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I think your a sex addict… are you though?

fantasy sex

So, can sex be a true addiction? I can’t tell you how often people not only ask me this question but also how often I’ll hear people throw the words “Sex Addict” around.

Lately I have seen several articles and been involved in a few conversations with colleagues about Sex Addiction. In my experience people tend to have strong feelings around this topic.

Some people say that sex addiction is just another way to pathologize people and label them. Others say that sex is like a drug and can be used/abused, can be dangerous, and something to be approached with care. I believe both can be and are true.

I personally have worked in the past with people that have been labeled as sex addicts. Some of these individuals I believe were indeed mislabeled and yet others had created severe damage in their lives in the pursuit of sex. I’ve listened to stories from my past clients about going broke, ruining relationships, ending up in jail, and ruining their health in order to find sex.

So to me, the question is not if Sex Addiction (or abuse of sex) is real because I have seen the damage in my clients’ lives. I think the question is what is and what is not sex addiction!

What is Sex Addiction?

            Technically there is no such thing as sex addiction in terms of medical terminology. An addiction of any form is simply a laymen’s term for what the medical and psychological community call abuse/dependence. The closest medical term that has been offered for what society considers Sex Addiction is “Hypersexual Disorder” which was not approved for usage in the latest addition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM 5), which is where all diagnoses of psychological disorders come from. Some also consider withholding sex a form of sex addition (“Sexual Anorexia”), which would fall under the category of Hypo-sexual disorder. Also, medical professionals have been unable to even determine what sex addiction is because it is often used to define any behavior that deviates from societal norms. This includes “excessive” sexual intercourse, masturbation, viewing of pornography, partners, etc.

            The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” Since there is no agreed upon definition of what a sex addiction is, I would like to offer what I use with my clients to determine when someone has entered an unhealthy territory in the way of sexual behaviors.

•           Are you able to function in your daily life? (Going to work, taking care of adult     responsibilities, taking care of physical health, etc.)

•           Are you continuing to engage in behaviors despite intense dangers to your physical           health, career, or financial well-being?

•           Are you unable to stop the behaviors despite them no longer bringing you pleasure?

If someone says, “Yes,” to the above situation, then they very well might be stuck in an addictive cycle with sex, porn, or masturbation. Thankfully there are many wonderful therapists/coaches that work with sex addiction and can help determine what emotional needs are trying to be met through these behaviors.

What Sex Addiction is NOT!

Often Sex Addiction is used as a scapegoat for Cheating, Lying, Jealousy, and Taboo behaviors. As long as the below behaviors are not stopping normal adult functioning, a sex addiction is not:

•           Cheating: Just because a partner is enjoying sex with another person(s) does not mean    they are addicted. It means that there is a breakdown somewhere in the communication and the relationship. Often women particularly will struggle emotionally with the thought of a partner cheating and so will label that other person a sex addict. I believe people often see it as a more acceptable/ less embarrassing than having to admit their partner  cheated OR the person engaging in the infidelity finds it easier than having to manage the repercussions of infidelity.  Cheating can cause emotional turmoil on both sides but   that does not make it a sex addiction

•           Polyamory/Open Relationships: Just because a person chooses a different lifestyle does not make them have an addiction. Often people are under the impression that people in   these types of relationships are “sex crazed” and are constantly engaging in dangerous sexual experiences. Research studies have actually shown the exact opposite, that people in these relationships communicate and take more precautions for safety in sex than single/monogamous couples. However, instead of learning about these lifestyles, it is easier to smack a label on a person or think they are just choosing that lifestyle for the sex.

•           Pornography: I do not personally like pornography because I think it can push unhealthy standards but a person does not have an addiction just because they enjoy viewing  pornography. Viewing porn can be a healthy part of adult sexual experiences. Many couples pursue pornography to add spice into a relationship and many single people use it to meet their basic human needs in a safe and healthy manner.

•           Enjoying Sex/Sex-ploration: Many times I will hear people throw the word sex addict out when they hear about a person engaging in more sex then they deem “appropriate.” Based on religious beliefs, upbringing, and our society, many people have strong ideals on what is and is not okay. The truth is we have no right to tell others when their desires/needs have been met or to limit them according to our personal ideals of sex. A person could have a new sex partner every night for a year and still not be a sex addict!

•           Masturbation: Again, masturbation is a super healthy aspect of human sexuality and does not mean a person is a sex addict. Our bodies are meant to be enjoyed and so we don’t get to tell others how often that is okay.

•           Taboo Sex: As we expand as a society, more and more people are venturing into new       sexual territory. There is a reason why 50 Shades of Grey took the nation by storm! In our ignorance of a sexual preference we often label people as having a “problem.” As adults we have the right to explore whatever we like in the privacy of our own bedroom (outside of illegal preferences such as child abuse or animal abuse).  Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t make it an addiction.

