Cybersex Addiction, Part 2: What It Looks Like

Common online behaviors engaged in by sex, porn, and chemsex addicts include (but are not even remotely limited to) the following:

  • Compulsive use of digital pornography, with or without masturbation
  • Compulsive casual and/or anonymous sexual hookups facilitated by dating and hookup websites and apps
  • Compulsively engaging in sexualized text and/or video chat, with chat sessions often culminating in mutual masturbation
  • Compulsively searching for sexualized imagery and/or potential sex partners on social media sites
  • Compulsive sexting (sending and/or receiving)
  • Compulsively buying or selling sexual favors via dating/hookup websites and apps
  • Compulsively searching for and hooking up with PNP (party and play) partners via dating/hookup websites and apps
  • Compulsively seeking and engaging in marathon sex and/or group sex, usually finding partners via dating/hookup websites and apps
  • Compulsive exhibitionism and/or voyeurism via webcam, often on chat sites that randomly pair chat partners
  • Using teledildonic masturbatory devices that warm, lubricate, pulse and grip in tandem with sexual activities taking place onscreen (such as porn videos or even live performances)
  • Playing virtual sex games that allow users to create customized fantasy avatars that are then used to participate in interactive online sexcapades
  • Virtual reality porn/sex
  • Using drugs (especially meth) as part of ‘the scene’ in certain sexualized chat rooms

It is important to note that the basics of sex, porn, and chemsex addiction are the same with or without the involvement of sexnology. Cybersex addicts engage in their problematic behaviors repeatedly and compulsively, despite clearly related negative life consequences, whenever and wherever they are able. As a result, their relationships (if they have them) are threatened, school and work become a struggle, and they lose interest in hobbies and other activities they used to enjoy. Cybersex addicts also tend to isolate, keep secrets, and lie to those close to them about their hypersexual behaviors – typically experiencing debilitating shame about not just their actions but their lies and secrecy. And sometimes they make promises to themselves and/or others that they will stop their troubling behaviors, only to find themselves right back at it just a short while later.

In these respects, the challenges of tech-driven sex, porn, and chemsex addiction are the same as real-world sex, porn, and chemsex addiction. The fact that in today’s world digital technology so thoroughly facilitates sexually addictive fantasies and activities is simply a byproduct of the internet era. The only thing that has really changed in the last few years is the manner and speed with which addicts can locate and access the sexual content, partners, and substances that fuel their addictions.

That said, even though sexnology does, without doubt, facilitate and drive modern-day sex, porn, and chemsex addiction, it does not appear to be a root cause of these behaviors. In fact, most people are able to use porn, hookup apps, recreational drugs, and the like in non-compulsive ways. They do not become addicted, and they do not experience negative consequences.

However, individuals who are predisposed to addiction, impulsivity, compulsivity, depression, anxiety and the like (thanks to genetics and/or early-life trauma, abuse, or neglect) may well struggle with sexnology, just as they might struggle with alcohol, drugs, gambling, or any other potentially addictive substance or activity. So, the growing availability of digitized sexual content and partners does not increase the likelihood that these individuals will struggle in life, but it does increase the likelihood that those struggles will be sexual in nature.