What Is an Unwanted Sexual Behavior?
Part of what makes identification and treatment of sexual issues so problematic is the wide range of unwanted sexual behaviors a group can frown upon or endorse. Sometimes even the most innocuous sexual behaviors like masturbation can stir an angry response from a specific group while obviously negative sexual behaviors like pedophilia and rape be encouraged by other groups.
In these situations, it is imperative to have commonsense agreements about appropriate and inappropriate sexual behaviors based on notions of consent, exploitation, trust, and honesty. By using these guides, a common list of behaviors could be established to end the guesswork regarding sexual behaviors.
Is Sex Addiction Real and Is It Really a Problem?
The views of sex addiction have been changing rapidly over the past years. Now, claiming a sex addiction is seen as something often done by a powerful male to explain his illegal or unethical behaviors.
By telling people he has a sex addiction, he may hope to garner some sympathy while attending some form of “treatment” in a luxurious environment while the public outrage slowly dies down. In reality, this person may or may not have a sex addiction and may or may not be helped by a period of treatment.
This person may only be exploiting the idea of sex addiction as a way to minimize his damaging and inexcusable actions against other people. Manipulating public opinion makes it harder for other people with genuine concerns to get the help they need when they need it.
The truth is – sexual addiction is real, but it may not look the way you expect it to.
What Is Sexual Addiction and What Does it Look Like?
Not all addictions are easy to identify. In fact, the majority of addictions are unclear and vague as the line between normal functioning and addiction is not always obvious.
Someone smoking crack or injecting heroin will show more obvious signs of addiction as the use of these substances is never expected or acceptable. Plus, use quickly spins out of control to the point where the individual’s entire life is consumed by the drug.
When thinking of sex addiction, it can be helpful to not compare sex to drugs, and instead, compare it to other behavioral addictions. In this example, a sex addiction might be most similar to a food addiction.
People need food to live and sex to continue the human race, and because of this importance, eating and having sex are naturally reinforced behaviors. When you eat, you feel a sense of happiness, relaxation, and satisfaction. When you have sex, you feel the same.
Just because someone is eating or having sex does not mean they are addicted. It only means they are responding in usual ways to rewarding and healthy stimulation.
With addictions to food or sex, the line between healthy and unhealthy behavior is determined by:
- The frequency. How often is the behavior happening? Once a month, week, day, or hour? People will have differing points of view, but some level of moderation will be important to maintain balance.
- The intensity. How engaged are you in the behavior while it occurs? How much energy and attention are you giving to your actions? Also, how has the intensity of your behavior changed over time?
- The duration. How much time do you spend on this behavior each day? If one thing is consuming a significant amount of time and energy, it may become a negative aspect of your life.
- The risks. Are bad things happening to you or the loved ones in your life because of your behaviors? Are you feeling physically or mentally ill? Is your behavior interfering with the relationships you hold dear?
The frequency, intensity, and duration of your sexual behaviors are important, but they are not enough to create a sex addiction alone. If you are in an honest and safe agreement with another person or a group of people that involves having sex 20 times per day with the use of bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism (BDSM), it could be healthy, even though it might seem so far out of the norm.
Remember, to some, all homosexual relationships seem bad or wrong because they are outside of the traditional view of sex and relationships. When assessing a sex addiction, it is necessary to leave your preconceived notions at the door.
A sex addict will have an intense mental focus on sex and a powerful drive to have sex when convenient for them without any regard for the needs or concerns for the other people. These sexual behaviors, including masturbation, will make it impossible for the individual to do well and succeed in life because sex will always be the primary concern.
It is impossible to say what causes a sex addiction, but possibilities include:
- Former or current sexual abuse
- Past traumatic life events
- Intense shame and guilt surrounding sex
Like with the causes, sex addiction statistics are equally challenging to estimate. The best guess is that between 7 and 14 million Americans have some type of sex addiction.