Sexual Compulsion


Sexual compulsion is continued engagement in any sexual behavior that is secretive, shameful, abusive, manipulative, and/or deceitful, in spite of negative consequences.

What Is Sexual Compulsion?

For women, it often means receiving a “high” from flirtation or seduction, making attempts at power and control through sexuality, mistaking sex for love, having multiple affairs, using sexual energy inappropriately, violating sexual boundaries, sexual risk-taking, exchanging sex for gifts or money, obsession or preoccupation with seduction or sex, and multiple one-night stands. Drug and alcohol misuse and/or addiction often accompany these behaviors. Women who struggle with sexual compulsivity will continue to engage in sexual behavior despite financial problems, potential arrest, health risks or broken relationships. The condition can destroy relationships and cause an individual to feel enslaved by their addiction to sexual thoughts and acts. Sex is part of a normal, healthy life; however, when sexual activities or thoughts become consuming or habit-forming, it crosses the line into an intimacy disorder.

Signs of Sexual Compulsivity

Recognizing the obvious signs of sexual compulsivity can help identify if a patient has crossed the line from a normal enjoyment of sex to an addiction that needs professional assistance. Indications of problematic sexual behavior include:

  • Loss of control of behaviors
  • Preoccupation with sexual acting out behaviors
  • Significant adverse consequences
  • Continuation despite consequences

Recovery for Women with Sexual Compulsivity

Recovery from love addiction or sexual compulsivity requires that a woman learns how to set and maintain boundaries, how to get needs met appropriately, how to esteem and value herself from the inside, and what healthy sexuality means for her. It also involves addressing emotional trauma through a combination of therapy with a CSAT who specializes in female sexual compulsivity and love addiction, group therapy, and a 12-step program.

Stefanie Carnes, PhD, LMFT, CSAT

Dr. Stefanie Carnes discusses the controversy of defining sex addiction as a disorder, why it’s important to seek treatment, and how it can be related to trauma and underlying issues.

Reach Out

Healing Surroundings

Expert Treatment

Caring Staff