How to tell the difference between a high sex drive and sex addiction

All good things are best had in moderation. When it comes to sex however, it can be difficult to know when you’ve reached the point of too much shagging. After all, having an active sex life is normal, so how can you tell if you’ve crossed the line into obsession? The differences between having a high sex drive and having a sex addiction can feel vague, but the two are very different...


All good things are best had in moderation. When it comes to sex however, it can be difficult to know when you’ve reached the point of too much shagging.

After all, having an active sex life is normal, so how can you tell if you’ve crossed the line into obsession? The differences between having a high sex drive and having a sex addiction can feel vague, but the two are very different.

While one is a natural healthy emotion, the other can have damaging effects on your physical and mental health. According to one study, titled ‘Understanding and Managing Compulsive Sexual Behaviors’, sex addiction is similar to ‘substance use disorders, mood disorders, or impulse-control disorders’ in that there are varying levels of severity.

It’s also possible the person isn’t aware that they have a problem, and might only realise (or be told) they are exhibiting signs of sex addiction when seeking help for other issues. Diagnosis is made even more difficult due to the ongoing dispute among health professionals on whether sex addiction is really a thing.

Although the term exists, it’s lacks a proper definition within medical communities. Chelsea Reynolds, Ph.D., an assistant professor who researches and teaches sexual communication at California State University, tells Metro.co.uk that although sex addiction isn’t recognised as a medical disorder, hypersexuality has been outlined.

Key symptoms include not being able to stop the behaviour and having sex to a degree where it’s considered harmful to either party involved.

‘The clinical criteria around hypersexuality and internet addiction mainly focus on harmful consequences of sexual behavior for the self and others, unsuccessful attempts to stop the concerning sexual behaviors, and greater sexual activity than intended,’ she said.

‘There’s debate in the field as to whether “sex addiction” functions the same as other addictive disorders – for instance alcoholism or opiate abuse – that involve physical dependence, tolerance, withdrawal, and relapse.

‘It’s important that people understand the difference between a physical addiction and a hypersexuality, which is problematic only when it causes harm to the self or others, and when it begins to cause negative social and professional consequences for the person affected.’

According to Relate, a relationship counselling service quoted on the NHS website, you have ventured into sex addiction when sexual activity feels ‘out of control’.

Unfortunately little else is offered in the way of concrete symptoms, however an article in Medical News Today presents a few more indicators such as ‘compulsive masturbation, persistent use of pornography, exhibitionism, voyeurism, extreme acts of lewd sex, and the failure to resist sexual impulses’.

Do bare in mind the difference between extreme behaviour and sexual preferences; enjoying unusual fetishes – which are often stigmatised – does not automatically mean you have a sex addiction. Sex Addicts Anonymous UK (SAA UK) describes sex addiction in two ways: as being unable to stop and not being able to stay away, ‘no matter the consequences’, as well as often feeling ‘hurt, injured, demoralized, broke, despairing, and even suicidal’ afterwards.

Other signs include constantly thinking about sex (to an unhealthy degree), as well as using sex to avoid facing other emotions.

In this scenario, sex becomes a crutch and a ‘drug’ with the person constantly chasing the high that it provides. It’s also important to remember that anyone can get a sex addiction, regardless of sexual identity, gender or background.

Having a high sex drive on the other hand is completely healthy. It’s perfectly fine to have a lot of sex, but you shouldn’t feel an obsessive need for it, i.e. you’re not forcing yourself to masturbate or f***.

Try to not compare your sex life to others’ either. You are not in competition with anyone; so long as you (and your sexual partner) are happy, that’s all that matters. If you’re worried about your sexual habits and their frequency, talk to someone.

Source: Metro.co.uk



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