Sex Addiction is serious and can very much ruin a person’s life. If a person truly has a sex addiction then they do need help to put their lives back together. In true sexual addiction, the person needs to explore the pain and patterns that are keeping them stuck in a destructive cycle. There are some amazing therapy and treatment centers out there to help these individuals. Though beware because there are some other treatment centers that turn this addiction into a moral issue and will try to shame the addiction out of a person or suggest taking on habits such as celibacy. These treatments are not effective and will often just drive the addict deeper into the addiction long-term.

Sex Addiction is not a scapegoat phrase or something to be thrown around in order to express your dislike of a person’s sexual behaviors. It’s not an excuse for infidelity and not a rationale for someone having a high sexual appetite.

Original Article on RecovertoLife written by Kelly Martin, LPC, LCDC, Experiential Life Coach

Polyamory vs. Monogamy: What Do You Think?

woman2menI know that I have many people that I am working with who are coming to a point in their lives and relationships where having and “Open Relationship” has become appealing to them. But there is much concern as to if it is dangerous or not to have this sort of sexual/intimate relating and the main causes of concern are:
* How will jealousy play a role?
* Won’t one or both of us feel like the other is not invested or committed as much anymore?
* What happen’s if I truly love two people at the same time? Is this manageable or will it destroy the relationships?
* Does having multiple partners increase my chances of catching a sexually transmitted disease?
* What about time management?
* How do I deal with what other’s think? i.e. friends, parents, children, etc.
* How do I bring up the conversation of opening my primary relationship?
Just to name a few concerns….

I am not going to address all of this here, as this list of concerns is a whole workshop in it’s own. However, I do want to say that I agree with Dan Savage on his comeback and I will state that for the last four years I have been blessed to enjoy a deep loving, authentic relating and sexually open relationship with my two lovers. Both men fulfill me in different aspects. My relationship is unique with each and yet similar.

Last year I opened a channel of communication of allowing each of them to ask me five question’s, they could be any question and I agreed to answer 100% authentically no matter how hard it may be to state my truth. My primary partner Scott asked me, ” Have you ever considered a primary relationship with B?” – My response and the honest truth was, “Yes.” How could I have not? Here is a man I adore and love with my heart, soul and body just as I feel for Scott, I feel for B. Each man pulling to my surface an aspect of myself that without his presence I would not get a chance to explore, heal and love. Each man compliments my internal masculine in a similar but different fashion and allow’s me to be stronger in my divine feminine. Each open’s me and teaches me how to expand my heart, surrender more fully, and accept more gracefully the lead of the divine masculine.

In all honesty, I cannot, nor do I ever wish to imagine or experience my life without each of these gentlemen in it. Do I need either of them? No. I feel strong enough in myself and my path to say that I make the conscious choice each day to open myself to each of them and dance in life with them. It is not a state of need and therefore jealousy does not play a strong role in my relating. I am not with either of them to try and change them into someone that I believe they should be either. Therefore I am able to step away from much of my ego based issues and just enjoy each of them for who they are in the moment and how they each choose to show up in life with me.

As far as sexually transmitted diseases and open relationship’s go, just an FYI that monogamy does not mean security. Many studies have been done in recent years to see if polyamorous people are more likely to catch a sexually transmitted diseases than monogamous people. The stat’s were about equal. But how is this possible if one group of people are only sleeping with the same person and the other group has multiple partners?

Well, here is the truth.
When people cheat they do not think to have safe sex. They do not use a condom most of the time.
When people are involved in an open lifestyle they typically know that they have to have these conversations about diseases, protection and when someone got tested or not. They also think about boundaries, safe words, precautions and deeper levels of authentic communication that many monogamous people never consider. Does this mean that you can’t enjoy bare sex with two partners or that it is a bad idea? The answer here is no. Of course you can enjoy bare sex with two partners, as long as all partners are on board with it and communication is in place as well as taking into consideration that bare sex is a symbol of deep connection, trust and COMMITMENT. So if anyone decides to bring in another party then the safety jackets are back on.

Having an open relationship or multiple partners DOES NOT mean that you love less. It means that you LOVE MORE! This sort of relating when done in a mature, proactive, no ego driven or need fashion can be very healing and a great teacher. Is it for everyone? No. But should it be condemned or stated that such a relationship between 3, 4 or even 5 people cannot last long term? No again. Most monogomous relationships end in divorce after years of fighting, suffering and sexless relating. Do these long term relationships seem successful? If you answered yes then you may need to examine what your view of success is and then ask yourself if they are really examples of unconditional love too. Then look at an open relationship such as Dan Savage and his wife, shared below….

