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Jill Di Donato
In an age when your grandma knows what twerking is, where f**k me pumps are considered haute couture and we can’t even check our email without something reminding us to be more sexy, it’s easy to think everyone on the planet is doing it.
Sex scandals turn politicians and their girlfriends into celebrities. We spend our money, time and angst thinking about how we, as women, can be more appealing to have more and better (why not make it mind-blowing) sex.
For us gals, modern love, or more aptly modern sex, is omnipresent.
Is our hypersexual society making us promiscuous? Even worse, are we becoming a generation of sex addicts?
Before I go on, let me admit that I am neither a doctor nor therapist. I am a writer and sexpert and have studied and written on hypersexuality.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders released earlier this spring did not use the term sex addiction in its latest edition, opting instead to refer to what we may associate this behavior with as hypersexuality.
Sex addiction is more the fodder of headlines, part of modern lexicon thanks to high-profile men who have been caught with their trousers around their ankles and a mistress (or a dozen) in their beds.
Or is it a serious affliction? And how can you tell if you’re just frisky or addicted to sex?
Sex addiction is defined as “any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one’s work environment,” according to Patrick Carnes, the author of the pioneering 1983 book “Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction” and creator of the website SexHelp.com.
But certainly things have changed in the past 25 years. We have to ask: How responsible is our sex-obsessed culture for our sexuality, sexual practices or perception of ourselves as sexual beings?
Regardless of how we may answer the above query, it’s up to us to regulate the most intimate of choices: who we bring into our bedrooms and why.
So, until the team of doctors, therapists and policymakers who make up the DSM decide to quantify sex addiction, it still remains a layman’s (or woman’s) term.
The thing about sex is everyone has a different definition of what normal is.
There’s even debate over what constitutes sex (is penetration a necessary component?)
For some people, fetish play like role playing, spanking, bondage or preoccupation with certain body parts is not fetish at all — just what gets them off.
For others, sex is a way to connect with someone they love and care about deeply.
Some people have sex once a week, while others have it once a day. Each would consider the frequency normal.
“If you can live in good faith with
your choices, more power to you.”
Addiction, however, is something our generation is keenly familiar with.
Not only are we more aware than previous generations about the details of addiction, but we can see and hear people receive treatment for their addiction on TV and radio and read confessions that outline each and every symptom.
I think it’s important to examine these reasons.
Whether you’re in a partnership or flying solo, your reasons for wanting sex, desiring to touch, being touched or thinking about one, the other or both will change depending on a myriad of factors.
Perhaps you’re after the thrill of skin or the emotional closeness you receive from being intimate with another (or others).
Maybe you want attention or crave release from your tense lifestyle. Perhaps you’re frustrated, lonely or ovulating (women who are ovulating experience a surge in sexual desire.)
Since there is no official clinical diagnosis, clinicians and researchers have recently developed criteria that attempts to define hypersexuality based mainly on other addiction/dependency symptoms.
In my opinion, more research needs to be done on how and why we form attachments — intimate or otherwise — in order to really understand why some people have more trouble controlling their sexual impulses than others.
The main determinant in any addictive behavior is: Are you building your life around your addiction?
These days, it’s not as taboo for women to sleep with younger men, have casual sex, watch porn and enjoy their bachelorette lifestyles.
But living a life of bed hopping and serving your desires can take a toll on your emotional well-being, if for no other reason than it’s tiring!
If, however, you can live in good faith with your choices, more power to you.
But the million-dollar question is: Is your sex life bleeding into other aspects of your life?
In other words, are you building a life around your sexual habits? How can you tell?
If any of this sounds familiar, you can take an anonymous online survey called the SAST (Sexual Addiction Screening Test) to see where you fall on the spectrum, or you can check out the 2010 American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for hypersexual disorder.
If, from these surveys, you identify three or more of these criteria, you may want to explore this aspect of yourself in a more serious way.
Photo source: marylandcoalition.org.