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How much is too much?

How much is too much?

As humans we are programmed to reproduce, it’s the most basic thing that almost everyone has. Survival of the fittest kind of thing, go back a few centuries and it wasn’t properly understood, but men especially very often didn’t stay in one relationship. Why not? Because their urge is to spread their seed far and wide to give their bloodline the best chance of survival. Humans aren’t actually meant to be monogamous by nature, but bear in mind that if your partner tried that excuse these days there would be probably be crockery flying. Mind that Le Creuset.

There are lots of different types of sexual behaviour and we’re familiar with most of them, from the downright, innocent flirting to the very vanilla sex, involving the lights off, missionary position only, to the wilder, full on BDSM scenarios involving whips and chains and ball gags. To be honest, most of us exhibit these sexual behaviours to some degree or other. But what about when we stray from the norm? When does sexual behaviour cross that boundary into compulsive – problematic – behaviour, rather than something to be enjoyed?

Compulsive sexual behaviour is actually a recognised condition. Yes, really, and it’s not as pleasant as it sounds. It’s also known as hypersexuality disorder, hypersexuality, or at its most extreme ‘sex addiction’. Which is a real thing by the way, that can be clinically diagnosed, it’s most definitely not the same as someone with a high libido.

Common compulsive sexual behaviours that might suggest that you might have taken things too far:

These include a number of acts which are completely normal and familiar – for the most part: cybersex, having multiple partners (either separately or at the same time), masturbation, paying for sex and use of pornography. The big question is – when do these normal sexual behaviours tip over into being a real problem? It’s basically when they interfere with normal everyday life. We can all have fantasies, either real scenarios or deeply unlikely ones, we can all have a high libido and use masturbation as a source of relief as well as sex and we can all enjoy pornography to some extent or other. But there are some danger signs to look out for:

  • -When they interfere with daily life.
  • -When they become a main focus in your life, something that’s more or less constantly on your brain regardless of the situation.
  • -When they become disruptive.
  • -When they cause harm or distress to other people, either emotionally or physically.
  • -When they become difficult to control.

It doesn’t actually matter how many of these apply to you, it could one, it could be all. But any compulsive sexual behaviour which lies untreated can damage:

  • -Health.
  • -Career.
  • -Relationships
  • -Self-esteem.

Basically all of the elements that go into building a happy life.

What are the signs and symptoms of CSB?

  • 1.Sexual fantasies that are intense in nature (often disturbing) and recurrent.
  • 2.Behaviours and urges that take up a lot of your time. Sex can be an important focus in your life, but when it begins to take over, that’s when you know that something is wrong.
  • 3.Being driven to sexual behaviours which do give relief, but which also trigger feelings of guilt and remorse afterwards. A common example of this is paying for sex, especially in a committed relationship.
  • 4.Engaging in sexual behaviours which can have severe consequences, e.g. STD transmission, loss of important relationships (both professional and personal). When they have a negative effect on careers and when they cause legal problems of some sort or other. A good example of this is picking up prostitutes at the curb side, rather than arranging a visit through an agency. This is often accompanied by not using a condom for protection, which is why it’s vital to recognise what’s going on and how to keep yourself safe. It’s a good idea to stock up beforehand if you know what you’re likely to do so you avoid impulsive, harmful decisions.
  • 5.When the compulsive sexual behaviours are used as a way of escaping from real life problems, things like: anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness. All of which are far more common than they used to be, thanks to the pandemic.
  • 6.If someone is trying to stop or control these behaviours, but can’t. This is probably one of the biggest warning signs because it indicates a struggle in the mind which the person is constantly losing. The negative winning over the positive. Not only can this be very distressing, it can also be exhausting, which creates problems in and of itself, especially if there’s a demanding career at stake, or young children to focus on.

You don’t have to do this on your own either, self-help is a good first step, but GPs and sexual health clinics can offer support and potentially treatment. Investing in some books on the topic isn’t a bad idea either. But you will probably end up in some kind of counselling where you can work through your feelings and try and pinpoint the triggers for them. Don’t sit in a state and worry that others are going to judge you, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be the first person that they’ve seen with your problem. Try and relax about it and think positively and forward towards an easier time.

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown

I'm Stuart, senior Editor at British Condoms. I am an expert in all areas of sexual health and have a passion to drive knowledge to youth in the UK. Any questions for me or media enquiries, please feel free to tweet me @britishcondoms. Always open to engagement.

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