When it comes to the terms we use to describe unusual cravings for sex, the term ‘sex addict’ comes to mind. Society likes to throw that term around.
And I find this interesting because, as of today, there is no formal diagnosis of sex addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (a bible of sorts for us therapists).
This doesn’t mean that you – or someone you know – isn’t addicted to sex. But it’s also entirely possible that saying they have an ‘out of control sexual behavior’ is much more accurate.
I’m oversimplifying a bit here, but sex addiction suggests a harmful or abnormal relationship with sex by an individual in the grasp of an illness or disorder. ‘Out of control’ implies that your sexual urges and behaviors feel beyond your personal control, but don’t represent an illness.
What’s the difference? Does it even matter what we call it?
Yes! Yes, it matters a great deal.
We really need to stop pathologizing ourselves with the term ‘sex addict’. Pathologizing simply means treating someone as psychologically abnormal or unhealthy. And THAT is not healthy.
Sex is a very personal matter. And I’m not just talking about keeping it behind closed doors. The amount of sex one desires, the types of sex one desires, and the number of sexual partners one desires is a very personal thing.
In my practice I invite you to reflect on your own definition on ‘sexual health’. What are the values and morals that you want to live your life by? Are they guided by religion? By a vision of how you want to see yourself? What ‘good’ and what ‘bad’ seem to be coming out of your current sex life patterns and sexual thoughts?
Calling yourself an addict doesn’t help anything. Guilt, blaming, shaming, self-disgust, lowered self esteem … these things aren’t helping. So I say let’s put name and the weight this name brings to the side and instead agree upon your own sexual health principles.
Sex positive therapists, like myself, tend to be very open minded. Isn’t it entirely interesting that society’s tolerance and expectations of your sexual habits is based upon when you were born, where you were born, and into what religion or culture? So don’t be so hard upon yourself.
If we determine that your patterns and your principles aren’t in alignment, then there may be past trauma or past programming that needs exploration.
I’m here to help you think through this and to get you to a point where you make the sexual decisions you want to be making and feel good about your choices.