Sex addiction is a very real condition, and one that comes with many misconceptions.
Counselor and sex therapist Peter Saddington has many years of experience of helping people to overcome sexual addiction. Here's what you should know about it.
If you have sex or watch porn every day, you're not necessarily a sex addict.
Sex addiction has less to do with the frequency you're having sex and a lot more to do with whether it's interfering with your life, your relationships, and most importantly, whether you want to stop what you are doing but can't.
If your partner thinks you want sex all the time or too often, that doesn't make you a sex addict.
If your partner isn't happy with how often you want or have sex, then that's a problem—but it's not necessarily an addiction.
Not all sex addicts love sex.
Many sex addicts are having sex as a way of managing negative emotions, rather than for sexual reasons. It's often about being addicted to the process of sex, rather than the activity itself.
Sex addiction is not always the result of issues in childhood.
Sexual abuse and issues in childhood are potential well-known reasons for sexual addiction, but many people who've had perfectly happy childhoods develop a sexual addiction because of opportunity—for example, the availability of porn.
Not all sex addicts are men.
Women, non-binary people, and those of all gender identities can become addicted to sex. Of course there are exceptions, but self-identifying women tend to become addicted to multiple relationships or one night stands, and are often having sex because they're wanting an emotional connection.
Sex addiction is not impossible to treat.
I've worked with many clients who have overcome sexual addiction and have gone on to lead a healthy sex life again. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can go back to enjoying sex again without it taking over your life.
You can be addicted to sex, even if you're not having it.
Some patterns of sexual addiction, such as porn addiction and cybersex, don't involve sexual intercourse with any other person, but rather tend to involve masturbating alone. They may include contacting other people, but the other person may not be there in the flesh.
It's not just adults can that become addicted to sex.
A sex addiction can develop at any age and as soon as somebody's exposed to sex. Teenagers can become addicted to porn or to having sex with multiple partners—equally, senior citizens can become addicted.
If you've been addicted to sex, you can have sex again.
When you get treated for sex addiction and are in recovery, you aren't told not to have sex like an alcoholic would be told not to touch alcohol. Instead, you'd be taught how to develop a healthy attitude to sex so that you're doing it in a way that's part of a healthy sexual relationship and that isn't out of control or a secret.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.