Women Who Stray

Notes on the history and current practice of female infidelity

The Comforting Fiction of Sex Addiction

I’m sorry to give you the bad news, that if your husband is repeatedly violating your trust, choosing to endanger his own health and safety, as well as yours, it is because he is making a choice to do so. Read More

i just think sex addiction is

i just think sex addiction is a form of narcissism.

It is a decision.

The decision to cheat is just that - a decision. People do it because it is fun, exciting, and frankly it just feels great to be with someone who is hot and ready rather than the same old, same old.

Those are just the cruel, hard facts. You are spot on Doctor!

You do realize that when

You do realize that when you're masturbating to porn you're not actually with someone- hot or otherwise??

I find i suffer withdraw

I find i suffer withdraw symptoms when i don't orgasm.
Have to once a day,but i wouldn't go out and cheat!.
Crazy blaming cheating on a spouse on an addiction.

Moralism, Not Psychology

I like your basic concept that the fiction of sex addiction is created to comfort people and is not true. Unfortunately, your analysis, as presented in the article, is marred by a Western Christian moral stance that is based neither on scientific evidence nor psychological theory. What you fail to present is the underlying anti-sexual moralism, implying that what is actually a healthy, positive sex life is "violating trust" and "endangering health and safety."

The real issue is the archaic demand that people obey laws of possession ("I own you so you cannot have sex with another") rather than the psychological needs for sexuality and intimacy with a variety of people. Freud recognized this, but also realized he couldn't make a living stressing it in a sexually repressed culture. Have we not evolved at all over the past century?

Each person is a unique individual. Some will grow and blossom within a monogamous framework. Others will not. As therapists we need to help people discover their inner motivations and allow them to freely choose what will bring balance and harmony into their lives, not force them into a predetermined collar that is supposed to work for them.

It is clear from your writing that your presentation is based on your own moral beliefs rather than on the psychological needs of people who are perfectly normal but are told that something is "wrong" with them. While trying to help overcome the myth of sexual addiction, I fear you are simply replacing it with your own childhood beliefs. Pity any who would come to you for therapy.

The man in the mirror.

This comment is Dime-Store philosophy at best. I'm not going to deconstruct your e-book psychology because you don't warrant a correction on all the BS you spout. Here's two words for you that fit your bill; you're an apologist and an enabler (for lack of self-control). I do find it humorous though, that you would say "Pity any who would come to you for therapy." That is exactly what I was thinking about you while reading your pitiful comment.

Reality

Marriage and monagamy is a moral contruct that is less than 10,000 years old. It has no relation to the biological needs of Men and Women. Throughout the history of mankind, Men never really attached emotions to the basic biological act (Sex). If every creature on earth was to perform self control the Human race and all creatures would be extinct inside of 200 years. it is only through human constructs such as Christianity where people are taught the santicity of marriage. You attack this original poster's assertions when in reality is he\she is speaking the truth. The reality is not simple and enabling those with self control. We are mereley pointing out the biological facts. Human being were made to procreate and it was never intended to be with just one partner.

Reality

Marriage and monagamy is a moral contruct that is less than 10,000 years old. It has no relation to the biological needs of Men and Women. Throughout the history of mankind, Men never really attached emotions to the basic biological act (Sex). If every creature on earth was to perform self control the Human race and all creatures would be extinct inside of 200 years. it is only through human constructs such as Christianity where people are taught the santicity of marriage. You attack this original poster's assertions when in reality is he\she is speaking the truth. The reality is not simple and enabling those with self control. We are mereley pointing out the biological facts. Human being were made to procreate and it was never intended to be with just one partner.

Reality

Marriage and monagamy is a moral contruct that is less than 10,000 years old. It has no relation to the biological needs of Men and Women. Throughout the history of mankind, Men never really attached emotions to the basic biological act (Sex). If every creature on earth was to perform self control the Human race and all creatures would be extinct inside of 200 years. it is only through human constructs such as Christianity where people are taught the santicity of marriage. You attack this original poster's assertions when in reality is he\she is speaking the truth. The reality is not simple and enabling those with self control. We are mereley pointing out the biological facts. Human being were made to procreate and it was never intended to be with just one partner.

