I suppose it’s a “chicken and egg” kind of question: What comes first – isolation or addictive sexual behavior (a.s.b.)? People who are isolated are at risk for getting sucked into a.s.b., and people who engage in a.s.b. tend to get progressively more isolated. In the workshops I teach, I’m always struck by how isolated the men are. Aside from their wives (if married), they have no one they relate to on anything deeper than a surface level.
On the road of recovery, breaking the pattern of isolation is essential. Genuine connection is the key to relapse prevention and long term health. Having other people in our lives who know the whole truth about us breaks the shame, dispels the loneliness, and offers accountability and support we need when we start to get “slippery” about our boundaries.
I recently came across a helpful exercise for gauging how isolated we are feeling in key relational areas. The author of the article describes why isolation matters:
The more isolated we feel, the more likely we will be to act out. Sexual addiction is an effort to “fix” our isolated feelings with sex. Sex gives us a feeling of connectedness, even if it is a total fantasy of connectedness. You can’t connect with an actor in a porn movie or image. You can’t connect with a prostitute. In reality, even a short lived extramarital affair is not true connectedness, it is merely a short term, unreal relationship.
But all these sexual activities feel like true connectedness. These sexually addictive activities feel like they are solving our feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Take a look at the chart below, and chart yourself in each of the key areas. Identify where you feel most isolated. Then start to connect on a deeper level in those relationships. You will find that your sexual craving and urges to act out will decrease dramatically.