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sex and love addictionWhen it comes to sex and love addiction, many of us have preconceived ideas surrounding the qualities and symptoms this addiction includes. We hear the term sex addiction, and sometimes we believe that it only implies the obsession and craving for sex. The aspect of love addiction isn’t something we’re familiar with or fully understand. However, sex and love addiction are much more common than you may think. The list of characteristics is extensive, and there may be a few or many that you relate to. When we, our friends or family, our therapists, or a counselor at our rehab think we may portray these characteristics, we might be hesitant to consider it. Learning more about sex and love addiction is essential to understanding the symptoms and treatments of this addiction, and possibly helping us find relief. Let’s look a little deeper into these characteristics and debunk some of the myths surrounding the addiction to sex and love, as well as the recovery process. 


The Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction 

It’s not uncommon to think that the craving for sex is a major aspect of sex and love addiction. It is a part of the symptoms. However, in total, there are 12 major symptoms that also describe a sex and love addict to consider. Here is a brief explanation of the 12 symptoms:


  1. Becoming emotionally attached to people without fully knowing them, lacking healthy boundaries surrounding love and sex. 
  2. Intense fear of being alone or abandoned, therefore remaining in or returning to unhealthy, damaging, or painful relationships. Subsequently, we deny or avoid our dependency, and isolate ourselves from family, friends, and a Higher Power. 
  3. Intense fear of being deprived of emotional or sexual intimacy, and so we continuously seek out relationships, one after another, even having multiple relationships (sexual or emotional) at one time. 
  4. The confusion of sexual, emotional, or physical attraction for love, needing to be needed. Also cannot distinguish love between pity, and the desire to rescue someone or have them rescue you. 
  5. Fearing commitment, relationships, or intimacy, but simultaneously feeling empty and insufficient when we are alone. Because of this, we seek emotional or sexual relationships, even when we aren’t comfortable with them, to feel complete. 
  6. Using sex or emotional intimacy as coping mechanisms for fear, anger, guilt, stress, loneliness, envy, and shame. Essentially, we sexualize these emotions and use sex as replacements for healthy support and care. 
  7. Manipulating and controlling others using emotional intimacy and sexual behaviors. Intimacy is used as a weapon. 
  8. Our romantic and sexual fantasies or obsessions distract us to the point of immobilization to the point that we cannot focus on anything else. This includes emotional fantasies and imagined intimacy. 
  9. Attaching or engaging in relationships with people who aren’t emotionally available to evade taking responsibility for ourselves. Using these people to justify our own behaviors and emotions. 
  10. Remaining enslaved to our uncontrollable sexual behaviors, romantic obsessions, and emotional dependencies. 
  11. Withdrawing, or retreating, from all emotional and sexual intimacy to escape feelings of vulnerability. We confuse this retreat for recovery. 
  12. Assigning magical characteristics to people we are in relationships with, both intimate and fantasized. We then pursue these qualities, not always the real person, and idealize them. Subsequently, we blame them when they do not meet these expectations. 


Most of these characteristics apply to emotional dependency, not just sexual intimacy. We can display almost all of these qualities without even engaging in sexual activity. If you related to one or more of these characteristics, you are not alone. Men and women alike suffer from sex and love addiction and of the United States population. Almost 30 million people identify as sex and love addicts. Additionally, you do not need to possess all twelve of these symptoms to qualify as an addict. Even just one of them can be damaging to your emotional, sexual, and romantic health, and can affect your ability to have healthy relationships. 


Treatment for Sex and Love Addiction

Recovery from sex and love addiction is possible, and even more readily available than you might think. Similar to alcohol and drug addiction, there is a 12-step program for sex and love. It is called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, or SLAA. There are physical meetings for both men and women, and the recovery process includes having a sponsor to take you through the 12-steps. There are also online meetings for SLAA. Working through this addiction with the help of others who are suffering and experiencing the same issues as you are can be so beneficial in recovering. A therapist may also be a great help in processing this addiction by complementing SLAA meetings with individualized aid. Sex and love addiction can be very painful, and you may find that many of your relationships are toxic and damaging. Trauma can also arise from this addiction, as it can seriously affect your self-image, self-esteem, and ability to engage in healthy relationships, whether emotional or sexual


Working with a group or a medical professional can help you find the root of the issue, or where the sex and love addiction comes from. There are many reasons an addiction like this can form, and it may stem from childhood abandonment or trauma. The central focus of treatment is to help you feel complete on your own and learn to love yourself. It can be a difficult process, but it can also lead to learning how to find and nurture healthy relationships so that you can live a more fulfilling life. There are many ways to begin the recovery journey, and you are worthy of healing. You aren’t alone in your feelings of suffering and uncertainty. There are others who are able to understand and support you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.


The Guest House Ocala treats many different mental disorders and addictions and extends support without judgment to those who need it. Our therapy programs can help restore hope and confidence and begin to welcome the balance in your life. We aim to combat stigma around mental health and would love for you to join us to start the healing process!

To ask any questions and begin that journey today, call us at 855-483-7800.