Power. Desire. Reward.
These are some of the most potent jewels in the human treasure chest.
They are also instrumental in addiction – namely sex and love addiction.
FEMALE SEX AND LOVE ADDICTION: IS IT REAL?
Female sex and love addiction is like the crumbs that gets lost underneath the carpet.
It can easily go unnoticed until it piles up.
We don’t really talk about female sex and love addiction.
It’s either written off as a cliché or it is stigmatized. Other times, it stays quiet because many women dealing with sex and love addiction often appear to have it all together.
Unlike a substance addiction, this one packs up particularly well under the façade of looking good. But what lies beneath is profound loneliness, self-doubt and confusion. Endless pursuits for the next relationship or the next interaction fall short to truly satisfy.
Looking for the next ‘hit’ becomes intoxicating – but the end result is emotional pain.
For many of us, seeking relationships and having sex is healthy and emotionally connecting. But for sex and love addicts, the pursuit of sex and love starts and ends in loneliness, restlessness and disconnection. Even though it would seem like female sex and love addicts are people who love sex and love being in love too much, the essential problem is often the opposite - they cannot seem to bond in a healthy way.
Sex and love is used as a way to feel whole and validated. Her sexuality becomes currency – something she uses to gain validation and restore power.
THE DISTORTED FAIRY TALE
For female sex and love addicts, desire and intensity are the keys to the kingdom. This is where she is seen in all her glory and how she feels power. Even if it is momentary, being desired validates her. It tells her she’s enough and fills the void.
The problem is that it doesn’t last.
As with all good fairy tales, the element of fantasy is essential. There’s always an imaginary component the addict plays out when they anticipate the high. Not surprisingly, the fantasy pathway also happens to be a powerful neuropathway in addiction.
But this time, the fantasy doesn't end with happily ever after. Instead of sliding into the glass slipper, the female sex and love addict descends into a cycle of shame, restlessness and profound loneliness that becomes like Groundhog Day.
When the clock strikes 12, she returns to being enslaved by her desires and her fears. But all the while, her Cinderella brain keeps telling her that the next time, it will be different and she returns to the fantasy...
It’s as if her internal clock is automatically set to seek the next relationship or experience when she feels the familiar triggers: loneliness, boredom, feeling uncomfortable in her own skin and feeling the overwhelming need to grasp on to something when there’s nothing tangible in site.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF SEX AND LOVE ADDICTION
As with all addictions, sex and love addiction runs on a continuum.
Generally speaking, addictions begin with use that graduates to misuse, then dependency. Eventually the behaviour becomes more compulsive and it ends in what we call addiction.
Sex and love addiction in women can be an issue in and of itself, however it often runs parallel to other addictions and like Russian Nesting Dolls; it’s usually nested in something bigger. For these women, it's usually past trauma.
Many women in recovery find that after a few years of sobriety, their issues around sexuality begin to surface.
This can happen for many reasons: They now have more room to focus on other aspects of themselves instead of being consumed by their addiction. On a physiological level, being free of mood altering substances such as alcohol will often increase women's sexual desire and response which may play into the addictive behaviour. But without alcohol or substances to alter their mood but their sexuality is still available to them and acting out with sex and relationships often becomes the last addiction they want to part with.
In this blog, I wanted to bring some much needed attention to the issue of sex and love addiction in women.
If you can relate to any of these issues, it is so important to know that you are not alone and that help is available.
Part two of this blog will address more of the 'how and why' sex and love addiction develops for women as well as how you find healing.
In my practice, I work with women who are dealing with relationship and intimacy challenges.
If you are a woman who is having trouble receiving or giving the love you want, feel free to contact me by email or by phone at 778-882-8204.