If there’s one lesson boys learn when growing up, it’s the value of being tough, the value of winning.

The heroes of the big screen portray the ideal man as rough and rugged. James Bond never gives up. Neither did the characters played by John Wayne. And Rocky always won the big fight – or if he didn’t win, he at least “goes the distance.” Those guys never gave up. And we don’t want to give up either.

That resistance to raising the white flag serves men well during war or in a job situation that requires perseverance. It can help us hang in there when times are tough in a relationship. But when it comes to compulsive behaviour, a refusal to give up only prolongs our agony. It leads to greater enslavement and harm.

Of course, most of us won’t surrender until we know we’re beaten or we know defeat is on the way. Maybe you’re not convinced you even have a problem, or if you are, you’re not sure how serious it is.

[Addictive Stages | Moment of truth]

How to Know If You’re Hooked

It’s important to understand that sexual addictions don’t happen overnight. They take time to develop. But when they’re full-blown, a man won’t be able to resist the repeated urge to enter into a love relationship with a sexual object or experience that gives him pleasure and the illusion of intimacy.

That last sentence defines an addict:

  1. He’s hooked and can’t say no.
  2. The object of his addiction gives him two things: pleasure and an illusion of intimacy.

Not everyone who struggles with sexual compulsions is an addict. Some men abuse their sexuality for a period of time and then grow out of it. Many men with a regrettable sexual experience in the past put it behind them and move on. But not everyone is so fortunate. Some men block emotional pain with sexual pleasure. Over time they have to try increasingly risky forms of sexual behaviour in order to deaden the pain. Eventually, their world revolves around sex. Their obsession has taken over their life.

The Sexual Addiction Test

Patrick Carnes suggests a series of four questions aimed at helping us discover if we have a sexual addiction and if so, how far it’s progressed.[1] While asking yourself these questions, it’s crucial that you are brutally honest. The first step in dealing with a problem is admitting we have one.

ONE – Is Your Behavior Secret?

Are you doing things you refuse to tell others about? Do you feel that if those closest to you knew what you were doing, they would reject you or strongly disapprove of your actions? Are you telling lies to cover your behaviour? If so, you’re isolating yourself from those you love and entering into a potentially addictive relationship with an object or event.

TWO – Is Your Behavior Abusive?

Does your sexual behaviour create pain (emotional or physical) for you or others? Is it degrading or exploitative of others? Do you find yourself performing increasingly abusive acts? Do you derive pleasure from watching others being abused in some way?

THREE – Is Your Behavior Used to Deaden Painful Feelings?

Are your sexual actions an effort to change your mood rather than express affections? Do you masturbate or search for some other sexual outlet when you’re depressed, bored, or angry? If your sexual behaviour is used to erase the pain, it’s part of an addictive process.

FOUR – Is Your Behavior Empty of Genuine Commitment and Caring?

Are you substituting the illusion of intimacy provided by an object or event for the genuine intimacy found in a healthy relationship?

If you answered yes to even one of the four questions, your sexual behaviour is either compulsive or addictive.