In my work with men that struggle with sexual addiction, we look at the number of triggers that often set him off. These triggers can include conflicts, negative emotions, certain stimuli, or stress that provoke a fantasy, sexualized feeling, or thought that leads to wanting to act out. It is often easy to identify some of the more tangible lust and sex triggers. Most sex addicts have created a many different forms of triggers as their addiction progressed. Here are some of the categories that I have found to be common from my work with men that struggle with sex or porn addiction.
Sexual Objectification Of Persons
The triggers for sexual addiction often can be persons of the same or opposite sex. Almost anything about another person can serve as triggers: different body parts, items or styles of clothing, flirting with the eyes, various ways of communicating, behavior, body language, or type of ethnicity. My clients describe their triggers and we begin to develop a plan and tools on ways to work through the arousal temptations.
Media Sexual Triggers
Triggers can include the visual stimulation found in media. Media can include pictures, printed materials, advertising, television, movies, music, and anything visual found on the internet. Media can include but not necessarily has to do with pornography. I have worked with many men that use non-porn images or movie clips to sexual act out with and admit that they have minimized it because “at least it isn’t pornography.” I help the client break this denial and understand that non-porn can still be used to escape, medicate, and numb his underlying pain as much as porn.
Inner Emotions And Feelings
It is easy to understand how fantasies, media, sexual pictures, and movies can be used as sexual triggers but often it is what the sex addict is experiencing on the inside that he is unaware of it leading to being trigger sexually. We will look at how depression, anxiety, shame, rejection, criticism, fear, failure, boredom, tired, hungry, lonely, weariness, and hopeless can all be triggering. The inner world of the sex addict can move him to reach for his “sex” drug.
What we often discover is that just about anything can become a trigger, which indicates that there is an underlying wound and pattern of dealing with that wound that drives the addict’s thinking and behavior in the sex addiction. Helping clients look at what they couldn’t see in their addiction helps them realize that the whole person must be involved in the healing process rather than just simply stopping the behaviors. I often use the acronym “BLASTED” to help the client identify many of his triggers:
Bored: Sex addicts use sex to stimulate themselves rather than feeling bored.
Lonely: The real issue in sex addiction isn’t sex, but feeling disconnected to others and desire to connect.
Angry or Anxious: Anger, resentment, anxiety or other negative feelings move the sex addict to desire escape, medication.
Sad: I find that many sex addicts struggle with depression and don’t know it because they escape or numb those feelings.
Tired: Fatigue often leads to feeling triggered, lower defenses, and sexually acts out to “relax.”
Empty: The sex addict often feels very empty inside and tries to fill it with sexual behaviors or fantasy.
Detached or Disconnected: Sex addicts are some of the most lonely people on our planet. They deeply desire connection but fear they will be abandoned or rejected so they turn to counterfeit relationship instead.
As my clients learn to recognize and work through their triggers, become sober from sexual acting out, and deal with their underlying woundedness (including past trauma), they begin to learn ways of taking care of their real needs rather than indulging themselves in their sexual drug. They learn a new way of living and begin to find what they were really looking for in their sexual addiction.
If you are struggling with sexual addictive behaviors and desperately want to live a life of freedom, please contact my counseling center today or via our Contact Form. A sex addiction counselor will contact you within 24-hours to setup an individual session and begin a new journey of life.