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Sex Addiction and Happiness

Sex Addiction and Happiness

When you act out sexually, are you ever really happy? Maybe? What if you think of happiness as before, during AND after? I worked with a return client recently who had completely stopped his sexual addictive behavior and when I asked him what the difference was for him this time around in treatment, he reflected and shared this revelation with me: “I recognize now that how I feel afterwards is very important to me.”

Sounds so simple and profound but a lot of work went into this shift of thinking and behaving for my client. In short, he had to rewire the reward systems in his brain…and, no, not surgically! He and many of us need to really examine the age-old question, “what makes me happy?” The addictive part of our personality will tell us that grabbing the immediate high of acting out sexually is the answer but to echo my client’s experience…how do you feel afterwards? Was acting out mere fool’s gold?

Quality of your relationships greatly matter

Do yourself a tremendous favor and watch an amazing TED talk on the study on happiness. It does not address sex addiction but rather what research finds is essential to happiness and positive human development. In short, being socially connected to loved ones and community proves necessary in order to enjoy a good life.

Now connect that to your sexual compulsive behavior. Notice if you feel connected to not only others but yourself too when you begin the ritual that is your acting out behavior. Are you happy? Perhaps acting out is somehow trying to fill that void? What’s lacking?

Positive Psychology

Another article on the secret to happiness speaks to the science of having a positive attitude towards life and the numerous benefits happiness brings to your day-to-day. Happiness precedes success rather than the result of being successful. But what if you are not “naturally” happy…is it possible to retrain your brain? Yes! And by doing so, you can become more motivated, creative and productive, as well as better at handling unplanned life events and rebounding from failure or tragedy…and even addiction.

Practice Happiness

Practicing happiness is rather subjective and a vast subject. Still, here are a few suggestions from both research and my experience working with clients.

  • Mindfulness practices such as meditation
  • Journaling
  • Social connectedness
  • Exercising
  • Physical and creative hobbies
  • Volunteering 
Reverse Engineering

So, back to the original question—when you act out sexually, are you really happy? Chances are no. Acting out sexually serves as a coping strategy, a method to deal with unmet feelings and experiences. For those who have struggles with compulsive sexual behavior, you will likely notice that you have been “practicing” this coping mechanism since you were young.

Much like a business, it’s beneficial and necessary to do some type of quality control. If you’re triggered or just finishes acting out and feeling lousy about yourself, what did you miss? What was lacking? Can you follow the threads and determine how you got to this place? Think about the thread of happiness and whether you were really unhappy when you started the ritual of misbehaving. Another blog I wrote may be of help to you in investigating this process.




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4 comments on “Sex Addiction and Happiness”

  1. Marcus, Get ahold of my book, "Breaking the Cycle." It will be a big help. You can get it at Barnes and Noble stores or Give me a call if you'd like to talk.
    Best, George Collins, Director
    (925) 932 0201

  2. I'm a male mid twenties, very humble yet outgoing personality who loves people a little too much I guess.
    I ruined my relationship and future marriage with my ex fiancée 2 years ago after the trust went out the window due to my constant sexual desires and actions towards other women.
    I recently had another relationship that had blossomed and was traveling towards the Alter too you know? I was very invested in it, yet as before I couldn't stop looking and searching, when said lover wasn't around, for sexual intimacy. It became more addictive whenever I could tell we weren't going to have sex.
    I'm so lost and I loved both of these women, at different times of course, but head heart and soul I believed. I still do. I know what I'm doing is wrong. Yet I act. I have a problem. I'm so scared and depressed that I'll never get to have a good relationship with how much sex I've experienced and how attached I am to it.
    Please help me.

  3. I would ask you if you are able to talk to your husband about your sex life and maybe consider some counseling for your marriage. I understand your frustration but need to tell you that being hooked on porn does not bring you happiness and will only end up turning you into a sex addict and I know from your comment that you don't want this. So how about seeking some counseling for yourself. You do need to take care of yourself. check out the info and blogs on our website here. We are here to help.
    Give me a call.

  4. I'm a woman and I've become hooked on porn and masturbate but this had occurred since my husband has stopped being sexual with me, and it is very frustrating. Exercise helps but then I'm done and have idle time.

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