Addiction is a dangerous thing that, unfortunately, affects a lot of people. Most often when someone thinks of addiction, they immediately think about addiction to drugs and alcohol. These are certainly not the only types of addictions from which a person can suffer.
An entirely different category of addictions are known as process addictions. These addictions aren’t caused by chemical dependency – instead, they’re caused by dependency on certain types of behaviors that provide gratification or relief from emotional distress.
There are many types of process addictions, but in this article we are going to limit our discussion to the ramifications of an addiction to cybersex.
What is cybersex addiction?
Cybersex is a sub-type of an internet addiction that’s basically what it sounds like – using computers and technology to simulate sex, or to arouse yourself and the other participant or participants so you can enjoy masturbating. Cybersex is unique because it allows two people who may have never met to connect over the internet and feel an intimate connection, despite how superficial it may be.
Cybersex addictions are different than addictions to pornography, because cybersex doesn’t always involve looking at porn. Cybersex can be, and often is, completely text-based and takes place on instant messengers, chat rooms or other communication methods. Sexting, or sending text messages with sexual intent, is technically a form of cybersex.
While pornography can be considered cybersexual material, addictions to pornography are their own subsection. However, a cybersex addict may also have a problem with pornographic material. Studies have shown that men are more likely to include porn in their cybersexual routines, whereas women are more likely to just participate in erotic messaging.
It’s estimated that about one out of every five internet addicts engages in some sort of cybersex on a regular basis.
What causes cybersex addiction?
There are a lot of causes that can lead to an addiction to cybersex. Some of these factors are due to personal preference and circumstance, and other factors are due to the nature of the internet itself.
There are certain people who are more likely to develop a cybersex addiction.
- People with low self-esteem or a seriously distorted self-image may turn to the internet for sexual gratification
- People who have untreated sexual dysfunctions are much more likely to develop sexual addictions, as are people who have struggled with some other sort of sexual addiction
- People who are unable or unwilling to explore their sexuality in reality are more likely to develop cybersex addictions
Cybersex is appealing because it allows people to find gratification without the risk of being caught or judged. The internet is an anonymous place where you can express your deepest desires without revealing your identity. There is also no risk of being seen participating in acts that some might find lewd, like dialing expensive sex hotlines or being seen at an adult bookshop.
What are the signs of a cybersex addiction?
If you’re worried that you or someone that you care about might be developing a sexual addiction, there are a few things that you’re going to want to keep an eye out for. These things may indicate the emergence of a cybersex problem.
- Spending excessive time in online chat rooms looking for someone to send erotic messages to
- Being preoccupied with the internet and avoiding responsibility, in order to find cybersex opportunities
- Using anonymous handles and user profiles to act out on sexual behaviors that you wouldn’t actually do in person
- Spending time thinking about the next chance you’ll have to engage in cybersex
- Keeping your online activities secret, especially if you’re keeping it secret from your partner
- Feelings of guilt or shame that emerge from your online behavior
- Frequent masturbation while using the internet and engaging in sexual chat
- Dismissing real-life sexual opportunities to engage in cyber sex because it’s more gratifying
Experiencing one or two of these things doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a sexual addiction, but they are good warning signs to heed if you want to prevent yourself from developing a serious problem.
Treatment options for cybersex addiction
To treat a cybersex addiction is not that different from treating other addictions. Most rehab facilities also accommodate people who suffer from process addictions and they can help guide them through the typical counseling and group therapy that is used to help people overcome drug addiction.
There are also some holistic methods that can be used to treat cybersex addiction. These aren’t always offered in traditional rehabs but they have been shown to be highly effective.
- Somatoemotional repatterning or somatoemotional release is a type of therapy that aims to identify the trauma or negativity that leads to addictive behavior and replace that (repattern) with a much more beneficial behavior or emotional response.
- Auriculotherapy is a technique that’s similar to acupuncture, except without the needles. Instead of using needles, electrically charged wands stimulate certain neural pathways to help correct any neurological imbalances that might cause addiction.
- Neo-biofeedback is a fairly new technique that uses a special device to directly stimulate the different hemispheres of the brain to produce a certain frequency that overrides the frequency causing the addictive behavior.
If you’re interested in treating your cybersex addiction, you might want to give one of these alternative, holistic methods a shot. Chances are, they’ll help you with more than just your addiction.