Belfast Telegraph

I detest myself for being a sex addict

Northern Ireland's number one agony aunt Fiona Hurley answers your problems

Dear Fiona, I'm a 32-year-old woman and I think I've a sex addiction. I recently had sex with a guy in a Chinese restaurant's toilet and I only met him 20 minutes before.

I'll never forget how he looked at me afterwards and walked off without saying anything.

My father left my mother when I was a child because he was having affairs and so I'm afraid I've inherited it from him.

I can't be in serious relationships because I always end up being unfaithful. I've grown to hate myself and the bad person I've become.

Disgusted Woman

Dear Disgusted Woman,

Your behaviour does point towards a sexual addiction but this isn’t a problem about questionable morality or being a 'bad person'.

It's about decimated self-esteem but there's definite hope that you can recover because you strongly desire to change.

Sexual addiction is a vicious cycle because as the person hits rock bottom with their sexual activities, they then seek validation from others through sex to feel better without addressing the intimacy or self-esteem issues.

They then relapse with intense feelings of loneliness and emptiness. It's the fundamental sense of loneliness and the need to find a connection with others that can drive this addiction.

You mentioned that your father left you and fear of abandonment has been connected to this addiction. Many sexual addicts also pursue numerous inappropriate partners because they're actually seeking someone to care for them or become a 'father figure'.

Indulging in meaningless encounters is also a form of avoidance as you don't have to be in emotionally intimate relationships.

You need to speak to a qualified psychotherapist who specialises in sexual issues.

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