Sex Addiction - just a male thing?
In recent years we have seen more and more celebrities treated for sex addiction: Tiger Woods, Michael Douglas and Russell Brand are perhaps the best known examples. There is even some debate as to whether the condition exists as an addiction or is an excuse for promiscuous behaviour. Perhaps because the addiction has sex in the title we treat this addiction differently.
It can be difficult to highlight the behaviour that might be of concern; typically the person or their loved ones will notice things which make them uncomfortable. Uniquely with Internet pornography addiction, partners and families can be completely unaware because a technically savvy person can hide their tracks.
Often clients start to feel uncomfortable with their behaviour long before they seek treatment:
- perhaps their behaviour is impacting negatively on their lives
- they may feel that they have missed out on opportunities or time with children or spouse
- perhaps they have tried to limit or stop the behaviour only to find that they can’t
- they have become more secret in their attempts to hide their behaviour
- perhaps needing to view extreme images or more shaming encounters
- potentially they will not be able to be fulfilled any other way.
If you feel that this describes your behaviour there is help available for you to gain control again.
Although both men and women are affected, it is much harder for women to come forward for treatment. Typically women sex addicts would describe themselves as being addicted to love or romance. However, in reality you may not be concerned if an alcoholic had a sherry or a whisky addiction the problem is their drinking, in other words, the problem is their relationship to the activity. There is the fear and shame of judgement and the likelihood that if they are treated in group therapy that is likely to be in a male dominated setting which will be intimidating at best.
Even their choice of individual therapist will be fraught with difficulties for fear of being judged by male or female stereo types. Society draws a fine distinction between what is acceptable behaviour and what is unacceptable, or compulsive. These standards are very different for men and women; women are encouraged to be less promiscuous. Yet women who feel they have a problem should seek out the help of a therapist who can help them explore what their treatment options are and how they can make a difference. It is not easy but it is a first step.
Often the first encounter with a counsellor or a service is to understand the need to change and to think through that “I want to change moment”. Choosing when you want to recover is a luxury you may not have if you ‘hit the bottom’ and your two worlds collide, the world which you act out in and the world you try to keep your behaviour secret from meeting.
Recovery from an addiction takes time and work. Counselling can help to explore what is behind the addiction which will be one of the key elements in a treatment program. The first step towards controlling your addiction man or woman is to ask for help so why not ask today?
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Graeme Orr
I am an Accredited Member of BACP offering counselling for both individuals and couples on the Southside of Glasgow.
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