Published On: Tue, Aug 10th, 2021

How Sex Addiction Can Impact Relationships

Sex addiction is more common than most people realize, with up to 5% of adults exhibiting some form of addictive sexual behavior. Diagnosing this condition is also complicated. 

As of this writing, sex addiction isn’t recognized as a psychological disorder, therefore evidence and statistics are inconclusive. It’s also difficult to differentiate between sex addiction and a healthy sexual appetite. 

Sex addiction can present itself in many ways including engaging in sex acts, viewing pornography, masturbation, prostitution, and exhibition. Many of these behaviors may start out innocent enough but quickly spiral out of control, causing addicts to make dangerous and unhealthy decisions. Decisions that negatively impact their lives and those around them. 

photo/ pixabay user lechenie-narkomanii

Because sex is an intimate experience shared between two people, sex addicts that are in a relationship often feel the impact more than others. Keep reading to learn more about the way sex addiction can negatively impact your relationships and signs it’s time to seek help.


This is the number one way that sex addiction can negatively impact your relationship. Whether you’re dating, engaged, or married, there’s a certain expectation of loyalty and monogamy. (Unless both parties agree to an open relationship). 

For sex addicts that crave sex acts, normal intercourse with their significant other is often not enough. Whether it’s not as frequent as they’d like or not as adventurous, sex addicts often step outside their relationship to have their needs met. Being unfaithful in an attempt to satisfy your sexual urges can destroy your bond, cause trust issues, and ultimately end in separation.

Not only is infidelity wrong but, in some cases, dangerous. Sex addicts that engage in sexual intercourse with other people without protection are not only endangering themselves but also their partners. Some sex addicts go as far as to pay for sex or prostitute themselves for money. These behaviors are both dangerous and illegal. 

Dishonesty and Distrust 

In addition to lying about your sexual whereabouts, many sex addicts deny they have a problem or lie and deceive people in order to indulge their fantasies and urges. 

Those with porn addiction, for example, often view pornography from the privacy of their homes without their family or partner knowing. They may even go as far as to view pornography at work or in other public places by hiding in the bathroom and other secluded areas creating feelings of shame and guilt.

Sex addiction in all forms can be an embarrassing, isolating experience. With dishonesty comes distrust. The more sex addicts lie about their activities, whereabouts, and behaviors, the less trustworthy they become, damaging significant relationships. 

Lack of Intimacy and Emotional Connection

As sex addicts fall deeper into their isolated world of addiction, they tend to pull away from loved ones. It also becomes more difficult to develop healthy bonds and emotional connections. This goes for both romantic relationships and friendships. 

Porn addiction is especially notorious for creating intimacy issues. Addicts adopt a distorted view of what a healthy relationship looks like. They lose sight of the fact that the actors on the screen are just that — actors. The scenarios, exchanges, and relationships they view for sexual satisfaction are highly dramatized. 

Sex addicts often have unrealistic expectations of what sex should be. Those who watch pornography tend to want to act out their favorite scenarios, regardless of how violent, dark, or taboo they are. Most partners are unwilling to comply and soon, a wedge forms between them. 

Lack of intimacy is also common when resentment forms between two people. The sex addict may resent their significant other for not meeting their sexual needs, whereas the other half of the relationship may resent the addict for their unrealistic demands. Mood swings and irritability are two more common side effects of sex addiction. Personality changes can also create a significant divide in the relationship, affecting the level of intimacy. 

Engaging in Dangerous Behavior

We already mentioned that being promiscuous puts both the addict’s and their partner’s health at risk. Engaging in sex with multiple partners or strangers puts you at risk of contracting STDs. If the addict then goes home and engages in sex with their partner, they’re also putting that person at unnecessary risk.

Sex addiction can cause people to engage in other dangerous and illegal behavior. Prostitution is illegal in nearly all 50 states (with legal brothels in Nevada being the only exception). Hiring someone for sex could land an addict in jail, causing extreme stress for friends and loved ones. 

Meeting strangers online or sending money for exclusive pornographic material is another risky behavior. Sex addicts often share very personal information online including their location and financials when purchasing content or paying for sex. In extreme cases, sex addicts may go into debt over their habit.

Exhibition and voyeurism are two more dangerous and illegal behaviors that many sex addicts engage in. It’s illegal to expose oneself in public or engage in sex acts in public. Some sex addicts actually crave this risky and taboo behavior — getting off on the idea of being caught or exposing themselves. Voyeurism is also illegal in many forms. Sex addicts who engage in spying or videotaping people without their consent may find themselves in deep legal trouble.

All of these behaviors can negatively impact the addict’s relationships, both personally and professionally, resulting in divorce, separation, and job loss. 

Sex Addiction Affects More Than Just the Addict

Sex addiction is about much more than just an overpowering need to achieve sexual satisfaction. For many addicts, their sex addiction is deeply rooted in something much more serious like childhood trauma, emotional abandonment, or another significant event. A combination of therapies and a willingness to change can help uncover the main catalyst of the addiction. 

Regardless of the cause, sex addiction affects more than just the addict. Lying and being unfaithful can destroy important bonds and relationships. Engaging in dangerous and illegal behavior comprises those closest to the addict. Getting arrested, losing your job, going into financial debt, or even contracting a life-threatening illness are all risk factors of sex addiction. 

If you’re unwilling to get help for yourself, think about how your addiction is affecting those around you. Improving your relationships may be just the motivation you need to overcome sex addiction. Course such as Stop Together helps empower sex & porn addicts to cure themselves.

Author: Kate Randall

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