Sex & Love Addictions Basics

Addictive sexuality is like most other compulsive behaviors: a destructive twist on a normal life-enhancing activity. Defining sex addiction depends less on the behavior itself than on the person’s motivation. In other words, it’s not necessarily what a person does, as much as why it is being done and the impact on one’s life.

Sex addicts are addicted to the excitement generated from a sexual experience. Sex addicts lack the ability to control or postpone sexual feelings and actions, with the need for arousal often replacing the need for intimacy. Eventually, thrill seeking becomes more important than family, career, even personal health and safety.

Love addicts, on the other hand, are addicted to the feeling of euphoria and excitement generated by relationships. Love addicts go through life with desperation, hope and constant fears. Fearing rejection, abandonment, pain, and having little faith in their ability or right to inspire love, perhaps their least familiar real experience.

Both of these problems are, at their root, a problem with intimacy with others, as well as family of origin and traumatic relational experiences, combined with difficulty self-soothing.

A cycle of addiction/compulsion occurs with both sex addiction and love addiction, however there are significant differences between the two. The sex addict follows a routine or ritual leading to acting out sexual behavior (either alone or with another person), but the act is about the sex and not the relationship because it is the sex that provides the soothing relief. The love addict follows a cycle focused on a person and the relationship to that person and, contrary to the sex addict, it is focusing on that relationship which provides the relief.

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