Socially deviant sexual behaviour like paedophilia is obviously regarded as completely unacceptable. But what happens if you become dependent on a form of sexual expression that’s not “so bad” but is still controlling your life? How do you deal with it if your partner is addicted to it?
The things I am talking about are compulsive masturbation, pornography, cyber sex, phone sex and even just promiscuity. Many people will use these forms of sexual expression and are able to control the frequency they access it, but unfortunately this is not always the case.
As sex therapists, we have some clients who are severely distressed by their inability to control certain sexual compulsions like watching pornography or masturbating. Although they realise that they are spending excessive amounts of money and time on these obsessions and are putting themselves and their relationships at risk, they are unable to change their behaviour. By the time they see us; they have often already caused massive damage to their relationships, their careers and their financial situation.
This condition is referred to as ‘non-paraphilic hypersexuality’. Every person who masturbates occasionally certainly does not suffer from it – it’s only diagnosed when the behaviour is causing significant distress.
Non-paraphilic hypersexuality is much more common in men than in women. Women often present to my office with low libido, but when I dig deeper, if find that their partner actually suffers from non-paraphilic hypersexuality and it’s affecting their relationship and subsequently their sex life.
Discovering your partner’s addiction can be devastating and many relationships don’t survive this. Trust is often completely broken and most women find it extremely difficult to cope with the situation. There is however help available and having a supportive partner is one of the best predictors of a positive outcome.
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