Sex addiction can be defined as any sexual behavior that is secretive, shameful, or abusive (ie: manipulative, deceitful, or involving victims….including exhibitionism & voyeurism). It also involves continued participation in the behavior despite negative consequences.
For men it can include acting out behaviors such as using prostitutes or sexual massages, prolonged use of pornography, chronic masturbation, anonymous sex, or multiple affairs.
For women it can present as receiving a “high” from flirtation or seduction, attempts for power and control using their sexuality, mistaking sex for love, multiple affairs, inappropriate sexual energy or boundaries, sexual risk taking, exchange of
sex for gifts or money, obsession or preoccupation with seduction or sex, and one night stands. It can show up when they are under the influence and they describe their sexual behaviors as “something I would never do sober.”
The major characteristics common throughout are obsession/preoccupation, fantasy, intensity, power, control, and consequences. Any behavior that causes consequences yet the behavior continues can be construed as an addiction. Likewise, most addicts have tried to control or change their behaviors at some point with little to no success, leaving them with feelings of guilt, shame, despair, anxiety, confusion, anger, and/or frustration.