Exploring Sexual Addiction as an Attachment Disorder
Sexual addiction, also known as hypersexuality, nymphomania, and hypersexual disorder, is a type of impulse control disorder that causes individuals to become obsessed with sexual thoughts, urges and/or behaviors. Impulse control disorders are thought to be caused by a combination of social, psychological, and biological factors, including chemical imbalances in the brain.
But researchers tend to view sexual addiction as an attachment disorder, which, when left untreated, can continue to affect an addict’s future relationships.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from sexual addiction or impulse control disorder, call our helpline at to speak with an addiction specialist who can help you find the right treatment center or therapist.
Here’s a close look at how sexual addiction can be triggered by an attachment or intimacy disorder.
Common Causes of Sexual Addiction
Contrary to popular belief, most cases of sexual addiction do not stem from the desire to engage in intercourse and sexual activity. Instead, sexual addiction often stems from underlying psychological problems associated with stress, depression, loneliness, intimacy, and attachment.
A 2015 study conducted on sexual addiction by researchers at Brigham Young University found that men who suffered from this disorder also suffered from attachment problems in their relationships.
The study showed that those who typically feel insecure in their relationships develop sexual addictions for fear of abandonment, rejection, engulfment, and conflict. These four fears are common in both men and women who suffer from sexual addiction.
Exploring Fear of Abandonment
The fear of abandonment is usually defined as being afraid that a loved one will leave you, or being afraid of ending up completely alone. In most cases, fear of abandonment is triggered by traumatic events that happened to you during childhood or in your past. Examples of events that can trigger fear of abandonment are having lost a parent, family member, or close friend to death or to moving away, or being left by a romantic partner.
Those with fear of abandonment often become overly attentive or clingy with their partners, and have difficulty recognizing when their partners need physical and emotional space. These individuals may also tolerate abuse from their partners, and strive for constant affection and assurance.
Exploring Fear of Rejection
Fear of rejection is defined as being afraid that someone will not accept and/or appreciate you for who you are as an individual. In many cases, fear of rejection stems from having a relationship with someone from your past — such as a parent, relative, or close friend — who failed to respect your opinions, beliefs, choices, and actions. You might be afraid that a partner will leave and/or reject you for being who you are.
Exploring Fear of Engulfment
Some individuals develop sexual addictions for fear of engulfment, which is defined as the fear of being controlled and dominated by a romantic partner, or the fear of losing one self’s identity and individuality in an intimate relationship. Those who fear engulfment often have problems making commitments, and tend to maintain emotional and/or physical distance from their partners.
Exploring Fear of Conflict
Those with a fear of conflict tend to go out of their way to avoid conflict at all costs. These individuals might be overly nice or accommodating — even when conditions call for the opposite — and will avoid conflict even if it means it could impact their confidence and self-esteem. Individuals who suffer from sexual addiction might do anything their romantic partners ask or demand, for fear potential conflict will cause the relationship to end.
Treating Sexual Addiction
Sexual addiction can be treated using cognitive-behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, group therapy, medication, and other methods that help address underlying attachment and intimacy disorders. Through one or more therapies, you can learn to direct your sexual addiction on other activities such as exercise, or talk about previous traumas and events that may have triggered your addiction or attachment disorder in the first place.
Group therapy sessions can provide you with new ideas and insights on how to overcome your addiction, while medications can help address brain chemical imbalances and mood symptoms that may be contributing to sexual addiction.
Your first step in treating sexual addiction as an attachment disorder is to contact an addiction specialist who can connect with you therapists, psychiatrists, and treatment centers that can accurately diagnose and treat your condition. Call our helpline at to get started with treatment, and learn how to navigate your way to a healthier, addiction-free life.