The term “sex addict” often conjures up images of a dazzling sexual superstar. He’s able to perform all night. She’s got moves like a porn star. He can give you multiple orgasms. While it’s true that sex addicts know a lot about screwing, they typically don’t know a lot about having meaningful, healthy sex.
Wondering what the difference is? Nowhere in cinematic history is there a better depiction of a sex addict than in “Shame,” a 2011 film starring Michael Fassbender. Fassbender’s Brandon is a spiritually bereft advertising exec whose days are punctuated by compulsive sex. Brandon gets it up 24/7 for solo sex, webcam sex, hook-up sex, anonymous sex, escort sex and orgy sex. But when he tries to have sex with a woman with whom he could conceivably have a genuine relationship, he loses his erection.
Like Brandon, sex addicts have turbo-charged sex that “looks” impressive but is in reality increasingly desperate and unsatisfying. Sex addicts aren’t so much after sex as they’re after a physical release or a reprieve from emotional pain. And unless you are solely in search of thrills, having sex with someone with an active sex addiction is a lonely, empty experience.
In the first few months of a relationship, it’s easy to mistake the intensity of addictive sex for good sex. But good sex requires two partners who are passionate about each other, not just passionate about chasing a high. Here are six things sex addicts do in bed that make them, frankly, lousy lovers.
- They’re ritualistic. We all have particular sex acts we enjoy, but sex with addicts often seems to follow a script. He has to role-play every time. She can’t climax unless she’s spanked. What starts out as novel and exciting turns mechanical, predictable and boring.
- They disengage after sex. Having an orgasm makes it easy to relax and fall asleep. But this is not the same as rolling over and checking out emotionally.
- They rush sex. They don’t just rush you into sex in the beginning of a relationship; they push for sex the minute they see you and become irritable or agitated if they have to wait.
- They push you to engage in activities that make you uncomfortable. No, there’s nothing wrong with you because you don’t want to be the third wheel in a ménage a trois, or star in a porn home movie. Sharing fantasies with partners can be exciting and create intimacy; but worrying that your partner will leave you if you don’t make every fantasy come to life is a red flag.
- They have sex “mood swings.” What starts with a bang ends with a whimper. The hot, crazy sex you had in the beginning dwindles until it’s a distant memory. The sex you have now is mechanical or almost non-existent. Although it’s easy to think his sexual withdrawal is about you, it’s really a symptom of the difficulty sex addicts have in navigating true intimacy.
- They’re more focused on their ego than your pleasure. He nudges you for affirmations of his prowess. She tells one too many stories of her previous “sexploits,” making you feel like a bystander. Someone who truly loves you wants to please you in bed because they care about your pleasure. Sex addicts want to watch you get off so they can feel like the world’s greatest lover.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying quick, “dirty” sex. But healthy sex in the context of a committed relationship has a range that jives with people’s needs and moods. If your partner avoids intimate, soulful sex — eye contact, emotional closeness, the ability to be vulnerable — he won’t be capable of anything more than one-dimensional sex. In the long run, the person who has less experience but a genuine capacity for love is going to far better in bed than a sexual compulsive could ever be.