Sex Addiction: an Attachment and Intimacy Disorder

Sex addiction can wreak havoc on a marriage. Sex addicts have obsessive thoughts regarding sexacts, fantasies and think about sex so much that it occupies a disproportionate amount of their time. This can create a number of problems for married couples. It is my belief and understanding that sexaddiction is really an intimacy and attachment disorder.

People that suffer from sex addiction often have trouble:

  • stopping the addiction on their own.
  • gaining the trust of their spouse.
  • feeling connected with society.
  • expressing their feelings openly.

I recommend that spouses of sex addicts attend their own individual therapy as their partner gets treatment. The process is a difficult one and the spouse should seek professional support to deal with the intricacies surrounding their sex addicted spouse to better understand their behavior.

Sex addiction isn’t due to the relationship between the married couple. Sex addiction tendencies begin in childhood, and it has been discovered that young children with an attachment disorder are more likely to become sex addicts as adults.

Attachment Disorders Stem from Childhood

When a child gets their needs met for food, safety, shelter and love by their primary caregiver, a healthy bond is formed. When a child doesn’t get their needs met, are neglect insecure or unhealthy bond is formed. A child who has an unhealthy bond with their caregiver may develop an attachment disorder.

Attachment disorders in adults are exhibited by:

  • poor social skills.
  • difficulty with intimate relationships.
  • needy, emotional behavior towards their partner.
  • inability to understand the emotional needs of others.

There is a significant link between childhood trauma and attachment disorder. Adults attach to people in four different ways. In secure attachments, the adult is affectionate, loving, and able to meet the needs of their spouse in a loving way.

In an anxious or preoccupied attachment, the adult almost never completely trusts their partner and needs constant reassurance. They are insecure, untrusting and emotionally erratic. This type of attachment is unhealthy for both parties, as the insecure partner will check mail, cell phone messages and diaries to see if their partner is cheating on them.

The third attachment type is an avoidant attachment. This adult is very independent and doesn’t want to settle down. Afraid of being intimate, partners of this attachment type of person tend to feel as though they are always just about to leave the relationship. It is understood that this type of attachment forms when some basic needs are met, but some are neglected.

The last recognized type of attachment is the disorganized type. This develops when a caregiver or parent is abusive. This person will overreact to situations as part of reliving the past, often without realizing it.

Some people are a mix of these four attachment styles, and styles can change over time.

Sex addiction is one way addicts deal with feelings of inadequacy, fear of intimacy and obsessive thoughts that take over their whole life. I believe that sex addiction can be overcome, but it takes a significant amount of commitment on behalf of the sex addict to recognize the signs and work in therapy to deal with the deep seeded issues that cause the addiction in the first place.

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