I think they do a good job of defining the difference between a chemical dependency and a sexual “addiction” but I really think they miss the mark in their conclusions. Both stem from deeper psychological issues. The fact that they manifest themselves differently really doesn’t prove anything.
They were very quick to latch onto proof provided by the lack of inclusion into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and I suppose that might lead to some credence of their position, until you realize those are the same experts that used to attribute homosexuality and trans behavior to mental illness, but have since decided that it is normal. They also see abortion as a valid means to help women struggling with anxiety related to pregnancy, but don’t recognize the related fallout(depression, substance abuse, suicide, long term relationship problems, etc. as a response. As far as I can tell, they are less about science than they are about trying to stay relevant, and I don’t put much faith in their conclusions.
I’ve typically heard addictive behavior defined as having an escalating trajectory. Either through frequency or increasingly risky behavior. How you describe yourself (masturbating nearly every day, using orgasm to help you fall asleep, lovemaking around once a month) sounds very much like myself for a good number of years. I don’t remember if Wifey ever said I was addicted, but she (like me) grew up with a skewed notion of the nature of sex and God’s design. She certainly has said that I want sex “too much” (2-4 times a week) and that I should be able to get fulfillment and connection in other ways, like her. Which I do, but they are more like filling a bucket with a trickle of water where sex is a torrential deluge that fills my relational bucket and spills over the edge splashing about. What Wifey has a hard time understanding is that there’s a hole in the bucket that gets bigger with stress and the longer it’s been since we’ve had sex. So in her mind, if it’s been nearly a month and we make love, I should be good for a week or so when in reality it’s just reinvigorated my desire for her that I’ve been trying to hold back. I’m drawn to her and craving the emotional connection and physical manifestation of our one-flesh union.
Through prayer, crying out to God, introspection, learning about how God designed mankind’s sexual needs, and the Men of Valor podcast (the folks who run it are a Christian ministry focused on healing sexual addiction), I realized I wasn’t addicted, I was medicating my feelings of loneliness and disconnection from my Wifey. The Men of Valor podcast has a series on defining sexual addiction and the common causes of sexual addiction that were helpful to me in figuring out myself. In particular, I didn’t identify with a majority of what they defined as sexual addiction. It’s been about a year since I listened to it, so I don’t remember all the specifics. I recommend having a listen and determine for yourself where you fall.
I think the basic definition of an addiction is use of a substance or act, either for the purpose of replacing something else missing in their lives, or to hide from something in their lives. I know that is simplistic, but recognizing it has helped me in managing my own addictive nature. For the record, I am probably susceptible to both types.
My working definition of a sex addict to immoral behavior is someone with a consuming lifestyle that is engaging in risky behavior to relationships, who’s character/testimony is eroding or gone; engaged in sexual activities that are repetitive and ongoing; sometimes without regard to finances; always blind to the potential loss of job, relationship, and testimony, one who is unable by his/her own means to halt.
I have not been thought to be one by my spouse. I would definitely never consider her to be one.
I remember, before the internet, looking up in different books about sexual addiction. I don’t recall how it was defined. But, yes, I have believed at the very least, my husband had sexual addictive behaviors….and it was beyond just wanting sex a lot and porn use.
There is a helpful list of symptoms of sexual addiction within this article:
Hungry, are you asking if sexual addiction is situational or relational?
For example, some on TMB have understandable convictions against masturbation. Perhaps masturbation practices have hurt them personally or relationally in the past. They may be convinced that masturbation is wrong based on illegal impulse (voyeuristic masturbation) or on relational harm (masturbating to pornography). If that person can’t control their impulse to masturbate in public or masturbate in private (voyeurism and/or pornographic masturbation) even though they know that act is risky and/or harmful, it would be an addictive situational and/or relational behavior.
Let me be appropriately (I trust) personal about this distinction. I masturbate, a lot. In our early years of marriage, we sorted out the activity of masturbation in our Christian marriage. Both of us agreed that there is no Biblical prohibition. We agreed that God created us as sexual beings and there were times when sexual desire spurred us on to needed relief when one of us wasn’t available (during her period or when I was on a business trip – either of us encouraged each other to masturbate in those situations). Pornography was and is sinful and not permissible as a stimulant for masturbation. If horny and in a state for needful relief (90% of the time it was/is me) and my DW was not in the mood, she would generously help or join me to masturbate. In our elder years, solo masturbation exceeds PIV. That’s because we agree that a horny moment should not be wasted – for either of us. When we masturbate our thoughts are on each other. Our lifetime of fantastic sex gives me plenty to replay in my mind as I masturbate to images and mental recordings of my beautiful, sexy Mrs. Oldbear.
Now, for some on TMB, our marriage bed conviction and agreement to celebrate masturbation in this manner would out of the question and/or out of bounds. This could be because of personal conviction or horrible experience; for example, obsessive, hurtful use of pornography by a DH.
Final thought: If a sexual activity/behavior is illegal and uncontrollable get help – it’s an addiction. If a sexual activity/behavior is hurting your relationship – be careful not to label it addiction. Be sure to talk about it, work through the issue, and seek Christian counseling as needed.
And then there are articles and books written by top psychologists indicating that sex addiction is a complete myth https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wnd4wy/theres-no-such-thing-as-a-sex-addiction https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Sex-Addiction-David-Ph-D/dp/1442213051
So the big question is this – is it really “sex addiction” or is it a mental health issue related to always needing sex? Is sex really the problem or is it a symptom? https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/sex-is-never-the-problem-sex-is-always-a-symptom