Sexual Addiction: Intimacy Disorder

Posted on July 22, 2014


Behavior Disorder
Brain Disorder
Sexual addiction is a(n) Intimacy Disorder
Profound Boundary Failure
A Family of Origin Disorder
Relationship Disorder
Courtship Disorder
Trauma Response
Way of Managing Shame
Dysfunctional Emotional Regulation Strategy

In male culture, a common fixture is the put-down. This can be used as a show of camaraderie, can indicate acceptance into a group, or can be used for derision. Men on the whole do not respond to subtlety as readily as women do. However, we do know based upon the context which meaning was intended.

A friend of mine who is no longer with us had a favorite put down that went something like this. “Remember the first time you had sex? Isn’t it too bad there wasn’t anyone there to enjoy it with you?” The implication being that the person addressed was masturbating.

Among other things, sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder. Whether the acting out pattern is alone (pornography and masturbation) or with another person (prostitutes, escorts, massage parlors, serial affairs) it is still a problem with intimacy. Healthy sexuality is about connection and mutual pleasure. It is about intimacy and vulnerability. If you are having sex by yourself or with someone to whom you are not emotionally connected, you are missing the point (and the best part). Granted it is a lot less work (and feels less vulnerable) to look at pornography than to woo your partner, but it isn’t the real thing. If you are just searching for the higher high, that isn’t intimacy, it is addition.

For most of the addicts I work with, there is some amount of shame with which they are coping. The acting out temporarily relieves the bad feelings associated with the shame, but then creates more shame and perpetuates the cycle. Intimacy involves risk. You need to be able to show your partner who you really are. If there is a part of you that either believes “I am bad” or “other people are not safe,” it makes sense that you would not be willing to be that vulnerable. Further, serial affairs can become about using conquest to push down the feelings of not being good enough. This is all exacerbated by cultural messages that portray sex as a straightforward fulfillment of a physical need while ignoring the emotional piece. The reality is that sex is designed to facilitate attachment to your partner. During sex the hormone oxytocin is released into your brain. This causes you to attach to your partner. Our brains are designed such that sex is an attachment behavior.

If my friend’s put-down seemed to resonate with you, you might want to get some help with that. It really is too bad if there is no one there to enjoy it with you (or if you are with someone but still really alone).