Sex and love addiction

At Liberty House, we know addiction comes in all shapes and sizes, and sex and love addiction is no different. Unfortunately, stigmas around sex and love addiction may prevent people from reaching out for the help they need. If you think you may be struggling with either a sex dependency or a reliance on romantic love, it’s important to understand the symptoms, why they developed and how best to get support for sex and love addiction- so you can go on to live a healthier lifestyle.

Sex and love addiction heart

What is sex and love addiction?

Sex and love addiction refers to a situation whereby a person fiercely depends on continuous physical and emotional fulfilment. Sex and love addiction shares many of the characteristics of other forms of behavioural addiction. One of these characteristics is that the person (who is addicted to sex and love) will be unable to control their behaviour despite noticing the adverse effects on their well-being. We can gain a deeper insight into sex and love addiction by looking at both the physical and emotional aspects:

The physical side

The physical side of sex and love addiction can involve having sex with one or multiple partners, frequent masturbation, visiting sex workers, watching pornography or using sex chat lines. While these activities aren’t necessarily problematic if done in moderation, those with sex and love addiction could become obsessed to the point where this activity affects their everyday life. Moreover, someone whose sexual appetite feels “out of control” faces an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

The emotional aspect

Sex and love addiction is characterised by a need to feel loved. Those affected may become obsessed with the idea of being in love and will go to extraordinary lengths to please their partners, even if it causes negative consequences in their personal life. When someone is addicted to love, they develop an attachment disorder whereby the sufferer becomes dependent on the constant attention of a romantic partner. Those affected often suffer from low self-esteem and believe that life is not worth living if they are single or that they are worthless if they are not in a relationship.

In some cases, people with a dependency on romantic love never have a relationship that develops beyond the courting stage. Usually, before people embark on long-term relationships, they experience an initial romance. When someone is addicted to sex and love, they often crave the rush and exhilaration of that first romance and so are likely to feel dissatisfied, bored, and irritable once the emotional “high” has diminished. When they are single, they may feel depressed until they find a new potential partner and thus experience the high of falling in love once more.

Signs and symptoms of sex and love addiction

If you think that you may be struggling with an addiction to sex and love, it’s a good idea to see if you meet the criteria. Look at the diagram below to see if any signs and symptoms resonate with you. You can look at both the physical and the emotional symptoms of sex and love dependency. If you can relate to many of them, it may indicate you have a sex or love addiction.

Sex addiction
  • Constantly thinking about sex, to the point where it interferes with daily tasks
  • Being constantly dissatisfied by the sexual pleasure that was once fulfilling and increasing the intensity of sexual pleasure
  • Engaging in risky and impulsive tendencies to get sex, such as sex in public, sex without protection, etc.
  • Trying to stop or exert some control over sexual habits but feel helpless in doing so
  • Cheated on partners or spouses due to the need to have sex
  • Attempting to hide sex photos, pornography and lying about sexual behaviours
  • Masturbating at inappropriate times
  • Neglecting friends and family
  • Neglecting passions or hobbies
  • Neglecting work or professional duties
Love addiction
  • Feel a persistent need to be in a relationship and are miserable if they cannot obtain one
  • Unable to be alone with themselves and suffer when they are single
  • Dramatically changing appearance, opinions, and hobbies to please a partner
  • Becoming overly clingy with a romantic interest or partner
  • Making extreme personal sacrifices to stay with a partner
  • Becoming obsessed with a partner
  • Becoming jealous if a partner spends time with others or on other things
  • Will be very quick to “fall in love” with their partner early in the relationship
  • Unable to leave or cut off ties to an unhealthy or abusive relationship

Do these symptoms always suggest a sex or love addiction?

At least all romantic and sexual relationships may indicate some of the above signs. For example, feeling mildly jealous in a relationship can happen from time to time or being excited and preoccupied with a new partner can feel like a natural part of the relationship process. However, with sex and love addictions, there is frequent pattern of one or more of the signs, resulting in unending negative consequences.

Causes of a sex or love addiction

Whether it’s the physical aspect (sex) or the emotional reliance (love), all individuals with sex and love addiction are searching for something outside of themselves. This may be a person, relationship, or experience that provides them with the emotional stability they currently lack. In other words, they use their romantic experiences to momentarily feel good. Fortunately, like other behavioural addictions, there are treatment options. Ongoing help can be found in therapy (both individual and group) and 12-Step self-help programmes like SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous).

