Sex addiction is characterised by persistent and escalating sexual thoughts and acts that have a negative impact on an individual’s life and the lives of their family.
Sex addiction is a process, or behavioural addiction characterised by compulsive participation in sexual activities including sexual acts and fantasies with or without partners, masturbation and pornography, to alter mood, escape problems, or manage uncomfortable feelings.
As a sex addiction develops, the addict spends increasing time and energy in sexual preoccupation. They will often follow a routine or ritual, leading to acting out their desires, followed by feelings of shame, despair, confusion and denial. These ritualised behaviours may include accessing online pornography, frequenting the same bars and clubs, using sex workers, or other behaviours that build up over time. They experience a lack of ability to control, or postpone, sexual feelings and actions – with the need for arousal often replacing the need for emotional closeness and intimacy.
As time passes the sex addict continues to display sex addiction symptoms and to seek out these sexual activities regardless of negative consequences such as relationship difficulties, health consequences, impact on reputation and/or legal issues.