Healthy sex can be fun, adventurous, erotic, and intimate. It can also be casual, or in an intimate relationship, it can bring couples closer to each other. How one views sex is a mix of societal and cultural makeup. How one practices sex is also informed by these entities. But how do we know if our thoughts and behaviors regarding sex are normal or something else? What if we think about sex most of the time? What if our behaviors are mostly sexually oriented? Does this mean we have a sex addiction?
Living in a Sex Negativity Society
Before we explore the possibility of whether one has a sex addiction, let’s first explore the concept of sex-negativity. Sex negativity is the negative view of sex a society holds. Some of those negative views are that sex is dirty or shameful. These views can stem from religious practice (ex. from a Catholic standpoint, sex is reserved for two heterosexual people married to each other and is only for procreational purposes) or from patriarchal practice – for example, who should (males) and should not (females) enjoy sex and have their own sexual agency (males).
Sex negativity can take a situation like a female enjoying sex and twist it so that the female is known as a s!ut and called such with the intent of inducing shame. A male who doesn’t respond in a sexual manner regarding females (ex. engaging in catcalls or locker room talk) when around other males will be seen as odd and possibly even someone/something to fear, with his sexual orientation being questioned with a sneer: Are you gay? Even being a transgender person can be construed as something dirty and abnormal.
But I Think About or Want Sex All the Time
If you think that your sexual behavior is more than what’s a healthy behavior for you, then you might want to consider if you have a sex addiction. A preliminary way of doing this is to take a sex addiction test. Some of the things you’ll be asked are the following: “Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by your sexual appetites?” “Have you broken local laws relating to sexual behavior where you live?” And, “Did either of your parents struggle with unhealthy sexual behaviors?” This test isn’t a clear indicator that you have or do not have a sex addiction, but it is a starting point.
Sex addiction is a behavioral addiction that can be impulsive, difficult to stop while harming yourself and others. If you find yourself missing work, not making your relationships a priority, putting yourself in financial distress, spending a lot of time on the internet adult site or in sex chat rooms, taking risks with your health (ex. unprotected sex), and feeling guilty and shameful, then it’s time to seek help.
If you feel like you fit the description of someone who has a sex addiction, then following up with a support group or a therapist who is trained and has experience in sex addiction will be beneficial. It’s important to surround yourself with support while you learn how to address and manage your sex addiction.
Determining Healthy Sexuality
When we live in a sex negative society, it can be difficult to determine if our sexual behavior is healthy. First, ask if you are hurting yourself. Are you putting yourself in danger when you have sex? For example, do you have sex with people who could hurt you?
Secondly, ask yourself if you are hurting others. When you have sex, is it consensual? Not coerced in any way? How is the other person responding before, during, and after sex? Were they comfortable, or did they show signs of discomfort or even fear?
Finally, exploring your own sexual behavior and comparing and contrasting it to sex negativity might give you insight into determining if your sexual behavior is healthy.
Not all sexual behavior is an indicator of a sex addiction. Yet, if you feel consumed by sex, take an honest look at this.
If after taking an honest look, you think that you do have a sex addiction, stopping it (or any addiction for that matter) is not something you can successfully do on your own for the long term. It’s important to learn healthy thoughts to replace negative ones, so those negative thoughts don’t lead to the behaviors that you’re trying to change. In effect, you’re changing your thoughts to change your behaviors.
Dealing with a sex addiction takes time and patience with guidance from a skilled person be that a therapist, a counselor, or someone else who has experience in treating people with sex addiction. You can do this. Show up for yourself by learning how to get back to the person you used to be – but wiser.