Sex and Love Addictions

Sex Addiction, I Feel, is rampant in our society. It goes hand and hand with work and religious addiction and yet it escapes recognition because it is very subtle and even condoned and minimized.......Jim Drush


The most violent place in our country is the American family. If we could stop the violence in our homes, we could reduce the diagnostic book of psychiatric disorders to a pamphlet and empty three-fourths of our prisons...This book embodies Ms Crawford's sharp insight into the roots of violence and how to stop it." From The Forward By JOHN BRADSHAW author of "Healing the Shame that Binds You" and "Homecoming."


...Taken From...."No Safe Place"...The Legacy Of Family Violence...By Christina Crawford:

....Station Hill Press


Sex is the means by which humankind regenerates. It is also the means by which we are able to express intimacy, trust, caring, sensuality, and spirituality through relationship with another.

Love can take the form of protectiveness for a child, a sense of connection to family and community members, and intimacy with a sexual partner. Love is a learned behavior. We first experience it as contact with our birth mother's body, through her eyes, voice, heartbeat, breasts, hands, laughter, song, kiss, smell, and milk. In this context, love means feelings of safety, protection from the world, trust in another, joyfulness, and other expressions that will develop in the process of reaching maturity. Love, therefore, is a range of feelings and learned behaviors that, when appropriately activated, attach us to other people.

Love is contact-with ourselves, with others, and with Spirit.

So what has gone wrong when we speak of addictive sex and "love" addiction?


When love is not part of the childhood experience, when love is withheld or used only as a reward, the child's natural need and desire for love goes underground only to resurface in later years as inappropriate, addictive, or antisocial behaviors.

When violence is a part of a relationship, real love cannot develop. When sex is imposed on a child too early and against his or her will, or without the child being able to decide whether or not they want to participate, then sex becomes an act of violence, of terrorism.

When sex is portrayed as filthy, immoral, sinful, or forbidden, a child will reject and repress normal feelings about his or her developing body and sexuality, only to have those feelings attempt to spring forth years later, resulting in compulsive acts of perversion or violence against others.

When sex and love are separated from one another and sex is used to fill up the emptiness, to numb oneself against feelings, or as a mood changer, then the addictive process has begun. I've heard the sex addict defined as a person who displays maximum attention with minimum intention. The sex addict will do whatever has to be done to engage a partner for sex, without a thought to further contact once the goal is achieved. Sex addicts always keep a supply of partners, so that there is never the risk of being without.


Their focus is on having sex and having it frequently, and on little else. Even when a sex addict is in a long-term relationship, they will keep other sexual partners stashed away in the wings.

Addicts will go to any lengths to protect their supply. Sex addicts use sex as other addicts use drugs or alcohol, so for them, sex has to be in constant supply. If partners are not available, they resort to masturbation. Often, both sexual partners and masturbation are employed to insure the addict of constant sexual stimulus, sometimes without regard to health or safety, appropriate surroundings, or personal reputation. Sex addiction endangers the health of thousands, as it can lead to the transmission of AIDS and venereal diseases. Sex addicts can be found in all walks of life, among religious leaders, politicians, university professors, law enforcement officers, factory workers, etc.

For love addicts, it is the feeling of "being in love" with another that acts as the drug or mood changer, that gives them their "high." Life without this feeling is not worth living, at least from their point of view. Whether the love object is actually participating in the relationship or not is of less importance to the love addict then his or her fantasy, and the allure of the fantasy often precludes all possibility of a real relationship. In extreme cases, love addiction becomes obsession, sometimes resulting in the stalking of and assaults on private individuals, public figures, and even murder.

Many sexual abuse survivors learn a lot about sex much too young. They then find it difficult in adulthood to know how and when to set boundaries, for, when they were children, they were not allowed to say no, nor were they allowed to leave a destructive situation.

Some survivors prefer having sex with strangers and keeping feelings of love only for platonic friends, for combining sex and friendship only evokes feelings of vulnerability and anxiety.

Because these behaviors and the fears behind them are usually not talked about, many people do not realize they result from childhood trauma and may constitute addictions. Without recognition and treatment, addictive behaviors tend to escalate. Many sex and love addicts jeopardize marriages, jobs, social position, relationships with children and other family members, and even their own health without once considering giving up the addiction. Sex and love addictions plague not only private lives of individuals, but threaten public safety through the activities of peeping toms, flashers, mooners, pedophiles, pornographers, sado-masochists, rapists, serial killers, kidnappers, and sexual harasses.

Physical and/or sexual abuse has been the experience of all serial killers whose childhood histories are known. A serial killer evidences an extreme form of addiction, using sex and violence to reenact his past and symbolically annihilate its demons over and over again.

The profile of serial killers is almost as frightening as their behavior. Serial killers are almost always white, middle class males under thirty-five years old. They are rarely married, often described as quiet "loners," and only sporadically employed. All serial killers do violence to their victims beyond simple murder. They torture their victims. They look for a particular set of characteristics in their victims, a stereotype, whether male or female, and, at least in their minds, kill the same person over and over again. The killing usually starts in childhood or adolescence, often with animals, and does not stop until they are caught or have killed themselves.

Why is it necessary to vent so much rage over and over again? What experiences lie behind the serial killer's need to torture and annihilate? What trauma happened to these men when they were innocent children? Who did hurtful things to them? Had they been witness to the torture of others?

Without asking and exploring such questions about serial killers, we lose the opportunity of learning how to prevent the repetition of their hideous acts. Without facing the answers to those questions, we as a society doom ourselves to a life of escalating violence.

