Your behavior troubles you. You engage in sexual behavior, whether alone or with others, that fills you with shame and regret. You try to stop, but you can’t. Over and over you tell yourself, “This is my last time.”
But it’s not. You can’t stop.
There are questionnaires all over the internet that purport to help you determine if you are a sex addict. And mental health professionals debate whether one can even be “addicted to sex.”
But all of this – these questions about whether sex addiction exists, about whether you are a sex addict – obscure the important realities of your life: whether sex addiction exists or not, whether you are an addict or not, you are powerless over sex, and your life has become unmanageable.
This admission of powerlessness and unmanageability describes a reality familiar to anyone suffering from any sort of out-of-control behavior. Paradoxically, accepting and admitting your powerlessness can itself be empowering, liberating, relieving. So many of us, when confronting our own out-of-control behavior, experience shame – shame not just about our actions, but about our inability to stop.
Understanding that our inability to stop isn’t a failure, but rather, a symptom, can therefore be liberating.
This is not in any way to say that we are not responsible for our behaviors.
But if you can’t stop engaging in behaviors you truly believe you want to stop, you need a strategy other than simply trying to stop. Because as long as your strategy consists of “trying to stop,” as long as you conceive of your struggle as a struggle of willpower, your chances of success are slim.
It’s not uncommon to engage in some funny thinking when it comes to out-of-control sexual behavior: we try, over and over, to “quit,” and we are undeterred by our history of failure, even though it stretches back over years, and, in some cases, decades. It’s as if we expect things to go differently this time around, even though it never has before (the cliched definition of insanity).
So what should you do if you are powerless over sex, if your life has become unmanageable?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. For many people, there are multiple answers to the question. Possibilities include physical fitness, bodywork, meditation, twelve-step programs, prayer, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and many more.
At the SAT Project, we offer sensitive, non-judgmental psychodynamic psychotherapy, and our professionals have experience working with just about every approach that has been taken to recover from out-of-control sexual behavior, and we’re committed to working with you to design a program – tailored to you – that will give you the best chance of recovery.