Is a sex addict also a love addict? Is a person with sexual addiction also addicted to love? Experts have varying opinions for these complex conditions.
As described in a recent Huffington Post article, addictions that are based on processes of behavior such as compulsive shopping or online gambling, may have similar thought patterns and responses at their roots. In the case of sex addiction and love addiction, a person in either addiction may have long held problems with personal intimacy or deep-seeded self-esteem issues, but the symptoms can look quite different.
People with love addiction may move rapidly from one relationship to the next and may carry extreme levels of sadness, guilt, shame or fear when one relationship ends. They may believe each new relationship is "the one," or change their behaviors to more closely meld with those of their current relationship.
They may also lie or use manipulative actions to carry out multiple romantic relationships while living in a state of denial that a problem exists. A person with love addiction may also use sexual activity to begin a new relationship, whereas for a person with a sex addiction, the sex can be the actual relationship itself and involve multiple partners or paid services.
Sex addiction, more quickly becoming a widely-researched and recognized condition, involves obsessive and unwanted thoughts about sex. The person may be unable to stop acting out sexual behavior, even when the consequences are known. They may engage in sexual behavior in the workplace or in public places without being able to stop themselves. The behavior progresses as the addiction progresses, and the sense of pleasure toward sex is replaced by sex becoming a tool for escaping negative emotions or "numbing out."
While sex and love addiction evoke different symptoms, both may be rooted in a similar inability to maintain close personal relationships or an inability to work through negative emotions. Both involve activity at the brain level related to neurotransmitters. Both conditions also require professional help to reach a point of recovery and to understand addiction triggers.