It starts in the land of make believe. In our fantasies, Boris Kodjoe or Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson really are waiting for us on a gay hook-up site or somewhere in the park after dark. If not them, then maybe one of their many look-alikes will. Excepting the fact that they don't have that many look-alikes! But we've deluded ourselves into believing that this time he'll be there and certainly justifies going online just one more time, and going through the motions of going out to act out. Keep fantasizing, baby!
You know by now that the mind is capable of playing tricks, and you also know that when The Rock doesn't show up, you'll end up with someone far less solid and attractive and the next time you see him, you'll pretend not to recognize him. For shame! You said you wasn't going to do that anymore but there you were, caught up in the rapture of the moment - just one more time! Objectively speaking, while many of us may recognize ourselves here, does this behavior really constitute a problem like sexual addiction?
To our detriment, in the hyper-masculine culture of our society, especially among African American males, there is a "boys will be boys" mentality that allows for off-the-hook behavior that is unquestioned and totally acceptable. Even among gay men there's a tendency to dismiss any such talk or questioning as just another attempt at pathologizing our sexuality and judging it by other standards. But caught in the middle, are men of various races and sexual orientations, who recognize that something isn't quite right! Their sexual behavior has become quite excessive and things seem to feel out of control. Sex and sexual intrigue has now interfered with the normal flow of life, and has become obssessive and consuming. The warning signs of the negative consequences often present themselves in living color, but are ignored because "those things" happen to other people - and not to us! Is this you?For the record, Sexual Addiction is a compulsive-impulsive behavior that can cloud judgement and reason normally leading to reckless behaviors with often disastrous results. For some of us, the hunt, the pursuit, the smell of sex, and the interplay of sexual intrigue can be just as exciting as the actual act of sex, and can produce a high as numbing as any chemical drug. But with any addiction, lack of control over the "problem causing" behavior is the red flag!
In 1997, Patrick Carnes, the "father" of the study of Sexual Addiction, devised the following screening test to help asses levels of sexually compulsivity. If you feel like you're at a point where you need to put a name to the compulsive, out of control desires that you have, simply give yourself 1 point for every "Yes" answer. Answering yes to some of the questions here doesn't automatically make you a sex addict, but if you check 13 or more, you may need to check yourself!
1. Were you sexually abused as a child or teenager?
2. Have you subscribed to, or regularly rented/purchased sexually explicit mags or vids?
3. Did your parents have trouble with their own sexual or romantic behaviors?
4. Do you often find yourself preoccupied with sexual thoughts or planning sexual encounters?
5. Has your use of phone sex lines, computer sex lines etc. exceeded your ability to pay for these services?
6) Do your significant others, friends, or family ever worry or complain about your sexual behavior (as opposed to your sexual orientation)?
7. Do you have trouble stopping your sexual behavior when you know it is inappropriate and/or dangerous to your health?
8. Does your involvement viewing pornography & logging onto cybersex chat rooms supercede the time you spend with face-to-face intimate encounters or romantic partners?
9. Do you keep the extent or nature of your sexual activities hidden from your friends and/or partners?
10. Do you look forward to events with friends or family being over so that you can go out to look for some action?
11. Are sex clubs, sex parties, arcades, a regular or preferred part of your sexual activity?
12. Do you believe that anonymous or casual sex has kept you from having more long term relationships or from reaching other personal goals?
13. Once the sexual "novelty" of a new partner has worn off, do you have trouble maintaining an intimate relationship?
14. Do your sexual encounters place you in danger of arrest for lewd conduct or public indecency?
15. Are you HIV positive (or have other STD's) yet continue to engage in risky or unsafe sexual behavior?
16. Has anyone ever been hurt emotionally by events related to your sexual behavior - lying to partners or friends, not showing up for appointments due to sexual liaisons.
17. Have you ever been approached, charged, arrested by the police, security, etc. due to sexual activity in a public place?
18. Does sex help you forget or escape your problems or anxieties?
19. After having sex, do you ever feel troubled, guilty or ashamed?
20. Have you made repeated promises to yourself to change some form of your sexual activity only to break them later, again and again?
21. Have your sexual activities interfered with some aspect of your professional or personal life - unable to perform at work, loss of relationships?
22. Have you engaged in unsafe or risky sexual practices even though you knew it could cause you harm?
23. Do you pay for sex, frequenting prostitutes or strip clubs on a regular basis?
24. Have you ever had sex with someone just because they were there and later wished you didn't?
25. Do you cruise public restrooms, rest areas, or parks looking for sexual activity with total strangers?
*Consider Question no. 25. I've had younger friends tell me this is totally a generational thing that no longer happens with successive generations as they become more out, about and accepted into the mainstream. I agree only up to a point but caution against judgement! I tell them not to fool themselves. The same driving force behind cruising the restrooms - which still happens (especially on college campuses) is the same compulsive force behind spending hours on Adam4Adam. It's just the same old mess dressed up in the latest style and called by a new name.
If you've checked thirteen and up, and think you might have an out of control issue that needs to be addressed, there are many counselors and therapists trained in this field, and I totally recommend seeking one that you are comfortable with. There are also several 12-step programs available in or near most of the major cities. Sex And Love Addicts Anonymous is one such organization, and you can visit them at (http://www.slaafws.org/).
Many local chapters of this organization are listed in your telephone book simply as SLAA. For further reading on the subject, I recommend Patrick Carne's Don't Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction, which includes examples of gay men and their sexual behaviors, and especially Cruise Control: Understanding Sexual Addiction in Gay Men by Robert Weiss.