IT is the week after Mardi Gras. You may have partied hard. You may have taken it easy. Gerry North explores a different form of partying.

Let’s face it, there is a lot of available sex in the gay community and it is very exciting preparing for the adventures on offer.

But when does the pursuit of sex become a mental addiction? Some gay men are uncontrollably driven to get sex at the expense of doing other things like seeing friends, going to movies or theatre, events of all kinds, relaxing at home and any other creative activities.

Many gay men are driven to seek sex constantly and at the same time are deeply unhappy.

A close friend of mine wants to publish an anthology called There’s A Lot of Bad Sex Out There. In his thinking, the sex at the end of the chase does not mirror his lusting expectations. Sex addiction is like that too; where the exciting ritual of getting sex outweighs the pleasure of eventually having it. In fact sex addicts normally experience a ‘come down’ afterwards.

If you are a true sex addict you will think about sex all the time. One sexual thought spins into a ritual journey until sex is obtained. You might look at yourself in the shower and have horny thoughts. When eating breakfast you will look up Grindr or similar and send a wink or “hey”.

You get to work and still think about sex during meetings. You might masturbate at work and fantasise about sex by sneaking a look at porn. Getting home you spend hours telling lies and being someone else to get somebody interested in meeting you. You finally meet and have sex, followed by the ‘come down’.

The come down arrives because your personal values, your belief system and your feelings about your own self-worth have collided head on.

You are also angry for spending all this time at work and at home devoted to one final mediocre bit of sex. You now feel trapped by addiction, as you know you will do it all again very soon. It is like a record that keeps playing over and over and you can’t stop.

If you are a true sex addict, you are more likely to be addicted to many other things — like exercise, work, drugs, alcohol, gambling and travelling fast. There is a deep need to keep moving so the brain cannot sit with unhealed pain or repeating negative mind stories.

Sex compulsion is different but similar to sex addiction. Sex compulsion is more about habitual behaviour. In other words you have just created a bad habit.

The chase for sex is the same — there is excitement during the ritual and also the same come down after. The difference is you can use self-talk to get tired of doing it and stop.

You can decide more easily to do other >> >> more nurturing things. Sex addicts don’t have this self-talk or control. You can have a compulsion to have sex and not be addicted to many other adrenaline activities.

Our bodies have their own voice and our bodies tell us when we need sex. Try telling a teenager to stop masturbating when his body voice is constantly telling him to do it. We are horny and we want sex. What could be healthier than that?  However, sex is one part of our life and should not be all-consuming, preventing us from experiencing other things. Having an uncontrolled compulsion to have sex is something else.

The healthy difference can be understood by asking your self these simple questions: Are you content with yourself after having sex with strangers? Do you experience a come down afterwards? Are your feelings of self-worth affected by sex with strangers? Are you constantly battling with yourself not to seek sex all the time?

Sex compulsion is easier to fix than sex addiction but if you want the freedom from either, you can address it with some solid work. In doing so the world will open up to offer you many more sustaining life experiences. You will be finally in control.

I had someone recently come to see me who fixed his sex compulsion in record time. He saw his sex compulsion at odds with his held self-image.

He saw himself as not being the person doing it. The person craving the sex was the shadow side of his character that was contravening his held belief system. He is now fully reunited with his boyfriend, family and friends, as he no longer holds the big secret that was keeping him apart from real life. His sex fantasy ritual was never ever realised in the end. There’s a lot of bad sex out there.

Gerry North is a gay couples counsellor and treats depression, anxiety, sexual matters and addictions and he can be emailed here. His Website is here.


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