It is Sunday afternoon, just after lunch, and I have settled down for a refreshing nap. I have imminently turned on my side and sighed that last contented deep sigh before sleep overwhelms me, when my phone rings. I am wide awake and instantly furious. The person who called has disconnected the call when I answered and when I called back, my call was left unanswered. I am beyond pissed off and fall into complete self-pity for “poor-exhausted-me-who-cannot-even-get-a-few-minutes-of-rest”.

I turn on my side again and disappear into another world. I am not sleeping, but I am not in the “here” where I am angry and feeling sorry for myself. I have disappeared into fantasy. I am in another world and in that world, I am blissfully unaware of my negative feelings. I have successfully escaped my emotions. Suddenly I am awake again. I realise that I have just entered the realm of addiction.

I have been thinking of a way to start this article for a while and here I have it. On a proverbial silver platter.

This article is about sex addition, or sexual addiction, or addiction to all things sexual. I have been wanting to write this for a while, but we are decent folk and we do not talk about these things. Well, stuff the people, we are the people. Today we are talking about sex! Unlike during my pre-teen years…….. I am still waiting for my “birds and bees” conversation…..

Addiction to some form of sexual activity is FAR more common than we realise and destroys more lives than we can imagine, yet, hardly anybody knows that their problem has a name. Not only do very few people know that this form of addiction exists, but even less know that they suffer from it and a miniscule amount of people find freedom from it. Nobody knows - because we do not talk about it.

The basic text of Sex Addicts Anonymous summarises sex addiction as “a disease affecting the mind, body and spirit…… We experience it as compulsion, which is stronger than our will to resist, and as obsession, which is a mental preoccupation with sexual behaviour and fantasies”. This definition is what reminded me that my flight of fantasy has pushed me into addictive mode. When addicts do something else instead of dealing with reality, they are moving into the addiction sphere. That is what drugs, alcohol, sex or whatever their “drug” of choice do or did for them - took or take them away from WHAT IS …. into anything BUT the “what is”.

What do sex addicts experience as compulsion and obsess about? “It” (as the “it” in the definition) can be anything sexual, the possibilities are endless. “It” is referred to as “acting out” and can range from things like voyeurism, pornography, compulsive masturbation, anonymous sex, obsessive fantasising and the use of prostitutes or massage parlours, to bestiality, sexual assault or molestation, crossdressing and sex in public places. There are too many forms of acting out to cover in this space. It can be whatever they prefer to do to not deal with “what is”.

I recon a logical question and this stage would be: “But why do people act out?” The simple answer is that people act out to changes their level of consciousness (what they are conscious of) or their feelings. I changed my feelings earlier when I escaped into fantasy - I became unconscious of my negative emotions, I did not deal with them. They like this altered mental state. This altered state is their “high” and because it feels good, or more likely, does not feel bad - like that what they are not dealing with - they seek it constantly. The disease can progress to such a level where they prefer it to basic needs like sleeping and eating. They can start to find it difficult to focus on anything else while the desire to act out becomes persistent and irresistible. They are not satisfied until they had their “fix” (acted out) and then they are not satisfied afterwards. The more they do it, the more they want to do it.

It is important to take a side bar here and state clearly that sex addiction is not restricted to men. Like any addiction, it is non-discriminatory!

The most dangerous thing about it is the denial of the problem. In many cases they just do not know what is wrong with them. They did not know “that their problem had a name”. Many sex addicts can initially not see their actions for what it is and do not acknowledge the chaos that their behaviour is causing in their lives and those of their loved ones. They keep on thinking that they are just horny or have a high libido and that everyone does what they do, especially when it comes to “acceptable” things like pornography and masturbation.

A good rule to use if you think you may have a sex addiction, is to work on the principle that a non-sex addict will never ask him/herself if he/she is a sex addict. The chances are that, if you are wondering, you most probably are one. Take the self-test in this regard:


  1. Do you keep secrets about your sexual behavior or romantic fantasies from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?

    Yes No

  2. Have your desires driven you to have sex in places or with people you would not normally choose?

    Yes No

  3. Do you need greater variety, increased frequency, or more extreme sexual activities to achieve the same level of excitement or relief?

    Yes No

  4. Does your use of pornography occupy large amounts of time and/or jeopardize your significant relationships or employment?

    Yes No

  5. Do your relationships become distorted with sexual preoccupation? Does each new relationship have the same destructive pattern which prompted you to leave the last one?

    Yes No

  6. Do you frequently want to get away from a partner after having sex? Do you feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter?

    Yes No

  7. Have your sexual practices caused you legal problems? Could your sexual practices cause you legal problems?

    Yes No

  8. Does your pursuit of sex or sexual fantasy conflict with your moral standards or interfere with your personal spiritual journey?

    Yes No

  9. Do your sexual activities involve coercion, violence, or the threat of disease?

    Yes No

  10. Has your sexual behavior or pursuit of sexual relationships ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal?

    Yes No

  11. Does your preoccupation with sexual fantasies cause problems in any area of your life-even when you do not act out your fantasies?

    Yes No

  12. Do you compulsively avoid sexual activity due to fear of sex or intimacy? Does your sexual avoidance consume you mentally?

    Yes No

It is recommended that, if you feel uncomfortable about any of your answers to these questions, you investigate possible solutions. I copy this here with respect and gratitude to The International Service Organisation of Sex Addicts Anonymous. They can be found and contacted at Sex Addicts Anonymous.

The sex addict experiences a lot of shame and guilt about his or her behaviour and invariably reach a point where they become aware of the pain that their behaviour is causing themselves and their loved ones. They realise that their behaviour is out of control and they want to stop, but fail when trying. They realise that sex consumes their lives and that they cannot control their actions, despite the consequences. Most sex addicts realise that this disease has a life of its own and the more they try to control it, the worse it gets. They say they would stop, but cannot.

They end up losing touch with reality and choose acting out over things that are normally important to them. They lose concentration because they are constantly fantasising, thinking back on what they have done and plan how and when they are going to act out again. This behaviour causes problems in their lives at home or work and they violate their own values. They live double lives. They do things, go to places and associate with people they would not normally do. The choices they make in their lives create despair and fear and they spend a lot of energy managing the problems associated with their acting out. They lie and deceive to hide their actions and often become isolated. Or they compensate for their behaviour by being very religious, perfectionists or working extremely hard.

The chaos and breaking of personal boundaries can leave them spiritually empty. They would swear never to do it again and end up doing it again, does not matter if it is a day or week or year later. Non-sex addicts can stop the behaviour they want to stop. Addicts will end up doing it again; it is only a matter of time.

A lot of sex addicts believe that, if they change their circumstances, they will stop acting out. They get married or move house or change jobs. It does not help. They can end up in an endless contradiction where they do not have sex with their loved ones but with other people. Sex addiction is not only a disease, but it is also an intimacy disorder, where the sufferers finds it easier to engage sexually with self and others rather than to be intimate with loved ones. Or, in order not to act out, they compulsively avoid sex, which is just another manifestation of sex addiction.

There comes a time when a sex addict or his/her loved one seeks help. When that time comes, rest assured, there is help. Seek a counsellor/therapist with extensive knowledge/experience of sex addiction, certain rehabilitation facilities also treat sex addiction, or visit Sex Addicts Anonymous. This website leads you to additional reading material, to SAA meetings and the Twelve Step Program of the SAA fellowship.

The sex addict can get his or her life back, live in reality and learn to have intimate relationships again. It is possible. Just take the first step.

Ek is Afrikaans!