder

Sex addiction is a type of intimacy disorder. Therefore, the disorders share many of the same symptoms

Intimacy disorder symptoms include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Demonstrating trust issues
  • Episodes of extreme emotions such as anger
  • Actively avoiding all non-sexual physical contact
  • Difficulty forming or committing to relationships
  • Having an insatiable sexual desire
  • Difficulty or inability to share or express emotions
  • Living in social isolation or secrecy

Sex Addiction and Trauma

Sex addiction, like most intimacy disorders, is a result of Adverse Childhood Experiences in childhood and adolescence. 

ACEs cause a trauma response in a person either during or after the event. 

Almost everyone experiences trauma of one kind or another. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, surviving domestic violence, or lack of attunement — trauma leaves a lasting impression. 

When you survive traumatic events, you feel unsafe, even with people you should trust. Thus, an intimacy disorder develops.

Intense adverse experiences cause your brain to go into fight-or-flight mode automatically. It shuts down all unnecessary systems and sends you seeking a sense of safety and control. 

Sexual pleasure is one of the first things a child has control over. Therefore, they turn to the one thing they know helps them feel good in a time of crisis. This attempt to regulate your nervous system links negative and traumatic experiences and sexual pleasure. 

BAI Treatment Therapies

People can receive treatment for intimacy disorders, including sex addiction. Treatment starts with identifying the cause, then treating it. Counselors can then help you understand, process, and recover from the results of that traumatic experience.

At Begin Again Institute, we understand that sex addiction is an intimacy disorder based on a trauma response. 

We integrate therapeutic techniques to help people understand the root of their addiction and recover from it.

If you’re ready to take control of your addiction and get your life back, contact us. We’re here to help guide your healing and help you make a concrete plan for your addiction-free future. 

  • Category: Sex Addiction
  • By Begin Again Institute
  • July 20, 2021

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