What are the signs of sex addiction? How do you know if you’re a sex addict? I wrote this blog to help you by sharing my story of sex addiction recovery, to empower you, and to encourage you to seek sex addiction help.
Why Sex Addiction Signs Are Important To Know
Once upon a time, in 2014, I was diagnosed with sex addiction…
I could not believe it. It was heartbreaking.
Never did I think sex was my addiction. I thought I was in control, but the truth was that I was powerless. Still, it was unimaginable for me to buy into my diagnosis at first. Until I began learning about the signs of sexual addiction, which were so easily-observable in my behavior and lifestyle.
I’m writing this blog post for you to know the signs of sex addiction so that you can recognize women addicted to sex, especially if you yourself are suspecting that you might be a sex addict.
You can’t deal with what you don’t understand. To find healing, you must first gain awareness of what sex addiction is doing to you, why you’re addicted, and how to break free.
The difference between signs and symptoms is that signs are external and observable while symptoms are something felt and experienced internally. Sex addiction signs are what others can witness from observing your behavior and lifestyle. Let me share my own experience.
Sex addiction signs are noticeable to the people around you but not to you. It’s because this disease causes you to live in a state of mental fog and confusion. You are so preoccupied with your temptations that you have no time, energy, or courage to reflect on your lifestyle.
That is why I say “I was dead and God brought me back to life” through Jesus once I fell on my knees and asked Him to come into my heart and save me.
Here’s how it happened…
This is what it means to be dead and be brought back to life.
From Death to Life
In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God. Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else. But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much he made us alive with Christ, and God’s gift of undeserved grace is what saves you. God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. God did this so in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve.+ This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. This is why he sent Christ to make us what we are.Ephesians 2:1-10
Most sex addicts live in denial.
RELATED: What Is a Sex Addict?
Now, let’s discuss the signs of sex addiction in detail.
I want you to not just read but also reflect on your own life, behavior, and relationships. If your friend was reading this, would she consider that you may perhaps have a sex addiction problem? Would your friends and peers be able to pinpoint sex addiction issues in your life?
The ten signs of sex addiction are external and observable.
So, what are they?
Ten Signs of Sex Addiction
- Repeated compulsive pursuit of sexual activities
- Obsessive sexual conversations and fantasies
- Compulsive relationships with multiple partners and strangers
- Deceptive lying to cover up the shameful behaviors
- Abnormal preoccupation with sexual ideation during work hours
- High tolerance for just about any sexual activity and need for more
- Genuine promises to stop the behavior broken over and over again
- Careless pursuit of sexual satisfaction despite any dangers or risks
- Candid expression of remorse and guilt after the sexual behavior
- Apparent withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop the behavior
These ten sex addiction signs are what others can see and observe in your behavior and lifestyle as it relates to the sexual addiction you’re battling.
My friends saw my problem. But I didn’t.
RELATED: My Story of Sex Addiction
There are also sex addiction symptoms you need to understand. They are experienced on the inside and aren’t visible to the outside world. I wrote a detailed blog post on this topic and hope it will help you on your journey.
Let’s now talk about each of the ten sex addiction signs in detail.
Repeated Compulsive Pursuit of Sexual Activities
A sex addict’s brain confuses pleasure for survival. It’s important to note that while a sex addict is repeating the sexual behaviors over and over again compulsively, she actually does want to stop.
I remember a woman I met as Sexaholics Anonymous. She shared how she’d leave her husband and children to go hunt for sex in parking lots and public bathrooms. After the fact, she’d get back into her right state of mind, look at herself in the mirror, and cry. Her body would be all bruised and she would regret everything. Then, she would do it all over again.
My own pattern of compulsive sexual behavior began early in childhood when my mother introduced me to pornography.
RELATED: Narcissistic Mother
While I was sleeping around, I did not like that, yet, I was doing it because my brain was programmed by my mother and I was confused.
At the same time, I felt empty, bankrupt, and dark on the inside. Only I wasn’t admitting to my problems until I hit the rock bottom in 2014.
Jesus intervened, and I got saved.
RELATED: Who Is Jesus?
You see, I don’t just want to keep to myself how I got saved. I want to share the joy of my new identity and life with you. Coming to Christ was the most transformative experience of my life.
