Sex and Love
by Dale Kay
Love and sex addictions in our relationships
The idea of sex and love addiction conjures up all
sorts of images, however, this addiction is as painful as any other. You
may be asking, "What is sex addiction or what is love addiction? Can we be
addicted to love? How would we know if we are addicted to sex or addicted
to love?" To begin to answer these questions and to start to understand sex
and love addiction, it is important to understand why the idea of addiction
becomes associated with sex and with love.
a process which occurs over time in a persons life. Addiction is usually
associated with repetitive behaviors, obsessive thinking about a person or
behavior or, in the case of substance addiction, a particular drug. Initially
the behavior and the thoughts feel good and are even euphoric causing the
person to want to repeat the behavior and thinking pattern. The key ingredient
for addiction to occur is the feeling of euphoria the person gets from the
behavior. Feeling good is very reinforcing, and humans will seek out what
feels good, even if the good feeling is brief and short lived. With addiction
comes obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, lost time and productivity,
lost relationships and marriages, lost physical and mental health. The addiction
becomes the underlying drive for the persons life.
can range from solitary compulsive masturbation to predatory sex crimes.
This article will focus on what Patrick Carnes in his book Out of the
Shadows refers to as the Level One sex addict. The behaviors associated
with this level of sexual behavior are usually within the range of what society
views as victimless. Sexual behaviors which occur between what appears to
be consenting adults, even if the behavior is illegal, is tolerated and even
encouraged, and is often considered victimless. An example would be prostitution.
Prostitution is a crime, and participating in sex with a prostitute is a
crime in most parts of our society. However, it is tolerated by our society
and often viewed as behavior between adults to which both consent--it becomes
viewed as a necessary evil. In this view no one is victimized by the
prostitution, other behaviors which are in level one include: pornography,
strip shows, peep shows, compulsive masturbation, massage parlors, repetitive
one-night stands, multiple sex partners, cruising in bars and restrooms,
and so forth. More recently we have cybersex, phone sex, or e-sex. The sex
addict may participate in one or many of these behaviors, but the behavior
is repetitive, compulsive, and driven. What may have begun as a curiosity
regarding pornography, soon evolves into obsession. What was meant to be
one trip to a prostitute becomes repetitive, expensive, and time consuming--not
to mention demoralizing, shame producing, physically dangerous, and emotionally
draining. Often the thrill of risky, clandestine behavior is enough to continue
the pursuit. The obsessive thinking takes up ever growing amounts of time,
even as the compulsive addictive behavior may be becoming less and less
Most often these
behaviors are done in secret. The addict may reveal the tip of the iceberg
to a friend, but rarely the extent of the obsession. If the addict is married
or in a relationship, the secret must be covered up with lies and deception.
Money spent must be allowed for in the budget. Time lost must be accounted
for. Even while the behavior continues to reinforce the obsession, the act
becomes hollow and shameful for the sex addict. The problems associated with
the addiction begin to outweigh the pleasure derived from the behavior.
It may seem
incongruous to place love and addiction within the same context,
but if you understand how the addictive process occurs in peoples lives,
then it becomes easy to associate the two ideas. Addiction occurs when a
person gets hooked on the feeling associated with a behavior. In this case
love. Our culture tends to place a high premium on the love between intimates.
We view love or romantic love as the basis of a relationship. If there
isnt romantic love, if we dont feel "in love" with the person
we are less likely to think about a long term commitment or marriage. The
"in love" feeling is euphoric, and it is quite reinforcing. The longing
associated with that early bloom of romantic love is well known and is the
subject of love songs, romantic movies, and love stories. Romantic comedies
act out the interplay between two people as they move from strangers to being
in love. The film expresses the longing, the delight, the humor, and sometimes
the pain of romantic love.
addictive when that feeling of euphoria which occurs during romantic love
becomes the goal. The early stage of a relationship when the other is still
unknown, when we can look endlessly into their eyes, when the sound of their
voice causes our heart to race, is the bonding stage. This early stage (the
beginning, the first meeting, the first kiss) is followed quickly by the
first weeks and months of the relationship, and the physical arousal level
is high. Researches who have studied human behavior are quite aware of the
hormones and endorphins which are secreted in greater amounts during this
stage, and which further act to reinforce the bonding. This chemical process
can be addictive. That euphoric feeling becomes what is sought after and
what triggers the addictive cycle.
can be recognized by their movement from relationship to relationship, multiple
marriages, affairs while in a committed relationship, and their general focus
on the next man or woman who might come into their lives. The flight in and
out of relationships soon looses its thrill, and the love addict is left
with pain and loss. Some love addicts may be hooked on fantasy lovers. Fantasy
lovers are people the addict loves and longs for from a distance. These people
may not actually go in and out of relationships, but instead spend large
amounts of time in chat rooms, reading romance novels, or going to movie
after movie. This frantic behavior is an attempt to feel good. To replicate
the feeling of being in love. Unfortunately, what usually occurs is deadening
depression. Chat rooms, romance novels, and movies are not negative in
themselves, they are meant to be entertaining, stimulating, and fun. For
the love addict, these pursuits become the tools of their addictive process.
While some love addicts go from person to person, others addict to one person.
This love addict creates a fantasy relationship and tries repeatedly to fit
the person into the fantasy. Even in the face of evidence to the contrary,
the love addict will continue the fantasy of being in love with the perfect
Sex and Love
Sex and love
go hand in hand. When we are in love it often follows that we have sex with
that person. We even call it making love. However, for the sex and
love addict, love and sex within the same relationship becomes stale and
boring after awhile. The first blush is off, the bloom has paled. In short,
the hormones arent pumping quite so fast. That euphoric feeling has
died down, and the real work of the relationship begins. At this point the
sex addict will increase their addictive behavior and the love addict may
begin to look elsewhere. The addictive cycle begins (if it ever ended) anew.
The cherished hope within the sex and love addict that the new relationship
will be enough to break the cycle is met with failure, loss, and shame.
sex and love addiction can occur. The process of recovery is much like recovery
from substance addictions. First, the addict begins the process of healing
by identifying the painful damaging behavior. By acknowledging their behavior
is addictive and destructive, their lives become open to growth and change.
The addict learns to recognize how their thinking, their feelings, and their
behaviors lead them into the addictive cycle. Frequently, sex and love addicts
are depressed and anxious, and begin to feel worse before they feel better
making the recovery process painful.
There is help.
The sex and love addict is not alone. Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, a 12-Step
program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, offers the addict a place to
learn about themselves and the addictive process. The tools of recovery are
available if the person is willing to take the step into a new life. Another
important tool for recovery is counseling. Counseling can help the person
understand how their unfinished business from the past is affecting them
today. They can begin to unravel how the addictive cycle works in their
And there you have it -- all about love and sex addictions in our relationships.
(Dale Kay Lillak is a Licensed Marriage and Family
Therapist. She can be reached at (408)260-9995, email at Lillak@pacbell.net Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous can be reached at
(408)450-2681. This article courtesy of: http://modernlife.org Thank you Modern
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person, in less than two minutes!
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