FBI agents describe some serial killers as charming men unlikely to provoke suspicion.14 John Wayne Gary, executed in 1994, was a contractor and fast-food restaurant manager who killed thirty-three young men and boys, burying them in his home in Des Plaines, Illinois. Ted Bundy, executed in 1989, was linked to the murder of thirty-six young women. He had had a job answering calls to a suicide hotline and had gone to law school. Wayne William's was a freelance photographer, convicted of killing two of twenty-nine young Atlanta blacks reported missing during a two-year period. Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted of killing fifteen young men of color in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dahmer talked about keeping the victims' bodies (usually as parts) so he wouldn't feel abandoned. (Fear of abandonment, of losing mother and being defenseless in the world, is a primary fear in childhood.) Abandonment in childhood is total emptiness and a threat to survival.

These were all young men, personable, intelligent, and nice-looking. All started killing at an early age, Dahmer and Bundy probably as teenagers, though that has not been verified.

Recently, a ten-year-old boy was charged with rape, child molestation, and assault with a knife. His victims were two boys, aged five and eight, and a four-year-old girl. An investigator for the police department in a small town near Portland, Oregon, filed reports on three other cases involving this same child, who may have attacked as many as twelve children in a six-month period.15 Nothing is reported about this child's background or family life.

But ten-year-old children do not just wake up one morning and start raping and terrorizing other children. Violence is learned behavior. Something violent happened to that little boy before he became violent. We have to ask what happened and be willing to hear the answer.

It is likely that most adults suffering from sex and love addictions were physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abused as children. According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, statistics on sexual abuse in the United States indicate that one in every four women is sexually abused before the age of eighteen and one in every eight men is sexually abused before they reach adulthood.

For a great number of people, the damage in childhood was so profound that they will not be able to turn their lives around by themselves. They need many years of therapeutic intervention. Without such help, they may become sociopaths, terrorists, serial killers, pedophiles, or child abusers, many of whom, according to professionals, cannot be rehabilitated! Whether or not that is true, we must uncover the real causes of these behaviors, remembering that once these criminals were innocent children.

The rise in the number of young teenagers engaging in sexual intercourse is, I believe, an example of the national addictions to love and sex, although not currently framed in those terms. Teen sex is a reflection of our consumer values and behaviors as glorified in the media and of the attitudes of adults who look upon their children merely as objects to possess.

Currently, one million teenagers become pregnant each year.16 Two-thirds of the teenagers who give birth are single. Only one in ten of black teens giving birth is married. When asked why they have babies, most reply that they are looking for LOVE. They are seeking the love they cannot find in their homes, from their families, or in society. The symptom is the rise in teenage pregnancies; the disease is the unavailability of love, self-esteem, empowerment, and feelings of belonging in everyday life, particularly in families of violence.

Young male teenagers often assume a "hit and run" attitude toward sex, impregnating as many girls as possible to prove their manhood, and increase their standing among their peers. To ask young people to "just say no" to sex without giving them adequate education as to why is unrealistic, even cruel. Without adequate information, unless the child has the benefit of a deeply loving and highly ethical family, he or she most likely will be overwhelmed by the many hazards and temptations facing young people on a daily basis.

One-fourth of all girls and one-third of boys are sexually active by the age of fifteen. By the age of seventeen, fifty percent of all girls and sixty-six percent of all boys are sexually active. Half of these children receive no education about AIDS. A Massachusetts study in 1991 found that one in forty-six young people checked for AIDS tested positive.17

In the name of "protecting" children from premature sexual encounters, authorities, parents, and religious leaders are keeping them in the dark, thus risking the lives of an entire generation of youth to sexually transmitted diseases and the killer AIDS. The fact that condoms can reduce the risk of AIDS by ninety percent and unwanted pregnancy by approximately the same figure18 gets lost in the rhetoric of "old-fashioned family values." In this instance, renaming the problem is essential.

At present only about twenty-five percent of sexually active high school seniors say they always use condoms. Insult is added to injury when thirty-four percent of college males say they have lied to potential sex partners about using a condom. Not surprisingly, sixty-three percent of venereal disease cases occur in men and women under twenty-five years old.19

Here, too, renaming the problem is important. Most discussion on teenage pregnancy focuses on the female. Where are the fathers? Where are the child support payments? Where are the responsible legislators? Why is it that the media, social services, courts and other law enforcement institutions, medical community, and society at large still define the problem only in terms of the mother, the female? Where is acknowledgment of shared responsibility for co-creation from initial sexual encounter to conception to parenthood?

We must seek to redefine this issue in terms of responsibility shared by both men and women, or risk an ever-growing number of young victims in the future.


And Always Keep In Mind The Most Important Factor

  "What we live with we learn,
and what we learn
we practice, and what we
practice, we become...
and what we become
has consequences"...
AND almost always, I have
found, who we become
has little to do with who
we were meant to be.

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(Est. 4.15.96)

DISCLAMER: Before you start to look at the material that I have assembled for you I want to make clear that I claim very little original authorship here. Even where I don't give credit I probably should because there are very few original words of wisdom left in recovery. I want to especially thank Terry Kellogg, whom I do believe has a lot of original stuff, John Bradshaw whom I believe has the ability to synthesize others material better that anyone I know, and I guess if we wanted to be completely accurate we should not quote the serenity prayer out of content nor without giving credit to the author. I also want to give permission to anyone to use anything on this site for the benefit of recovery as long as they do not make any more money off of it. This offer only extends to what I have the right to give.

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