I prayed to God to rid me of myself, to liberate me from my affliction, to break my heart of stone and give me the heart of flesh so I could feel and see the things unseen. I invited Jesus into my life and accepted Him into my heart as my lord and savior.
And He changed me.
My entire life changed because I learned that I’m loved by God, I’m accepted exactly the way I am, that I am a royal, a Princess, a daughter of the King of the universe, and so are you.
That’s why I started this ministry, Online Discipleship For Women. Please support the work I do to help women: donate now.
“Whoever Brings Blessing Will be Enriched” Proverbs 11:25
Bless Online Discipleship For Women
I’m sharing this content and my story to help you reflect on your own experience so that you can accept the grace of God who loves and adores you.
He is crazy about you.
God wants you to belong to Him and to be in a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
This is why I’m sharing with you the signs of sex addiction and how they showed up in my own life. I was seeking intimacy through sex but I found intimacy through Jesus Christ.
If you’re struggling, know that sin is not your master.
You have been set free.
Reach out for the gift of freedom. It’s already yours. Jesus paid it all so you don’t have to. He redeemed you at a high price because you are His precious possession. You’re God’s masterpiece made perfect in His image.
I’m here to help you see yourself the way God sees you so that you abandon your obsession with sex and get obsessed with Jesus who is already obsessed with you.
Obsessive Sexual Conversations and Fantasies
A sex addict is always talking about sex and looking for opportunities to expand the conversation. Whether it’s joking inappropriately, discussing what’s in someone’s pants, getting into the friends’ bedroom business, planning sex, or seeking partners to have sex with, as well as posting online videos, pictures, or sexting with people. This is what sex addiction is all about. It’s an illness, and it needs serious attention.
RELATED: Sex Addiction
A sex addict’s mind is overwhelming to a regular person when it comes to the amount of thinking, talking, planning, and reflection that goes on in the sex addict’s headspace – all regarding sex.
I remember my own experience.
It was a beautiful Russian Spring, I was in business school and law school, and I had a couple of sugar-daddies.
My B-school girlfriend and I would be in the midst of an intelligent business conversation at a university when I’d switch to sex and go on and on.
I remember she’d ask me to stop talking about it but somehow I couldn’t and instead I’d end up leaving the class to go “get some.”
These are sad memories. I was demonstrating the obvious signs of sex addiction. No one was trying to help me or rescue me from myself. I was just happily and optimistically spiraling down into the addiction trap, and nine years later, I hit the rock bottom.
That life was miserable. Life is so much more than just random sex. I love my life on the other side of sexual addiction recovery.
My hope is that this content will help you to also create a joyful life by embracing God’s word.
Compulsive Relationships with Multiple Partners and Strangers
Sex addiction is a tool used by the brain to cope with life’s stress. There’s confusion in the brain, and it results in an unstoppable obsession with sex.
Oftentimes, it has nothing to do with who the person is in front of you, as long as they are willing to do what you desire them to do.
You can be obsessed about sex with one man or five men or you can care less who the man is or who the mean are, as long as you get the satisfaction your brain is seeking. That’s why sexual addiction is a matter that requires dedicated help, especially professional and spiritual help.
RELATED: Sex Addiction Help
I had multiple partners: some of them I remember by name and others I don’t. My obsession was not with them, it was with sex.
That’s why even strangers would do.
It’s hard to understand. It’s complicated.
I personally had sex with strangers many times. It’s not anything a sex addict thinks through. It’s a compulsion. It’s an obsession. It’s uncontrollable. It’s overwhelming and very powerful.
Deceptive Lying to Cover Up the Shameful Behaviors
When you struggle with sexual addiction, you lie even to yourself. You lie to your spouse, children, parents, and your employer. You lie to your friends and mentors, and to your neighbors.
You lie about where you were, where you’re going, what you did and plan to do, what you’re thinking, and what you’re feeling.
Well, the reason why an addict is an addict is because she isn’t feeling much. She doesn’t understand feelings and can’t name the feelings she might possibly be experiencing.
An addict was never allowed to feel or talk about feelings, that’s what her addiction is for: to help her cope with everyday life by avoiding feelings.
RELATED: List of Feelings
Lies help cover up the shameful behaviors.
Shame leads to more stress, which leads to more sexual obsessions resulting in more shameful behaviors and more lies.
This never ends until the mercy and grace of sovereign God can be accepted and forgiveness takes over the shame.
