Sex addiction is different from other dependencies. Recovery is not about denying sexuality but instead seeking maturity. Healthy sexuality means leaving the shame behind and growing in love and intimate connection.
The trouble is that most sex addicts have never really experienced a consistently healthy sexual relationship. So how will they know the difference and what makes it so great?
1. Healthy sex leads to feelings of well-being while addictive sex leads to feelings of guilt and shame.
2. Healthy sex is sensual with real intimacy in the present moment while addictive sex is intensity seeking and rooted in independent fantasy.
3. Healthy sex is inspired, intuitive, and passionate while addictive sex is empty of these qualities and more about “chasing an orgasm” and satisfying a “need.”
4. Healthy sex is nurturing of both physical and emotional connection while addictive sex is about getting high, numbing out, or escaping to fantasy.
5. Healthy sex is loving of yourself and your partner while addictive sex is exploitive and selfish.
6. Healthy sex is being emotionally vulnerable while addictive sex lacks emotional investment, vulnerability, or intimate connection.
7. Healthy sex is respecting and honoring healthy sexual boundaries while addictive sex is often boundaryless and offensive.
8. Healthy sex is moderate and feels safe to both partners while addictive sex is about intensity and requires escalation to achieve arousal.
9. Healthy sex is being curious and caring about your partner while addictive sex is selfish and self seeking, often leaving your partner feeling used.
10. Healthy sex is learning to trust, being vulnerable, accepting that anxiety and awkwardness are okay, and risking being known while addictive sex is avoidant of emotional intimacy, about power and control, and disembodied (ask me what I mean here…)
Healthy sexuality is foreign to the sex addict but it is possible and worth discovering! Allow yourself the permission to learn and grow in love and intimacy.
Take the time to learn emotional intimacy first and know that a shift from preoccupation with addictive sex to preoccupation with healthy sex is still a preoccupation with sex! Start with loving gestures, holding hands, and talking to each other and the rest will come in time.