Sex addiction may not be officially diagnosable, but enough experts have treated patients with sex issues to know that the condition manifests in different ways in men and women. Men and women also cope with sex addiction in different ways, react uniquely to sex addiction in a partner and respond differently to treatment. If you or your partner is struggling with sex addiction, it is important to get help. It is also important to know the gender differences so you can better cope with the situation and understand what your partner is going through.
Women Underrepresented in Studies
Women have always been overlooked in research into any type of addiction. This is changing now, but there is still a huge gap when it comes to studying how women manifest addiction, how they are affected physically and emotionally, and which treatments are most effective for women.
It’s important to include women in studies of sex addiction because the incidence among women is growing. According to statistics, more than one-third of sex addicts are women and about one-fifth of those seeking treatment are women. These statistics are likely low, as women may not always be prepared to admit to having a problem with sex or willing to ask for help. It is often seen as a man’s disease, so asking for help isn’t easy.
Women Are Emotional, Men Are Physical
When men obsess over sex, they tend to objectify women. They usually get involved in sexual behaviors,whether it be actual sex with real partners, cybersex or pornography use, that does not include emotional attachment. This means that patterns of sex addiction in men tend to be sex with anonymous partners or prostitutes, voyeurism or exploitative sex.
Women who struggle with sex addiction look to sex for power or control. They also may want a showering of attention or praise. Female sex addicts are more likely than men to use sexual fantasies,either alone or with partners.
Women Are Often Love Addicts
Love addiction is another type of behavioral addiction that doesn’t get an official diagnosis. It doesoccur, though, and it is more common in women. It can be mistaken for a sex addiction. If a woman is alove addict with respect to her partner, it means she takes all of her sense of self-worth from him. She is needy and spends much of her time and effort trying to make her partner feel loved, needed and happy. This may manifest in sexual behaviors, which can be confused with sex addiction. In trying hard to please her partner, a woman can exhibit some of the signs of sex addiction.
Sometimes Women Act Like Men
Of course, women are complex and cannot be put into a simple box when it comes to sex addiction. Sometimes women act just like men. They may seek out emotionally detached relationships. They may go for multiple anonymous partners or become obsessed with voyeuristic pornography. Love addiction or a partner’s needs may have nothing to do with a woman’s sexual behaviors.
Women and men may exhibit many of the same signs of sex addiction, but generally there are important gender differences. Perhaps the most important is the social stigma. It is much more acceptable for men to have multiple partners or to sleep around, which means female addicts get shouldered with more shame and guilt. If you or your partner is experiencing signs of sex addiction, the most important thing you can do is get professional help together.