God’s love is the best cure for sex addiction.
Then, the vicious cycle is broken. The addict finds freedom and joy.
Abnormal Preoccupation with Sexual Ideation During Work Hours
I remember working at a global Telecom company in Russia. In our corporate office, one of the managers, Boris, not only openly watched porn but also showed it to everyone sitting near him, messaged to coworkers about that porn, which he had new coming to him with alerts every morning, and then, he’d also go on and on talking about that day’s porn all day long.
The next day, it would start all over again.
I thought it was weird.
Only I did the same thing with my real-life sexual experiences that I was always talking about.
BUT my own behavior wasn’t weird, from my perspective.
Sex addicts live in denial.
High Tolerance for Just About Any Sexual Activity and Need for More
First, for me it was about discovering sex in a missionary kind of way, if you know what I mean. Then, oral and anal sex followed. It was never enough though. Toys of all sizes, shapes, and types were added.
Soon, they wouldn’t satisfy either.
That was followed by dress-up roleplays, trips to strip-clubs… and I will stop right here because I made my point: the pleasure is never enough.
A sex addict develops a high tolerance for regular sexual activities.
Multiple orgasms become just another mundane thing like brushing your teeth, and the desire for more excitement soon leads to more dangerous, risky sexual behaviors. All in pursuit of more pleasure.
But every time you reach the new high, the opportunity for more pleasure fades away as you realize that you’re going to need to up your dangerous game in order to reach the same level of high next time.
Genuine Promises to Stop the Behavior Broken Over and Over Again
The sex addict may appear as a villain but actually she is a victim.
She was brought up in an addiction-prone environment and grew up surrounded by addicts of various kinds in her family and neighborhood.
She has a genetic predisposition, as well as neurochemical vulnerability. In her family, she was encouraged and taught how to get addicted. The only way to deal with the stresses of life and feel better – she was shown – was to obsess with sex.
Most likely, there’s a host of other addictions involved in her story, as well. The bottom line is that her early childhood experiences exposed her to the addiction. Then, came abuse of all sorts, which contributed to her sex addiction journey.
Finally, she detached from her pain and humanness and instead, she attached herself to this pleasure-well, which, in turn, sucked the life out of her, and left her lifeless, broken, empty, and bankrupt.
She wants to stop. But it’s too complicated.
To stop, she needs to explore, understand, and accept her unimaginable trauma and pain. Her promises to stop are genuine, only how to go about it she doesn’t know. She needs a lot of help from gracious and competent people who can walk this journey with her without judgment and encourage her to feel.
Feeling her painful feelings is what the sex addict can’t tolerate, which is why she stays trapped in her sexual addiction.
She is a victim of culture, family violence, childhood abuse, and spiritual neglect. The sex addict is genuine in her promises and desire to stop.
But… she’s powerless.
Careless Pursuit of Sexual Satisfaction Despite any Dangers or Risks
From cruising the parking lots, clubs, and public bathrooms to having unprotected sex with strangers – sex addiction leads to risky and dangerous behaviors. Even today, at 36 years old, I have chills remembering the kinds of things I did 20 years ago at 16.
My life today is peaceful and safe, and to cope with the stresses of life I write poetry, create art, journal, blog, meditate, work out, pray, and kayak.
But at 16, what I did to cope with life and feel good was scary and dangerous. Sex addiction was my family’s generational curse, and I saw my aunt many times in the hospital after her pursuits of sexual adventures. My cousin endured a lot from her sexual addiction as well.
None of it was in my immediate awareness as I personally was putting myself into dangerous situations. I was simply avoiding my reality.
My brain was protecting me from crushing or attempting suicide again.
RELATED: My Suicide Story
In the weird neuroscientific kind of way, sex addiction helped me survive my family and escape the violence, abuse, hatred, and cruelty of my sex-obsessed, mentally-ill mother who wanted me dead and told me so.
Sex addiction is never a choice. It’s an affliction.
The sex addict deserves compassion, mercy, grace, empathy, and help.
Candid Expression of Remorse and Guilt After the Sexual Behavior
I vividly remember the mornings after the fact and the overwhelming dread that would overcome my psyche. I’d feel awful. I’d experience regret and shame. I’d want to somehow go back and undo what I did. Then, shame would cloud my thinking, and I’d be paralyzed physically. I felt so sick.
