Is sex addiction a real thing, or just an excuse for bad behavior?

In a recent article in Blogs, ( psychologist David Ley states in his new book, “The Myth of Sex Addiction,” that there is no such thing as sex addiction—that the term is just an excuse for bad behavior. I disagree with that position. In my view, the label of ‘addiction’ doesn’t excuse anything. That’s because my definition of addiction is anything we do to avoid taking responsibility for our feelings and the resulting behavior. Since my definition centers around choice, it is not about an illness that is ‘happening’ to you, and therefore cannot be used as an excuse.

In my experience, addictions are a result, not a cause. While they can cause many severe problems and even death, the underlying cause is the avoidance of responsibility for one’s own emotions, and sex addiction is no exception.

Let’s take an example:

Henry and Alicia have been married for 18 years. Alicia grew up in a household where looks and sexual desirability were highly admired. She learned early to attach her worth to whether a man desired her, and to try to fill her emptiness through male attention. Early in their marriage, Alicia attached her worth and happiness to whether or not Henry wanted to have sex with her. She had also learned in her family to get angry and blaming when she didn’t get what she wanted.

Henry grew up in an alcoholic home with two very controlling parents. He not only learned to turn to alcohol to avoid his feelings; he also learned to resist what Alicia wanted by shutting down. This was his way of not being controlled by her.

Both Alicia and Henry were addicted: Alicia was addicted to sex as a way of getting validated, and to anger to get her way. She was unwilling to take responsibility for defining her own worth, bringing herself joy, and learning to fill her own emptiness through her spiritual connection. Henry was addicted to alcohol to numb his feelings, and to withdrawal as his way of having control over not being controlled. Alicia was angry and hurt much of the time over Henry not wanting sex with her, and Henry was angry and hurt much of the time over Alicia wanting to use him sexually to fill her emptiness and validate her worth.

Both Alicia and Henry were addictively avoiding their deeper feelings of loneliness and heartbreak over their childhood and over their marriage with each other. By avoiding their painful feelings with their addictions, they were both abandoning themselves, and then wanting the other person to give them what they were not giving to themselves. By abandoning themselves with their various addictions, they were causing their anger, depression, anxiety, guilt, shame and emptiness, which then led to more addictive behavior.

Their addictions were not the primary cause of their pain, but the result of their self-abandonment.

SELF-ABANDONMENT is THE underlying cause of sex addiction and other addictions. Alicia and Henry’s addictions are the result of avoiding learning how to fill themselves with love from their spiritual source, so that they are not empty and needy of something external to fill them up and take away their pain.

While the above scenario is about a relationship where the woman is sexually addicted, it is far more common for the sex addict to be a man. I chose the example of the woman being the sex addict to show that both sexes can suffer from this addiction.

Addictions are not an excuse for bad behavior. Rather, addictions indicate a lack of courage to face painful feelings head on—to learn from them with love and compassion rather than avoid them with various addictions.

Alanis Morrissette
Alanis Morissette
“Inner bonding really nurtures and fosters the relationship between self and spirit. Personally, it has helped every relationship that I have. I’m so grateful.”- Alanis Morissette   Find out how Inner Bonding has helped singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette to evolve in her courage to love>>

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CO-CREATOR OF INNER BONDING Dr. Paul is the author/co-author of several best-selling books, including Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?, Inner Bonding, Healing Your Aloneness, The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook, Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids?, and Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Dr. Paul's books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into eleven languages. Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, noted public speaker, workshop leader, educator, chaplain, consultant and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars since 1967. Margaret continues to work with individuals and couples throughout the world -- mostly on the phone. She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Her current passion is working on and developing content for this Website, as well as distributing SelfQuest®, the software program that teaches Inner Bonding® and is donated to prisons and schools, as well as sold to the general public. Margaret is passionate about helping people rapidly heal the root cause of their pain and learn the path to joy and loving relationships. In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride horses, and spend time with her grandchildren.