Understanding Sex Addiction

How self-isolation from coronavirus impacts sex addicts and their partners

Lisa Bradburn
BeingWell
Published in
8 min readMar 30, 2020

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Woman posing nude in the shower against a glass door
Photo by Joe deSousa on Unsplash

Self-isolation is causing partners to spend a considerable amount of time together under the same roof. I’m curious how Sex Addicts (SA’s) and their significant others are coping?

The question led me to have a conversation with a woman I know well. Let’s call her Pam for anonymity. Pam is a former wife of a Sex Addict (SA). For twenty years, she lived through hell and, through time and experience, evolved into a valuable knowledge source, managing an online sexual addiction support system and became an essential lifeline for spouses of Sex Addicts. Pam has either seen or heard it all.

The following interview with Pam delves into what SA’s and significant others may be facing right now during self-isolation. Pam explains how a person becomes addicted to pornography, how the addiction progresses, and what chemical changes occur in the brain. We discuss reprogramming opportunities, available treatment, and resources.

Pam’s former spouse is male; this interview is slanted toward men who are sexual addicts. In our discussion, we also refer to porn and sex addiction as interchangeable.

[Lisa] How do you envision pornography or sex addicts are coping right now in self-isolation?

[Pam] I believe being in self-isolation will exacerbate the problem. Many Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) group meetings are canceled, and no face to face support is available. The coronavirus is a time of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety for many, and Sex Addicts use porn and masturbation as self-soothing activities for their default mechanism.

With people in quarantine, men will be going through withdrawal as their wives are with them regularly, and they can’t watch as often as they want to, given they’ll be under scrutiny. I’m sure there will be more unhappiness than ever. While their partners may wish for more reassurance, more times of closeness, and feelings of being protected and loved. The SA is incapable of providing these emotions so he will do whatever he can to create distance — coldness, fighting, being overly critical, etc. to ensure there is space between them and enabling addictive behavior.

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Lisa Bradburn
BeingWell

Psychotherapist (RPQ) & Agile Coach at the intersection of technology, faith and the human condition. Let’s chat: lbradburn@gestaltmail.ca