I have this friend, we’ll call him Brian, who has recently realized that he may be addicted to sex. Being an addiction specialist, he obviously came to me for advice. I told him that I would look into some of the treatment centers specializing in sexual addiction, and that in the meantime, there are support groups (like sex addicts anonymous) he can turn to for help.
Still, his revelation was not a surprise to me or the few other close friends who were let in on his problem.
Brian has been chasing women for a while, and even though he is young, many of us have noticed that the lengths he’ll go to, and effort he will sometimes put in to getting these women into bed can be astounding. From elaborate schemes of heavy partying, to lavish dinners, long weekends, and outright lies and deceit, Brian would essentially stop at nothing to get a woman to become his lover.
Owning a successful business, this has meant bedding some clients, as well as clients’ wives along with assistants, assistants’ friends, and colleagues. While this may be impressive in an “Animal House” sort of way, Brian has come to realize that his ways may be sabotaging all aspects of his life other than the average number of orgasms he is experiencing.
He often gets little sleep, at times is forced to drop accounts due to precarious personal relationship, and has no doubt that few of his clients ever refer him for fear of affairs being discovered, jealousy, or for other reasons.
Brian has realized that much like a drug addict, his “using” of sex often leaves him feeling empty and wanting. Probably as importantly as all the trouble above, Brian has been unable to get involved in any serious romantic relationship for a few years now. Like a drug addict, he craves the comfort of the “normal” life but feels empty without the constant rush he gets from his sexual escapades.
Brian and I share many of these attributes, and so our conversations in these last few months have helped us both understand the origin of this seemingly insatiable need for sex, love, and intimacy. Still, Brian finds himself “relapsing” and setting out on sometime week long sexual “binges” whenever he loses his resolve. For those familiar with sexual addicts, narcissism, a constant need for validation and attention, as well as bouts of depression are very common. Still, I believe that there is more to sexual addiction than personality traits and a need for social validation.
Some of my own recent research has centered on understanding the neurological mechanisms that may drive what are called “natural” addictions, as in sex, food, gambling, and even video-game addictions. I believe that as far as the brain is concerned, there really is very little difference between “natural” addictions and drug addiction. While I believe I’m on the right track, my theories are involved and so I will reveal them in future blogs, slowly unraveling what I believe to be the common brain mechanisms that are shared by both drug and natural addictions.
I will keep telling the story of Brian along with stories of other friends and acquaintances who suffer from addictions and addiction related problems. I’d like for all of you to feel free to share with me similar stories, whether these involve yourselves or other around you. I am here to offer my help and guidance.
Question of the day:
Do you know anyone who suffers from a similarly insatiable need for affection? What are the characteristics of this need? Can you try to see what may be behind the “chase”?
4 responses to “My Friend the sex addict – When looking for love goes too far”
When you can manufacture your drug in your brain just by thinking or fantasizing, it’s tough to get sober. It’s also hard to tell the difference in early recovery between acting out sex and healthy sex since they’re often the same physical act.
And the triggers are everywhere. In searching for blogs on sex addiction, there are many with explicit images, just looking is a hit or a sip.
Thanks for the blog. Hope your friend Brian gets the help he needs.
I have struggled with addictions all my life since about the age of 12. Alcohol, pot, sex, shopping, food. At one time or another, different ones of these are actively present in my life. Can’t seem to abstain from all of them at the same time. AA and therapy would help I’m sure. Just a matter of me wanting to be honest enough with myself and ‘git it done’.
The insatiable need for external validation — in my own experience as a sex and love addict — is based in an underlying absence of self-love and emotional foundation. I need to feel accepted, cared for and affirmed by others because my I feel incapable of giving those things to myself.
Are you familiar with the 12 Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction? Google it and you’ll have the answer to your question of the day.
Sex and Love Addiction is such a complex issue that has only recently been addressed by professionals. I have been married to a Sex Addict for 5 years and as we struggle through his recovery there are more questions than answers as to the whys and hows.
The common thread I see is childhood abuse. This seems to result in the lack of self control, empathy, impulse control and an emotional immaturity that are common traits in Sex Addicts.
I would be very interested to learn of any new research in the brain chemical theories (dopamine)and recovery approaches that do not include the 12 step dogma.