Then, I’d do it all over again.
This only stopped when I gave my life to Christ and accepted His grace, His love for me, and His purpose for my life. He created me intentionally for a divine purpose. Accepting my identity in Christ helped my addiction.
Don’t think there were rainbows or unicorns everywhere once I invited Jesus to come into my heart. Yes, I felt renewed and I was filled with hope. But my body was still made of worldly flesh, so my temptations continued.
I had to stay rooted in God’s word as I dealt with my withdrawal. I prayed on my knees and cried out to God to rid me of my flesh.
Apparent Withdrawal Symptoms When Trying to Stop the Behavior
Any addiction stopped cold-turkey is followed by withdrawal symptoms because whatever it was your brain was used to receiving from this behavior it no longer receives, which takes some adjusting.
The withdrawal from sexual addiction is intense, especially in the beginning. It causes very serious cravings and can drive the addict crazy.
I thought I was losing my mind but every moment I focused on God’s word.
You can experience bouts of depression or anxiety, mental and physical exhaustion, mood swings, irrational thoughts, unexplainable physical pain, irritability, sleepiness, or sleeplessness.
Sex Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
- Mood swings
- Zombie-like mental state
- Low energy levels
- Inability to focus
- Social awkwardness
- Outbursts of overwhelming emotion
Though sex addiction withdrawal is powerful, Jesus is so much more powerful. Remember that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Don’t face this scary situation in your own power. Do it with Christ, and you’ll conquer it. It happened for me and God will do it for you. It won’t be easy but your freedom from this disease is worth the fight.
Sex addiction signs are visible and observable from the outside. Witnessing your lifestyle can cause your family and friends much pain: they can see your problem but you can’t.
I lived in denial for a long time.
My friend Candace was the one who first brought this humiliating issue to my attention. I was embarrassed and upset but, thanks to her, that was the beginning of my journey of healing and recovery.
What I received was grace, acceptance, love, and powerful help.
I’m thankful for Candace, and she’s on my list of friends to whom I express gratitude in my annual Gratitude Journal.
Here’s what I learned from my journey of healing.
Little Anna had a need for attention and acceptance. Her mother only gave her love when talking about men and sex.
So, that little girl was thinking: “Want attention and acceptance form your mother? Talk sex and men!”
That led to the feeling of obsession with sex and men in the heart of the little girl who was simply starving for her mother’s love. She was scared to be rejected again and again by her mother if she refused that mentality.
That feeling led to the development of obsessive-compulsive sexual behavior.
Because the model that was developed in that girl’s head was this:
“Want to feel loved by your mother? Have a lot of sex and talk to her about it, so you two can bond.”
The pattern was reinforced for years, and that’s how I ended up suffering from sexual addiction, giving myself away for the sake of the opportunity to bond with my mother.
In 2014, I was diagnosed with sex addiction.
In 2014, I gave my life to Christ, embarked on a celibacy journey, went to sex-addiction therapy, and attended Sexaholics Anonymous here in Atlanta at Peachtree Presbyterian Church.
RELATED: Sex Addicts Anonymous
In 2017, I started this ministry, Online Discipleship For Women, to encourage and empower women globally by sharing hope in Christ.
You can support my ministry by donating.
My sex addiction was the outcome of extensive severe trauma.
It was my brain’s defense tool to protect me from being crushed by the pain of my terrifying life at home growing up. It was a way to escape my life as an adult, too. I want you to know: this disease is serious, it requires help.
As I’m writing this, I’m weeping and shaking.
I did not want to share any of this with you. It’s hard to share something so intimate, painful, and tragic. Yet, sharing is exactly what encourages and empowers us in life. So, here’s my story shared with you for God’s glory.
God changed my life. That’s why I share from the heart through my ministry. There might be someone out there whose life will be saved by your story.
Share your story in the comments below.
Also, I want to give you a free gift.
Everything I’ve learned about my identity in Christ, what God says about me (and you) is captured in my ebook called #52Devotionals. You can learn who God says you are. Your life can be transformed, too, once you see yourself the way God sees you. To get 52 Biblical affirmations revealing your true royal identity, download by #52Devotionals ebook now.
If this blog helped you, forward it to a woman whose life might be changed by the story and the information shared here. Thank you.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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