Psych Central


If you are not a sex addict, your mind may roam to a million different places during sex with a partner, including being completely “into” the experience of your partner.

You may be completely devoid of thoughts or fantasies during sex at some times but have wildly erotic images flashing through your head at other times.

This is what a colleague of mine refers to as the “fuel mix” in sexual arousal. For the non-addict this fuel mix can vary a great deal from time to time without being problematic in any way.

Sex addicts get hooked on particular sexual fantasies

For a sex addict, the sexual fantasies that lead to arousal and orgasm can be quite predictable and relate to the particular kind of sexually addictive behaviors that the addict most prefers.  It’s not necessarily that the fantasies are deviant but rather that they become rigid and predictable.

For addicts who are serial seducers, or those who act out with online hook-ups or prostitutes for example, the fantasies may be of being powerful and able to bring about immediate and extreme sexual arousal and desire in another person.

For pornography addicts or voyeurs, the peak fantasy may be a very specific scenario such as watching two women have sex, gay sex, or watching people masturbate.  Addictive fantasies can also escalate into more extreme fixations such as ejaculating or urinating on someone, rape, asphyxiation or other violence.

Sex addicts in treatment can often abstain from their sexually addictive behaviors but may still carry their old addictive fantasies into their relationships and their masturbation.  Addictive fantasies may just pop into the addict’s head and be difficult to erase.

Should recovering addicts try to control their sexual thoughts?

Everyone has some set of sexual images or thoughts that are their own and for the average person these often private thoughts should be given the respect that they deserve.  Everyone has a right to an interior life that they need not share with anyone.

For recovering sex addicts, addictive fantasies are particularly compelling since they reproduce a kind of sexual peak experience that the addict comes to see as the most or only desirable sexual experience.  “Real” sex, even sex that attempts to incorporate those fantasies can fall short.

This can cause problems for a recovering addict who is attempting to find way to relate sexually other than those addictive fantasies and behaviors:

  • Addictive fantasies can be the only way the recovering addict can reach orgasm.
  • Addictive fantasies may need to be called up prior to having sex in order to get aroused
  • For addicts, becoming lost in sexual fantasy scenarios is a form of sexual avoidance of intimacy with a partner
  • Continuing with the “euphoric recall” of addictive fantasies can perpetuate shame and reinforce the addictive pattern
  • Masturbation to addictive fantasies can be a step along the way to relapse

Can mindfulness in sex be learned?

I believe that recovering sex addicts can learn to be more present in sex and can to some extent reshape their old, addictive arousal template.  This is similar to when people learn to choose what is good for them in a partner rather than choosing relationships that are doomed.

Recovering couples sometimes use a spiritual or mindfulness practice before having sex in an attempt to become more present with one another.  Recovering addicts can learn that it is the entire experience and not just orgasm that is worthwhile.

Sex addicts who are particularly avoidant of sex with a spouse or partner sometimes engage in non-sexual physical touching exercises in order to become desensitized to old fears and become more comfortable and physically present with a partner.

Sex addicts in recovery can learn not to expect the same level of hyper-arousal that is experienced in sex addiction when sex and sexual fantasies are used as a drug.  Sex addicts can come to accept the idea that sex does not have to be “perfect” in order to be fulfilling.

Any change will probably take a long time

Because they are often uncomfortable with intimacy and have used sex in a way that is split off from real relating, addicts need to be patient with themselves.  But avoiding sex entirely can impede the process.  It will be important to continue to have sexual experiences and to learn from those experiences over time.

 


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    Last reviewed: 28 Nov 2012

APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2012). Sexual Mindfulness: What Goes on in Your Head During Sex?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 17, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2012/11/sexual-mindfulness-what-goes-on-in-your-head-during-sex/

 




Check Out Linda Hatch's books,
Relationships in Recovery & Living with a Sex Addict.


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