Bill W. (No, not that one!)

SFYB Staff Writer

Characteristics of Sex Addicts: No Boundaries

By: Bill W

One of the reasons sex addiction isn’t taken as seriously as other addictions (although, thankfully, that is changing) is that it’s an amorphous thing. Not only is sex interwoven into the fabric of our society, it’s also a fundamental part of the human experience. Just as it’s impossible to separate eating disorders from the natural need to eat, so is it impossible to separate sexual imperatives from normal human life. Thus it becomes hard to say whether many activities cross the line of inappropriate behavior, or whether they are normal “urges” or abnormal compulsions.sex addiction

 

So we have to look at these issues through the same lens we use to evaluate other addictions: is it causing problems for ourselves or others, and do we continue the behavior despite the consequences? Unfortunately, even those things are difficult to sort out sometimes, so in this and the next installment or two we’re going to look at some of the characteristics of sex addicts. Not all of them apply to all addicts, but most of us can relate to at least a few. So dial down the denial and let’s look at one right now.

boundariesBoundaries are internal, well-defined, points beyond which we don’t go with others, and they don’t go with us. For example, people with good boundaries don’t have sex with strangers, and they have pretty definite ideas about who is a stranger. People with good boundaries maintain their distance until they’ve had an opportunity to evaluate the other party. Certain kinds of conversation, jokes, and sexually-loaded remarks constitute boundary violations without the permission of the recipient, as do physical advances. Provocative dress is often a sign of poor boundaries. Sexual contact without consent is the ultimate boundary violation and is never okay. In fact, it’s illegal.brain_pornography

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Sex addicts lack healthy boundaries. We may fantasize about strangers without knowing anything about them. We may become involved sexually or seek emotional attachment with people who “speak our language,” despite that technique’s proven failures. We allow others to take advantage of us and often do the same to them, instead of functioning as partners. Everyone with poor boundaries (no matter the addiction) can’t say “No,” and/or to take “No” for an answer.

A_set boundaries

Once in relationships, sex and love addicts tend to stay in them despite obvious problems. We do that because we are afraid to be alone, because we feel helpless and don’t know how to extricate ourselves, because we feel sorry for the other person. If we do leave, we often go back in response to begging or threats, or we immediately jump into another relationship because we lack the emotional resources to “make it” on our own — or think we do. Our sick relationships tend to distance us from family and friends, hobbies, other outside interests, and sometimes even jobs.

Those are a couple of things to mull over. We’ll go into the characteristics of sex addicts further in the next post.

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