This is a topic I wrote about a couple of years ago, but it is a subject that has been debated for many years in the West. The medical profession (mostly made of men) have sunk copious amounts of funds researching and debating the existence of this ‘condition.’ While medical experts in the United States seem to have concluded definitively that it is a valid condition that requires considered treatment and sympathy, I think it is fair to say the jury is slightly still out in the United Kingdom.
Not so long ago there was a wave of male celebrities who were confessing to be ‘s*x addicts.’ The likes of American actor, Michael Douglas; musician, Eric Benet (husband to actress Halle Berry), who seemed to sleep with any and everything that wore a skirt, claimed to have been suffering from this ailment. Then, there was the famous British comedian, Russell Brand; actor, Hugh Grant (who risked his reputation to spend a few hours with a prostitute) and the genius golfer, Tiger Woods (who lost his marriage and fell from grace when he was exposed to have cheated on his wife with untold numbers of women of questionable reputation). The mother of all exposés was the one involving a former US president Bill Clinton, who risked the presidency and his marriage to feed his insatiable appetite and lust.
At the time, it was particularly interesting to note that all these men had very beautiful wives and partners and had a lot to lose. So, there was a lot of speculation as to what their motivation had been. The questions were asked in light of the risks they were prepared to take, whether it was a compulsion and they were incapable of controlling their urges, in the same way drug addicts and alcoholics struggled.
This subject resurfaced for me when a friend of mine recently told me she was getting married to a man she had been dating for several years. She was very happy he had finally agreed that they should get married and she could hardly contain her excitement for the upcoming nuptials (as it should be). I was not as enthused and I had to keep a check on my lack of enthusiasm as she was a grown woman and it was not my place to put a damper on things. However, all I could think of was that, in the five years she had been with this fellow he had cheated on her almost the entire time! And they weren’t even married yet! Where does one go from there? That’s setting the bar very low.
She always told me he had convinced her he had one reason or another why he did it and it didn’t really mean anything and she was the one he really loved. I clearly didn’t get his logic, I thought it was a bunch of horse manure, but then, he wasn’t my man. More importantly, she accepted it and I always thought she would tire of it and she definitely would not marry him. I was wrong! She always used to tease me that I was too western in my thinking. To which I responded that she was no different to me, which was why she was so racked with pain when she caught him in all his infidelities. But the only difference was that she had convinced herself, for some reason, that either she didn’t deserve any better or she couldn’t do any better.
I was reminded of a prayer female elders would offer when young women are getting married. It was a supplication that one does not get married to a man with the sickness of wandering eyes. The question is whether the so called s*x addiction is just an excuse for immoral, bad behaviour and excesses on the man’s part? That debate has been going on for many years > in the West and, for many; the jury is still out on the conclusion. Academics have been writing thesis about whether it is . form of human behaviour or should be viewed as a serious medical condition.
According to the medical profession, there has been an attempt to classify or categorise this strange male-dominated malaise.
Addictions such as gambling, drug and alcohol abuse and the like are commonly agreed to be psychological compulsions. With these conditions, the compulsion to engage in the activity is so strong that regardless of the damaging impact on self and family and, despite the harm that sits long after the physical symptoms of withdrawal has abated, it is not enough to be a deterrent. Even when the quality of life of the individual is diminished as a result of this activity, they are still unable to desist. Proponents of s*x addiction claim it falls in the same category as other addictions based on the concept that the s*x addict responds in the same way as a drug or an alcohol addict.
For a long time I was sneakily suspicious that this was . clever ruse, a conspiracy dreamt up by a group of randy, selfish male professionals just looking for another way to have their cake and eat it so as to get away with nonsense. Then I came into contact professionally with a few male clients that made me pause and think about it slightly differently. Suffice to say, my view now is that it can be complicated and there is such a thing as problems with intimacy (which is different from s*x), which can result or manifest in a person engaging in indiscriminate s*xual activity. This can be a person’s ‘drug’ of choice.
s*x addiction does not necessarily come in the form of actual intercourse. I had a client who was unable to stop watching p****graphy; he virtually became penniless from the amount of money he spent on the Internet. He had a wife and children and was not denied s*xual relations with his wife, but he could not stop the activity of surfing P0*n on the internet. He did not have actual physical affairs with other women, but his wife felt he was having affairs and being disloyal by watching p****graphy. This is considered a form of s*x addiction and it destroyed his marriage, ruined his relationship with his children and brought untold shame to him. However, he was unable to stop the activity.
I do believe it is a complicated concept because there are so many variations to the concept, depending on who is involved or who is affected and at the receiving end of it. For example, if someone has a high libido which does not match their partner’s, they might be accused of having a s*x addiction, which may or may not be the case. On the other hand, if a husband gets all the conjugal satisfaction he wants from his wife but is still sniffing around other women at any opportunity he has, is this s*x addiction or plain greed and bad behaviour?
All the celebrities who went to rehab for this ‘ailment,’ as well as the clients I worked with, remarkably said the act of s*x itself was not particularly satisfying and the hunt or the chasing of women felt more exciting than the actual act. Clients said once they had finished the activity, they were looking for the next one (which very much sounds like the experiences of other addictive behaviours). On further work with clients who had these compulsions it was clear there was some underlying fear of emotional rejection, so they took the lead in rejecting others first.
I do wonder how the Nigerian men who are involved in regular and continuous affairs would classify themselves. Maybe there are women who we would also classify as having s*x addictions. The questions to ask is, how much actual pleasure is derived from the activity itself and at what cost to one’s physical health, the quality of one’s life and the pain to one’s family? Also, would you be able to stop the behaviour if you knew it was hurting you and those around you. Or is it just seen as a bit of fun?
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