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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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        The Gentle Art of Saying No

        The Gentle Art of Saying No

        No!

        It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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        But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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        What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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        But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

        1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
        2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
        3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
        4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
        5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
        6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
        7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
        8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
        9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
        10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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