Many moons ago, a fellow blogger asked me what the difference was between sex addiction and cheating. She asked for my personal thoughts on the subject. I copied her question into my blogging ideas file then promptly forgot all about it. That is until today. A year and a half later. Better late than never, right?
The best person to define sex addiction is Patrick Carnes, PhD. Carnes is the guy who helped get sex addiction recognized in our country. He helped create the Gentle Path and pioneered the founding of the Certified Sex Addiction Therapy program. His definition is:
“Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior that interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment.
Sexual addiction has also been called hypersexuality, sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity. By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict's life. Sexual addicts make sex a priority over family, friends, and work. Sex becomes the governing principle of an addict's life. They are willing to sacrifice what they cherish most in order to preserve and continue their unhealthy behavior.
No single behavior pattern defines sexual addiction. These behaviors can take control of addicts' lives and become unmanageable. Common behaviors include, but are not limited to compulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual and homosexual relationships, pornography, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, indecent phone calls, and anonymous sexual encounters. Even the healthiest forms of human sexual expression can turn into self-defeating behaviors.”
What are my personal thoughts on the subject?
Sex addiction sucks.
No, no. That’s not what she was asking. The question was, what’s the difference between Devin having multiple affairs and say, my next-door neighbor, Larry, having multiple affairs. Sorry, Larry.
In Larry’s case, he consciously chose to have those affairs. He could have stopped himself but did it anyway. Larry felt no compulsive needs driving him. He only felt complete selfishness.
With Devin the uncontrollable dependency was there. He was isolated inside his bubble. The only way to break free of his bubble was to burst it, temporarily, by acting out. When the pornography no longer satiated his hunger, he turned to online affairs. After a few months, the rush of those wore off too. After two intimate affairs, he realized he had a problem he could no longer handle alone but was powerless to stop. He was still compulsively masturbating and viewing porn.
The difference, at least to me, is choice. Larry chose to cheat. Devin’s addiction caused him to cheat. This is also how I’ve been able to move past the affairs. I know they were never personal.
For some great resources, be sure and visit Dr. Carnes’ website.