Jill Boultinghouse, MFT Therapist and Counselor

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Sex and Love Addiction: In Women

Understand Sex and Love Addiction In Women

Many times a week I am asked about my work with sex and love addicts.  Just as alcoholism was a dirty secret in the middle of last century, sex and love addiction is for the addict their dirty little secret.  Society, for a large degree, has accepted substance abuse and alcoholism, even a gambling addiction is understood by many.  But love and sex addiction, isn’t that just men? Defining healthy sexuality from unhealthy sexuality is an important delineation.  Sometimes it can be labor some to mark the differences, but the differences can be made.

A good therapist will take a long and specific inquiry into one’s sexuality when a client presents with some of the hallmark traits of a love/sex addiction.  But what are these hallmark traits?  Yes, there are some typical behaviors female sex and love addicts engage in. Some of the behaviors include:

Compulsive Masturbation (with or without pornography).  The keyword is compulsive. Masturbation is healthy behavior, but when it crosses into compulsive it becomes unhealthy.  A compulsion is when one is performing an act persistently and repetitively without it leading to an actual reward or pleasure.  Compulsive behaviors are a need to reduce apprehension caused by internal feelings a person wants to abstain or control.  Some major causes of the compulsive behaviors are anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc… The main idea of compulsive behavior is that the likely excessive activity is not connected to the purpose it appears to be directed to.  Therefore, often compulsive masturbation means repetitive masturbation that never leads to sexual satisfaction.

Anonymous or Casual Sexual Relations (with people met online or in person).  Often today, people call this type of behavior “hooking up”.

Multiple Affairs, Multiple Infidelities and Brief “Serial” Relationships.  Often female sex and love addicts confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.

Engaging in Prostitution and Sensual Massage.  Sometimes for a sense of power and not simply for an exchange of money or drugs.

Having Sex Without Regard To Consequences (both short term and long term).  This can include repeatedly engaging in both protected and unprotected sex risking both pregnancies and STDs.  It is important to remember that not all STDs can be prevented from the use of a condom.

Entering Situations of Potential Danger and Risk.  Going home to a man’s apartment/house that one does not know very well to have sex can be extremely dangerous.  Often not seeing the risk or warning signs of danger are overlooked by the female sex and love addict.  Overall, having few healthy boundaries, a sex and love addict becomes sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.

An Eternal Search for The Right Person.  An ongoing search for Mr. Right that reflects patterns of intensity/involvement and then creating emotional distance is often a hallmark of the behavior of a love addict.  Often a love addict is extremely turned on by another and then shortly turned off.  This can include affairs of a committed person and a single person’s dating relationships.  The idea is that the female addict keeps diving in and out of love relationships.  A sex and love addict sexualizes stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy.…. thus a drive to suppress these feelings causes a sex and love addict to enter relationships quickly, but learns that these feelings can not be fixed externally by another, so they move on in the hopes that the next person will end their emotional suffering, rather than address these feelings internally.

Often a female sex and love addict will think her problem is “relationships” and she can not identify the addiction in herself.  This is a hallmark of all addicts.  Denial.  The inability to see this addiction, let alone within oneself is the first step in creating a life where one is free from the chains of an addiction.

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