Reality

Marriage and monagamy is a moral contruct that is less than 10,000 years old. It has no relation to the biological needs of Men and Women. Throughout the history of mankind, Men never really attached emotions to the basic biological act (Sex). If every creature on earth was to perform self control the Human race and all creatures would be extinct inside of 200 years. it is only through human constructs such as Christianity where people are taught the santicity of marriage. You attack this original poster's assertions when in reality is he\she is speaking the truth. The reality is not simple and enabling those with self control. We are mereley pointing out the biological facts. Human being were made to procreate and it was never intended to be with just one partner.

Reality

Marriage and monagamy is a moral contruct that is less than 10,000 years old. It has no relation to the biological needs of Men and Women. Throughout the history of mankind, Men never really attached emotions to the basic biological act (Sex). If every creature on earth was to perform self control the Human race and all creatures would be extinct inside of 200 years. it is only through human constructs such as Christianity where people are taught the santicity of marriage. You attack this original poster's assertions when in reality is he\she is speaking the truth. The reality is not simple and enabling those with self control. We are mereley pointing out the biological facts. Human being were made to procreate and it was never intended to be with just one partner.

Of Dr. Ley, we don't need one

Of Dr. Ley, we don't need one more moralist, who cannot understand psychology below the level of behavior, to be practicing psychology. Yes. life calls on us to be responsible beings as much as we can, especially when another's well being is at stake, but we have many unconscious forces directing our emotions and behavior as adult. This fact must be understood and acknowledged by those practicing psychology. Preaching moral goodness through willfulness has failed society since its inception.

@ Donald the natural theory

@ Donald the natural theory behind sex that you present while it may be true for some but not all people. I know many people who if given the choice would still not have sex with multiple partners. But here is my point. If you want to have sex with multiple people but it upsets your partner doesnt the fact that you keep doing it anyway signify something wrong in the overly sexually active partner? The fact that a person would keep hurting their spouse means lack of respect and empathy. I have no problems if a person wants to have multiple partners, however, this should be honestly discussed before a person like this enters marriage or a relationship. Instead of defending these people how about really get to the root of their lack of honesty. Would these overly sexual people who get married all be ok with their spouse having sex with multiple partners as well. How enlightened do you think they would be if stuck under the microscope.

oh and Donald, no one forces

oh and Donald, no one forces these people into a marriage they do not want. There are swinger couples out there that make agreements on these types of marriages. However as I said before, its their lack of honesty that gets them in trouble.

Bravo

I bet Dr. Ley would fully agree with your assessment that the problem is a lack of honesty, not promiscuity. I would like to remind Don that Dr. Ley's last book, Insatiable Housewives, was a non-judgmental analysis of married women who have sex with many men with the blessing, and often encouragement, of their husband's. It is fair to say that Dr. Ley has demonstrated a tendency NOT to "moralize" on sexual issues. And I see no sexual moralizing in Dr. Ley's blog article, unless encouraging people to be honest about their sexuality constitutes sexual moralizing.

Do "Bad Choices" Have a Treatment?

I think (hope) Dr. Ley would agree that it's possible for people to use sex in ways that are dangerous and self-destructive. But arguing over whether we call this self-destructive behavior choice, compulsion, addiction, assholism or jerkitude distracts from the more important question: what can individuals and couples do to change it?

After all, an excuse is only an excuse if a person doesn't change. If "sex addiction" is a way to find help and support, make changes, and end self-destructive behavior, then it stops being an "excuse" and becomes a reason -- and a means to treatment.

I'm a woman living with what Dr. Ley calls the "comforting fiction" of sex addiction, but contrary to what he implies, the real power of calling what we are dealing with "sex addiction" hasn't been allowing my husband and me to feel better without doing anything else, it has been the call to transformation.

The label "sex addiction" has encouraged us to change. It has pointed us to resources and support. It has kept us focused for over 8 years now as we've worked to become the honest, loving, kind, grateful, strong, happy, sober people we want to be. But I don't see anything in Dr. Ley's article arguing that we should consider this behavior a "choice" that points the way to a different kind of life -- to hope, healing and change -- for people who are suffering from its effects.

