But I’m a woman…I can’t be a sex addict! Can I?

Sometimes the media portrays sex addiction as a man sitting in front of a computer looking at porn all day.  Or a politician seeking out prostitutes and lying to his constituents.  Or a sports figure having compulsive rounds of infidelity and lying about it.  

But it seems like all of these scenarios involve men.  And somehow, the label “sex addict” defines these men as sick, suffering, and not responsible for their behavior because they are addicts, just like someone addicted to alcohol, or gambling.

We know that sex addiction is not about avoiding responsiblity, but being accountable at all levels for one’s behavior.  Getting help for sexual compulsions that are out of control is the number one responsibility of the addict, particularly once they identify that they are powerless over those behaviors. No longer can they blame their partner, or their job, or the prostitute that propositioned them on the street. 

Being a sex addict means recognizing that even though you want to stop, you cant.  Not without help.

But what happens if you are a woman?  Today in our society, women who have hypersexual behaviors are labeled as the problem for male sex addicts, not as the addict themselves.  Labels like “whore, slut, bad girl, cheater” all get applied to women who may not be able to stop their compulsive sexual acting out. 

If a woman tries to limit her behavior, and finds she has no control over whether or not she cheats, lies, or pursues some type of sexual gratification, regardless of consequences, then she may have a problem.  Female sex addiction can show up as relationship or love addiction – going from one unrealistic or inappropriate relationship to another – hoping for a glimpse or attention or satisfaction – but always feeling unfulfilled.

“I tried to stop picking up guys,” said Karla, 22, outside of the bar one night, on a sidewalk downtown.  “But I cant seem to stop myself.  Everyone I meet seems to be a potential fix for me to get something out of.  I think this guy could be the ONE -even if I look at him and know its impossible. He could be married, drunk, a drug addict or just out of jail.  But I think I can change him.  If he just has sex with me he will realize that I am the one for him and he will give up everything else in his life and just be with me.  So I spend all night seducing him, and then we have sex, and then I feel hopeless cause I know it was all an illusion. I see him then for who he really is, and think, damn, that was a mistake.  And I move on to the next guy.  Sometimes they dont even know what hit them.  Sometimes I am gone before they even get their pants up.”

Karla’s desperate craving for acceptance and love sounds pathological but makes sense in some ways.  She wants to think that there is a special relationship out there for her, but doesnt know how to get it.  Her sex addiction, however, has nothing to do with her pursuit of love.  Sex addiction is not about sex, or love.  It is a desperate attempt to achieve some type of control over anxiety, fear or an inner drive to repeat a behavior over and over, expecting that this time the results will be different.

If you are a woman and think you have a problem, find a therapist who can help, or write me for more info – tammy@tammynelson.org

or go to the website www.drtammynelson.com


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