SEXUAL ADDICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connected Sex:

Safety experienced when in connection with others

 

Disconnected Sex

Needing connection is viewed as dangerous.  

For these people, power over people feels safe, rather than connection with people.  They use sex as a means of empowering themselves and objectifying others, thereby reassuring themselves that they will always be desired and therefore never alone, and that they therefore do not need anyone...people are interchangeable and disposable.  No one is special, except themselves, and they don't need to count on anyone to be there for them except themselves

 

Sex is ALWAYS About Attachment Needs:  Even if the person is pursuing sex to distance from his/her attachment needs and longings

 

*Some people seek sex as a means of connecting with others to meet their attachment needs and longings.  

 

*Some people seek sex as a means of disconnecting from their own attachment needs and longings because they experience needing connection as dangerous.  

 

Pursuit of Sex for Disconnection:  From Self & Others

For these people, power over people feels safe, rather than connection with people.  They use sex as a means of empowering themselves and objectifying others, thereby reassuring themselves that they will always be desired and therefore never alone, and that they therefore do not need anyone...people are interchangeable and disposable.  No one is special, except themselves, and they don't need to count on anyone to be there for them except themselves.

 

Pursuite of Sex as an Escapte into the Fantasy of Connection:

Sex can also be used to relieve tension, or as a temporary escape from emotional pain (lonliness, shame, fear, hurt, sadness etc.).  Repeated use of sex as an escape as the primary strategy for emotional regulation, can lead to sexual addiction.  This is especially true if the escape from pain becomes the primary goal of sex and is used as a way of disconnecting from oneself and from others, or if the only way a person knows how to connect feel connected to others is through sex.  

 

Sexual Addiction:  the Cycle of Shame and Sadness

Often, the cycle of shame sets in where a person pursues sex to escape pain through the fantasy of being desired and accepted, only to come off of the temporary high from the fantasy, to realize that it was in deed only a fleeting fantasy.  The person may feel sad and ashamed of the fact that he/she has been unable to fulfill his needs for acceptance- to be loved & desired- and that he/she repeatedly escapes the pain of this lack through fantasy.  

 

The cycle ensues when the person then seeks to escape these painful emotions through the pursuit of more empty sex.  What the person needs, in fact, is to be able to turn to others who can help heal their pain through authentic connection.  Usually, sexual addiction requires the assistance of a professional and often times intensive treatment.  It also requires a lifetime committment to self and the partner to process emotions in the context of their relationship and to turn to the partner and be there for the partner, rather than escaping painful emotions.

 

The partner must be equally committed to engaging in this process of creating and sustaining an authentic, secure attachment throughout their relationship.  (See the section on sexual addiction).

  

When you understand YOUR OWN attachment needs and longings, and the emotional and behavioral ways you seek to meet them, you can apply this understanding to your sexuality and understand your sexual self

 

When you understand these aspects of yourself, you can share them with your partner.

 

When you understand YOUR PARTNER'S attachment needs and longings, and the emotional and behavioral ways your partner seeks to meet them, you can apply this understanding to your sexuality and understand your sexual self.

 

Learning to understand your own and your partners attachment needs and longings- to love and be loved, to desire and be desired sexually- you connect to the greatest source of true power and courage:  Authentic, Secure Attachment.

 

The way out of emotional pain and any addiction that emerges from an attempt to deal with that pain by turning to the addiction to escape the pain, is to start dealing with the pain in the context of a relationship with someone who can serve as your safe haven and secure base.  You can not do it alone.  A therapist can serve as your temporary safe haven and secure base and walk along side you to titrate your pain...to help you reconnect with your pain, but to develop emotional resources for effectively regulating the painful emotions so that you do not become absorbed by them.  

 

That is why you can not do it alone.  No one learns to regulate their emotions in isolation.  Anyone who knows how to feel without the pain overwhelming them, has had at least one person who has walked along side them when they have been in pain.  It is through the experience of not being alone in their pain, that they have developed internal resources for effectively processing their pain and managing it in a way that it does not overtake them.  

 

They are not managing it by cutting off from it.  They are managing it by reminding themselves of the good parts of life, despite the current pain...by acknowledging that as bad as things may feel in the moment, it will eventually pass.  They are able to anchor themselves in the hope of better things to come and the memories of better times that have already been.  They take courage in past victories- large & small.  They envision and look forward to future victories and fulfilled dreams.  They are able to do all of these things because somewhere at some point in their lives, someone believed in them and carried hope for them when they didn't believe in themselves and could not access any hope.  

 

They learned to anchor themselves in the fact that someone else cared about them, believed in them and had great hopes for them that things were going to get better, even though they could not do it for themselves.  They anchored themselves in the desire to hope and the hope that the person who was seeing things in them was right about them and their better future ahead.  

 

From that time on, when that person would be alone and in pain, they would never really be alone again.  They would have access to the internalized memory and felt sense of that person caring about them and believing in them.  They would turn, once again, to the hope that the other had in them.  They would turn to the memory of when things were painful in the past, but they got through it...the fact that their person was right:  there had been better things ahead.  

 

So they draw upon that inner strength and courage and hope that someone else, somewhere along the way had helped them develop.  And they draw upon it once again.  Even if that person may not be physically present, they are carried always in the heart and mind, accessible when needed.  That is the miracle of love.

 

  • Sex is an ATTACHMENT STRATEGY                                                                                                                                                    PROTECTS AGAINST THE PAIN OF DISCONNECTION          BY EITHER:                                                                                                               1. Connecting                                                                                                      or                                                                                        2. Disconnecting                                                                                                                                                                       The way sex is used to meet attachment needs depends on the person's attachment style.

 

ATTACHMENT STYLES

 

Secure Attachment

 

Types of Insecure Attachment:

 

 

*Anxious/Ambivalent

 

                   -seeks connection with others by trying to create                         and secure it...needs constant reassurance

               

                   -pursues connection as a defense against                                       abandonment &/or rejection

               

                   -risks disconnecting from needs of self to meet                              needs of others

 

                  -difficulty trusting others will stay connected with them

 

*Avoidant

                     

                   -seeks connection with others by protecting against disconnection

 

*Disorganized

 

 

  1. To Connect: with self and others; to create, deepen,
    &/or heal an emotional bond; safe haven for comfort; secure base from which to explore & be liberated from fear and shame                                                               

  2. Disconnecting from their own & others' attachment needs
    & longings as a means of feeling emotionally safe.   Power and safety are experienced by protect themselves against 
    against others rejecting or abandonning them