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Sex Scandal Reflects a Choice, Not a Disease

Allegations of sex addiction are thrown around in latest celebrity sex scandal.

David Tutera is the host of "My Fair Wedding"

Ryan Jurica is David’s partner of ten years, and the couple is reportedly expecting twins from a surrogate. But, according to recent reports, the couple is splitting up, and documents suggest that it is because Ryan believes his partner’s sex addiction has destroyed their marriage. Allegedly, Ryan accuses David of hiring prostitutes on a regular basis, and that despite numerous attempts at relationship counseling, David’s sexual behaviors have simply led to the destruction of their relationship.

I’ve argued often and loudly that sex addiction is not real, and is merely a pop psychology term that has been adopted by the media and society at large to describe any problematic sexual behavior. I’ve also argued that sex addiction is stigmatizing label that calls may male sexual behaviors a disease, especially those of gay and bi males.

Gay men tend to have far more sexual partners than heterosexual men, and even when they are in monogamous relationships, gay men continue to have sex with their partners at higher levels than heterosexual or lesbian couples. But, gay men very often have open sexual relationships. Some have suggested that as many as 70% of gay relationships are sexually non-exclusive, allowing one or both partners to have sexual encounters outside their marriage. Gay advice columnist Dan Savage has written often of his arrangement with his husband, and I’ve seen this many times in the gay community, with gay couples that go to bathhouses together, or that pick up other men for threesomes. Many gay men look at the modern polyamory movement with some amusement, as sexually open relationships have been a common fixture in gay relationships for a long, long time. And, in contrast to this current scandal, many such relationships are very healthy, and long-lived.

So, it’s not surprising that David and Ryan’s relationship involved some aspect of sexual openness. Presumably, Ryan was okay with some level of David’s outside sexual activities enough to keep working on the relationship. But, based on current reports, it sounds like it finally got to be too much for Ryan to manage, within the confines of their relationship.

That’s the real issue here. Is David a sex addict? No, categorically, as there is no such thing. Sex addiction is not a recognized disorder or diagnosis. Does he have difficulty controlling his sexual activity? Only he can answer that question. But, according to reports, he’s made sexual choices that hurt his partner, and their relationship, and he continued to do so. That’s a relationship issue, a marital issue, and a personal choice. David is a rich, famous, successful celebrity, who has recently had the financial wherewithal to satisfy his sexual desires. Like a lot of famous, rich celebrity males, he chose to explore that sexual smorgasbord, with apparently little respect to the wishes or feelings of his partner. That’s a personal choice, that reflects his desires and values, not a choice that reflects a disease. Ultimately, David is responsible to Ryan, and to their children, for his actions. Calling them the result of a disease merely distracts from the real issues – David’s apparently selfish choices.

One fascinating sidenote here – as gay marriage becomes a legal reality in more states, the commonness of open sexual relationships in gay relationships is going to force couples’ therapists and the marriage industry to confront their bias against open sexual relationships, as more and more gay couples walk in the door, without an expectation of sexual fidelity.