Just as an alcoholic continues overdrinking even when it does her harm, a sex and love addict seeks out emotional and physical fulfillment from others, even when it hurts her.Some addicts say they primarily have a sex addiction, while others lean toward the love addiction side of things.’” The expansion of women’s sexual freedom made it easier for Riley to justify her harmful behavior as “rebellious” or “antiauthoritarian,” she said, because it’s more palatable to consider yourself “free-spirited” than, say, a homewrecker.“I look back on it now and I think, Wow, I was really hurting a lot of people."But as with any type of addiction, the addict in question probably isn’t thinking clearly about who her behavior could hurt.Charlene de Guzman says her sex addiction started as a “hunger for love and attention and validation.” For her, the confusion came from misplaced messages about her self-worth.“I had this story from a very early age that a woman who was sexually desired, a woman who was sexual, a woman men wanted to have sex with, was of value,” she told .Either way, explains Linda Hudson, LSW, co-author of , a sex and love addiction describes a pattern of relationship behavior that is compulsive, out of control, and continues despite the consequences.Addicts tend to zero in on whoever’s available—no matter how married, engaged, far away, or otherwise inappropriate he or she might be.
Often, they don’t get caught until they do something illegal and/or incredibly stupid (paging Anthony Weiner), which makes the sex addict tabloid stereotype all the more salacious.
Addiction is a brain disease, and the illness is in control.
“The experience of the addict is way more about the letdown than the high,” says Riley.
In particular, she says, addressing sexual trauma from childhood or teenage years may help sex addicts gain perspective on their behavior.
An enormous part of recovery for sex addicts is establishing healthy boundaries.