Therapist in Los Angeles
Darren Haber MFT

Sexual Compulsivity

Many who get caught up in compulsive sexual behaviors find themselves leading a "double life", with a terror of being caught, combined with a profound sense of shame.

Jokes about sex addiction are often fodder for late-night comedians, but for those who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior, the topic is anything but humorous. First we have that tricky word, "addiction". When is a behavior a habit and when is it an addiction? Perhaps the question to ask oneself is, What effect is this behavior having on my work, finances, self-esteem, relationships ... ? Am I risking something that's important to me (job, relationship, possible legal or health problems, etc)? Can I stop if and when I want to? These questions can create an internal debate which is distracting and draining. Talking about it with someone can bring clarity.

Many who get caught up in compulsive sexual behaviors find themselves leading a "double life", with a terror of being caught, combined with a profound sense of shame. Perhaps the person grew up in a shaming family, or with a deep sense of being "not good enough"; the compulsive behaviors may be soothing or calming temporarily, but soon the "yucky" feelings return, and the compulsivity kicks in again. This cycle of demeaning and destructive behaviors can become impossible to break without professional help.

These behaviors can include, among others, compulsive masturbation, voyeurism, exhibitionism, phone sex, internet pornography, adult bookstores, massage parlors, compulsive affairs and so forth. You'd be surprised at the number of sane, successful adults who find themselves living two lives; one public, the other private, filled with these baffling (and shame-inducing) compulsions. One of the most baffling aspects is the inability to stop, in spite of the risk to health, finance, marriage, etc.

If you are caught in such a cycle, and wondering if you can stop, or ever have a "normal" sex life, the answer is yes. Learning about these behaviors and how they affect your life is the first step. You can read books or try and stop on your own, but I have found your chances for a successful outcome increase dramatically when you have the help of someone professionally trained in helping to stop these types of behaviors.

Sex AddictionI have done so for years, helping many break this cycle and find relief. Some decide they are addicts and some don't. There are many options for treatment, and I can review those options with you in a safe, confidential setting. You may decide you want to stop some (for instance, the most damaging) behaviors first, and work on the rest later. There are choices. Feel free to call or email me to discuss them.