People suffering from sexual addiction will go to great lengths to hide their behaviors, but you can spot signs that something is wrong if you know what to look for.
In many cases, the secrecy and withdrawn behavior that is necessary for someone with sex addiction to hide his activities can be a clue that something is amiss.
Other signs more directly related to sexual activity can also send a message that addiction is present. Almost every individual behavior that identifies the sexually addicted can be explained in other ways, but when multiple signs appear in the same person, it becomes likely that this person is concealing a sex addiction.
Constant Use of Sexual Humor
People with sex addiction can turn almost anything into a sexual joke or reference. This is partly a natural reflection of the fact that people with sex addiction become entirely preoccupied with sex and their brains naturally make sexual associations throughout conversations and other experiences.
Sexual jokes can also be a way to gauge other people’s interest and comfort level with sexual conversation. If other people respond positively to his sexual humor, he may attempt to make overt sexual overtures later on.
Cheating is unfortunately not uncommon, and most people cheat for reasons that have nothing to do with sex addiction. However, people with sexual addiction are often repeat cheaters who may even be carrying on multiple sexual relationships at one time outside their primary relationship.
Withdrawal and Mood Swings
As those with sex addiction become more single-minded in their preoccupation with sex, they become more withdrawn and distant. They lose the ability to engage mentally with things that have nothing to do with sex and become physically withdrawn and absent as more time is devoted to receiving sexual gratification.
This withdrawal is also typically accompanied by mood swings, with the elation following sexual activity quickly replaced with feelings of shame and despair. These downswings may also involve irritation and anger if people try to reach out to them and question their moods or behavior.
A person with sexual addiction will think about sex constantly. While you cannot read his mind, signs of his sexual preoccupation may be visible elsewhere. The majority of his conversation is likely to be about sex, and he may pay particular attention to places like adult-themed bookstores or video stores when you are out. He may masturbate very frequently, even right after sex, and he may have pornographic material lying around.
Escalating Sexual Demands
People with sexual addiction will often place increasingly high sexual demands on their partners. This may also involve escalating sexual behaviors that their partners may gradually be less and less willing to participate in. The partners of people with sexual addiction may feel guilty that they are not able to meet the demands of their partners, but it is important to recognize that no amount or kind of sexual activity will ever be sufficient for someone with sexual addiction.
The reverse of this behavior is sometimes also seen with sexual addiction. The addicted person may become so absorbed by his own sexual fantasies or with affairs outside of his primary relationship that he no longer displays any interest in sexual activity with his partner.
People with sexual addiction find themselves leading double lives and have to lie frequently in order to keep their behavior hidden. Some lies that become apparent may not seem to have anything to do with sex, but discovering that a partner is being compulsively deceitful is never a positive sign, and it may be a sign of sex addiction.
Lost in Sexual Fantasy
Like drugs of abuse, addictive sexual fantasies and behaviors trigger a hormonal release resulting in feelings of pleasure, excitement, control, and distraction. This fantasy-induced neurochemical quagmire is a combination of dopamine (pleasure), adrenaline (anxiety, fear), oxytocin (love, jealousy), serotonin (mood stability), and endorphins (mild euphoria). Individuals who struggle with underlying emotional or psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, attachment deficit disorders, and early-life or profound adult emotional trauma can unconsciously learn to abuse this neurochemical response, via sexual fantasy and behavior, as a means of coping with stressors and momentarily masking emotional pain. Repeated abuse of pleasurable fantasies and behaviors in this way eventually teaches the brain that the way to feel better (or cope) is to engage in more and more of the same activity. Over time, the brain becomes hardwired for sexual addiction.
In short, sex addicts get hooked on the dissociative euphoria produced by their intense sexual fantasy life and its related ritualistic patterns of behavior. They typically find as much excitement and escape in fantasizing about and searching for their next sexual encounter as in the sex act itself. They can spend hours, sometimes even days, in this elevated state — high on the goal/idea of having sex — without any physical contact and without engaging in any concrete sexual act… yet.
Inappropriate Public Behavior
Activities related to sexual addiction usually occur in private, but then as the addiction progresses, many addicts find themselves unable to resist viewing cyberporn or engaging in cybersex in public places or in the workplace, as highlighted in recent news reports. Once the behavior has stopped, a feeling of guilt or shame is common, often leading to serious depression.