THE MEANING OF SEXAHOLIC – COULD YOU BE LIVING WITH ONE?
By Dr. Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC
Calling someone a sexaholic doesn’t sound flattering. Does it?
But since most people don’t know the true meaning of sexaholic, how is it really taken?
Any word with -aholic behind is likely to be taken negatively by most people, even when connected to something popular like sex.
I treat alcoholics and most don’t want to accept that label. It’s embarrassing, shameful, and has so many negative connotations associated with it.
Here’s a version of the pushback I typically get –
I’m a CPA. I drive a Tesla. I’m not standing on the corner with a sign asking for money to buy booze and sleeping under a bridge.”
The suffix -aholic means something you like so much that you don’t want to stop, and can lead to becoming addicted.
But doesn’t that describe how most of us feel about sex?
We like it, want more of it, and don’t want to ever stop having it.
So how would you ever know if you’re a sexaholic?
Good question. Most people who are one don’t know it.
The Meaning Of Sexaholic
If you like sex and want to have sex – a lot – does that mean you’re a sexaholic?
Doesn’t that describe many people?
What makes a sexaholic different is that they’re someone who not just likes sex and wants sex, but has to have sex.
This is more than the basic meaning of -aholic, which is that you like something so much you don’t want to stop. A sexaholic means very much the same thing as sex addict – someone who’s addicted to sex.
Here are some of the descriptions of a sexaholic from the 12-step group, Sexaholics Anonymous – no sense of “right or wrong,” “lost control,” “hooked and cannot stop,” “lust has become an addiction.”
I regularly hear women say this about their partners,
He’s obsessed with sex.”
It may be surprising to hear, but I hear some men say this about their female partners too.
Although most of these people aren’t sexaholics, “obsessed with sex” is a good explanation of the meaning of sexaholic.
I am so happy that I found this website. You guys are amazing. My husband recently told me that he doesn’t know if he loves me anymore and that he can’t see himself just having sex with one woman for the rest of his life. We had a lot of fights and arguments about it. He constantly tries to talk and have sex with other females. He has a friend who calls/texts my husband at 11pm or even later and asks him if he would like to go to the strip club or go to clubs and try to take females home just to “talk” and have a few drinks with them at his friend’s house. I have no right to tell my husband who to be around, but I wish he would understand that I feel disrespected from him. He calls me a fat, messy, crazy, psychopath, dramatic bitch. Almost every week, he tells me that he wants a divorce and that he doesn’t know if he loves me but then one day later or even 10 mins later, he says that he didn’t mean it. He says that marriage shouldn’t change his life style and he wants to live his life like he used to. He feels that I control him because I tell him not to cheat on me. I truly love him and wish that there is a way to save my marriage. Why is he so obsessed with sex? What can I do so he doesn’t want to have sex with another woman? -Mariana
So, is Mariana’s husband a sexaholic?
It’s hard to say for sure with just this description. He could be, but he also could be like a lot of guys I treat who are unhappy with their relationship and want to have sex with a woman other than just their partner.
Does that mean he’s a sexaholic?
No. It takes more than just wanting to have sex with another woman to be a sexaholic as I’ll show below.
Can only men become sexaholics?
No, women can as well.
Here’s an article I wrote about help with a porn addiction that describes the life of a woman named Amber who’s a sexaholic.
Is Being A Sexaholic Bad?
Anything in excess can be bad for us, even if it’s a good thing.
Eating is good for us. It’s a necessity too. But we all know that eating too much is also bad for us.
The same goes for sex.
One of the problems with sex is that it’s used for things other than just to express love or experience pleasure.
People use it to:
- Deal with stress
- Numb uncomfortable emotions
- Build their self-esteem (feel wanted and loved)
When we misuse sex it becomes bad for us. Which is why being a sexaholic is bad too.
Sexaholics are very similar to drug addicts – they’ll do almost anything to get that high.
Such as take extreme risks, like –
- Jeopardize their job, income, and lifestyle.
- Destroy their marriage and relationship with their kids.
- Ruin their reputation.
Here are some descriptions of a few of the sexaholics I’ve treated:
- A well-known male politician picks up male prostitutes when out of town, and has done so his whole 20-year marriage.
- A construction worker who sexts female coworkers pics of his penis and has sex with them in his work truck on job sites. His bosses know and look the other way. When the #MeToo movement started a few years ago he got threatening texts from some of these women who said they were going to expose him on social media.
- A wife who has to have sex with her husband 3 times a day (yes, 3 times and they’re not in their 20s either). She accuses him constantly of checking out other women and cheating on her when he travels or goes out without her. So, she has sex with him multiple times a day to reassure herself that he still finds her attractive, and she uses the sex to feel loved by him – except it doesn’t work. She thinks he’s a sexaholic. Which one do you think is the real sexaholic?
One of the aspects about sexaholism that makes it so bad for you is the need for more, and more, and more, which means riskier and more destructive behaviors.
See that in the above examples?
Here’s another one –
I have been with my husband now for 25 years. He has once cheated on me for about 3 years 10 years ago. He was bringing a prostitute into our own home every time when I was out on business trip. We then went marriage counselling and he promise that he will never do it again. Yesterday, I found out that he secretly got a cell phone and was sleeping with another prostitute for over 5 months. He said that he was under a lot of pressure at work and that is why he is having this problem. I found that very difficult to trust or believe him anymore and he always uses his mental issue as an excuse. Of course he watches porn whenever he can. Does this mean he’s a sexaholic? I am deciding if I should just divorce and move on as I don’t want to deal with this kind of emotional distress. -Rachel
How You Become A Sexaholic
A person isn’t born a sexaholic, they become one.
- Some people have some type of sexual trauma or abuse in their past that distorted sex for them so that it became something they need, as opposed to just something they want (This is the story for the woman above who needs sex 3 times a day to feel loved).
- Others have created this need themselves and use sex to feed their poor self-identity (The construction worker).
- For others it’s how they manage their emotions (The politician).
Like all addictions, a sexaholic reinforces the need every time they act on it. The behavior creates a negative feedback loop that just keeps reinforcing more of the behavior.
Our body releases powerful chemicals during sexual activity that are very addicting.
For all of these reasons, and more, it’s very hard to stop being a sexaholic, and so in most cases professional help is required to do so successfully and permanently.
I’ve intentionally not mentioned porn in describing what being a sexaholic means. While a porn addiction can be a symptom of a sexaholic, it’s not a certainty that one means the other.
Unfortunately, this is not well known and so I regularly hear people call their partners a sexaholic because they watch porn. And because the term is taken negatively it causes even more shame that must be overcome in order to help them.
What To Take Away
A simple meaning of a sexaholic is an alcoholic who uses sex rather than alcohol. Here’s what that looks like:
- A sexaholic is someone who has to have sex. Or, has to have the chemical high that comes with sexual stimulation.
- Sexaholics have become addicted to this high and so will take big risks to have it again and again.
- You become a sexaholic through reinforcing experiences and behavior choices.
- Most sexaholics are also addicted to porn, but having a porn addiction doesn’t necessarily make you a sexaholic.
Sexaholism is treatable, so get some help for yourself or the person you love.
Know someone who might fit the meaning of a sexaholic? Could that be you? Tell other readers what it looks like and get their opinions.