Common Misconceptions of Sex Addiction
Updated: Jun 14
Misconceptions that people have around Sex Addiction are often based on prejudice, stigma and/or misinformation. Those misconceptions prevent individuals from getting treatment and addressing their current issues. They might also lead them to experience various significant consequences, such as feeling shame & depressed, having relationship problems, reduced productivity at work, or even serious legal problems. Some of the most common misconceptions that I've run across in my years of assisting people with their sex addiction are as follow:
“It’s not a real addiction” – While sex addiction does not involve the consumption of substances, it does involve the consumption of experiences and often the visual consumption of pornographic images. Society encourages a view of men as being hypersexual creatures, which makes it much harder to identify excessive sexual behaviors as being unhealthy. Furthermore, there have been numerous studies that have shown that when an individual is sexually acting-out, there are sections in the brain that get activated similarly as when that individual is consuming illegal drugs. There has also been many case studies that have shown that when an individual abstains from sexually acting-out for a period of time, that he will experience similar withdrawal symptoms as drug addicts.
“We shouldn’t talk about it” – Men and women are taught very little about sex during their developmental years. Parents do not bring it up because they might feel it is uncomfortable or it's a taboo. They have fear that they will be encouraging sex and, as a result, never have an honest heart to heart discussion about sex. Furthermore, school based sex education programs are becoming more rare and often don’t teach much beyond the mechanics of sexual activity. Often men learn about sexuality in their youth at the locker rooms and are usually too embarrass to talk openly about it or shame that their experiences don't measure up to the exaggerated stories from their peers. Another stumbling block, especially for men, is that in our society men are not taught to express their emotions. So often young men keep their feelings, questions, explorations and doubts about their sexuality hidden which adds to the shame that people often have around sex.
“Porn doesn’t hurt anyone” – Any behavior that is interfering with life functioning and relationship is damaging. Porn impacts this by separating the individuals in a relationship and preventing true intimacy. In addition, exposure to pornography during adolescences can impact the developing mind and stunt emotional maturity as well as distort views of sexual norms.
“Sex equals Intimacy” – Men often move towards sexual relationships quickly with the idea that emotional intimacy will develop as a result of this. However, this is not the case. There is a process to creating healthy intimate relationships. It involves an investment of time as well as a willingness to grow and learn about the other individual.
If you're experiencing compulsive and problematic sexual behaviors and you have a desire to stop, please contact me for an initial assessment, so we can begin your healing journey towards healthy sexual health.