Currently there is no DSM-5 diagnosis for “sex addiction.” However, sexual behaviors may be compulsive or out-of-control, leading to various problems in your life. Review the following signs to determine if your sexual behavior may be compulsive or out-of-control:
- You spend an inordinate amount of time seeking out sexual experiences: You spend so much time on these activities it takes away from time and energy needed at work, with family and friends, and hobbies or other activities you enjoy.
- You find yourself thinking about sex much of the time: Even when you are not engaging in, or seeking out these sexual experiences, you find yourself thinking about these sexual behaviors. These intrusive thoughts may rob you of mental energy needed at work, with friends and family, and hobbies or other activities you enjoy.
- You spend an inordinate amount of money on these sexual behaviors: If you are finding yourself struggling financially, make sure to determine just how much money you are spending on these sexual behaviors (i.e. buying porn, paying for lap dances, paying for prostitutes, paying for hotels, paying for date related expenses). If you are spending a significant amount of money on these behaviors, there may be a problem.
- You are secretive about your behaviors: While it is healthy and appropriate to have boundaries around your private life, if you find yourself lying to cover up the consequences of these sexual behaviors, there may be a big problem. You might lie about your whereabouts or how you are spending your time. For instance you if you find yourself lying to your boss about why you did not complete an important project because you have been compulsively masturbating to porn, this should be a red flag.
- You are violating your relationship contract: All relationships have spoken and unspoken agreements, regardless of whether a couple is monogamous or is in an open marriage. If your partner would view your behavior as a betrayal, then you are violating your relationship contract. If you both have agreed to be monogamous and you are sleeping with other partners in secret this could be a sign of out-of-control sexual behavior. Similarly, even in an open marriage, if you are violating the agreed upon rules to your open marriage this is a betrayal and could signal a bigger problem.
- You feel depressed or anxious: While there is usually an initial high or at least a release while engaging in compulsive or out-of-control behaviors, many people will later report feeling depressed and anxious afterwards. Others may feel numb.
- You have a lot of shame and guilt: If your sexual behaviors are causing you a lot of shame and guilt, you may want to explore with a therapist why this may be. Shame and guilt will also only fuel compulsive and out-of-control sexual behaviors.
- Others are worried about you: Coworkers, friends, family, or your partner have told you they are worried about you. While you may think you are hiding your acting out, others may be noticing, or at least noticing the consequences of these behaviors.
- You are engaging in risky or unsafe sexual behavior: Having sex without protection could be putting yourself and your partner at risk for various diseases. In addition, meeting strangers for sex could be unsafe.
- You are experiencing negative life events because of these behaviors: Loosing your job, your financial security, your partner or friendships could be a big red flag that your behaviors are out-of-control. Experiencing more conflict in your relationships with others, stopping hobbies, or contracting an STD are other negative consequences.
If these signs are familiar to you, it may be worth seeking therapy to determine whether your sexual behaviors are compulsive or out-of-control. It is possible to treat compulsive or out-of-control sexual behaviors and determine what health sexuality is for you.