I was commenting on a rant on Facebook the other day. The rant was whether sexual addiction was truly an addiction vs a symptom of another problem.
There was a time when I considered myself a border line sex addict. I seem to remember discussing it on the old blog. While I never felt like I fit the general description of a sex-addict, I did have an issue with being compulsive. Out of misguided needs for attention, validation, companionship, etc, I had developed a very compulsive habit of searching for sex. It didn’t happen over night and took years to develop. After moving to SF, being fresh meat in a new city didn’t help none either. If anything, it made it worse. The availability and openness here was very refreshing but it fed into my insecurities. In a way, it might have inadvertently helped me because I finally realized my behavior was out of control.
So here is a rundown of what my life was like during this time frame. First, I had a habit of waking up and going to online hook-up sites looking for sex. I’d log on at various times throughout the day looking for sex. I’d log on at night, you guessed it, looking for sex. lol But it didn’t stop there. I’d randomly have sex in the steamroom at the gym when the opportunity presented itself. I practically lived at Blowbuddies on weekends. Don’t laugh too hard but I used to mail-order condoms in bulk supply to avoid the extra expense! I lived and breathed the pursuit of sex. There were times when I wasn’t even available but I’d go online just for the gratification of someone being interested. It didn’t matter if I was interested in them at all. To say I was compulsive is an understatement. But, as much as I enjoyed the sex, it really wasn’t the problem. I wasn’t addicted to the sex. It was just an outlet. I was insecure. I had a horribly low-self image. I wasn’t happy with my body. Having a strong libido and being good at sex made it a natural outlet for my validation. Once I started working on my demons, my self-image/esteem improved. And like magic I found that I was less compulsive about it. As time went by, the ‘drive’ dissipated to what I now consider healthy levels of sexual pursuit. (for me anyway)
I don’t know if sex-addiction actually exists. Many experts claim it does but that many more claim it doesn’t. I don’t have the answer. From my own experiences not only with myself but others, I tend to think it is not a true addiction. I’ve only met a few self-identified sex addicts no not being funny, people who really claim their addicts and they seem to be in the same boat I was; not true addicts but using it as a outlet for bigger issues. True addictions often have a physical and psychological component. Compulsiveness over sex doesn’t have a physical withdrawal. I’ve never met a person who had physical harmful manifestations from a lack of sex.
I used to watch a show on LOGO that dealt with addictions. One such patient on the show was a “sex addict.” But just as a described above, his issue wasn’t the sex at all but deeper psychological trauma that manifested in sexual conquests. The therapist treated him as a sexual addict but the issues they worked on had nothing to do with sex.
I do believe gay men can be very compulsive about sex and it can and does interfere with our lives. But rather than treating the symptom as a disorder, let us focus on the bigger issues that cause the symptoms. And while it may not be a true addiction, that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t seek treatment for it.
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