Judgement is easy, especially when you're judging someone who has different weaknesses from your own. Change -- or offering practical help to those wanting to change -- is the hard part.

I was hoping this would be a

I was hoping this would be a good article looking at the nuances of how we moralize and pathologize sexuality. I am disappointed. It seems de rigor in Psychology Today to conflate anecdotal reports with actual evidence, to make claims that something is fact without an reference to actual research, and mak wild generalizations (all men, at all times, have a choice) and totally obscure individual differences in experience.

What disturbed me most of all is to see another psychologist use their "ESP" to tell a reader what their husband is really thinking and doing. It is sloppy writing at best, and unethical practice at worst, to comment on the meaning of behavior without actually evaluating the individual,

Good work

I think that these wifes just really wanna believe that it`s a disorder and something men cannot do anything about. They may even know deep down inseide that it is not true, but they want to believe something else. So they choose to ignore it. In some cases, women who find out that their men are cheating on them, ignore that discovery. I guess those situations are related to this one.

Interesting Topic...

This article brings up some interesting thoughts, and quite obviously peaks the emotions of people on both sides of the spectrum. I think one of the central questions here is what constitutes a diagnosis? There is not a defined answer to what a sex addiction may be, and it cannot be considered a mental diagnosis as it is not in the DSM-IV. As for questions about control and excuses - it makes me wonder. Homosexuality was in the DSM as recently as the early 1970's, and has since been removed. Has it been removed because it could not be controlled? Some people disagree. What about drug addictions? Some people do not experience physical symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal, but still feel as though they can't control their behavior. Where does control stem from? Must it be something biologically based, or could it possibly be a choice?

Sexual Addiction

The word of God tells us not to argue with a FOOL so I will just say that Mr. David J. Ley, Ph.D - you are a fool. You are clueless as to what it is like to be sexually addicted and/or to relate to those who are... If the truth be known - perhaps you might be in denial about your own sexual addiction which could cause you to write stupid articles like the one above.

Sexual Addiction

The word of God teaches us NOT to argue with a fool. Therefore, I'll leave it at this; Mr. David J. Ley, Ph.D you are a fool. You are clueless as to the complexity of the disease of sexual addiction, the causes and/or cures. Perhaps you are sexually addicted and are in denial which could cause you to write such a stupid article as the one above. It truly shows your ignorance on the subject of Sexual brokenness.

Judge not...

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." William Congreve(1697).

A Great Response to Dr. Ley

For someone who has obviously never experienced sex addiction directly to be so certain of his conclusions is curious to say the least. It reminds me of someone who does not have a problem with alcohol saying that there is no such thing as alcoholism. Why is Ley so put off by these two words: SEX ADDICTION? My husband, George Collins, just posted a great article on this subject called "Sex Addiction Is Not A Myth." Check it out. http://compulsionsolutions.com/blog/?p=12

Sex Addiction is Real

Mr. Ley, you have clearly never directly experienced sex addiction - it is REAL. I never thought it was too, before I saw and met it first hand.

There is NO COMFORT in this addiction for an addict and their partner/wife/husband. Quite the contrary, it feels like a death sentence. I wish it wasn't an addiction, I wish it was simply down to bad morals and choices. If only... gosh, if only..

Critical to Understand

"Sometimes, that choice, and the level of control over it, happens earlier than we think. Some men describe that when watching pornography, they feel unable to exert control, and turn it off. But, when they first turned that computer on, or chose to go into the room where the computer was, locking the door behind them, did they have control then? When a person drives down the road looking for a prostitute, they have enough control to safely operate a car, unlike they would if under the influence of drugs and alcohol, which affects all behaviors and judgment. "

No, they did not have control then, compared to how a non-addicted individual would.

You need to understand the addictive cycle and the chemical processes triggered in the brain. The addicted individual's brain is in altered state right before, during, and after engaging in their substance or specific process (such as eating, sex, gambling, work and more). In your particular example, turning on the computer, locking the door, or cruising for a prostitute, this is part of the ritualization/preparation stage, when the release of chemicals in the brain has already started. They are already high in those moments of anticipation.

