Is Sex Addiction Real Or Just An Excuse For Cheating?

Cheating or sexual betrayal can be one of the most devastating things a partner can do within a relationship. It can be challenging–if not impossible–for everyone involved to move on after such an occurrence. 

In most cases, it wouldn’t help matters if the offending partner claims that the incident is the result of sex addiction. On the contrary, such an admission may make it more difficult for the aggrieved party to forgive the other. Some might even feel that claiming sex addiction is just a way for the offender to excuse their behavior. 

But is sex addiction just an excuse to indulge in dishonest and aberrant behavior? Do cheating partners use it as a convenient way to absolve themselves of responsibility? Or can sex addiction really affect the individual’s ability to control his or her actions and decisions? 

Why Sex Addicts Act the Way They Do 

It is important to acknowledge that–like substance addiction–sex addiction is a legitimate medical issue. Whether it is a symptom of an underlying psychological condition or the result of trauma, it can affect the person’s ability to make rational decisions. 

On the other hand, cheating partners largely have control over their actions and their decisions. Although they may know–just as many sex addicts do–that what they are doing is wrong, they have no qualms about doing it anyway. 

In most cases, serial cheaters willfully engage in behaviors and patterns detrimental to the relationship. Many don’t care that they are hurting their partners, even though they may claim they do. 

For many cheaters, there is no overriding compulsion to engage in sex. Instead, they are driven by selfishness, the need to fill an emotional void or some other concern that has nothing to do with sex addiction. This is why it is crucial to make the distinction between sex addicts and serial cheaters. 

Learning to Distinguish the Difference 

Sex addicts have a unique relationship with sex that differs markedly from the behavior exhibited by non-addicted individuals that routinely cheat.

For sex addicts, sex is a coping mechanism that provides relief from stress, problems, and difficult situations. It soothes and provides an avenue for escape, and it often becomes more important than any other aspect of life. 

On the other hand, people who cheat tend to be driven by self-serving desires or impulses. For instance, they may enter into illicit relationships to indulge their desires or to manipulate others. These actions are rarely a response to a deep and uncontrollable compulsion. 

Unfaithful partners may claim that they are sex addicts to misdirect accountability and avoid responsibility for their actions. By pretending to be sex addicts, they could avoid taking concrete action to deal with problems in the relationship. 

Dealing with Sex Addiction 

Of course, neither behavior is healthy or beneficial. Sex addicts can cause just as much emotional pain and harm as habitual cheaters. To make matters worse, they may rationalize their actions and decisions and refuse to acknowledge the root causes and consequences of their condition. 

Many sex addicts display comorbidities or co-occurring addictions. Apart from being addicted to sex, they may also be addicted to sex or alcohol. For many sex addicts, these other addictions combine with sex addiction to provide a coordinated high.

As with any other dependency that results in undesirable behavior, treatment for sex addiction involves lengthy and in-depth therapy with a qualified psychologist. It will be necessary to get to the root of the problem and determine what is causing the excessive and unhealthy attachment to sex. 

It would also be helpful for the sex addict to learn how to avoid known ‘triggers’. These are people, places, events, and even thoughts that encourage unwanted actions or provide a powerful–and often irresistible–impetus to engage in destructive behavior. By learning how to deal with triggers–or at least resist the temptation to engage in such activities–sex addicts may be able to avoid the more damaging aspects of their addiction. 

Sex addiction is a real concern that may, unfortunately, lead to cheating and infidelity. Even so, it is important for both partners to make a thorough and honest assessment of whether or not sex addiction is genuinely the cause of their relationship problem or if it is something else entirely. By doing so, they will be better able to implement a useful course of action for fixing the relationship.