I think there are different levels of sexual addiction and some are healthy and others are not.
enjoying and craving sex a lot is alright,
I think we need to use a term other than "addiction" for someone who enjoys and craves sex, which is healthy and normal. I do not think there is any such thing as a "healthy" addiction. Addictions take over lives, cloud your judgement and put strain on your relationships with other people. There is a huge difference between thinking about sex a lot, wanting to have sex a lot, having sex a lot, and the behaviour of a sexual addict, which probably intereferes with that person's daily life and leads them to put themselves into situations (sometimes dangerous) that they wouldn't otherwise.
There are healthy levels of almost everything, and they vary greatly from person to person: drinking, sex, eating, exercise, work, etc...There are no healthy levels for addiction.
Other words we can use besides addiction:
this topic is a few days old, but I wanted to add a few thoughts...
I attended a sex addiction workshop when I was still in graduate school. The presenter was a clinical psychologist who worked exclusivly in these issues. Like some folks have mentioned before, sex addiction can really interfere with relationships and other life issues.
One thing he mentioned which really sticks out, was how sometimes folks will feel compelled to relive traumatic sexual experiences like rape or abuse. He mentioned an add someone placed- a man gave his home address and said he'd be laying in bed, and wanted someone to come in and rape him. This workshop leader was pretty certain that this man had been raped before and was seeking to relive the situation in a way he could control it.
There are support groups out there- I don't know a lot about them. They're probably a lot less talked about than Alcoholics Anon or Narcotics Anon.
I also think we use 'addiction' pretty lightly and vaguly (we have lots of 'what is an addiction?' threads right now) and sometimes lots of unhealthy sex can happen in conjunction with other things-
I've done some reading on 'promiscuity'- usually referring to sexually active teens- Lots of parents and therapists are uncomfortable with the idea of teens having sex, so they may choose to call any teenage sexuality by a pathological term and treat it like a disorder. Some psychologists and child rearing 'experts' have written that sex is a way for teens with low self esteem to feel better about themselves. Maybe that's the case sometimes, but then again, 'self esteem' is not very well understood. Just about anyone has self doubts, and it's easy to use 'self esteem' to explain anything away. It's natural for teens, like anyone else, to crave closeness and intimacy... but the way things are in our culture, most teens basically have to sneak around if they want to have sex. It's easy, in that kind of situation, for things to get messy.
There is also an element of sexual acting out can happen with other psychological 'disorders.' Someone who's having a manic episode may binge on sex, or they may binge on shopping, or cocaine or stay up for nights in a row writing a manifesto... it depends on the person. Sexual episodes that someone may regret later could also come up when someone has borderline personality disorder. I think that too, is different than a sex addiction. I'm not all that comfortable with the way 'borderline personality disorder' is currently described and understood by most therapists... but I think sexual exploits can sometimes fill a need for drama in one's life.... as a way for someone to seek stimulation and excitement.
Ack... didn't mean to write a book here... just that there are lots of things that could fall under this catagory. I think it's pretty interesting, really.
i don't think that 'addiciton' in any capacity is healthy.
let's look at what addiction is: a compulsion that is either physical or psychological that drives someone to engage in acts and or a lifestyle that is potentially harmful.
If you're addicted to something, it compromises everything else in your life. Your priorities are completely shifted from what non-addicts see as important, to whatever the vice is... so if you're addicted to sex, your whole life would revolve around sex, how to get sex, when you're going to get sex next, what you might do during that encounter... you would be absolutely consumed with these thoughts. While it seems like it would be fun and erotic, it's not. It sucks all the fun and intimacy and importance out of having sex, not to mention how really life threateningly dangerous this could be with AIDS and other diseases. Everything else in your life starts to take a step back, and may not even seem very important anymore. Your house, your family, your job, a hardcore addict could easily give up all of these things in order to fill the hole in them that they percieve sex to be the answer to. (no pun intended)
I can understand how people could think that sex addiction is something to giggle about, i mean not many of us could ever fathom having too much sex, but it's not really about the sex to an addict, it's about feeding the addiction.
I think it's important to newcomers to the site to tread lightly when diving into heavy discussions like this, and to really read and absorb what other people are saying. When julie posted this she was asking about sex addiction in all seriousness. Adding levity to a question that carries so much weight and emotion really could be silencing to the person asking the question. If we joke about it, it can very easily come off as being insensitive.
just my .02
Hmmm...no one has posted about having this problem, so I guess I will (although anonymously). I don't know if it is/was sex addiction or sex was just a tool to escape other problems.
Before my pregnancy, I had alot of issues regarding this. I've lost friends, lovers, others' respect, and almost lost my job over this. I honestly don't know how many sexual partners I've had. I lost count. If I was out and someone started hitting on me, I most likely went home with them. The funny thing, I didn't even like alot of the people I slept with. Most, I wasn't even attracted to. I just fucked for the sake of fucking.
I've fucked strangers, friends, my friends' significant others, my significant others' friends, my boss...So many times I found myself in sexual situations I didn't want to be in, yet I couldn't stop myself. It feels like an out of body experience. Almost like putting on a costume and pretending to be someone else (and not in a good, fun way). There were days when I would just not show up for work because I was too busy having sex.
After a while this life starts to take it's toll. It's rough trying to keep this sexual partner from finding out about the other partner. Making excuses for why I just never showed up for dinner with friends, when I decided to fuck my neighbor instead. Sometimes it amazes me that I'm still alive and healthy. I've put myself into some scary situations involving unprotected sex or shady characters, sometimes both. All of these situations I'm discussing were consensual, but recently I wonder if there was something about me that screamed to others, "Take advantage of me!" because looking back, so many of the situations were so odd.
I don't live my life this way anymore. Frankly, I don't have the time to even go out anymore. On the rare occasions I do, it's a struggle to focus on my friends. I have to really beat myself over the head with reasons why it's not a good idea to fuck hot person at the end of the bar.
My biggest fear is that more people will find out about all of my sexual escapades. I actually avoid certain areas in my city where I know I might run into people from my past. I'm afraid to ever enter into a relationship. I've put so much pressure on one day having a normal, healthy sexual relationship with someone. I'm afraid they might wonder why I'm so good at performing oral sex (not being cocky,just a hypothetical situation). This period in my life still hinders my daily living.
Sorry this post is so ling and whiny, but this is actually a big problem for alot of people.
anonymousmama, i wish i knew what to say. i gather from your post that this is past behavior but a recurring issue? all i can say is that you are very brave for talking about it, even anaonymously, i know how hard it is to just bring yourself to talk about behaviors that can be so out of control.
have you ever looked into any kinf of 12 step program for this? i know my dad goes to some weekly meeting, i just don't know what it is.
i wish i had more to give you other than to tell you that talking about it is a huge huge huge first step.
love to you.