Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
We all know that sex feels good. And, like many things that make us feel good, it can become a problem for some people. Still, there's a great debate among scientists as to whether or not sex addiction is a real affliction (especially when it's involving a woman's addiction, but that's a different article). Regardless, we ought to consider the firsthand account of someone who claims her former partner is a sex addict. Take Laura Barcella's story in Salon, for example, where she details her relationship with boyfriend Jack*.
Even if sex addiction is never deemed an addictive behavior on par with drugs and alcohol, Jack's actions raised some red flags for Laura, who began to draw parallels between his behavior and her own struggles with alcohol. When she discovered her boyfriend's emails responding to Craigslist ads for hotel hookups, Laura rationalized it: "I had spent months blinding myself to our situation with alcohol, and now it seemed like we were in the same boat, just with different drugs of choice. I still wasn’t happy about what he’d done or the issues he had, but I caught a glimpse of the pain and fear that was driving all this crazy behavior. Maybe sex really can be a compulsion, I thought." But, when describing how she felt when continually suggested that she sleep with other people while he watched or hooked up with another woman, she switches gears and feel less sympathetic to Jack's problem: "His desire to watch me with other people made me feel like an old sweat shirt he didn’t mind loaning out."
What's interesting about Laura's reaction to Jack is the ways in which she postponed a conversation about it. "Jack never outright pressured me, which made his suggestions easier to ignore (as did the merlot). And, so, I stuck around. A cozy warmth had developed between us. He was the most physically affectionate boyfriend I’d ever had. He treated his cat like a little Buddha. And, he was unashamed to admit that he wanted marriage and kids, like, yesterday. I wasn’t ready, but I found that endearing." It seems Laura was willing to sacrifice her own needs in exchange for Jack's emotional availability — a quality in men that women often find lacking.
What's important here is that the author recognizes an addiction when she sees one and eventually finds the courage to get out. Even if science doesn't yet support the claim of a sex addiction, its effect on a relationship is clear to us. (Salon)
*His name isn't really "Jack."