New York Pathways - Treatment and Therapy for Sexual Addiction 

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The Reality about Sexual Fantasies

Some people suffering from sex addiction often complain of having intrusive sexual fantasies. They wonder why they can't stop fantasizing about a particularly stimulating situation or person. They fear that their fantasies will never go away--that they will dominate their thought processes for the rest of their lives. And even people with some sexual sobriety under their belt worry that their fantasies will eventually overpower them and cause them to relapse. Maybe you have similar concerns.

The Futility of Thought Control
In an attempt to control these fantasies, you may simply try to refrain from having them. But this is ultimately futile. It's one thing that tell an alcoholic to stop drinking and quite another to tell a sex addict to stop having sexual fantasies. For example, try this exercise: don't think of a pink elephant. How successful were you? My guess is that you weren't. Why? Because the minute you're told not to think about something, you have to think about it before you stop doing it.

The Purpose of Sexual Fantasies
The reality is that compulsive sexual fantasies serve a purpose. A fantasy reflects a psychological need that hasn't been fulfilled. It's a need that became thwarted at some point in your development. Fantasies aren't there to simply torture you. But until you understand their function, that's exactly what they can feel like: torture.

Whatever the fantasy may be, it contains the code for whatever psychological need that has been unmet. Is it a need to be accepted? Perhaps a need to belong? Perhaps it's a need to have power to make up for a life of feeling inferior. Perhaps it's a need for control in a life that has always been fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. Perhaps it's a need to experience a sense of belonging when your life has been marred by painful loneliness. Perhaps it's a need to feel like you can have an impact on someone or something when you have felt insignificant for most of your life.

Replacing Fantasies with Positive Behaviors
The good news is that once sex addicts give up their destructive sexual behaviors for a sustained period of time, they are invariably rewarded with a renewed sense of energy and focus. This new energy and focus can be applied to getting those basic needs met by adopting positive behaviors. A chronic feeling of inferiority turns into a greater sense of power as you learn new life skills. The need for control stops controlling you when you simply let things happen. Your desire to belong is met as you learn to connect with others and develop healthy relationships. As you become more productive, you begin to have an impact on the world and find yourself with newfound self-esteem.

To say you will never have a sexual fantasy again would be untrue. You are human, after all. However, by meeting with an individual therapist, attending therapeutic groups, and taking consistent actions outside of therapy, sex addicts can learn which needs are being met through their fantasies, fulfill those psychological needs in a healthy way, and significantly reduce the power sexual fantasies wield on their behavior.

That's reality.

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