If you or someone you love suffer from love addiction and / or sexual addiction, it’s imperative that you understand the potential complications and consequences that may occur. Part of the nature of addiction is to tend to minimize the risk and deny the potential for extremely serious consequences. Sadly, for many addicts, it takes a crisis (usually caused by the addiction) for them to finally admit that they need help. Hopefully, as you read this, you won’t let things get to that point.
Let’s first look at some of the potential complications and consequences of love addiction:
• Relationship problems (with spouse, romantic partners, children, family members, or friends)
• Divorce or breakup of a meaningful relationship
• Losing custody of your children or not getting to spend much time with them
• Interference with school and / or job performance due to obsessions and inability to focus
• Job loss (e.g. due to comprised work performance, sexual harassment issues, etc.)
• Damage to reputation
• Anxiety and / or depression
• Shame and guilt
• Low self-esteem, self-loathing
• Stress-related health issues
• Increased risk of getting an STD
• Developing other self-destructive behaviors as coping mechanisms (e.g. self-mutilation such as cutting, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, compulsive overeating, excessive spending, etc.)
• Legal problems (e.g. as a result of stalking or sexual harassment charges)
• Suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or completed suicide
All of the above can also be consequences of sexual addiction. Others that are usually more specific to sexual addiction than love addiction may include:
• Inability to have health sexual relationships
• Inability to experience (or difficulties with) genuine intimacy
• Financial problems due to spending money on prostitutes, adult clubs, pornography, travel related to sexual activity, etc.
• Serious legal issues and possible jail / prison time for sexual offenses
• Financial problems caused by legal issues (e.g. being sued for sexual harassment, stalking; paying for legal defense if charged with a sex crime)
• Retaliation (which could include violence) by a betrayed spouse or partner, sexual partner, or family member or significant other of a sexual partner
• Conflicts with spiritual beliefs and personal values
• Significant risk of contracting HIV and other STDs
• Significant risk of passing on STDs to others
• Risk of genital or other physical injuries, or even death, related to sexual activities
• Risk of automobile accidents occurring if being distracted by sexual activities while driving (including sexual texting or downloading pornographic material)
• Unplanned pregnancies and related problems
• Emotional and spiritual emptiness
• Significant damage to reputation and loss of opportunities, especially if publicly labeled a “sex offender” or a “sex addict”
These lists are not complete, but should give you a very good idea of the very serious consequences of both love addiction and sexual addiction. Both addictions can be extremely destructive, not only to the addict, but also to partners or spouses, family members, and anyone else who has the misfortune of being impacted by the addictive behavior.
There is hope for recovery for both love addiction and sexual addiction. If you think you have a problem, please consider reaching out to someone you can trust and take the first step towards getting help. Treatment may include counselling, 12-step programs, support groups, residential treatment in a rehabilitation center, and medication. The sooner you take that first step, the greater chance you will have of avoiding future consequences that could destroy your life as well as the lives of others.