Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sex and Love Addiction Quagmire

This is the final post in my 3-part Valentines Day series. Read the First part and the Second part here.

I used to laugh whenever I read or heard that a certain celebutard had checked himself into a Sex Rehab facility. Tiger Woods, Eric Benét, Charlie Sheen... and the list goes on.

As I grew up and read more, I became more enlightened and open-minded. While in campus, a random book quickly turned into a gem that has so far liberated me emotionally, and helped me take charge of my love life. A love life which I must say, is quite simple but most uncommon.

That said, I bet I can now safely assume that you the reader, are now more open minded in regard to this very unconventional and searching perspective on our sex and love lives.

What is Love and Sex Addiction?

In his book Sex & Love: Addiction, Treatment and Recovery, Eric Griffin-Shelley notes that many of us are very hesitant to label someone an addict, owing to the stereotypes we have of addicts. We instead prefer to refer to these defects of character as "bad habits", something we find more palatable and socially acceptable.

The word addict has a Latin root, ad dictum, which means "to the dictator." When people were captured and sent into slavery, they were sent ad dictum. The idea of addiction as enslavement is something to which most addicts would readily agree. When you are addicted, you feel that you have no choice and are powerless to stop. Addicts are out of balance and out of control.

An addiction is an enslavement to an activity, person, or thing that is characterized by imbalance, lack of control, loss of power, distortion of values, inflexible centralness to the person's life, unhealthiness, pathology, chronicity, progression, and potential fatality. More simply put, an addict is a person who cannot say "no."

A sex and love addict cannot say "no" to his or her impulses to have sex or get into a love relationship. An addict is a person whose thoughts and behaviors are causing problems but who cannot stop them. In addition to these definitions, a sex and love addiction involves a high, tolerance, craving, dependence, withdrawal, obsession, compulsion, secrecy, and a personality change.

A Fearless Moral Inventory

"The unexamined life is not worth living."
- Socrates

Many of us have for a long time mistaken their sex and love addictions as a normal human need to love and be loved, to have company and to be in a meaningful relationship.

The biggest hindrance to tackling the sex and love addictions that many people are in, is the fact that sex and love matters are rarely discussed. Far too many people prefer to handle their own matters of the heart, which unfortunately is to their peril.

The 4th Step in most addicts anonymous recovery programs is a searching and fearless moral inventory of one's life. This then becomes a habitual thing, as espoused in step 10 where one continues to take personal inventory, and promptly admits when they find out they are wrong.

Following are the 12 Characteristics of Sex and Love addicts:
1 Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
2 Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
3 Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
4 We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.
5 We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone. Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.
6 We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care, and support.
7 We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.
8 We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies.
9 We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable.
10 We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities.
11 To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual and emotional anorexia for recovery.
12 We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.

If you still have lingering doubts whether or not you are an addict, you may want to ask yourself the more searching 40 Questions for Self Diagnosis.
Don't be surprised when you realize most of your answers are YES.

A Willingness to Change

"Now willing to listen and take suggestions, I have found that the process of discovering who I really am begins with knowing who I really don't want to be.
I have grown emotionally and intellectually. It has give me my sanity and an all-around sense of balance."

- Safe Haven (Personal Stories in the A.A. Big Book)

If you have gotten this far in this note, you may be wondering why all the details.
The reason is simple: It's not fitting to try to address a problem that is not well defined. As of now, you have found out exactly where you lie [no pun intended] in this sex and love addiction business.

Given what we now know, many would only want to change for better.
Additionally, you'll walk into Valentines well-knowing exactly what your affection for the other part(y)ies is. Is it genuine, healthy love, or a destructive sex and love addiction?

The good news is that you are not alone. Many others are seeking the same answers in their efforts to find meaning in their lives.

It is my believe that once enlightened, many people display an amazing ability to make decisions that lead to choices that greatly improve their lives.
This note shares that information, in the firm belief that you'll then go ahead and make good use of that information.

Now is the time to do the needful, even as we learn and share on matters that shape our lives.


In the first post, we learnt from David Richo what practical steps there are to help us become human, so that we can gain self respect and build healthy and compassionate relationships.

In the second post, we have sought to be open minded so as to better open our minds to scrutiny, self diagnosis and experience.

In this third and final post, we learn what sex and love addiction is, and further seek to find out if we are addicts or not. We can then use the knowledge so far gained to better define our relationships from now on.


Sex and Love: Addiction, Treatment and Recovery by Eric Griffin-Shelley

40 Questions for Self Diagnosis

Porn Again Christian [free eBook Download]

Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction


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