Pop culture calls it ‘love-crazy.’ Here’s when it’s a mental health problem.
With all the confusion surrounding sex and love addiction, it’s difficult for people to identify the problem in themselves, which prevents them from seeking help. Let’s take the time to look at four common myths about sex and love addiction and find the truth behind them.
MYTH #1: Calling yourself a ‘sex addict’ is just an excuse for bad behavior. This isn’t true—sex and love addiction is a real issue and isn’t a cover-up for any relational faux pas. Though sex and love addicts may make bad choices, their actions are often a sign of a deeper problem. Sex and love addiction is “a pattern of relationship behavior that is compulsive, out of control, and continues despite the consequences,” explains Linda Hudson, co-author of Making Advances: A Comprehensive Guide for Treating Female Sex and Love Addicts.
MYTH #2: Sex and love addiction isn’t really a problem—it’s just how people are. It may be easy to think that there’s nothing wrong with being love-crazy; after all, everyone else seems to be! However, dismissing sex and love addiction by calling it ‘love-crazy’ is ignoring a mental health issue that needs help. Lee Riley, a sex and love addict from Los Angeles says that her sex addiction “flew under the radar in part because society sort of expects—if not outright encourages—obsessive relationship behavior in women. After all, it appears frequently in rom-coms and pop songs,” she says.
MYTH #3: Sex and love addiction happens only to men. Despite what pop culture might tell us, sex and love addiction is not just a men’s issue. Women can be sex and love addicts too, and thinking sex and love addiction is a gendered problem is a sexist and dangerous assumption. In fact, 8-12% of those seeking treatment for sex addiction are women, and it’s likely that the number of women who are struggling with sex and love addiction who have yet to seek treatment is higher, according to Robert Weiss, LCSW.
MYTH #4: Sex and love addicts are perverted and messed up. Perhaps the most dangerous myth of all is this one. Sex and love addiction should not be covered in such a thick layer of stigma, because 5-10% of the population struggles with it in some way. It’s a mental health issue that needs to be addressed and dealt with. And dismissing it as perversion stops those who struggle with it from recognizing the problem in themselves and consequently stops them from seeking help.
If you want to find help for your sex and love addiction, learn more about it, check out our treatment directory, or attend our weekly online Sex, Love, and Addiction meeting.
But calling love or sex addiction a mental health issue, makes it sound like a disease. Why not see that all these addictions are an expression of existential problems?
Ultimately, every addiction – whether a substance or a process – is an intimacy disorder. We just don’t know how to build and maintain healthy relationships.