This article is completely

This article is completely ridiculous! The man has no clue what he's talking about. I was exposed to porn at a young age (10) and like any young guy was curious so from time to time I watched it. As I grew older the more and more curious I became as to what more might be out there. I first noticed a problem (18) when I would leave work for an hour to run down to the local xxx store just to look around but thought it was prolly just a phase or something... Not the case... Over the next 2-3 years (21) I really started to dig deeper and deeper in to the different types of material. I could not see this at the time, but can see it all plain as day now. I began ditching friends and plans to stay home and look at porn. Things that I once loved became 2nd best. Then the total time that I would look in a single session started to grow. 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, all the way up to 12 hours straight without anything in between but a few bathroom breaks. I started to develope massive depression & anxiety issues to which I now take medication for, my physical health went from a star high school athlete and a total fitness freak to now (24) having many health issues. I have lost 2 relationships (though they didnt even know that I looked at porn) but the side effects that eccessive porn watching brought on (anxiety, depression, failing classes, stress, anti-social) did them in. Even now, though I try & try (have read many articles, looked into many online help programs, downloaded a self help app on my iPhone, have tried just about everything under the sun to stop looking but that little voice in the back of your mind (addiction) keeps calling you back again and again and again. Though you know the bad things it brings, it is hurting you and your loved ones physically, mentally, and emotionally but the urge to look is stronger than any of that combined, reguardless of how much it hurts. So Mr. David J. Ley, Ph.D. you may want to take a look a little deeper & rethink your inc. Because I'm telling you here and now that you could not be more wrong.

This article is completely

This article is completely ridiculous! The man has no clue what he's talking about. I was exposed to porn at a young age (10) and like any young guy was curious so from time to time I watched it. As I grew older the more and more curious I became as to what more might be out there. I first noticed a problem (18) when I would leave work for an hour to run down to the local xxx store just to look around but thought it was prolly just a phase or something... Not the case... Over the next 2-3 years (21) I really started to dig deeper and deeper in to the different types of material. I could not see this at the time, but can see it all plain as day now. I began ditching friends and plans to stay home and look at porn. Things that I once loved became 2nd best. Then the total time that I would look in a single session started to grow. 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, all the way up to 12 hours straight without anything in between but a few bathroom breaks. I started to develope massive depression & anxiety issues to which I now take medication for, my physical health went from a star high school athlete and a total fitness freak to now (24) having many health issues. I have lost 2 relationships (though they didnt even know that I looked at porn) but the side effects that eccessive porn watching brought on (anxiety, depression, failing classes, stress, anti-social) did them in. Even now, though I try & try (have read many articles, looked into many online help programs, downloaded a self help app on my iPhone, have tried just about everything under the sun to stop looking but that little voice in the back of your mind (addiction) keeps calling you back again and again and again. Though you know the bad things it brings, it is hurting you and your loved ones physically, mentally, and emotionally but the urge to look is stronger than any of that combined, reguardless of how much it hurts. So Mr. David J. Ley, Ph.D. you may want to take a look a little deeper & rethink your inc. Because I'm telling you here and now that you could not be more wrong.

This article is completely

This article is completely ridiculous! The man has no clue what he's talking about. I was exposed to porn at a young age (10) and like any young guy was curious so from time to time I watched it. As I grew older the more and more curious I became as to what more might be out there. I first noticed a problem (18) when I would leave work for an hour to run down to the local xxx store just to look around but thought it was prolly just a phase or something... Not the case... Over the next 2-3 years (21) I really started to dig deeper and deeper in to the different types of material. I could not see this at the time, but can see it all plain as day now. I began ditching friends and plans to stay home and look at porn. Things that I once loved became 2nd best. Then the total time that I would look in a single session started to grow. 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, all the way up to 12 hours straight without anything in between but a few bathroom breaks. I started to develope massive depression & anxiety issues to which I now take medication for, my physical health went from a star high school athlete and a total fitness freak to now (24) having many health issues. I have lost 2 relationships (though they didnt even know that I looked at porn) but the side effects that eccessive porn watching brought on (anxiety, depression, failing classes, stress, anti-social) did them in. Even now, though I try & try (have read many articles, looked into many online help programs, downloaded a self help app on my iPhone, have tried just about everything under the sun to stop looking but that little voice in the back of your mind (addiction) keeps calling you back again and again and again. Though you know the bad things it brings, it is hurting you and your loved ones physically, mentally, and emotionally but the urge to look is stronger than any of that combined, reguardless of how much it hurts. So Mr. David J. Ley, Ph.D. you may want to take a look a little deeper & rethink your inc. Because I'm telling you here and now that you could not be more wrong.

