How Do You Know if You Have A Sex Addiction?

How Do You Know if You Have A Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is defined as a lack of control over sexual urges, thoughts, and behaviors or impulses. While sexual impulses are natural, a sex addiction refers to behaviors that are excessive and significantly impact a person’s well-being. Although sex addiction isn’t considered a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), research indicates that excessive sexual behavior can develop like a drug or alcohol addiction. In fact, one study found that at one point in the United States, 3% to 6% of people struggled with sex addiction.1 So the question is: how do you know if you have a sex addiction?


What Are the Signs of a Sex Addict?

The signs of sex addiction can be both physical and emotional. Because certain sexual impulses are natural, it can be difficult to identify this disorder. Also, many people who struggle with sexual impulses feel too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it. Something you should keep in mind when learning how to recognize the symptoms of sexual addiction disorder is that this disorder can affect a person’s well-being. One of the most common indicators that someone is struggling with any kind of addiction is changes in their behavior and physical appearance that may have an impact on their relationships, jobs, and even finances. Below are some common signs of a sex addict, whether a man or a woman, that you should look out for if you suspect that a loved one is struggling with this condition.


Obsessive Sexual Thoughts

While this may be difficult to identify unless the person talks to you about it, obsessive thoughts about sex or any kind of sexual activity are one of the most common signs that someone is a sex addict.  People with sex addiction disorders may find themselves frequently fantasizing about sex. These fantasies can become obsessive to the point where they disrupt the person’s life, including their ability to connect with others, their responsibilities at home and work, and their finances.


Spending Excessive Time and Energy on Anything Sex-Related

While seeking out sexual partners isn’t necessarily a sign of a sexual disorder, spending excessive amounts of time and energy on anything sex-related is. Sex-related things refer to attempting to have sex, attempting to acquire sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experiences. You can compare this to someone who suffers from alcoholism. They may spend loads of time, money, and energy thinking about alcohol, getting money to buy alcohol, buying alcohol, drinking alcohol, and recovering from binge or heavy drinking.


Feeling Ashamed, Depressed, or Guilty About Sex

If someone’s need for sex becomes an addiction, then these desires may also be intertwined with feelings like anxiety, shame, depression, or regret. For that reason, many people in need of sexual addiction treatment don’t reach out for help. A person with a sex addiction may feel ashamed about their behavior and their difficulty in controlling them. They may even exhibit signs of depression or suicidal thoughts. One study found that 28% of men with sex addiction showed signs of depression versus the 12% of men in the general population.2


Excluding or Not Engaging in Other Activities

A person with sex addiction may become so fixated on sex-related things that they struggle to engage in other activities. They may fall behind at work or school. They may become socially withdrawn or may struggle to maintain their relationships. Marriages or romantic relationships especially suffer when one partner has a sex addiction.


Excessive Masturbation

While masturbation is normal for many people, excessively engaging in it can be a sign of sexual addiction. Specifically, this might look like masturbating during inappropriate times, the inability to stop masturbating or control it, or even masturbating to the point of physical discomfort or pain. This can affect jobs and relationships, as well.


Engaging in Inappropriate or Risky Sexual Behaviors

In more severe cases, sex addiction can lead to inappropriate or risky behaviors. This includes exhibitionism (displaying one’s genitals in public), public sex, unprotected sex, and sex with prostitutes. In many cases, people who exhibit this kind of behavior contract sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.


Cheating on Their Partner

Someone with sex addiction may feel the need to seek out new sexual partners, even if it means cheating on their spouse. They may seek out one-night stands regularly or even meet up with the same partners to cheat multiple times. Additionally, the introduction of online dating apps like Tinder and Grindr has made it easier for people with sex addictions to acquire more sexual partners, cheat on their partners, and fuel their compulsions.


Committing Criminal Sex Offenses

While this may be extreme, some people who struggle with sexual impulses may engage in criminal activities like stalking, rape, and molestation to fulfill their urges. While some sexual offenders may also struggle with a sex disorder, this does not mean that every person with a sex addiction commits a related crime. No evidence supports a direct correlation between sex addiction and committing sexual criminal offenses.


From celebrity sex addicts to the average Joe, no one is immune from addiction. And while this condition can do a lot of damage, a sex addict can change. Our luxury drug rehab in Florida offers sex addiction treatment specifically designed to help you overcome this condition. Because sex addiction often cooccurs with mental illness, we also provide mental health treatment to further assist in the recovery process.

To learn how our team at Seaside Palm Beach can help you overcome addiction, call us at 561-677-9374.



  1. NIH – Sexual addiction or hypersexual disorder: different terms for the same problem? A review of the literature
  2. NCBI – Hypersexual behavior in a large online sample: Individual characteristics and signs of coercive sexual behavior


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