Text last updated 26 January 2017
Links last updated 26 January 2017
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Compulsive Behaviour (Sex addiction)
What this page is about
Gay men who cannot stop having sex. Sex addicts are unable to stop their self-destructive sexual behaviour, which can express itself in many ways ranging from frequent masturbation, using telephone sex lines, viewing pornography, or going to dangerous places for sex in illegal situations.
It isn’t a laughing matter, because sex addiction can lead to family breakups, sexual disease, poor health, financial disaster, loss of employment, and risks a person’s life.
Sex addiction is a serious concern for many gay men. The subject is controversial and confusing. What is a normal level of sex and when does it become an addiction? Experts are unable to agree; indeed, they cannot even agree on what causes it.
The condition is sometimes known as Hypersexuality and is defined as extremely frequent or suddenly increased sexual urges or sexual activity. The archaic terms nymphomania (women) and satyriasis (men) are no longer in general medical use.
Hypersexuality is not the same as paraphilia, which is an abnormal sexual behaviour or impulse characterized by intense sexual fantasies and urges that keep coming back, often involving unusual objects, activities, or situations that are not usually considered sexually arousing by other people.
The NHS remarks:
This addiction is similar to substance abuse because it is caused by the powerful chemical substances released during sex.
Increased understanding and awareness of other behavioral and process addictions such a gambling, overeating, Internet use, and so on have helped us to realise the importance of the condition to afflicted persons. That of course varies depending on the personal experiences of the person affected, or being helped.
In his book Cruise Control, Robert Weiss recognised that it can be difficult for some people to differentiate between sex addicts and regular gay guys in modern urban gay cultural settings. Weiss sums up the causes of compulsive sex in gay men, pinning the blame on homophobia and shame.
Homophobia and shame drive addictive behavior … The emotional isolation, coupled with the fear of being “found out,” amplifies the experiences and behaviors that contribute to addiction.
Negative messages about sexuality passed on through families, societies and cultures also play a part in triggering the behaviour.
In his book “Out of the Shadow” Dr. Patrick Crames realised that
For gay and lesbian persons who are also sexual addicts, compulsivity simply compounds problems of acceptance and shame.
The problem appears to be increasing. Initial research, which is patchy, suggests that around 15% of men who currently seek sexual addiction treatment are gay men, and the numbers are increasing.
Unfortunately if the gay man is in a relationship, his partner may not have the addiction and will also be affected by it. Many partners suffer trauma which can lead to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, rage or disassociation. So it is important that the affected partner also is supported while they come to terms with the behaviour of their addicted partner, and can then decide whether or not to continue their relationship. Anecdotal evidence is that about one third of relationships are destroyed by the addiction.
Therapy is found to be most effective if three strands of therapy are provided.
1. The addict goes into recovery on their own to work out the causes and develop relapse prevention strategies.
2. The affected partner has to feel stable again as well as understanding the nature of the addiction and being able to visualise the future of their relationship.
3. The couple then work together negotiating their new relationship.
We can help by working to overcome homophobia and by countering those negative attitudes in society which continue to shame and self-oppression in gay people. Men affected by this issue are advised to research the issue and seek help by first discussing the issue and their condition with their GP. He may suggest specialist sex addiction help for addicts and partners through Relate or other members of the Association for the Treatment of Sex Addiction & Compulsivity.
Gay Activists can: forge links with local SA groups and services, find out more, publicise and take part supporting awareness campaigns.
More information will be added to this page when it is available.
Acts of Parliament
Huffington Post, 14 Aug 2015: Sex Addict or gay man?
PsychCentral, Undated: Gay men and sex addiction
Undated: National Health Service: Sex Addiction
Relate UK: Understanding Sex Addiction
Sexual Compulsives Anonymous: Are you sexually compulsive?
NCBI, November 2006: Understanding and Managing Compulsive Sexual Behaviors
Pyschology Today, 5 August 2016: Why can’t I stop
Sex Addiction – The partner’s perspective, by Paula Hall