I see many men of all ages and sexual orientations struggling with sexual compulsivity. This is predominantly manifested in online activity through chat rooms (including those where men exchange porn or home movies and stills – sometimes involving unwitting spouses), viewing porn and web cam activity. Traditional compulsivity that includes visits to sex workers and ‘massage parlours’ is also still very much alive as well as chronic sexual liaisons with strangers (in the case of gay men hook-ups via Grinder) or female colleagues met through work.
When men meet me for the first time they have usually been found out by their spouse or partner and there has followed a devastating impact on the relationship, usually one in which he has been kicked out or about to be. Occasionally the spouse or partner is unaware of the behaviour and he knows he has a problem because sex in the relationship has ceased (or if it is continuing he may be at risk of passing on a disease or STI) and his behaviour is escalating by risk factor, expense, warned at work, etc, and he feels more and more ashamed of himself. Despite the shame and guilt there is denial; ways of minimising the behaviour and consequences and telling himself that it won’t happen again. But it does and a vicious cycle ensues.
Sexual compulsivity is common amongst gay men that come to my practice; often comorbid with chemical (drug) and or alcohol compulsivity.
It is well documented in the treatment of sexual compulsivity and addiction that group work with fellow sufferers is the strategy for on-going and long term support. I always let my clients know this and provide information such as that below from SLAA. Usually however this first step can seem daunting; perhaps its a denial of the very serious nature of what has happened and thinking that it could never happen again. Or its a fear of exposure in a group and feeling ashamed of having to admit “I have a problem”. So what I do is invite men to a series of one to one sessions to tackle the behaviour with the view that this could lead to SLAA in the longer term. Within this confidential behavioural programme we will draw up a Relapse Prevention Plan together.
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (S.L.A.A) is a Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition oriented fellowship based on the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous.
The only qualification for S.L.A.A. membership is a desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction. S.L.A.A. is supported entirely through the contributions of its membership and is free to all who need it.
To counter the destructive consequences of sex and love addiction, we draw on five major resources:
- Sobriety. Our willingness to stop acting out in our own personal bottom-line addictive behavior on a daily basis.
- Sponsorship/Meetings. Our capacity to reach out for the supportive fellowship within S.L.A.A.
- Steps. Our practice of the Twelve Step program of recovery to achieve sexual and emotional sobriety.
- Service. Our giving back to the S.L.A.A. community what we continue to freely receive.
- Spirituality. Our developing a relationship with a Power greater than ourselves which can guide and sustain us in recovery.
As a fellowship S.L.A.A. has no opinion on outside issues and seeks no controversy. S.L.A.A. is not affiliated with any other organizations, movements or causes, either religious or secular.
We are, however, united in a common focus: dealing with our addictive sexual and emotional behavior. We find a common denominator in our obsessive/compulsive patterns, which transcends any personal differences of sexual orientation or gender identity.
We need protect with special care the anonymity of every S.L.A.A. member. Additionally we try to avoid drawing undue attention to S.L.A.A. as a whole from the public media.