In his book, "Don't Call It Love," sex addiction expert Dr. Patrick Carnes described 10 types of addictive sexual behavior. As the title, "Don't Call It Love" suggests, each type of sexual addiction puts distance between people, in contrast with the closeness and intimacy they experience with genuine love.
Opinions about what constitutes problematic behavior vary among professionals and the public. Clearly, some of these behaviors, such as fantasy sex, can occur in moderation within healthy sexual relationships, while others, such as exploitative sex, are highly problematic in any context.
1. Fantasy sexFantasy sex is an obsession with sexual fantasy, rather than the reality of genuine sexual feelings, sexual behavior, and sexual relationships. The fantasies can be so intense and overwhelming that they are a major preoccupation for the individual involved. As the fantasy is a way of escaping from reality, it can prevent a person from developing genuine loving feelings, which are based on accepting the other person the way they really are.
2. Seductive role sexSeductive sex focuses on charming, persuading or manipulating others into sexual contact, and involves treating the other person as a "conquest" or a challenge, rather than someone else to connect with. The other person becomes an object the seducer uses to make himself or herself feel more powerful. People who get addicted to seductive sex may have multiple relationships, affairs, and/or unsuccessful serial relationships.
3. Anonymous sexAnonymous sex is becoming sexually aroused through having sex with strangers. This may involve engaging in sex with anonymous partners, or having one-night stands. Obviously, anonymous sex makes it impossible to develop genuine loving feelings towards the other person, because they cease to be sexually interesting when the partners get to know each other.
4. Paying for sexThe financial basis of sexual contact when a person pays for prostitutes or for sexually explicit phone calls also inhibits genuine connection, because the implication is that sex is a business arrangement, and that the person being paid is having sex for financial gain, not because he or she is interested in developing a loving relationship with the paying partner.
5. Trading sexThe other side of the paying-for-sex transaction is receiving money or drugs for sex or using sex as a business. For these individuals, sex is treated as a commodity, rather than a personal experience. Whether the person trading sex feels empowered by charging a fee for sexual services, or whether they feel financially desperate, dependent on drugs or believe trading sex is necessary for their means of survival, trading sex can diminish emotional connections to sex.
6. Voyeuristic sexVoyeuristic sex is focused on observing other people engaged in sexual activity, rather than engaging in sexual contact yourself. This can involve getting sexually aroused using pornographic pictures in books, magazines, the computer, pornographic films, peep-shows or secretly observing other people when they might be naked or having sex. Voyeurism tends to be combined with excessive masturbation, even to the point of injury. As the voyeur is engaging in solitary activities, rather than connecting with the object of their desire, and exploiting the other person or people without their knowledge, intimacy and love are not an option.
7. Exhibitionistic sexExhibitionist includes flashing sexual parts of the body in public, sometimes while wearing clothes designed to expose. Posing for pornographic pictures or films, or having sex where others can see are also forms of exhibitionism. Exhibitionism can override genuine loving connections because the excitement comes from the reaction -- typically of shock or disapproval -- of the audience, not from the sexual contact with your partner.
8. Intrusive sexIntrusive sex involves touching others in a sexual way -- such as touching their penis, vulva, buttocks or breasts -- without permission. Intrusive sex may involve the use of a position of power or authority, such as the role of priest, parent or teacher, to sexually exploit another person. Because intrusive sex is by it's nature exploitative, making it impossible to form the basis for trust or love, although victims may experience feelings of loyalty towards authority figures that they misconstrue as love.
9. Pain exchangeThe giving or receiving of pain, also known as sadomasochism or S&M, is a type of sexually addictive behavior in which pain is associated with sexual pleasure. There is a blatant imbalance of power between the giver and the receiver, although both partners may be consenting. As with intrusive sex, victims may perceive their feelings towards their torturer as loving, but there is no genuine trust or intimacy when a relationship is based on hurting one another.
10. Exploitative sexExploitative sex is a step beyond intrusive sex, and involves the forcing another person to engage in sexual contact. Rape and sex with children or other vulnerable people are types of exploitative sex. Because one person is being violated by the other, there is no possibility for genuine love or intimacy to develop, and usually the opposite emotions are provoked in the victim.