Successful? Unconditionally loving?
You be the judge.

–KW

Dan Savage at Inforum 9460747644 cropped to Savage

Dan Savage’s devastating reply to Helen Fisher

That New York Times story a couple days ago?The Secrets to an Open Marriage According to Mo’Nique?Which quoted the once-respected anthropologist Helen Fisher saying she just somehow knows these things “never end up working long-term”?

Dan Savage just published a takedown:

Dan Savage in 2013
…The Oscar-winning actress [Mo’Nique] and her husband [Sidney Hicks] are double rarity: not just a straight couple who aren’t in the closet about their open marriage, but a famous straight couple in an openly open marriage.

…[Writer Tammy] La Gorce gets a few quotes from someone who comes across as pretty sane about open marriages — Douglas LaBier, a psychologist and the director of the Center for Progressive Development — but La Gorce pretty much hands the rest of the piece over to someone who has clearly lost her mind: Helen Fisher, author, “biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute” (RIP Kinsey Institute), and shill for a dating website, where Fisher has been doing important research on the best strategy for getting a second date (take ’em out for sushi) and what it means when a person uses a lot of emojis (they’re horny as fuck).

…Where to start?

With Fisher’s insulting claim to know better than Mo’Nique and Hicks about how the Mo’Nique and Hicks really feel about their marriage? (They only think they’re happy, those deluded human animals!) With Fisher’s yanked-from-her-ass assertions about evolutionary pressures that supposedly endowed all modern humans with genes that allow for just one type of romantic “bond” (only pairs, always sexually exclusive!) and just one successful “mating process” (only pairs, again, and it’s all about the kids!)? With Fisher’s assertion — offered without any data to back it up — that open marriages “never end up working long-term”?

Let’s start with that.

“Just because there is a lack of good data on the longevity of open relationships does not mean that ‘they never work out,'” said Dr. Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University. “Saying ‘they never work out’ goes beyond any data she has; I would ask her to prove it. Where are her data? I know of none to support that.”

Dr. Herbenick has data that contradicts Fisher’s “they never work out” and “all people in non-monogamous couples are secretly miserable” bullshit.

“Similar proportions of men in monogamous and open relationships say they are happy in their relationship and sexually satisfied,” said Dr. Herbenick, citing ACTUAL FUCKING DATA from the IU School of Public Health’s 2014 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. “For women, more women in monogamous relationships say that they are happy in their relationship and sexually satisfied. But that doesn’t mean none are happy or satisfied, as plenty are.”

…On a personal note/anecdote: my husband and I recently celebrated our 21st anniversary and our marriage has been open for 17 of those years. Hey, maybe Terry and I need Helen Fisher to swing by the house and explain to us how we’re really secretly miserable, just like Mo’Nique and Hicks….

Moving on…

Fisher’s bizarre theory of brain adjacency: the chunks of our brainz involved in romantic love are located near the chunks of brainz that “orchestrate” thirst and hunger and that’s why there’s no such thing as a successful open marriage. CASE CLOSED!

That sounded like complete bullshit — and not just to me.

“It is a rather odd claim to say that the reason a phenotypic trait will operate the way it does is because a particular brain region responsible for it is adjacent to other brain regions which do something else,” said Dr. Qazi Rahman, King’s College London. “That kind of model of brain-behaviour relationships would generate all sorts of very odd predictions which most neuroscientists or neuropsychologists would find strange. But then all behaviour and mental activity is ‘in the brain’ and so I’m not clear making these sorts of claims does any useful explanatory work for behavioural scientists.”

“There is an entire network of the brain involved in romantic love,” said Dr. James Pfaus…. [Fisher] doesn’t get it. She has never gotten it. Her view of the brain is a neurochemical phrenology.”

…”I spoke with Helen at a conference once,” a researcher who did not wish to be identified told me in an email. “Helen said there is a single gene that will determine whether a man cheats or not. We carefully explained why this couldn’t be so.”

Fisher, like so many other hacks in the love-and-relationship racket, wants sex and love and marriage to work in a certain way — they insist it only works this one way — and this monogamist bias informs and distorts Fisher’s work.

“I enjoy Helen’s stuff, but think she’s blind to her cultural bias on this one,” said Dr. David Ley. “I’d be interested in whether she truly thinks monogamy ‘works’ long-term, given divorce and infidelity rates. I think the most damaging piece of Fisher’s approach is her generalization of her beliefs to all humans. The valuable thing about modern relationships is the ability to individually negotiate a relationship, based upon each partners’ needs, strengths and deficits.”…

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