While blog surfing recently, I came upon a few blogs by “sex addicts”. Having been accused of this particular syndrome a time or two myself, I clicked on their links to read further and compare their lives to mine. On the surface, there is a similarity: an active sex life with a variety of partners.
But as I read closer, I found some crucial differences:
Compulsion/lack of control
A running theme I saw was that the sex addict doesn’t really want to have all these sexual adventures, but believe they can’t help themselves. They express a desire to stop, but feel powerless to do so.
A libertine, however, wants and desires a varied sex life and fully enjoys the diversity of experience that comes with having multiple lovers. In my case, I’ve learned a little bit from every new lover and I approach sex in much the same way a gourmet approaches food. Lovemaking is an acquired skill like any other, and I take no small pride in the sexual repertoire I’ve developed over the years.
Though the sex addict no doubt enjoys the sex while engaging in it, they commonly feel regret and disgust with themselves as soon as the hormonal surge from orgasm subsides. One blogger said, “…I sat on the bed wishing I could just disappear.”
This libertine, on the contrary, feels nothing of the sort. “Post-coital bliss” is not just a cliché to me. Instead of shame or regret, I feel exhilaration and sated satisfaction, and an “all is right with the world” feeling.
Sex addicts don't know why they keep seeking new lovers and new experiences, when deep down, they want to stay on the straight and narrow. They also know they enjoy the sexual thrill and don’t understand why they feel so bad about it afterwards. They twist themselves round and round into emotional knots and vicious circles, instead of either stopping the behavior, or engaging in it with a clear conscience.
The libertine, on the other hand, is not plagued by such conflicts. I know what I want and I actively go after it in a direct and straightforward manner, without excuses or apology. I take responsibility for my behavior and I accept any consequences that may result from it. My conscience is clear and untroubled.
Because of the shame and self-disgust sex addicts feel, dishonesty is a key component of sex addiction. A vicious circle is created when the shame and dishonesty feed upon one another. Quite a few sex addicts are married and want to remain faithful to their spouses and are distressed at the potential hurt they may cause. Yet, they continue to secretly and furtively pursue new sexual adventures, contrary to their intentions.
A libertine, on the other hand, openly pursues his or her chosen lifestyle. After my brief, youthful misadventure into marriage failed, I sat down and took a good look at who and what I was. I knew that I wasn’t monogamous and probably never would be, and that I truly enjoyed a varied sex life with multiple partners. But I also despise hypocrisy and phoniness, so I chose to honor my true nature from then on. I vowed never again to enter into a traditional marriage and to be honest about my lifestyle with each new prospective partner.
To sum it up, the libertine makes an active choice about their sexuality, where the sex addict is pushed along and controlled by their basic natures, without ever having acknowledged or accepted it.
I hope that all sex addicts will one day find the peace and self-acceptance that I currently enjoy and will no longer take for granted after reading a few of their blogs.