“Honesty is an Aphrodisiac” – But is This True for Sex Addicts?

I heard the saying “honesty is an aphrodisiac” a long time ago and I felt intuitively that it was true.  But does honesty really set the stage for sexual arousal?  If we are talking about a healthy, committed relationship I think the answer is probably yes.

If honesty in a relationship is being yourself with a partner, being open about who you are and what you are feeling at a given moment then honesty undoubtedly brings you closer.  In fact being vulnerable enough to let a partner know what you feel and what you need is one definition of intimacy.

In sexual terms there is no doubt that communicating honestly about what we feel, what we like and don’t like frees us up to experience what is most arousing to us and can increase our enjoyment of sex.  This suggests that if we share our secret sexual wishes with someone we are letting go of any residual shame that we may feel about those thoughts or urges and are allowing ourselves to become more comfortable with ourselves.

For practicing sex addicts honesty doesn’t work

Comfort and vulnerability are not what sex addicts associate with sexual excitement. Practicing sex addicts find powerful sexual excitement in a world of fantasy.  Whether this fantasy is a scenario on a computer screen, a lap dance, online sexual chat, or a hook-up with a prostitute they are “acting out,” and what they are acting out are their fantasies.  The experience is one of hyper-arousal and in fact sexual arousal is thought to be physiologically connected in some ways to fear.  Fear and risk taking can increase our general level of arousal and can amp up our sexual excitement, as can certain drugs.

If the addict has a spouse or partner but is completely lost in fantasy during sex then they are using their partner to act out their addiction, to use their drug.  And if this is the case they are being dishonest and are closing the door to sexual intimacy with that person.

Honesty works better for the addict in recovery

Recovering sex addicts hope to have a sex life that, while it involves some personal erotic fantasies, also involves a real relationship and an ability to become aroused and to be sexually gratified within a partner.

As addicts progress in their recovery, honesty becomes increasingly meaningful in supporting a healthy sex life.

As the addict recovers he or she gains a stronger and more positive sense of who they are.    Sharing our honest feelings and wants with someone is an act of trust.  It means not only that we trust our partner, but that we trust our new found sense of self, we know that we have nothing to be ashamed of.

Being accepted for who we really are not only makes us feel more trusting it makes us feel that it is possible to be loved.  We feel that we are OK in our core we not longer feel that we have to put up a front or an act in order to be acceptable.  This in turn works wonders for intimacy and for sexual fulfillment.

Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource