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Does More Sex Cure Sexual Addiction?

Dr. Bernell Christensen

As a therapist, I have often worked with individuals who initially believe that unlimited, fantastic sex with a partner will cure their sexual addiction. Perhaps you or someone you care about has said one or more of the following:

  • “Now that I am having sex with one I love I won’t have a sexual addiction problem anymore!”
  • “Why do I still have urges to look elsewhere? I’m getting all the sex I need.”
  • “The sex in my relationship isn’t enough, nor what I thought it would be. I still have to seek other sexual outlets to have my needs met. I thought this would stop.”
  • “I’m not good enough, is that it? Why does he still have wandering eyes anyway? Why?”
  • “Sex is never good enough for him. He always wants more or something different–what more can I do?”
  • “When we make love is he thinking about them or me? Who is he having sex with anyway?”

Many people and couples who are struggling with these statements are also struggling in their own personal relationships. They are finding that sex addiction is creating a divisive wedge in their intimate, committed relationships with destructive consequences.

I find that many men are introduced to the first beginnings of sexual addiction at an early age. Through abuse, some of my patients had their first sexual experiences as young as age two or three! Unfortunately, when these powerful processes become twisted and confused in the highly impressionable, developing brain of a child or teenager, addiction is often the result. Many have the mistaken belie that once they enter adulthood and a committed relationship, their sexual dysfunction and addiction will cease. What they fail to understand is that sex addiction is literally a “brain chemical” addiction, in many ways identical to a street drug addiction. Someone hooked on cocaine as a teenager, would not reasonably expect to automatically lose that desire or dependency simply because they reach legal age. Likewise, sex addiction does not magically disappear with adulthood.

But why would someone continue seeking sexual encounters when they can have sex with their partner? Why would they still have the need? Think of it this way–would having sex eliminate a cocaine addict’s desire for their drug? Of course not, because cocaine addiction is not about sex. The same principle applies to this addiction. Most people are completely unaware that “sexual addiction is NOT about the sex.” Sexual rituals and outlets create a literal chemical dependency in the brain. The individual uses sexual pursuits as a “drug-of-choice” to escape and “self-medicate” in response to any number of pressures, difficulties, needs or situations in his life. Having more sex is not going to heal this “chemical” addiction.

It is true that sex with a partner can sometimes temporarily reduce the perceived need to indulge in sexual addiction outlets. However, when one’s partner is simply a replacement for addiction, she can usually sense the façade. As the wife of one of my patient’s said, “I feel he’s just using me. We’re not connected.” So, sexual intimacy by itself doesn’t replace or stop sexual addiction. Soon, sex with one partner isn’t sufficient to meet the “brain chemical” needs of the addict.

If you’re struggling under the burden of sexual addiction, be careful not to fool yourself into thinking that if your partner were more sexually exciting and responsive, your problem would be solved. This makes about as much sense as believing sex would eliminate a drinking problem. You have to do the work of treating your addiction–get on the recovery path and put in the time and effort to address the “real” underlying issues and causes of your sexual pursuits.

This is what the Candeo program is all about. We can help you learn about the true nature of your addiction and the steps you must take to start moving toward your freedom. You can break free and you can have a close, committed, wonderful relationship with your partner. But you can’t expect that person to rescue you from the work of recovery, or magically make your struggles go away. They can encourage, support and walk with you, but only you can make the commitment and get started. We’re here with the training, tools, coaching and support you need. We’re ready when you are.