Sex addiction is a type of addiction that is not gender-blind. Unlike some other issues, there tends to be a significant difference in the way that sex addiction affects men and women. Professionals are just starting to understand how it affects the sexes and how they can best treat the addiction. Learn what the professionals know about some of the key differences between sex addictions in men and women.
Can Females Have a Sex Addiction?
For decades, society overlooked the possibility that women could be addicted to sex. While people admitted that men could have an addiction to sex, they didn’t entertain the thought that women could have the same problem. However, this thought process was not limited to sex addiction. When it came to alcohol or gambling addictions, society shared a similar opinion. Studies only showed examined the effects of addiction on men. Researchers didn’t think to look into how it affected women. Unfortunately, this meant that professionals had very little knowledge of how to look for and treat addiction in women.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that gender differences in alcoholism became apparent. At this time, professionals learned that women developed alcoholism much differently than men. That research led to the realization that addiction is not gender-blind. It develops and manifests itself in unique ways.
Just as men can have sex addictions, women can have them too. About one-third of all sex addicts are women. Only about one-fifth of those women get treatment. Clearly, women suffer from the addiction as men do. However, the addiction symptoms are not the same. There are some significant differences.
Men Who Have an Addiction to Sex
When a man has an addiction to sex, he tends to objectify his sexual partners. Instead of looking for sex with an emotional connection, he looks for sex with almost no emotional attachment. In search of this, men turn to some of the following avenues:
- Internet pornography and other voyeuristic sex
- Anonymous sex
- The exploitation and objectification of women during sex
All of the above acts involve very little emotional connection. They allow men to meet their sexual needs without any type of attachment. Interestingly enough, the way that men with an addiction look at sex is the way society teaches men to act. From a young age, men learn to objectify women. Being single and free is something for men to celebrate. Often, men face ridicule for showing emotional attachment. In men, sex addiction is an extension of those teachings.
Females Who Have an Addiction to Sex
In the past, society expected women to be homemakers. They needed to meet the needs of their husband and be submissive. However, sex addiction in a woman is the opposite behavior. Female sex addicts often like to dominate men and be in complete control. For them, the two main goals of sex are attention and power. To fulfill their needs, they often turn to the following activities:
- Role-playing in the bedroom
- Seducing someone, rather than being seduced
- Trading sex for things
- Practicing sadomasochism
Instead of following society’s expectations, women with a sexual addiction tend to act out against them. They go against the grain and defy social norms.
In women, sex addiction seems to be a result of codependency. Women are raised to become dependent on their partners. Sometimes, they use sex to keep their relationships going. Whether or not they want to have sex, codependents have sex to maintain relationships.
Often, it seems that women with sex addictions want to repair their codependency. Codependency makes them feel weak. As a result, the women want to become stronger by acting more like a man. They start to treat sex the way that men do.
One of the biggest differences in sex addiction in men and women is the chance of treatment. Unfortunately, many women don’t get treatment for their addiction issues. Because people don’t often talk about sex addiction in women, most women don’t know that it exists. They don’t realize that they have a problem, and they don’t seek help.
Additionally, there’s the issue of their peers. If a woman knows that she has an addiction to sex, she still might hesitate to get help. She might fear what others would think of her, or how it would affect her social standing. Too often, women suffer in silence.
Understanding Sex Addiction
While an addiction to sex manifests itself uniquely in men and women, there is one main similarity. In both sexes, the addiction is not about pleasure. There is nothing about the pleasure of sex that contributes to the addiction. Instead, there are underlying causes.
Like treatment for other compulsive behaviors, treatment for sex addiction requires you to get the root of the cause. Although the cause is different for men and women, the result can be the same. If you work with an experienced counselor, then you could learn to cope with your addiction.