Sexual Compulsivity

When unhealthy behaviors dominate your life

Sexual Compulsivity Explained

Sexual compulsivity has also been called sexual addiction or sexual dependency. By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict’s life. Sexual addicts make sex a priority over family, friends, and career. Sex becomes their primary focus, with temporary pleasure and unhealthy relationships given more important than forming healthy, intimate relationships.

A Complex, Confusing Disorder

Our own Dr. Patrick Carnes popularized the concept of compulsive sexual behavior as an addiction, believing, after decades of research, that people become addicted to sex in the same way they become addicted to substances or other behaviors.

Compulsive sexual behavior may involve a commonly enjoyable sexual experience (for example, self-stimulation) that becomes an obsession and disruptive or harmful to you or others. Other compulsive sexual behaviors are outside the bounds of commonly accepted conduct (for example, paying for sex or having extramarital affairs) and cause distress. All these behaviors could have negative consequences, affecting health, job, relationships, or other parts of life.

Paraphilic behaviors are unconventional sexual behaviors which are obsessive and compulsive. These include:

  • Pedophilia (sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children)
  • Exhibitionism (sexual excitement associated with exposing one’s genitals in public)
  • Voyeurism (sexual excitement by watching an unsuspecting person)
  • Sexual Masochism (sexual excitement from being the recipient of the threat)
  • Frotteurism (sexual excitement from touching or fondling an unsuspecting person)

Nonparaphilic compulsive sexual behaviors involve conventional sexual behaviors that, when taken to an extreme, are recurrent, distressing, and interfere in daily functioning. These may include:

  • Compulsive searching for multiple partners
  • Compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Compulsive love relationships
  • Compulsive sexuality in a relationship

Our Approach to Sexual Compulsivity

Sexual addiction shares common traits with other addictions. There is a repetitive struggle to control behavior, which is followed by a deep sense of despair for continuously failing to do so. Self-esteem gradually decreases, increasing the need to escape into addictive behavior. Powerlessness is a key element of addiction. At Gentle Path, we address these behaviors and help patients do the deep work necessary to uncover root causes and confront past pain.

Recovery is Possible

Gentle Path is a safe, nurturing community composed of peers where your journey of recovery will include not just dealing with outward behaviors but examining the underlying causes. The goal is to gain the courage to face difficult issues (including grief and loss), heal from emotional trauma, and become accountable for your feelings, behaviors, and recovery.

 

Taking that first step is hard, but there’s a new life of health and hope just waiting for you. The next chapter of your life can begin now, but only you can change your story.

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