I honestly can’t get enough of sex. I think about it a lot. I didn’t lose my virginity until last year and ever since I’ve been kind of obsessed. Sometimes it causes tension between me and my boyfriend because I want to do it more than him, and then if he rejects me I get very resentful. I tried talking to people about it but they pretty much just laugh or think it’s not too serious, but it is. Am I a sex addict?
I’m afraid addiction is a strong word. Addiction – whether it’s to alcohol, drugs or the Style Network – refers to when a person is so consumed with something that it literally takes over his life and guides all his decisions. It’s having mixed up priorities (example: not taking an important class for your major because your partner is off that day and you don’t want to miss a single chance of getting some).
True sex addiction ruins relationships. Think of famous celebrity “sex addicts”: Michael Douglas, Usher, Charlie Sheen and Halle Berry’s ex-husband (some of these people are also notorious for having other addictions). These celebrities claimed to be so sex-crazed that they in fact blamed their infidelity on their “condition.” But aside from the more glaring outcome of sex addiction – not being able to keep it in your pants around supermodels – constantly being in need can really put a strain on your partnership (nevermind the disasters that occur when cheating plays a part).
Being addicted to sex doesn’t mean you simply can’t get enough of your irresistible partner, it means you are hooked on the excitement and release of intercourse. Being treated like a sex object by the person you love can be damaging to your self-esteem. And let’s face it, sometimes people just aren’t “in the mood.” Constantly persuading someone to have sex can lead to resentment and if force is used (verbal, physical, emotional or psychological) it’s outright illegal. A person who feels they have been sexually manipulated can be left confused, hurt or worse.
I’ll be the first to admit: sex is great stress relief. It’s a great way to unwind and relax and forget about things for a while, but if it is your only source of release, that’s not healthy. Sexual addicts use sex not only as a release, but as a means of filling a void. That void can be anything: the loss of a family member, depression or nothing more than the confusing complications of adjusting to a new way of life (like going away to college).
According to Dr. Kate M. Wachs, author of “Relationships for Dummies,” sex addicts crave an exponential amount of sexual activity, similar to how drug addicts build up resistance and need larger doses to get high. This works like a sort of cycle. A person becomes obsessed with the idea of whatever act he or she is addicted to. He or she gets to the point of giving in to the craving. Once completed, the self-loathing begins, until it gets to the point of needing to act out again.
Having said all that, I don’t necessarily think you’re an addict. I do, however, urge you to consider seeing a sex therapist to sort out your worries (just make sure that they specialize in sex addictions) or at least talk to someone in Counseling Services who can better direct you. Just because I am suggesting you might not have a medical problem, this does not mean that I’m disregarding your partner’s feelings or that you should too. Try talking to him. It might seem embarrassing to talk about the fact that you can’t get enough sex and when he rejects you it hurts, but if you really care about him you’ll throw your pride aside and try working this out.
I’ve surely said this before: sex is like food. Some people live to eat, and others eat to live. Your boyfriend might just naturally have a lower sex drive. Just because he’s a man doesn’t mean sex is all he thinks about, and just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you couldn’t be bothered with sex. Everybody’s different. However, if talking it out doesn’t seem to help and you’re seriously worried about his lack of sex drive, research people who have the opposite problem: low libido.
Before you consider the fact that you need therapy, I want you to ask yourself a few questions. When you think of the word nymphomaniac, do you think of a man or a woman? If you’re like the few people I polled, you’d say woman. Why do you think that is? Why is it that men are sex addicts (innocent people with disorders they can’t control) and women are nymphomaniacs (crazed beings that live for erotic indulgence and thrive on moral decay)?
Next, do you think you truly fit in with the aforementioned, unhealthy cycle of the sex addict? Or do you simply enjoy having sex frequently? Sex is new and exciting for us at this age. Especially since most physically exciting hobbies are traditionally reserved for men (extreme sports, boxing or hunting lions in Africa), sex is a place where women can explore their bodies and discover fantasies.
My point is that just because you really enjoy sex, like trying new things, fantasize during stat class and would rather rent a Jenna Jameson classic with your partner than watch “The Notebook” with your giggly girlfriends, it doesn’t mean you have a problem dammit! In fact, if it was a man being described above, he’d get a knowing smile from Dad and a pat on the ass from his baseball coach.
Because you are a woman, and we are still feeling the effects of the sexually oppressive Victorian Era, your friends tell you you’re weird and mainstream society tells you you’re abnormal when you’re anything but. And if you can relate to the self-loathing a sex addict feels after the act, you’re probably just feeling a little guilty. In the age of “Sex and the City” and Cosmopolitan, there is still an undertone that women should be passive and should not enjoy sex as much as men. Living proof? The slut label.
So what have we learned? Sex addiction is a serious problem but can be helped with the right treatment. You’re probably not a sex addict. And finally, women who enjoy sex shouldn’t feel bad about it.
I say we follow the long tradition of “reclaiming” words and redefining nymphomaniac as a woman who knows what she wants, gets what she wants and isn’t afraid to talk about it.