Gay Men and Sex Addiction
Sex, love and porn addiction aren’t just gay issues; rather, they are predominately male issues. These diagnoses are as widespread and problematic among straight men and bi-sexuals as they are among gays. Heterosexual male sex addicts act out in many of the same ways gay men do; they just act out in different settings and choose female rather than male partners.
Gay men go to sex clubs, straight men go to strip clubs; gay men use Grindr, straight men use Ashley Madison. In fact, the similarities between gay and straight sex addicts are much more apparent than their differences.
Those concerned that the diagnosis of sexual addiction might be “sex negative” or worse, a condemnation of gay men, should note that over 85% of men who currently seek sexual addiction treatment are married heterosexuals with children. Interestingly, as more gay men move toward marriage and committed relationship models – more gays than ever are entering treatment to help curb sexual patterns that have become unmanageable.
Despite the fact that a greater percentage of gay men suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction and most likely sexual addiction as well, straight men are more likely to actually seek help for problems with compulsive or addictive sex. As gay male culture has traditionally been more accepting of sexual promiscuity, it has been easier for gay sex addicts to remain in denial. Without the right to marry and with fewer resources available toward developing healthy community and ‘families’, gay sex addicts experience fewer consequences for their compulsive sexuality than straight men, making it less likely they will have the kinds of threats (i.e. divorce, loss of children etc) that brings straight men to seek help – though this is beginning to change.
Sex addiction, like gambling addiction, is a behavioral disorder that is ultimately more driven by anxiety and the person’s need to escape difficult emotional challenges than by orgasm or even the sexual act itself. Gay sex addicts lose themselves in endless hours and days of searching online for porn and hook-ups or cruising steam rooms, adult bookstores and sex clubs, often spending more time and energy pursuing sex, then they do evolving healthy, intimate lives.
While no one is saying that all gay men need to get ‘married’ or live in a way that mirrors the lives of heterosexuals, there are those gay men, no one really knows how many- who utilize the intensity and emotional power of addictive sex to self-soothe, distract and emotionally medicate themselves in ways that may not even match their own belief systems or values while often bringing them emotional, health, relationship and legal problems.
For those gay men who may have a problem with anonymous online hook-ups and porn, sex clubs, prostitutes and the like- or those whose spouses/mates/husbands who are less than pleased with their sexual behavior – the first step toward personal growth is to gain as much knowledge as possible about sexual addiction. A self-evaluation test can be found at www.sexualrecovery.com. Going to see a sexual addiction professional for assessment is also a useful and non-judgemental way to learn more about the problem.
*Current books on the subject include this author’s, Cruise Control: Understanding Sexual Addiction in Gay Men and a chapter about sexual addiction in Joe Kort’s book, Ten Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Improve Their Lives.
Robert Weiss is Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute and Director of Sexual Disorders Services at The Ranch Treatment Center and Promises Treatment Centers. These centers serve individuals seeking sexual addiction treatment and porn addiction help.
Follow Robert on Twitter @RobWeissMSW
Weiss LCSW, R. (2012). Gay Men and Sex Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2011/10/gay-men-and-sex-addiction/