Sex Addiction and Codependency: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

All of us attract people and circumstances into our lives that reflect our internal beliefs. However, those struggling with sex addiction and codependency often carry a negative set of beliefs about themselves, and their sex lives reflect this. Codependency, at its core, is rooted in a belief that we’re not enough; not worthy of love – and that’s manifested in the partners we tend to choose.

According to sex addiction expert Ross Rosenberg, “The concurrence of sex addiction and codependency can be traced back to a person’s childhood. A codependent sex addict… endured childhood trauma during which a form of detachment or self-medication was needed to cope.” In other words, sex addicts often gravitate towards dysfunctional relationships because they’re repeating their childhood patterns.

How Sex Addiction Takes Hold

When we don’t come to believe that we’re good and lovable and whole – a message that should be communicated to us by our parents from the time we’re very young – we search for love in all the wrong places. For sex addicts, this is can be through high-risk sex with multiple partners, cheating, prostitution or online porn. Eventually, sex addicts aren’t able to enjoy the sex they’re having. After all, they’re not having sex out of true desire for their partner, but as an escape mechanism. Through an ever-repeating cycle of triggering, fantasy, ritualization, release, numbing and despair, these behaviors become engrained, and an inescapable pattern is formed.

Sex Addicts Aren’t Narcissistic, They’re Hurting

It’s important to note that while diverse modes of sexual expression are completely normal, sex addiction takes place when you’re unable to change your sexual behavior despite its effects on your life. Consequences of sex addiction can include STDs, loss of relationships, career interference and increased risk for co-occurring alcoholism and drug addiction.

Sex addicts aren’t selfish, harmful people at heart; they’re acting out because of their own, painful internal struggle. “The sex addict’s impulse is to cover the pain of feeling damaged, whereas the opportunist’s impulse is to take whatever he can get without having remorse. Sex addicts feel very guilty and ashamed of their behavior, and greedy individuals do not,” says sex addiction therapist Dr. Joe Kort. Their behaviors are driven by codependency: their absence of self-love and attempts to meet their deeper needs through external means – in this case, sex.  

A Holistic Approach to Treating Sex Addiction and Codependency

Codependency underlies most addictions, and this is especially the case with sex addiction. That’s why at The Sanctuary at Sedona, we take codependency treatment seriously, comprehensively treating it with a combination of psychotherapeutic and holistic therapies that help you recognize relationship dysfunction and rewrite your story. Once you gain the tools to work through your problems in a safe and supported way, you’ll no longer have the need to act out. And from there, you can start to welcome healthy, deeply satisfying sex and relationships into your life once again.

For more on alternative codependency treatment, see our article: Facts About Alternative Treatments for Codependency.

To learn how The Sanctuary can guide you on a journey to your best self, call us at (877) 710-3385 or email us at info@sanctuary.net today.