Often when people research, report on, or write about sexual addiction, female sex addicts are overlooked or ignored. While there are likely many reasons for this, it is in large part due to myths that we hold in our culture about women and sex addiction. Some of the most pervasive (and destructive) myths about women and sex addition are:
There is often a fine line between what may be considered acceptable or "healthy" sexual behavior and what could be considered sexually addictive or compulsive; this is especially confusing for women, because our culture has so many mixed messages for women about sex and sexuality. However, the criteria we would use to identify sex addition in a woman are similar to identifying it in a man:
The signs of sexual addiction for women are usually cumulative. The woman may at first think that she's enjoying a varied sex life with a range of men, or that it's positively feeding her self esteem; the behavior may start as a teen. Over time it becomes extremely difficult to stop the patterns of sexual behaviors that get established. All addictions tend to be repetitive, worsen over the course of years, make the person feel out of control, and are used as a cover for something else the person is not dealing with in their life ... and eventually threaten to destroy what the person cares about. Sex addiction is no exception to this.
If a woman continually engages in sex with strangers, has dangerous affairs, can only feel pleasure through sadomasochistic acts and usually feel depressed or melancholic "the morning after," these are signs that she may have a sex addiction. Further, if her sexual behaviors could easily give her a sexually transmitted disease, be a source of violence in others or lead to the dissolution of marital or parenting partnerships, and she continues to persist in such activities anyway, then her addiction is likely even more serious. Sex addiction in women is real, and can cause the same level of distress as in men, if not more so. The more readily our society recognizes this issue as legitimate and important, the more women can get the help and support they need.
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