As with all addictions, sex and love addictions can affect anyone. Nevertheless, some people are more predisposed to developing an addiction than others. Certain risk factors can mean a person is more likely, but not certain, to develop an addiction. Some examples could be:

  • Family history – those with a family history of sex and love addiction will be more likely to develop one themselves. Sex and love addictions can be learned behaviours, and if a child is brought up in an environment where one parent has an unhealthy attachment to romantic relationships, the child may grow up to believe that such behaviour is normal.
  • Early traumatic experiences – People who have experienced trauma in their childhood may be more susceptible to developing a sex and love addiction. Unaddressed emotional or sexual abuse in early life can cause people to develop love and sex addiction.
  • Rejection and breakups – Individuals that have experienced an unhealthy relationship which may have left them feeling rejected, abused, or abandoned in the past may feel unworthy of love, and they may develop a desperation for romantic gratification. These people may suffer from low self-esteem and become obsessed with the idea of finding someone to love them and value them.
  • Biology – Some people have more excess hormones than others, which can affect their sex drive. Those with high levels of sex hormones may seek sexual gratification more frequently than others, and they may have a tendency to engage in additional sexual activity.

Why breaking the stigma of sex and love addiction is crucial

Due to the many misconceptions around sex and love addictions, people may be reluctant to reach out for help for fear of being shamed or judged. Addiction is a mental illness, and if sex and love addiction go unaddressed, a person may feel guilt and shame, which could turn into anxiety, depression, loneliness and, in some tragic cases, suicide.

Treating sex and love addiction

At Liberty House Clinic, we offer invaluable rehab treatment which will help you to understand the cause of a sex and love addiction, as well as show you how to overcome it. You will reside with us for a few weeks, where you’ll be given a comfortable room in a supportive and judgement-free environment. We have a team of qualified counsellors, therapists, and psychiatrists who can help you to conquer sex and love addiction so that you can move forward and live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Some of the most effective treatments for sex and love addiction are:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT works on addressing the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviours. For those with sex and love addiction, CBT can help them to pinpoint potential triggers that encourage unhealthy sexual behaviours and instead find healthier ways of addressing such triggers.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

DBT is very similar to CBT, only that DBT goes one step further and encourages clients to accept themselves for who they are whilst encouraging healthy change and self-improvement. This is particularly helpful for those with unhealthy attachments to others. DBT can work on helping people increase their self-esteem and improve their self-confidence.

Family support therapy

We know that sex and love addictions can be greatly misunderstood by others, and it’s probable that romantic and platonic relationships can become damaged because of sex and love addiction. We refuse to let this happen, so we invite your loved ones into rehab every week for private counselling facilitated by a highly trained family support therapist. This will give you all the opportunity to understand, heal and move forward from sex or love addiction.

Sex and love addiction family support therapy

Free yourself from sex and love addiction today

We use a variety of proven treatments, including psychotherapies and holistic approaches designed to ensure that you have the tools required to overcome an addiction to sex and love. Moreover, we take pride in creating a comfortable environment, run by professional staff, where you can feel safe to open up and recover from your problems. If you have any additional questions, please contact us today and a member of our team will discuss them with you further.

Frequently asked questions

How much sex is normal?
Everyone is different, and our individual libidos vary depending on our age, hormones, and current life events, so “normal” looks different for everyone. However, when someone is having constant sex to the point where it becomes physically painful or emotionally distressing, and when a person is not able to think about anything other than sex, it would no longer be classed as healthy sexual behaviour.
Who is most affected by sex and love addiction?
It’s not clear how many people suffer from a sex or love addiction, but it can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, and social background. Women are just as prone to struggle with sex and love addiction as men, although unhelpful stigmas against women and sex may prevent them from seeking the help they need.
Is compulsive sex disorder the same as sex addiction?
Sexual addiction is the most referred to term for sex addiction. However, therapists also use the words compulsive sexual behaviour, problematic sexual behaviour, hypersexuality, and sexual compulsivity to describe sex addiction.