What Is Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is a complicated and controversial topic. It is a term used to describe a pattern of excessive or overwhelming sexual conduct that negatively impacts a person’s daily life. While sex addiction is not officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it frequently falls within an impulse control disorder or a behavioral addiction.

Below are 10 signs that may indicate a possible sex addiction.

1. Preoccupation With Sex

People who are addicted to sex may find themselves thinking about sex excessively throughout their day. These thoughts may include sexual fantasies and desires or the planning of sexual experiences. They may find it hard to focus or concentrate on other things and feel powerless in controlling sexual thoughts and feelings. For some, their days may be consumed with watching pornography or masturbation.

2. Promiscuity

Individuals with sexual addiction often cannot remain loyal to one partner and may cheat on their significant other. Someone with a sex addiction will typically engage in sexual activity with multiple partners. Their sexual desires are usually left unfulfilled because they always need more to satisfy their craving.

3. Failed Attempts To Control Sexual Behavior

A person addicted to sex lacks impulse control and may easily give in to their urges without a second thought. Like people who are addicted to drugs, people addicted to sex are unable to stop engaging in risky sexual activity even though they know their behaviors are unsafe and detrimental to their overall wellbeing.

Paid Advertising. We receive advertising fees from purchases through BetterHelp links.

Online Addiction Counseling

Get professional help from an online addiction and mental health counselor from BetterHelp.

Get Matched
Begin Therapy
  • Personalized Matching Process
  • Easy Online Scheduling
  • 30,000+ Licensed Therapists


4. Withdrawing From Other Activities

Someone addicted to sex may stop participating in healthy hobbies they once loved to engage in sexual activities. Ultimately, this behavior can have one of the greatest effects on their home and social life.

5. Prioritizing Sex-Related Activities

Individuals addicted to sex will put their sexual urges and desires above everything else. Eventually and often unintentionally, it becomes the most important thing in their life.

6. Neglecting Obligations And Responsibilities

Once someone is deep into a sexual addiction, they may miss work, family functions, or social engagements because of their compulsive sexual behavior. Another way someone may neglect their responsibilities is through the money they will spend on sexual experiences. The person may spend the money intended for necessary bills, such as rent or car payments, on sexual experiences.

7. Experiencing Negative Consequences

People will often experience several negative consequences because of their addiction to sex. Some of these consequences can include, but are not limited to health issues, financial issues, legal issues, and issues with their mental health. For example, one may contract sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Others may suffer the consequences of legal issues due to engaging in prostitution or hiring escorts. Their actions may also result in divorce and even bankruptcy.

8. Escalating Sexual Activity

Because sexual addiction, like many other addictions, is not easily controlled, behaviors often worsen or increase over time. For example, watching pornography at night can eventually progress into watching it all day long. Something that once seemed harmless can quickly become overwhelmingly unbearable for the person addicted and the ones they love.

9. Lack Of Awareness

Because some sexual activities like pornography and gentleman’s clubs are legal and accessible, it is easy for a person with an addiction to sex to justify that what they are doing. When a person is addicted to sex, they usually do not want to acknowledge it until they are forced to after it has negatively impacted a significant part of their life.

10. Mental Health Issues

A sex addiction can cause a person to isolate due to feelings of shame and guilt. It can cause a person to experience overwhelming feelings of anxiety and depression. Like with other addictions, sex addiction can cause withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. People withdrawing from sexual behaviors may feel depressed, irritable, anxious, and have difficulty focusing or concentrating.

It’s important to note that experiencing one or more of these signs does not necessarily indicate a sex addiction. Furthermore, this list is inconclusive, and additional signs not listed may further indicate sex addiction.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a sex or other behavioral addiction, it can be helpful to talk with a licensed therapist. Along with providing support, they can help you identify any concurrent conditions and support your next steps on the road to recovery.

Get Help For Sex Addiction

It is important to seek help before the negative consequences of sex addiction start controlling your life. Explore your online therapy options and get help today.