Is sex addiction real?

“It’s not about the kind of sex you have, who you have it with or even how often you have it,” explained certified sex addiction therapist Robert Weiss. “We don’t base the definition of alcoholism on the type of alcohol someone drinks. Like alcoholism, the sex addiction diagnosis is based on whether or not that individual’s behavior repeatedly creates profound problems and crisis in their day-to-day life functioning.”

Instead, Weiss sees sex addiction as a process addiction, in which the hunt for sex, whether that means searching for online porn or surfing for hookups on Tinder, creates in some people anticipatory arousal that creates more of a rush than the act itself. This constant need for arousal can hinder their daily life. If one does not get sex addiction help, there is a possibility where it can even create marital issues, legal problems, job loss, and financial difficulties. Those who live in addiction can face self-esteem issues and health problems that can be remedied by seeking help from a professional.

Yet some critics question whether there’s a concern at all. “Sex addiction has become the label du jour to explain why people without an understanding of their own desires now struggle and feel out of control in a world that’s increasingly sexually permissive,” said David Ley, a psychologist. “They tend to be people who grew up in religious households who have been taught that sex should make them feel guilty and ashamed.”

Indeed, for some, the label of sex addiction may simply be a response to that shame, said Michael Aaron, a sex therapist. “Many of the ‘sex addict’ clients I see aren’t addicts at all. They’ve been told by a partner or someone else that their behavior, like watching porn or having a high libido, is a problem.”

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