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Rethinking Compulsive Sexual Behavior: Moving Beyond Avoidance to Understanding and Connection by Dan Oakes MEd LPC CSAT

addiction compulsive sexual behavior Jun 07, 2024


Understanding Compulsive Sexual Behavior: A New Way to Deal with It

by Dan Oakes MEd LPC CSAT

Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB), often called hypersexuality or sexual addiction, is when someone's sexual urges get so strong that they can cause problems in their life, like messing up relationships, school, or mental health. Old ways of dealing with this problem focused on avoiding sexual feelings altogether. But today, experts say there's a better way to handle it. Here's why the old method is outdated and how the new approach can help.

The Old Model: Avoiding and Distracting

Imagine trying to stop a river by blocking it with your hands. That's what the old way of dealing with CSB was like. This method believed that sexual urges were bad and needed to be stopped. It involved:

  • Avoiding: People were told to stay away from anything that might make them think about sex.
  • Distracting: Whenever sexual thoughts came up, they were supposed to quickly think about something else, like doing a hobby or homework.

This approach often made people feel ashamed and like they were failing whenever they had these normal thoughts.

Why the Old Model Doesn't Work

  1. It's Like a Leaky Dam: Avoiding and distracting is like trying to hold back a flood with a leaky dam. It doesn’t fix the problem and usually leads to the same issues popping up again and again.
  2. Shame and Loneliness: Treating sexual thoughts as bad can make people feel guilty and alone, like they're carrying a dark secret.
  3. Missing the Big Picture: The old way ignored the fact that humans need to connect with others. Without this connection, people can feel isolated and turn back to their compulsive behaviors to fill the gap.

The New Model: Acceptance and Connection

The new way of handling CSB is more like learning to ride the waves instead of fighting them. It involves:

  • Expect and Accept: Understand that sexual feelings are a normal part of life. Instead of running from them, recognize and accept them.
  • Biological Understanding: Realize that these feelings come from natural biological processes. Knowing this helps reduce guilt and shame.
  • Seek Connection: Encourage building meaningful relationships with friends, family, or anyone you trust. Even non-sexual connections can fulfill emotional needs in healthy ways.

Key Points to Remember

  1. Sexual Feelings Are Normal: Just like getting hungry or sleepy, having sexual feelings is natural. There's nothing wrong with them.
  2. Avoidance Doesn’t Work: Trying to ignore or distract yourself from these feelings is like ignoring an itch—it doesn’t make it go away and can make it worse.
  3. Seek Connection: Building strong relationships can help you feel understood and supported, which can reduce the need to act on compulsive urges.
  4. Know Your Biology: Understanding that these feelings come from natural body processes can help you manage them better and feel less guilty.


Moving from avoiding to accepting when it comes to handling compulsive sexual behavior is a big step forward. By seeing sexual feelings as normal and focusing on understanding and connection, people can have healthier relationships with their sexuality and feel better overall. This new approach helps those dealing with CSB to live happier, more connected lives.

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