The Stages of Sex Addiction
Sexual addiction often follows a predictable course:
- Preoccupation – continual fantasies about sexual prospects or situations, which can trigger an episode of sexual “acting out”
- Ritualization – a preferred sexual activity or situation is often stereotyped and repetitive
- Compulsion – continual engagement in sexual activity despite negative consequences and desire to stop
- Despair – guilt or shame over their inability to control behavior
Other behavioral problems, particularly chemical dependency and eating disorders, often develop during this course as well.
Causes of Sex Addiction
Many sex addicts report some form of abuse or neglect as children and frequently see themselves as diminished or damaged in the process. Their parents may have been sex and/or love addicts themselves, which suggests that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Stress and emotional pain also fuel compulsive sexual behavior by feeding the addict’s need for withdrawal and fantasy.
Other factors that may contribute to sex addiction include:
- Inconsistent parental nurturing and support
- Lack of parental role modeling of healthy, adaptive behaviors
- Early exposure to sexual material or experiences