Christmas is for family connection, joyous festivities, and break from our busy working lives.
Christmas is also a time when the family demands can create pressure, when there is less work distraction and more focus on the unresolved issues of a relationship. It is a time of high conflict for many couples. And it is a time of disclosure of infidelity or discovery of betrayals.
Many people use sex to soothe painful emotions. It is a normal and functional way to have sex, it is one of the hundred other reasons why people have sex. It is not a bad thing in itself. Just like there is nothing wrong with wanting some comforting food on a bad day. But for some people, sex is the only way they know to manage difficult emotions, and it is when a functional behaviour can become compulsive.
Due to COVID-19, there is a rise in cybersex, online affairs and pornography use.
This Christmas, particularly, will be a difficult one for many people. Some have lost a loved one to COVID-19 this year. Some have lost jobs and worry about finances and their loss of status. Some will finish the year exhausted by the stress of the ongoing uncertainties about the state of our world.
It is no wonder that more and more people report having difficulties with their sexual behaviours that seem to have become ‘out of control’. Due to COVID-19, there is a rise in cybersex, online affairs and pornography use.
People who struggle emotionally, from the basic human needs of wanting to be desired and to feel sexy, to a deeper human existential angst of life and death and the meaning of their lives, create a deep longing for searching for answers. Often, they search for meaning in the erotic space of another.
When people worry that they might have a problem with their sexual behaviours, the first thing they do is look for information online, and, unfortunately, they are more likely to find misinformation and myths rather than proper facts. It makes people even more distressed about their problems.
Here are some important facts for you to think about before finding help:
- ‘Sex addiction’ and ‘porn addiction’ are popular terms but they are not clinically endorsed as there is not enough scientific evidence that sex and porn are addictive.
- The words we use to describe problems do matter because a ‘sex addiction’ therapist is likely to treat you with a primary addiction lens.
- However, the notion of ‘sex addiction’ and ‘porn addiction’ has been consistently rejected. ICD-11 (WHO) has endorsed the term ‘compulsive sexual behaviour disorder’ (CSBD) which they clearly state is completely different from ‘sex addiction’.
- The research methodology supporting ‘sex addiction’ and ‘porn addiction’ ideas was found to be weak, calling into question the validity of these research.
- If you seek a therapist that works with the scientific knowledge of compulsive sexual behaviours instead of ‘sex addiction’, who is evidence-based and sex-positive, you are more likely to get the right treatment for your problems.
- The underlying problems with compulsive sexual behaviours are: unresolved sexual problems, childhood trauma, erotic conflict in sexual desires between the couple and emotional regulation problems.
- According to science in sexology, pornography doesn’t cause sexual problems, relationship problems or mental health problems. It can enhance pre-existing problems though. It is a better idea to treat the pre-existing issues rather than focusing on stopping pornography if you want permanent change.
Don’t despair. This is actually good news. The sexology and pluralistic way to treat sexual compulsivity is effective. It means that you can heal the unresolved issues and make better decisions about your behaviours. It is not ‘once an addict, always an addict’. You can make positive changes permanently.
If you’re betrayed by your partner, find a therapist that really understands sexual compulsivity. Sex Therapy Herts has a team who are trained in working with theme. You can find good guidance on what to do for yourself, and how to make your next decision about the relationship.
If your Christmas cheer is ruined by unwanted sexual behaviours, please remember there is hope and there are good therapists out there ready to help you. It may be a long and dark winter for you, but the outcome may be better place than you had imagined.
If you’re a therapist wanting to specialise in this important area of sexology, take a look at our Diploma in Compulsive Sexual Behaviour.