Psychology

How to Stop Sex from Taking over your Life



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Sex has much in common with other things that can take over someone's life, like food, alcohol, shopping, gambling, video games etc. It's pleasurable, available (in one form or another), gives immediate gratification, and allows you to forget about other problems for a while. Putting it in a separate category and focusing too much on the sexual aspect can be a red herring. The real problem isn't sex, it's that something is consuming more of your time, attention and energy than it should and leaving you less in control of your life.

Some of the ways to keep sex from taking over too much are the same as for other potentially addictive pleasures. But "sex" is quite a general word. It can mean sex with a regular partner, alone with fantasies or erotica, or the process of courtship and seduction.

The pleasures of sex are obvious. What's not always so clear is what it might be allowing you NOT to do. A couple who ONLY relate to each other through sex might be avoiding other forms of intimacy or attachment, or diverting attention away from other issues in the relationship. Fantasies and erotica can be use to alleviate stress, boredom, loneliness or discontent. Sex in these situations provides a type of escape. How to stop it from taking over is, of course, to tackle the problems directly.

To see whether some of the control sex has over your life is as a diversion, simply imagine what would happen if it were removed for a while. What would you and your partner do instead? What would you be thinking about? How would you unwind? What would add sparkle to your day? If you draw a blank or picture something a bit grim, you may be using sex as a distraction.

What's rather more complex is when your life becomes focused on the process of courtship and seduction. This can also be a way to alleviate boredom etc. But for some people it carries an additional meaning - proving that they're desirable, free, adventurous or youthful (to name a few). The trouble is that if it has to keep happening, the positive messages aren't lasting very long and must be constantly re-fed. Like the diversion question, helps to imagine what would happen if sex weren't in the picture. But add "... and how would I feel"? How else would I measure my attractiveness? What else could bolster my confidence?

In these situations, the best way forward to build up confidence from the inside so how you feel isn't as reliant on the reactions of other people. It may sound easier said that done, but if you recognize self-confidence as part of it, there are plenty of resources around to help (counseling, personal growth courses, self-help books et al).

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More about this author: Adele Gregory

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