When Tiger Woods crashed his car in the neighborhood in a drunken daze over Thanksgiving weekend in 2009, little did the golfing prodigy realize that he would be making way for worldwide publicity to a hitherto little-known disorder, sex addiction. And yet sexual addiction is a problem that affects millions of men every day and significantly impacts the health of their relationships. If you think your boyfriend is afflicted with the same condition, here are a few things you need to know.
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Recognize the signs
For something as personal as sex, it is incredible how much generalization goes on in the media or even in pseudo-scientific matter like popular surveys and opinion polls. One of the most common topics is how much sex is ‘normal’ sex – while for people this could be as frequent as two or three times a day, for others it could be as less as couple of times a month. So before you jump to conclusions about your boyfriend’s supposedly abnormal desire for sex, consider the signs. According to experts, sex addiction is a very specific condition and thus conforms to most traits of addictive disorder like gambling and overeating. The most common symptoms marking addictive disorder including sex addiction include firstly compulsivity1, that is, loss of the ability to choose freely whether to stop or to continue. The second important trait is continuation of the behavior despite adverse consequences, such as loss of health, job, marriage or freedom. Then there is obsession with the activity; the presence of all the above three symptoms is usually enough to confirm sex addiction though more specific diagnoses are best made by a trained mental health expert. Other signs of a sex addict could include extensive evidence of cruising –whether online or in real life, being hooked to pornography and repeatedly cheating with other women. So if you honestly believe that your boyfriend exhibits the above symptoms then it is time you woke up to the fact of your partner being a sex addict.
Take care of your health
One of the first things that you need to do if you even suspect that your boyfriend is a sex addict is to get yourself tested for sexually transmitted diseases. It is a sad thing to accept but men who struggle with sexual addiction often engage in extra-marital affairs with multiple partners and what’s worse they are also more likely to engage in unsafe sexual behavior. Keeping this in mind, head for your nearest health clinic or hospital and test yourself for STD, even though you may not be experiencing any unusual symptoms. This is because several infections like gonorrhea may not exhibit any symptoms initially but emerge only with full-blown infections when they are far more difficult to treat; in fact some infections like Chlamydia may not display any signs whatsoever and yet have severe consequences in the long run. Above all practice safe sex when you get physical with your boyfriend, which may or may not include vaginal intercourse.
Protect yourself and your resources
If you suspect your boyfriend of being a sex addict, take steps to protect your financial and material resources. Separate your bank accounts if you have had a joint account till now and don’t make yourself liable for his credit card bills and other debt. It is quite common for sex addicts to borrow a lot of money when they're feeding their addiction since they need money either to overtly buy sex from hookers or to attract casual dates with the intention of sex. Even though such men may have been gainfully employed and making a comfortable living initially, sex addiction can eventually lead to financial ruin, either because they are compelled to spend above and beyond their means or because they continue to neglect their job or other professional obligations.
Also sexual addiction can be a gateway to other forms of self-destructive or OCD-type behaviors. Sexual addicts tend to graduate to other destructive behaviors and before they are even aware of what is happening, they may be inflicting abuse and violence on their partners. If you notice even the least hint of such possibility like verbal abuse or physical rage it is better to take steps to protect yourself and your dependents if any.
Above all ensure that you do not succumb to co-addictive behavior yourself or get trapped into co-dependency in this skewed relationship. Partners who have themselves a personality issue or have been brought up in a sexually repressive or confusing household are particularly vulnerable to becoming co-addicts of this nature. A co-addict will fear abandonment, be afraid of imagining life without their sex-addict partner, and will be ready to accept behaviors that healthier persons may find unacceptable. If you believe that your own self-esteem and emotional balance are getting affected, it may be better to see a therapist or even opt out of the relationship.
Make boundaries and stick to them
Even if you love your boyfriend and are willing to try and work things out, you will need to maintain certain boundaries if you are not to turn into a victim or worse a co-addict. One of the ways addicts rationalize their behavior is to draw their near and dear ones into their problems and even blame their partners for their weaknesses. At such times make sure your partner knows that you will continue to love and support the person you love but not the addict. Draw away when he obsesses about sex or defends his addiction and don’t argue or fight back. Don’t enable his sex addiction by making good his losses and helping him out of sticky situations like lying to his boss about his absenteeism or bailing him out of a police station. It is only when you stop covering for them that they will know they have to take responsibility for their actions.
In the end the only way you can have a healthy relationship with a sex addict is when he seeks professional help. To do this however he must first accept there is a problem and take responsibility for it – a tall order for anyone suffering from an addictive behavior. Though it is possible to treat sexual addiction, your boyfriend needs to be ready to go through proper treatment and therapy depending on the severity of his condition. Sexual addicts may even have to go through cognitive therapy to deal with repairing the damage they do to their marriages and relationships in order to regain what they lost in terms of the trust and honest that was destroyed by their addiction.