There are many ways in which sex addiction can manifest. Some addicts need to have random hook ups with strangers, while others use pornography to meet their needs. Some are addicted to self-pleasure or a particular fetish, while other sex addicts crave the voyeuristic attention of others. Behind all the varying behaviors of sex addiction is the psychology of the addict.
Psychological Similarities And Differences Of Sex Addicts
There are many ways in which sex addicts are psychologically similar, and one way in which they differ significantly. Getting to the bottom of the psychological factors can help a sex addict heal and have a successful recovery.
Although there are degrees of severity and a range of issues at work among all sex addicts, the majority share a certain set of psychological factors. These are traits that may be characteristic of sex addiction, but which can also play a role in the development of the addictive behaviors:
• Sex addicts are conflicted in their feelings and attitudes toward sex – They lack a clear and unambiguous view of the role sex plays in their lives and in their intimate relationships.
• Sex addicts feel a sense of release or freedom when engaging in their fantasy worlds – They tend to use the object of their addiction or their addictive sexual behaviors as a way to self-soothe, relax, escape, or experience validation.
• Sex addicts lack self-confidence – They tend to fear being themselves, especially in social situations. They focus heavily on how others see them.
• Sex addicts don’t really believe there is another way to experience sexual feelings or intimacy in relationships – They possibly have never experienced true, caring love in relationships and/or possibly even from their parents.
• Sex addicts tend to play roles – They don’t have a strong sense of self, and instead put on the appearance of playing someone else.
The Psychological Difference – Egosyntonic vs. Egodystonic Sex Addicts
While there are many psychological similarities that most sex addicts have in common, there is one very important difference. Some sex addicts tend to feel that their addictive behaviors are in line with who they are. They largely accept their sexual behaviors and are comfortable with them. This attitude is called egosyntonic. The opposite is termed egodystonic. An egodystonic sex addict is someone who is uncomfortable with his or her activities and feels as if they are out of line with a sense of self.
Egosyntonic sex addicts care less about judgment. They may engage in inappropriate behaviors that make people uncomfortable, such as telling sexual jokes or making sexual remarks in improper settings. They don’t see their behaviors as inappropriate and feel they are part of who they are. Egodystonic sex addicts, on the other hand, feel that their behaviors are wrong or shameful. They hide their sexual activities and can be obsessed about not letting anyone find out. They view their behaviors as being a compulsive need and something they can’t control.
Seeking Sex Addiction Treatment
Understanding how sex addicts are similar in their psychology can help experts, and the addicts themselves, treat the addiction. If you are a sex addict and can recognize these factors in yourself, you can begin to use self-awareness to get better.
It is also important to understand what it means to be egosyntonic or egodystonic. If you feel your behaviors are out of line with your character, you are more likely to seek help. Egodystonic addicts tend to get help sooner. If you feel like your behaviors are appropriate and just a part of who you are, you may have no reason to get help until serious consequences, such as an arrest or a partner leaving, appear. Either way, getting professional help is the best way to learn how to control compulsive and inappropriate behaviors.