online sexIn today’s world, digital technology is omnipresent. Nearly everyone owns or has access to a computer or some other digital device, like a smartphone or a tablet. And for the vast majority of people this is a good thing. Sex addicts, however, can struggle with the 24/7/365 ability to affordably and anonymously access pretty much any type of sexual content, activity, and potential partner.

Without doubt, pornography is king of the hill when it comes to technology and sexual addiction. And this should hardly be a surprise, given the amount of online porn that’s available (mostly free of charge). For instance, in their book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam write:

In 1991, the year the World Wide Web went online, there were fewer than 90 different adult magazines published in America, and you’d have been hard-pressed to find a newsstand that carried more than a dozen. Just six years later, in 1997, there were about 900 pornography sites on the Web. Today, the filtering software CYBERsitter blocks 2.5 million adult Web sites.

Even more astounding is the fact that Ogas and Gaddam conducted their research six years ago, long before “user-generated pornography” became a thing. Now, in 2016, sexy selfies are almost as prolific as professionally generated porn. And these images and videos are available on social media, dating sites, and all sorts of other places that don’t officially qualify as “adult Web sites”. So in today’s world the amount of online porn that is readily available to pretty much anyone who’s interested, any time they’re interested, is almost immeasurable. Porn is being generated and posted so quickly that there is no possible way for researchers to keep up.

And it’s not just porn that troubles modern-day sex addicts. Thanks to sexnology, it is possible to meet, flirt with, and have a hot sexual encounter with someone without ever being in the same room. Or even on the same continent. This means that sex addicts looking for a hookup are no longer limited to the neighborhood singles bar, a couple of notorious street corners, and the local adult bookstore. Today, the entire planet is their playground, and a resourceful sex addict can fool around, either digitally or in-person, as often as he or she wants.

“Adult friend finder” apps, which came on the scene in 2009, are especially problematic for sex addicts. In fact, many sex addicts compare Grindr, Skout, Tinder, and the like to crack cocaine. The problem for sex addicts is these apps are all about the “quick fix,” and they’re incredibly effective. All you do is log on, see who else is logged on, swipe a few profiles, send a few sexts, and arrange to have sex either online or in-the-flesh. No muss, no fuss, just the sex, thank you very much.

Unsurprisingly, many sex addicts log on to multiple apps at the same time, staying on them for hours on end to see who else is on and who displays interest in them. And while they wait, of course, they can look at porn—other member’s nude selfies or traditional porn on another site/app. It’s a regular cornucopia of sexual fantasy and intensity. Sometimes users are looking for the next sexual encounter before they’re even done with the current sexual encounter.

In today’s meat marketplace, whatever it is that a sex addict is looking for, he or she can find it. Quickly. And apps are the main venue. Consider Tinder, a relative latecomer to the app scene (launched in late 2012). Tinder now has 50 million users, and they’re swiping at one another’s profiles 1.5 billion times per day. (Yes, that’s billion, not million). And thanks to apps, tech-driven sex addicts are no longer tethered to a computer. If they’ve got a smartphone, they’re in the game, regardless of where they are or who they are with or what they are supposed to be doing.

I think it is important to state here that technology does not cause sexual addiction. In fact, most people are able to use digital technology (and sexnology) without problems, just as most people are able to enjoy an occasional cocktail without problems. However, men and women who are predisposed to addiction (and related issues like impulsivity, compulsivity, depression, anxiety, and the like) may well struggle with sexnology, just as they might struggle with alcohol or any other potentially addictive substance or behavior. That said, there is little doubt that the increasing access to sexual content and potential partners has increased the number of at-risk people whose problems are sexual in nature. In other words, with each new advance in digital technology, we are seeing a corresponding increase in the number (and variety) of people self-reporting issues with addictive sex.

If you would like to learn more about the various facets of sexual addiction, check out my recently published book, Sex Addiction 101. If you feel you may need clinical assistance with sex and/or love addiction, therapist and treatment referrals can be found here and here.

Author

Robert Weiss PhD, LCSW is Chief Clinical Officer of Seeking Integrity LLC, a unified group of online and real-world communities helping people to heal from intimacy disorders like compulsive sexual behavior and related drug abuse. As Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Rob led the development and implementation of Seeking Integrity’s residential treatment programming and serves as an integral part of the treatment team. He is the author of ten books on sexuality, technology, and intimate relationships, including Sex Addiction 101, Out of the Doghouse, and Prodependence. His Sex, Love, and Addiction Podcast is currently in the Top 10 of US Addiction-Health Podcasts. Dr. Rob hosts a no-cost weekly Sex and Intimacy Q&A on Seeking Integrity’s self-help website, SexandRelationshipHealing.com (@SexandHealing). The Sex and Relationship Healing website provides free information for addicts, partners of addicts, and therapists dealing with sex addiction, porn addiction, and substance abuse issues. Dr. Rob can be contacted via Seeking Integrity.com and SexandRelationshipHealing.com. All his writing is available on Amazon, while he can also be found on Twitter (@RobWeissMSW), on LinkedIn (Robert Weiss LCSW), and on Facebook (Rob Weiss MSW).

1 Comment

  1. I am not plagued by sex addiction – luckily. But I not only had to struggle with alcoholism but I am about to tackle internet/media addiction. In my case it´s not porn I consume but compulsively surf various other websites.

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