Does More Sex Cure Sex Addiction?
Many believe that fantastic, unlimited sex with their spouse would cure their sexual addiction. These individuals are often confused and deeply disappointed when they learn that this approach doesn't work.
Sex addiction is about much more than physical intimacy. Illicit sexual outlets trigger a literal chemical dependency in the brain. Sexual pursuits become a drug-of-choice for self-medication and escape from the stress, pressures and challenges of life. Just as more sex will not cure a substance abuse addiction, it's not going to heal the chemical dependency created by sexual addiction.
You can regain a close, committed, joyful relationship with your spouse, and break free from unhealthy sexual behaviors.
"Once I get married I won't have a sex addiction problem anymore!"
"Now that I am having sex with one I love I won't need my old sexual outlets."
"Why do I still look at pornography? I'm getting all the sex I need."
The sex in my relationship isn't enough, nor what I thought it would be. I still have to seek other ways to have my sexual needs met. I thought this would stop."
"I'm not good enough, is that it? Why does he have to look at pornography anyway? Why?"
"Sex is never good enough for him. He always wants more or something different—what more can I do?"
"When we make love is he thinking about them or me? Who is he having sex with anyway?"
Many individuals who are struggling with these statements are also struggling in their own personal relationships. They are finding that sex addiction is creating a divisive wedge in their intimate, committed relationships with destructive consequences. They thought that fantastic, unlimited sex with their spouse would cure their sexual addiction, and are often confused and deeply disappointed when this approach doesn't work.
Many men are introduced to pornography and other sexual outlets at an early age. Some had their first exposure as young as age two or three! Unfortnately, when these powerful images and practices enter the highly impressionable, developing brain of a child or teenager, addiction is often the result. They grow up with mistaken belief that once they enter adulthood and a committed relationship, their fascination with various sexual outlets will cease. What they fail to understand is that sex addiction is literally a "brain chemical" addiction, in many ways identical to a street drug addiction. Someone hooked on cocaine as a teenager, would not reasonably expect to automatically lose that desire or dependency simply because they reach legal age. Likewise, sex addiction does not magically disappear with adulthood.
Sex Addiction Is Not About Sex
But what about sex? Why would someone continue seeking out pornography, masturbation and other sexual outlets when they can have sex with their partner? Why would they still have the need? Think of it this way—would having sex eliminate a cocaine addict's desire for their drug? Of course not, because cocaine addiction is not about sex. The same principle applies to sexual addiction. Most people are completely unaware that "sex addiction is NOT about sex." Porn, masturbation and many other sexual outlets and pursuits create a literal chemical dependency in the brain. The individual uses these out- lets as a "drug-of-choice" to escape and "self-medicate" in response to any number of pressures, difficulties, needs or situations in his life. Having sex is not going to heal a chemical addiction.
You Can Fool Yourself, But You Can't Fool Your Spouse
It is true that sex can sometimes temporarily reduce the perceived need for pornography and other sexual outlets. However, when one's partner is simply a replacement for addiction, she can usually sense the façade. As the wife of one of the RECLAiM Online Recovery Program students said:
"I feel he's just using me to masturbate. We're not connected."
Sexual intimacy doesn't replace or stop sexual addiction. The addiction behaviors simply create problems in the relationship. And soon, sex with one partner isn't sufficient to meet the "brain chemical" needs of the addict.
If you're struggling under the burden of porn, masturbation and other sexual addiction behaviors, be careful not to fool yourself into thinking that if your partner were more sexually exciting and responsive, your problem would be solved. This makes about as much sense as believing sex would eliminate a drinking problem. You have to do the work of treating your addiction—get on the recovery path and put in the time and effort to address the "real" underlying issues and causes of your sexual addiction.
Sex Addiction Can Be Healed
The RECLAiM resources can help you learn about the true nature of your addiction and the steps you must take to start moving toward your freedom. You can break free and you can have a close, committed, wonderful relationship with your partner. But you can't expect that person to rescue you from the work of recovery, or magically make your struggles go away. They can encourage, support and walk with you, but only you can make the commitment and get started.
When you're ready, the RECLAiM Online Recovery Program has the training, tools, coaching and support you need. We're ready when you are.