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Beyond Cheating: When Sex Becomes an Addiction

Beyond Cheating: When Sex Becomes an Addiction

Sex: it can be tons of fun and really enjoyable – or it can get us is in a lot of trouble. Unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and illnesses, and tons of drama stem from one-night stand mistakes. There’s a reason sex is still considered an activity for mature, consensual adults.

However, what happens when sex gets out of control? When it becomes an uncontrollable urge, a persistent itch beneath the skin, interfering with your life and relationships, what happens then? What happens when sex becomes an addiction?

Sex Addiction is Real: The Signs and Symptoms

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Sex Addiction: Beyond Cheating

    Understanding sex addiction is difficult for most people to understand, as is addiction in general. When one has never experienced the overwhelming, all-consuming urge to drink, use illicit substances, or compulsively do something despite knowing how harmful it can be, it’s easy to deny that addiction is more than a moral shortcoming. This is also true when it comes to non-substance based addictions, like gambling, body modification, and especially sex.

    Sex addiction can be just as crippling and life-changing as an addiction to heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. The stigmas against addiction are difficult enough, but society has come a much farther way in understanding substance abuse than in understanding non-substance addictions. Sex addiction is not an excuse for cheating, or a lie to get out of commitment; people living with sex addiction struggle to maintain personal relationships, working relationships, and social standing often in silence and shame. They face intense physical and mental symptoms just as those with other addictions do, such as:

    • Engaging in an increased amount of sex with more partners than intended.
    • Persistent preoccupation with intercourse.
    • Prioritizing sex over other activities.
    • Continually engaging in excessive sexual acts despite the desire to cut back or stop.
    • Finding the need to engage in more sex to achieve the same effects.
    • Feeling anxiety or irritability when unable to engage in sex.

    Risks of Untreated Sex Addiction: Loss of Relationships, STDs, Damaged Reputation

    Some may joke that sex addiction sounds like a dream, and how it must be so much fun – it’s not. The average sexually active person is at risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections and diseases such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV/AIDS. The risks are increased in certain areas of the country and among certain demographics, but sexual addiction only serves to further increase the risks.

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    Impulsivity and lapses in judgment can lead to unprotected sex with people we have just met, with unknown sexual and medical histories. Unfortunately, what some people view as “just a bit of fun” can have very real and long lasting consequences. While we should not judge others based on their medical conditions, putting ourselves in needless jeopardy is dangerous to ourselves and others.

    In addition to the health risks, promiscuity is still stigmatized, even when it is the result of a legitimate disorder. Those assumptions based on preconceptions ruin reputations, causing problems in all areas of life. Rumors can derail potential relationships, business opportunities, and friendships. Existing relationships can be strained by the sexual demands caused by sex addiction, insecurities, and self-doubt. Left untreated, sexual addiction wreaks havoc on all areas of one’s life.

    How to Talk to Someone Who is Addicted to Sex

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    How to Talk About Sex Addiction?

      If you suspect you or someone you know is living with sex addiction, it is important to seek professional help for the sake of your physical and mental health. Just as with any other addiction, it often has roots in deeper issues, such as emotional traumas or underlying mental health disorders. Rehabilitation services exist and support groups exist for people living with sex addiction. Recovery is possible. You don’t have to live as a slave to your body any longer.

      For some, realization that sex has become a problem doesn’t come easily. Some only realize there is a problem when it is pointed out to them by well-meaning, compassionate people in their lives who love them. However, as someone outside of the situation, it’s important to approach it correctly.

      Here’s a few tips for approaching someone regarding sex addiction:

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      • Avoid accusation and finger pointing.
      • Be a supporter, not an enabler.
      • Have real suggestions for solutions.
      • Listen intently.
      • Recognize that you cannot force anyone to do anything they are not ready for.

      How to Seek Treatment

      Seeking Treatment for Sex Addiction

        As we continue to learn more about addiction in general, and how it affects us mentally, emotionally, and physically, more recovery options and rehabilitation treatments become available. It’s important that, no matter what type of addiction you are facing, your path of recovery is tailored to work best for you. Ultimately, that means entering a treatment facility for continuous monitoring and care, or private counseling with a personal therapist or through support groups. Personalized care creates a solid foundation for a new, addiction-free life.

        Make sure to do proper research before committing to treatment, but do not let yourself detour from your desire to overcome addiction. Know that your journey is yours and yours alone. Move at your own pace, but always keep moving.

        You are strong enough to overcome anything.

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        Last Updated on March 30, 2020

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

        Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

        You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

        This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

        What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

        According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

        Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

        There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

        How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

        When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

        Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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        1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

        One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

        The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

        Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

        2. Be Honest

        A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

        If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

        On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

        Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

        3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

        Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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        If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

        4. Succeed at Something

        When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

        Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

        5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

        Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

        Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

        If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

        If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

        Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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        6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

        Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

        You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

        On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

        You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

        7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

        Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

        Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

        Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

        When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

        Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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        In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

        Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

        It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

        Final Thoughts

        When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

        The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

        Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

        Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

        Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

        More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

        Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
        [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
        [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
        [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
        [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
        [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
        [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
        [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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