Sex Addiction: An Attachment Disorder

In the 15 years of working with men that struggle with sexual addictions, I have held the belief that the main issue was not about sex. Rather, I found that these men had relationship or attachment wounds from childhood and each had a disorder of regulating their emotions (feeling overwhelmed by emotions).

Instead of turning to someone (i.e., their family, friends, or partner), they reach instead to a counterfeit relationship (porn, strippers, one-night stands, etc.) for emotional regulation (i.e., comfort or pleasure, reward, or relief from pain). The result of turning to these counterfeits is to make themselves isolated and blocking the ability of others to respond to them.

Sexual Addiction: Counterfeit Relationship

When the addict is in pain, under distress, lonely, they will turn to the counterfeit “partners” rather than their real life partners. Partners and spouses of sex addicts often experience that they not the first source that the sex addict goes to for comfort. They receive the message from the addicted partner, “I don’t need you to comfort myself.  I got this!” This turning away can create, in the partner of the sex addict, feelings of anxiousness, demanding for connection, criticalness, withdrawing, and avoidance.

A cycle begins: the partner experiences the disconnection in the relationship and protests that the addict is distant. The addict experiencing his partner as critical, demanding, or detached and turns to the sexual addictive behaviors to cope. The partner feels even more isolated and lonely and either protests more or burnout in despair.

Sexual Addiction: Social Isolation Pain Reliever

Every human being needs nurturing, soothing, and comforting to survive. I have found that sex addicts have childhoods that are not so much abusive (some are) but rather more neglectful, lonely, and develop the belief that “no one will be there to meet his needs. I will have to meet my own needs to survive.” Throughout his early life, he lacked a safe and secure attachment bond with at least one other human being and turned instead to non-relational ways of dealing with the pain of social isolation. Sex addicts turn to sex as a way to feel less pain, loneliness, and isolation.

Sexual Addiction Counseling: Safe, Understanding, & Accepting

As a Sex Addiction Therapist, I believe the most important initial part of treatment is for my client to experience a sense of safety, understanding, and unconditional acceptance. In this environment, he will have less shame and fear to develop a new understanding of himself. Encouraging him to take the risk of joining a recovery group is important because he will experience further acceptance, understanding, and bonding with other men that are similar to himself. Overtime, he will feel more joy and reward in real relationships rather than turning to counterfeits.

Start Sexual Addiction Counseling Today

If you are struggling with sexual addictive behaviors and find that you just can’t seem to stop the destructive cycle on your own, please contact me today to allow me to partner with you in your journey toward healing. I will never judge you, reject you, or shame you! No matter the depths you have found yourself, I can help you climb out and find the freedom you crave.