/ By Brandon McDonald

Sex is not a bad thing. Research has shown that having a healthy sex life comes with numerous benefits, including preserving heart health in some people, reducing blood pressure, and boosting immunity. Sex can also improve mood, relationships, and mental well-being.

However, it is possible to develop an addiction to pornography or other sexual behaviors that ends up creating damaging consequences in the life of the addict and his loved ones.

If you think you might be dealing with your own addiction to sex or pornography and you are looking for help in breaking a pornography addiction or how to treat sex addiction, you might be wondering first what some of the signs are that you are a sex addict. Some people want to be sure before they seek out sex addiction therapy. Some signs of sex addiction are pretty obvious and others are way more subtle, but I’ve come up with a list of signs that will give a good indication that you or your loved one might be a sex addict.

  1. Engaging in Sexual Activities Regardless of the Consequences

This one is probably the most obvious sign of sex addiction. Sexual addiction can lead one to engage in risky behaviors that have very dangerous consequences to relationships, careers and health. But any sex addict will tell you that they just aren’t thinking about consequences when they want to act out in their addiction. This type of disordered thinking is a hallmark of any addiction and sex addiction is no different.

Some examples of activities that sex addicts engage in that could have harmful consequences include: 

  • Looking at pornography on work computers
  • Soliciting prostitutes
  • Engaging in unsafe sex with multiple partners
  • Stalking
  • Exhibitionism or voyeurism

If you or your loved one is consistently engaging in any of these behaviors, it’s a strong indicator of sex addiction.

  1. Disconnected from Yourself and Others

This one might be difficult to spot, especially for someone who has been mired in addiction for many years, but sexual addiction creates an inability for one to connect to themselves and to others. People who are stuck in sex addiction often struggle with crippling amounts of shame and guilt, which undermines any sense of real self-confidence. This leads the addict further into depression and a consistent desire to isolate from others.

Because the addict doesn’t feel the shame and guilt, they end up disconnecting from themselves by acting out more and more. Even when they aren’t acting out, they might be looking for other ways to numb their feelings like binging on TV or video games. In general, the addiction makes it incredibly difficult to connect to yourself or others in any consistent way.

Now, just because someone isolates every so often or seems distant or disconnected doesn’t automatically mean that they are dealing with a sex addiction. It’s just one indicator. But when combined with one or several of the others on this list, it’s much more likely that one is struggling with a sex or pornography addiction.

  1. Constant Lying (or Gaslighting) – 

Most addicts will readily admit that they have a probably with honesty. Addictions usually require a high level of secrecy to maintain. This forces an addict to create and maintain a world that is protected by lies. A vicious cycle develops where the addict has to tell more lies to cover up the first lies.

Of course, this can’t go on forever because eventually the lies begin to collapse under their own weight. Loved ones will eventually discover the truth, or at least pieces of the truth. That’s when the addict starts gaslighting, which can be incredibly damaging and psychologically harmful for their loved ones. Gaslighting is a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions.

So when an addict is caught in a lie, instead of owning up to it and admitting to his addiction, he will gaslight his loved one to get her to question her reality. Spouses of addicts often feel like they are going crazy because the addict can be so convincing. Lying and gaslighting are definitely signs of a sexual addiction.

  1. Always Distracted with Obsessive Sexual Thoughts

This is another one that is probably more obvious than the others. Obviously any type of sexual addiction is going to be fueled by obsessive sexual thoughts. Most addicts find that they can’t stop thinking about sex. This includes lusting after women on the street and engaging in sexual fantasies, to constantly planning how they are going to clear the way to act out again.

This type of distraction also comes as a result of not wanting to feel the shame and guilt of the addiction. Sex addicts don’t want to feel the pain of what they’ve done, so they distract themselves (intentionally and unintentionally) with constant thoughts about sex, which naturally release the “feel good” hormones of dopamine and serotonin that make the addict feel better.

  1. Neglecting Work and Other Obligations

Addiction usually develops as a coping mechanism to deal with any type of pain that the addict doesn’t want to deal with. In the simplest terms, addiction is an escape. There are times in everyone’s life where life is just painful. It can hurt to pay the bills. Sometimes work just sucks. 

For a sex addict, it can become a habit to avoid even the smallest inconveniences like paying monthly bills or filing those reports that your boss has been asking for. It’s so much easier to put off those minor inconveniences and act out with porn and masturbation than it is to feel the pain of life. 

So neglecting work and other obligations becomes a habit that a sex addict gets used to. Most addicts are able to avoid the biggest consequences associated with this by getting things done at the last moment before a catastrophe, or by using every excuse in the book, or just plain lying and gaslighting (see #3). But eventually the addiction catches up to the addict and that’s when life becomes unmanageable and they begin to see that their addiction is causing more pain than it’s worth.

  1. Not Being Your Word

This sign goes hand in hand with dishonesty (sign #3). Sexual addiction undermines a person’s integrity. So one of the signs of a sex addiction is an inability to make and keep commitments. Addicts are used to making commitments to themselves and breaking them. This usually happens when they tell themselves that they will stop acting out in their addiction. When they inevitably fail (over and over again), they lose respect for commitments. Because they can’t keep their word to themselves, they find it hard to keep their word to others as well.

  1. Constantly Manipulating Situations

Sex addicts want to act out in their addiction way more often than life allows them to. There’s always work or home or church obligations getting in the way of what the addict really wants to be doing. So sex addicts try to create situations where they are free to act out in their addiction with less risk of getting caught.

If you find yourself waiting until everybody else at work is gone just so the coast is clear to watch porn on the work computer before going home, you’re manipulating the situation for your addiction. If your wife is going to the store and you suggest that she take the kids so you can be home alone to act out, you’re manipulating the situation. Maybe your wife has a vacation planned for the family to go visit her parents and you manufacture an excuse that you have to be at work so she’ll take the kids and leave you at home, once again, you’re manipulating a situation.

There are so many little tricks that sex addicts learn to use to clear the way for their addiction. If you’re doing this, or you notice your loved one is doing this frequently, it’s definitely one of the signs of a sex addiction.

As someone who has experienced sex addiction in my life, I’ve definitely done a lot of these things. It’s easy to overlook them when you’re stuck in a sex addiction. It’s also easy to justify them when you see them in someone you love and trust. But when the signs start to add up, there comes a point where the potential damage caused by a sex addiction is too much. It’s important to seek help from a professional before it goes too far. 

At Desert Solace, we specialize in treating men who deal with sexual and pornography addictions. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you!