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Sex Addiction Questions: Can a Sex Addict Actually Love You?

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Can a sex addict actually love you? The short answer is: yes, it’s possible. But here’s the honest truth: a sex addict can’t wholly love you if they don’t get the healing they need for themselves first. 

A question like this, however, usually means there’s a variety of similar (and just as difficult) questions you may be asking, too:

Am I dating a sex addict?

My husband is a sex addict. Now what?

Can a sex addict change their ways at all?

Can sex addicts recover fully from their addiction?

If you’re asking these tough questions about someone you’re dating or married to, this is an uncomfortable, vulnerable place to be. And if you’ve recently discovered that your spouse or romantic partner has a sex addiction, you may still be reeling from the ensuing fallout of betrayal trauma as a result. 

Every person’s experience with a sex addiction is different, so it’s important to understand sex addiction and the traits of a sex addict in order to answer whether the person you love can actually genuinely love you back. 

Understanding Sex Addiction: Are You Dating or Married to a Sex Addict?

Sex addiction is considered a compulsive sexual behavior disorder. According to Verywellmind.com, sex addiction is the compulsive engagement in sexual acts despite any negative consequences. Rather than a being a normally fulfilling experience, sexual acts performed by a sex addict are often emotionally distressing. For a sex addict, sex achieves the same kind of “fix” that an alcoholic would get from a drink or a drug addict would get from using, shares Healthline.com.

If your significant other or spouse has a sex addiction, their constant thoughts, impulses, and behaviors likely feel out of control. Even worse, they become all-consuming. When someone becomes addicted to sex, they must fulfill their desires at all costs. Not only does this damage important relationships, it can also negatively impact the sex addict’s career, daily responsibilities, physical and mental health, and more. 

While you’d assume it would be hard to hide the fact that you’re a sex addict, it’s actually not always as obvious as you’d think. In fact, sex addicts may take significant steps to hide their addiction, especially from those they love. So what can you look out for that would indicate you’re married to or dating a sex addict?

The Telltale Traits of a Sex Addict

If you think your partner or spouse could be a sex addict, there are some specific signs and symptoms to pay attention to, including:

  • A history of failure to cease sexual behavior or thoughts
  • Avoiding activities that don’t involve sex or sexual outlets
  • Spending abnormal amounts of money and time on sexual outlets
  • Consuming thoughts related to porn, sex, or hook-up apps
  • Coping with difficult emotions using sex or masturbation
  • Compulsive masturbation, pornography consumption, and other sexual behaviors at work or in other situations with major consequences
  • A lack of close relationships due to fear of intimacy
  • Engaging in risky sexual acts like exhibitionism, voyeurism, and paying for sex workers

A Sex Addiction May Arise Out of Trauma

If you’re dating or married to a sex addict, it’s fair to wonder how they got to where they are today. After all, how could someone you love become a sex addict? 

Sometimes, a sexual addiction can be the result of past trauma. When trauma happens, your body is put into fight-or-flight mode, which means your brain only uses its essential functions needed to survive. To end your fight-or-flight response, your body requires dopamine, a chemical in your brain that’s released when you experience pleasure. Certain things can cause your dopamine levels to increase, such as eating a cheeseburger, drinking alcohol—and sexual arousal. 

Sex, in fact, can overwhelmingly increase your dopamine levels, which is why after a traumatic event (or a series of them), it can be easy to turn to porn, sex, or masturbation to help calm your nerves. Over time, this dopamine-boosting behavior can lead to a habit utilized to cope with stress. And when this deteriorates into compulsive, all-consuming behavior, you have an addiction on your hands. 

When sex becomes your addictive coping mechanism, it can impact your personality, as well as your ability to love others. A sex addict can often come across as:

  • Exceedingly seductive
  • Unable to be honest or vulnerable
  • Manipulative
  • Intense
  • Capable of unpredictable mood swings
  • Narcissistic and insecure
  • Distant and emotionally unavailable

Sex Addiction Harms Intimacy 

We all crave intimacy with others. This intimacy requires authentic trust, vulnerability, and sharing your life with someone else. But when you’re dealing with a sex addiction, you may fear intimacy and have trouble developing and maintaining a close emotional connection with others. Deep down, you may want that intimate connection, but your desire for control and self-preservation keeps you from getting too close. If your partner or spouse has a fear of intimacy, some signs and symptoms can include:

  • Having major trust issues
  • Regularly avoiding non-sexual touch
  • The inability to make or commit to relationships
  • A history of relationship instability
  • An unsatisfiable sexual desire
  • Poor self-esteem
  • The inability to express feelings or emotions

Like sex addiction, this inability to share intimacy arises from trauma. Your partner’s signs of indifference (or even anger) can be tools to mask their pain and protect themselves. With that said, if your partner or spouse is willing to get the help they need, they can in fact form enduring, loving relationships. 

Sex Addiction Therapy Can Be a Healthy First Step

Can a sex addict change their ways? Yes. Can a sex addict recover fully? Yes. And more importantly, can a sex addict actually love you? Yes. But due to the nature of having a sex addiction, your partner or spouse must get the professional help they need so they can recover from their addiction—and be able to properly love and show intimacy to you in the way you’re seeking. 

Sex addiction therapy is a critical step towards recovery for a sex addict. However, it’s important to get comprehensive therapy that addresses not just the addictive behaviors, but also the root causes of the addiction. At Integrative Life Center, we take a holistic approach to sex addiction therapy, incorporating trauma-informed care to address the underlying issues of your spouse or partner’s addiction, as well as any co-occurring disorders they may be experiencing (such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse). By partnering with us, your loved one can find lasting healing, and you both can get the loving, intimate relationship you deserve. To get started, contact us today

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