Confusion

From someone that has lived alcoholism and addiction from a young age, I would challenge this thesis (sex addiction is not real). I have been in recovery since I was 15 years old, and I am now 17. One might say that my 'choice' to indulge in drugs and alcohol was some sort of moral deficiency or lack of control. Maybe so. Who cares though? The point is that it is my nature (which has now been noted as containing both biological and environmental aspects: a disease) to overindulge in things that make me 'feel good.'

This being said, I have to potential to get 'addicted' to anything and everything that changes the way I think or feel for the 'better.'

Dr. Ley, you can pose arguments where your sole source of information is from the DSM, but just remember that 'homosexuality' was listed as a mental disorder until the 1970s.

This is no personal attack, I have enjoyed reading many of your articles, but I hold the personal belief that anything that goes against my own experience is incorrect. If it was a matter of semantics, I would let you have this one, but you are completely invalidating the feelings and experiences of many in writing this.

Oh! yes we do want to

Oh! yes we do want to believe. We minimize rationalize justify deny and and down right feel sorry for them. To believe anything other than this is a disease would be to admit our own inability to set healthy boundries. Although many of us did not know no could not know what was going on. After the fact if you look very very closely at yourself you will see the signs in him and yourself. I have not read the book but am going to buy it today. I have searched the internet for 2 years looking for the opposing Carnes theory. Only one other I have found has an addiction theory but does have a Choice approach. "(Joe Zychick) My most personal addiction has some interesting thoughts". I went through 3 counselors looking for someone-anyone who would make logical since of what I am experiencing. The first counselor I had told me day one that if I left my husband she thought he might kill himself. What kind of help is that? The next one I marched in his office and ask right off the bat. "Do you think God is going to fix this in 12 steps, because if you do I don't want to waste my money?" Faith aside I don't think using God as a cop out is any more constructive than "Sex Addiction" For crying out loud I breast feed 2 children which releases a just as powerful chemical called oxytocin (the bonding chemical) well I don't think I'm ADDICTED to breast feeding. My best friend ask me the other day if I had a crystal ball and could know my husband would never go to another prostitute would I go back. My answer is NO. Here’s a scientific reality for you. We won't go into all the survival and space time and place reasons we have memories but they are very necessary. Any way picture this one, you and your spouse are at dinner and a person walks in that looks like someone you use to date. In a healthy relationship you would think nothing of sharing that with your spouse. What is mine to do - O look! That looks like the hooker I hired 2 weeks after we got married. This something they call euphoric recall. Dr. Weiss suggests that if you stay, only make love to your spouse with the lights on or they will go into fantasy world. Who wants to live like that. Patrick Carnes thinks God going to fix it. Well God did not do this - he did. And here’s another for those who choose to stay. The man you married is someone you "preceived" him to be (NOT REAL) the addict is not really real either he is someone HE preceived him to be (NOT REAL), so if he gets his brain right that’s a whole 3rd person you would have t start over with, so yu might as well get to know some one who's choices are more inline with yours. DAH. And no I will not forgive him for 23 years of lies, endangering my life,(hiv,std) PRE-meditated manipulation,stealing family money and time. But what I CAN forgive is the way he FEELS about what he has done, that I DO believe he had no control over. So do I believe sexual addiction is a disease? Hell no. The flagella on a sperm is not parasitic.

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David J. Ley, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of Insatiable Wives, Women Who Stray and The Men Who Love Them, available from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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