Symptoms and Signs
Sex addiction can be difficult to spot from the outside. Most addicts become skilled at hiding their behavior and can even keep the addiction secret from spouses, partners, and family members. However, an individual might have a sex addiction if he or she exhibits some or all of the following behaviors:
- Chronic, obsessive sexual thoughts and fantasies
- Relations with multiple partners on a frequent basis, especially with strangers
- Preoccupation with having sex, even when it interferes with daily life, productivity, work performance, etc.
- Inability to stop compulsive sexual behaviors or restrain sexual activity
- Putting oneself or others in danger due to sexual behavior
- Engaging in illegal sexual activity with prostitutes, minors, or children
- Need for dominance and control in sexual liaisons
- Feeling remorse or guilt after sexual episodes
- Negative personal or professional consequences due to sexual behavior
Symptoms of Sexual Addiction
By Michael Herkov, Ph.D
While there is no official diagnosis for sex addiction, clinicians and researchers have attempted to define the disorder using criteria based on chemical dependency literature. They include:
- Frequently engaging in more sex and with more partners than intended.
- Being preoccupied with or persistently craving sex; wanting to cut down and unsuccessfully attempting to limit sexual activity.
- Thinking of sex to the detriment of other activities or continually engaging in excessive sexual practices despite a desire to stop.
- Spending considerable time in activities related to sex, such as cruising for partners or spending hours online visiting pornographic Web sites.
- Neglecting obligations such as work, school or family in pursuit of sex.
- Continually engaging in the sexual behavior despite negative consequences, such as broken relationships or potential health risks.
- Escalating scope or frequency of sexual activity to achieve the desired effect, such as more frequent visits to prostitutes or more sex partners.
- Feeling irritable when unable to engage in the desired behavior.
Signs and symptoms of compulsive sexual behavior
- Having multiple sexual partners or extramarital affairs.
- Engaging in sex with many anonymous partners or prostitutes. Sex addicts treat sexual partners as objects rather than social intimates that are only used for sex.
- Engaging in excessive masturbation, as often as 10 to 20 times a day.
- Using pornographic materials a lot. Using chat rooms or on line pornography or sex chat phone lines excessively.
- Engaging in types of sexual behavior that you would not have considered acceptable before. Examples are masochistic or sadistic sex. Sometimes more extreme forms of sexual behavior are engaged in, for example pedophilia, bestiality, rape.
- Exposure in public.
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