Sex and love: a powerful compulsion
A healthy attitude to sex and intimacy is something that many people regard as a normal part of life. However, for some individuals, sex and love can become a powerful compulsion that is almost impossible to control.
This leads to behaviour that can leave an individual feeling desperate, confused and ashamed. Sex addiction is characterised by compulsive sexual thoughts and uncontrollable sexual activity such as repeated use of pornography, cyber dating, casual relationships and other forms of sexual activity.
It causes emotional pain, destroys relationships and can cause significant hurt to others. Most sex and love addicts do not wish to behave in this manner, but they are unable to control their actions.
Sex and love affect the brain
When a person has sex or experiences intimacy with another person it increases neurological activity in the pleasure centres of the brain. This process is similar to the biochemical reaction that occurs when we ingest an addictive drug.
Sex and love addiction can therefore often be categorised as a ‘behavioural’ or ‘process addiction’. The same types of neurotransmitters are affected, whether an individual uses a mood-altering drug, has sex or falls intensely in love. Just as chronic drug abuse leads to dependency, repetitive bouts of sex or serial relationships can result in similar outcomes.
Individuals are often overwhelmed by intense shame and deep regret. These negative emotions can in turn become triggers for further compulsive sexual activity.
Causes of sex and love addiction
Sex and love addiction is likely to develop from a combination of physical, psychological, genetic, biochemical and social factors. Individuals often have issues with self-worth, difficulties coping with painful emotions or a history of childhood sexual abuse.
Estimates by The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health suggest that around 3% to 5% per cent of the population may suffer from sex addiction. The influence of the internet has led to wide availability of sexually explicit images, videos and websites offering sexual services. These factors are thought to have contributed to a significant increase in sexual disorders.
Fortunately, discreet and professional help for those affected by sex and love addiction is available from qualified experts. Contact us for details.
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)
The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health