“Perhaps the great renewal of the world will consist of this, that man and woman, freed of all confused feelings and desires, shall no longer seek each other as opposites, but simply as members of a family and neighbors, and will unite as human beings, in order to simply, earnestly, patiently, and jointly bear the heavy responsibility of sexuality that has been entrusted to them.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Although sexuality and sex has become more prevalent than ever before in mass media, movies, television, music, pop culture, and so on, the topic seems to remain taboo when we begin to talk about problematic sexual behavior, adultery, infidelity, porn addiction, sex addiction, love addiction, etc. People often become uncomfortable, embarrassed, confrontational, or even self-loathing when discussing these very common yet well hidden issues in our society. One of the biggest areas of disagreement, especially among professionals seems to be finding middle ground in what sexual behaviors could be deemed addictive, compulsive, and/or problematic.
According to Miner and colleagues (2007, p. 579), compulsive sexual behavior is characterized by sexual urges, fantasies, and behaviors that are recurrent, intense, and interfere with daily functioning. However, not all researchers or therapists agree on the concept of “a distressing interference in daily functioning”. Much of the disagreement between professionals lies in what is actually harmful versus what isn’t. Most seem to agree that if the behaviors impact major responsibilities then it can be deemed problematic or possibly even an addiction.
So how do we really know when sex is an issue? SASH, the society for the advancement of sexual health, which is a team of professionals specializing in treatments of all things sexual have come up with categories of problematic sexual behavior as described below:
1. The sexual behavior repeatedly conflicts with one’s commitments.
If you are finding your behavior getting in the way of committing to your loved one then your behavior might be problematic. For example, if your behavior is considered hurtful, painful, or threatening to your current partner then your behavior could be seen as an issue. Everyone has different ideas of what is and isn’t healthy and positive sexually and it’s important to create a space with your partner to ensure there is compromise when it comes to healthy sexuality.
2. The sexual behavior repeatedly conflicts with one’s values.
We all have a set of core values that guide our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Of course, this can change over time though most have a general understanding of what they believe is right versus wrong. Joe was raised to believe that masturbation is morally wrong. When he does very occasionally masturbate he immediately feels ashamed, weak and morally wrong. Although masturbation does not constitute as problematic for many people it does for Joe as it goes against his values. Another example could be if you value respecting others and yet find yourself engaging in constant one night stands and ignoring return calls from partners then your behavior might be problematic.
3. The sexual behavior repeatedly conflicts with one’s self-control.
Jenny feels like her focus is always on sex: either meeting men online and engaging in seductive behavior, meeting them in person to have sex, or recovering from the shame of her behavior. She does not feel in control of her behavior and is scared to think of herself as a sex addict,
which seems to be all about men. In this example, one can see that these behaviors are seen as problematic due to feeling out of control around the thought of, act, and recovery from sexual behaviors.
4. The sexual behavior repeatedly results in negative consequences.
Consequences is a big term that can be interpreted in many different ways. However, if one finds themselves repeatedly contracting STI’s, responsible for multiple unwanted pregnancies, and/or begins to suffer legal consequences for their sexual behaviors then it is noteworthy to say their behavior has become troublesome and possibly even dangerous.
5. The sexual behavior repeatedly lacks sexual responsibility.
Jimmy takes pride in ‘getting around’. He has had numerous sexual encounters with married women. He has even taped himself having sex with women without their permission to show to his friends. This is a good example of a lack of responsibility in one’s sexual behaviors. If the behaviors are secretive due to potential harm then it might be considered problematic.
So what do you do now? If you know someone or can personally relate to some of these categories then know there is a way to get help. The path to recovery from problematic sexual behavior, sex addiction, porn addiction, and other sexual issues begins with admitting one has an issue and then seeking professional help around it.
If you are ready to take the next step and receive the support you deserve please click here to connect with one of our therapists or call at 972-313-5742. We have therapists available in both Grapevine and Dallas for sex addiction, problematic sexual behavior, love addiction, couple’s issues, sex therapy, and porn addiction.