A bouquet of fresh flowers is offered to a woman as the man holding it is down on his right knee before a seated woman. A woman waves goodbye to her suitor as she stands on the wide porch of her house, happy and excited to tell her family the good news. Both scenarios are from days long gone, remembered only by romantic movies made by Hollywood. While these may be longed for, today’s relationships bear little resemblance to them, often forsaking any romantic elements for base sexual activity that does not really connect a couple but rather provides instant gratification.
Instant gratification has been the catchword of American society for the past few decades. Instead of putting off instant gratification in favor of stable, meaningful relationships, some people have sought to hookup with the first person who is found attractive and willing enough to have sex. Saying no to sex on the first date, for example, is very rare nowadays. The “free love” movement of the 1960’s has given birth to sex-based relationships that have little to no meaning to them. Such relationships rarely lead to marriage, and those that do, can end up in divorce.
Newsweek’s November 25, 2011 issue reveals why sex addiction is destroying not just relationships but the social fabric as well. Men and women who have this addiction do not always seek the use of birth control, and also run the risk of spreading STDs to their sex partners. In a marriage, sex addiction can lead to a breakdown in the relationship in that the sexual aspect becomes the aimed for goal, instead of love. Yet some individuals, not all of them to be sure, confuse sex with love, blurring the line between them. Newsweek’s compelling story goes to the root of the problem when it reveals the main reason for sexual addiction: the fear of emotional intimacy. Individuals who have sexual addiction are incapable of being emotionally connected to another person, the one ingredient that is important for a successful relationship to work. Being completely shut off emotionally from a person that one is having sex with boils down to self-prostitution. Since a sexual addiction does not and cannot meet the emotional fulfillment in a relationship, those who have this addiction have self destructive tendencies. Like alcoholism, which is a dependency upon alcohol to eliminate pain (yet often causes more pain), sex addiction is dependent upon the hopes of receiving love where none exists, and cannot exist since both are mutually exclusive on a social level.
But why is the number of sexual addicts growing in American society? Newsweek attributes the sexual addiction problem to the nation’s sexually saturated media. Reality shows on television, music, movies, magazines such as Cosmopolitan, and novels all revolve around sexual activity. What was once taboo on television – a married couple sharing the same bed – is now open and public. And sexual addiction has no gender or age boundaries, either: both women and men, middle aged, old, and young, have sexual addictions ranging from pornography to active participation. Sexting, or the sending of sexually based text messages via cellphone, is growing among not just high-school students but also kids in junior high. Parents have enough to worry about, but their small child becoming sexually active is quite possibly the worst.
Treatment for sex addicts is available but as with alcoholism, the person who has the addiction must be willing to make the first step in recovery. What differs between the alcoholic and the sex addict, however, is the elimination of the unhealthy side of sexual behavior. The sex addict who has overcome the addiction can certainly marry, be emotionally fulfilled, and have children, but will no longer seek out sex as a solution to relationship problems, whether it is inside or outside of the marriage. One sexual addiction is eliminated through therapy, coupled with learning how to be emotionally connected to another person, the sex addict can lead a healthier life without suffering from insecurity.