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What are the symptoms of sex and love addiction?

Sex and love addictions are widely misunderstood intimacy disorders characterised by destructive sexual behaviours that can have a devastating impact on your life, as well as on the lives of those who care about or depend upon you.

Reaching out for sex and love addiction help will involve treatment for sex and love addiction. At Priory, this treatment involves a variety of inpatient and outpatient based behavioural therapy programmes, which can also include Priory's Addiction Treatment Programme. The comprehensive treatment will help you to develop healthy patterns of loving and relating to others, setting you up for continued recovery with the help of support groups once treatment is finished.           

Also sometimes referred to as, 'compulsive sexual behaviour' or 'hypersexual disorder', sex addiction is characterised by excessive urges to have sex or engage in other sex-related behaviours, even when such actions may jeopardise your physical health, emotional wellbeing or social standing.

Of course, sexual desires and urges are a normal and healthy part of life. But in the case of sex addiction, these urges become overwhelming and the resultant decisions and actions can be extremely destructive.

What is love addiction

Love addiction, which is also widely referred to as ‘co-dependency’, shares many of the same characteristics of sex addiction, although the intrusive thoughts and preoccupations of sexual urges and fantasies tend to be focused on one person, with the aim of repeatedly reliving the initial ‘rush’ of new romance without any desire to progress a relationship further.

The problem for people who struggle with sex and love addiction is that these disorders do not yet have formal diagnostic criteria that all mental health professionals agree upon.

However, continued research has expanded experts’ understanding of these complex challenges and has led to the development of specialised programmes that have helped men and women to regain control over their urges, thoughts and actions.

If your life has been affected by sex and love addiction, please know these essential facts:

  • You are not alone
  • Help is available
  • You can regain control over your life

This page was reviewed by Stephanie Chick (FDAP) in July 2020.

What are the symptoms of sex and love addiction?
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Effects of sex and love addiction
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