Thanks to some high-profile scandals and recent films, we've been introduced to the controversial diagnosis of sex addiction. But what about "love and sex addiction"? In the midst of her highly public (and toxic) on-again, off-again relationship with Chris Brown, Rihanna has allegedly checked herself into a women's sex and love program. The gender-specific treatment (similar to AA) includes group meetings, equine therapy, and individual counseling. To better understand what it means to have a love and sex addiction, we looked to the program itself at the Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at Recovery Ranch in Tennessee. What we learned is that we probably all struggle with addictive love and sex behavior at one time or another.
Here are the "addictive behavior patterns" to look out for:
- Endlessly searching for "the one"
- Attracting troubled, addicted, abusive, or otherwise emotionally unavailable partners
- Mistaking sex and romance for intimate love
- Using sex and/or love to mask loneliness or unhappiness
- Changing one's appearance through excessive dieting/exercise or surgery
- Using seduction, sex, or other schemes to attract or hold onto a partner
- Multiple extramarital affairs
- Compulsive masturbation with or without pornography
- Making sexual advances toward individuals in subordinate power positions
- Dressing seductively to attract attention, take risks, or feel empowered
- Having sex in high-risk locations or situations
- Inappropriate sexual and relationship boundaries (e.g., engaging in a relationship with a married man or boss)
- Trading sex for drugs, help, affection, money, status, or power
- Having anonymous sex or repeatedly "falling in love" with strangers
There are also female archetypes of love and sex addiction, like "Lucy the Love Addict," who's always on the hunt for the perfect guy, and "Dora Danger Girl," who's compared to Samantha on Sex and the City. What do you think about love and sex addiction? Do you know anyone (including yourself) who could use some relationship rehab?