I believed my first husband was a sex addict while I was married to him. When I tell people he was a sex addict – the most frequent reaction by men is a nod and a wink and ‘lucky you’. Most people think it means he wanted sex often. It is not a high libido or wanting sex more often than your partner. What it is, is a very controversial subject. Just do a quick search online and you will see.
As far as I am concerned, if you don’t know a ‘sex addict’ that is all it is – an abstract, hypothetical, philosophical discussion. But I lived with someone who displayed all the behaviours of a sex addict and I attended a support group for partners of sex addicts – SANON. I know it exists. An addiction is something that is bad for you, you can’t stop even though you want to, affects your life and your health, is out of control and the behaviours escalate to achieve the same satisfaction. Then compulsive sex, pornography and masturbation can of course be an addiction like any other.
I also know that some people can use ‘addiction’ as an an excuse for their sexual philandering – and in hindsight that is probably what my ex husband did – but I am still totally convinced sex addiction exists.
A lot of people with personality disorders also display the behaviours of sexual addiction. I now believe it is the personality disorder that was the root of James’ sex addiction, and the reason he behaved the way he did. Randi Kreger, who wrote ‘Walking on Egg Shells’ about Borderline Personality Disorder believes the same.
Therapist Mary Gay, who treats many men with BPD, says she finds that borderline men frequently engage in addictive, sexually compulsive behaviours, including regularly hiring prostitutes, having serial affairs, going to strip clubs, obsessively viewing pornography, engaging in voyeurism or exhibitionism, and compulsive masturbation. One borderline man used high-risk sex as his form of self-harm. He says:
The out-of-control sex was something I hated myself for, it was obsessive, it felt like an invisible hand grabbing me by the collar and dragging me off to do whatever. I needed to cause enough pain and degradation to myself. The incredible guilt of the risks I was exposing my partner to really destroyed something inside me. But when the inner loneliness was strongest, sex was the only thing that would quiet the fear.