Dear Dr. G,
I think I’m fairly normal, but I want to check in and see. I am a 29 yr old male with a very hefty sex drive. I can’t seem to get enough. I would hook up with anyone any night of the week, and I am constantly thinking about or looking at pornography whenever I get the chance. It’s not so much that I want to be with someone as just that I feel better after sex. I am single, so this doesn’t really impact me relationship-wise. I’m just wondering if I’m actually a stallion among men, or if I’m just really good at what I do and want to be recognized for my prowess.
Well, Mr. Ed, I’m not sure how to break this to you, but you are probably fairly typical for a man your age. (We all want to be sexually special, but most of us are average.) That isn’t to say that you aren’t really good at what you do, it’s just that a subjective assessment like that should be made by someone who has been with you. The male libido tends to go bonkers at about 16, and it doesn’t slow down until the mid 30s or the second child, whichever comes first. That said, I don’t want to ignore the fact that you might have something else going on besides a lively sex drive.
The diagnoses of bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder both come with many side dishes, one of which is hypersexuality. Many people who are diagnosed with one of these disorders go through quite a few relationships and sexual partners before they are diagnosed. Some end up with an STD as a red flag that directs them toward visiting a mental health provider.
The reason I bring up these diagnoses is that you mentioned being willing to hook up with anyone, any night of the week. While this may seem like a fairly normal party attitude, it is not a healthy way to live life because you are taking what are considered unhealthy risks. The more random sexual experiences you have, the higher your risk will be for contracting an STD. When you say that you “feel better” after sex, it brings up the idea that you are using it to take care of stress rather than to connect.
Hypersexuality is defined by repetitive self- and other-objectified patterns of sexual behavior utilized to stabilize distress and to manage emotional triggers. Most healthy people don’t use sexuality as a way to cope with stressful situations, rather they reach out to friends or significant others for support. Also, we find that when in a healthy situation, people should be able to find appropriate ways to self-soothe and tolerate stress without turning to a high risk situation. A hobby is essential to good mental health. Sports, reading, music, gardening, socializing, cooking and the like are all ways to relieve stress in an emotionally non-risky way.
Excessive masturbation, frequent viewing of pornography, staying emotionally detached from sexual partners, and spending a fair amount of time planning your next sexual encounter all fall under the hypersexual or “sexual addiction” category. While neither of those are recognized as diagnoses in the DSM-V, they are very real and cause a myriad of problems. As a therapist, if I suspect a client is struggling with problematic sexual behaviors, I look for patterns of personal, emotional, financial, relational, legal, or professional issues as a direct result of the sexual behaviors. Now, I don’t know you, and I can’t say how your sexual behavior is impacting your life, but I can see that you are 29, not in a relationship, and highly sexual. To be honest, I would zoom right in on this particular area if you were in my office.
By all means, you should enjoy a healthy sex life at any age, but if or when it takes over and begins to negatively impact other areas of your life, that’s when it is a problem. When all is said and done, I hope I’m off in my assessment, and I certainly hope you are a stallion among men! We need some in this town. Ride the pony!