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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 January 15, 2021

        7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

        7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

        The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

        Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

        Posture

        First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

        • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
        • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
        • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
        • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

        All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

        Facial Expressions

        Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

        • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
        • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
        • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

        If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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        1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

        A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

        The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

        This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

        2. Relax Your Face

        New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

        The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

        To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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        3. Improve Your Eye Contact

        Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

        The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

        To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

        3. Smile More

        There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

        Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

        4. Hand Gestures

        Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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        It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

        5. Enhance Your Handshake

        In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

        “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

        It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

        6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

        As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

        Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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        Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

        Final Takeaways

        Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

        If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

        More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

        Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

        Reference

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