10 Types of Sex Addiction in "Don't Call It Love"

In his book, Don't Call It Love, sex addiction expert Dr. Patrick Carnes describes the contrast between 10 types of addictive sexual behavior and the intimacy you would experience with what he calls "genuine love."

Opinions about what constitutes problematic sexual behavior vary among professionals and the public. Clearly, some of these behaviors, such as fantasy sex, occur in healthy sexual relationships, while others, such as exploitative sex, are highly problematic in any context.


Fantasy Sex

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Fantasy sex is a preoccupying obsession with sexual fantasy, rather than the reality of genuine sexual feelings, sexual behavior, and sexual relationships. It can prevent you from developing genuine loving feelings based on accepting others the way they really are.


Seductive Role Sex

Seductive sex focuses on charming, persuading or manipulating others into sexual contact. You treat your prospective partner as a "conquest" or a challenge to make yourself feel more powerful.


Anonymous Sex

Anonymous sex is having sex with strangers, including one night stands you find on Tinder. Anonymous sex helps the addict avoid developing genuine loving feelings.


Paying for Sex

Paying for sex also inhibits genuine connection, because of the implied business arrangement. The person you pay is looking for financial gain, not a loving relationship.


Trading Sex

The other side of the paying-for-sex transaction is receiving money or goods for sex or using sex as a business. Sex becomes a commodity, rather than personal experience, and the emotional connection diminishes.


Voyeuristic Sex

Voyeuristic sex focuses on watching others engage in sexual activity. You get sexually aroused by looking at pornography from:

  • Books and magazines
  • The computer and films
  • Peep-shows
  • Secretly observing other people, like a peeping Tom
  • Going to sex clubs to watch in person

Excessive masturbation, even to the point of injury, is common for voyeurs. They engage in solitary activities, rather than connecting with another person, ensuring intimacy and love are not an option.​​


Exhibitionistic Sex

Exhibitionist sex includes flashing "forbidden" body parts in public, sometimes while wearing clothes designed to expose. Other forms of exhibitionist sex include posing for pornographic pictures and having sex where others can see.

Exhibitionism can override genuine loving connections because the excitement comes from the reaction, not from the sexual contact with your partner.


Intrusive Sex

Intrusive sex involves touching others without permission. It may involve abusing your position of power or authority, such as the role of priest, supervisor or teacher, to sexually exploit others.

Intrusive sex is inherently exploitative, making it impossible to form the basis for trust or love. Victims may experience feelings of loyalty towards the perpetrator.


Pain Exchange

The giving or receiving of pain, also known as sadomasochism or S&M, is a type of sexually addictive behavior in which the consenting participants associate pain with sexual pleasure.

As with intrusive sex, victims may perceive their feelings towards their torturer as loving.


Exploitative Sex

Rape and pedophilia are types of exploitative sex. Because one person violates the human rights of the other, there is no possibility for genuine love or intimacy.

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