The sexually addicted person doesn't use sex just to escape reality. He also uses sex as a shallow, fantasy based substitute for genuine intimacy. It is what I call, "the flight from intimacy."
The flight from intimacy is more difficult to deal with – and must be addressed first – because it causes the emotional attachment to sex addiction.
Most people who stop on their own, or through conventional, licensed therapy, or the 12-setp program return to sex addiction. One reason for the return is that the emotional attachment to sex addiction had not been overcome. When they stopped, they felt like they lost a sexual pleasure they could not live without. The sexual pleasure they felt they could not live without was an illusion they could have lived without happily. But because their flight from intimacy had not been addressed, they could not break the emotional attachment to their sex addiction.
I call sex addiction, "The Most Personal Addiction" because no addiction involves as many intense personal feelings as sex addiction does. One does not create fantasies about booze. Overeating does not cause sexual arousal. Drug addiction does not act as a substitute, fantasy based sexual partner. Only sex addiction creates an emotional attachment so strong it can become an alternate, illusionary relationship.
Sometimes the partner of a sexually addicted person will ask me, "Is it me? Am I not enough for him?" I tell her, "He's fleeing intimacy. He was fleeing it before he met you. He'd flee from it no matter who he was with. Once he's guided out of his attachment to fantasy and taught how to stop correctly, he'll have a good chance of long-term success. Don't blame yourself for his actions."
The flight from intimacy is not based on what happened decades ago in childhood. Spending years exploring the childhood wastes precious time and energy because sex is an adult experience based on feelings and needs that occur only in the adult part of life. Long term success in overcoming sex addiction is achieved by changing choices in the here and now.
Psychological medication cannot overcome the flight from intimacy because psychological medication cannot cause someone to seek intimacy or face reality. At best, psychological medication dulls feelings. Dulled feelings do not motivate someone to seek genuine, loving intimacy and deal with reality.
The flight from intimacy is so strong it interferes with any intimate relationship. In some cases it becomes the person's only form of sexual pleasure. In other cases it becomes the preferred sexual experience.
Not every sexually addicted person prefers sex addiction over genuine, loving sex with their partner. But every sexually addicted person who has not overcome their addiction does suffer the flight from intimacy. One of the great rewards of overcoming sex addiction correctly is an experience of emotional, romantic and sexual intimacy that far surpasses anything sex addiction offers.
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Joe Zychik is the author of "The Most Personal Addiction: How I overcame sex addiction and how anyone can"
Joe overcame his own sex addiction in 1982. Since 1983 he has been helping couples and individuals successfully overcome sexual addiction.
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