Up to one-third of American adults admit to cheating on their partners, depending upon how survey questions on the topic are phrased. There are a host of reasons for why people cheat, and how they feel about it afterward. While it’s universally true that all sex addicts are cheaters, it doesn’t logically follow that all cheaters are sex addicts. The two diverge in one important area: Compulsion.
Sexual addiction is marked by compulsively seeking out sex, despite the negative consequences of doing so. Much as someone who’s addicted to heroin will do anything to get that next fix, sex addicts will risk their health, safety, family, job, and reputation for sexual gratification.
For the sex addict, sex is every bit like a drug. Their sexual behavior escalates over time, just as tolerance to an addictive drug will increase. Sex addicts will obsess about the next time they can have sex, and they’ll feel great distress if they’re deprived of it.
Sexually addictive behavior isn’t just about being unfaithful, though. Sex addicts are typically addicted to porn, phone sex, and masturbation, for example. Their whole reason for being is sexual gratification, in whatever form it takes. Likewise, sex addicts are frequently addicted to other substances and behaviors as well, such as alcohol or gambling.
Cheating Doesn’t Indicate a Sex Addiction
Someone who cheats on their partner, whether once or multiple times, is likely not a sex addict if the behavior is impulsive, rather than compulsive. That is, a cheater may simply be unable to pass up an opportunity for self-indulgence. We might call that person “immature” or “immoral.” A serial cheater likely is dishonest in many areas of life, not just fidelity.
One key difference between a cheater and sex addict is how they feel about their behavior. Cheaters often try to justify their infidelity, to themselves or others, by rationalizing that their partner is absent, or withholds sex, for example. Cheaters may simply believe that what their partner doesn’t know won’t hurt them. They generally are not consumed by remorse. If they do feel guilty about their behavior, they stop cheating.
Sex addicts, on the other hand, are ridden with shame and self-loathing. They wish they could break their compulsive behavior, but don’t know how. Without treatment, there is no way a sex addict can stop.
If you think you have a sexual addiction, seek help from a treatment center. You are not alone, and you don’t have to suffer any longer. Recovery is possible.
The Lakehouse Treatment Center understands the worlds of active addiction and active recovery. Years of comprehensive experience have helped us build a unique program focused on changing lives and rebuilding families. From detox to sober living, The Lakehouse program focuses on learning how to live and have fun again- a treatment experience like no other. Call us anytime: 877.762.3707