Is your sex-obsessed spouse actually a sex addict? See what mental health experts have to say.
Step 1: Know the score Understand that there is no actual disorder known as "sex addiction." Most mental health professionals agree that addictions involve substances, not behaviors. Some therapists believe that the behavior commonly called "sex addiction" is better classfied as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
TIP: The American Psychiatric Association has proposed that a condition called "hypersexual disorder" be included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to be published in 2013.
Step 2: Consider the timing Think about when your spouse becomes consumed with sex -- whether the compulsion involves extramarital affairs, masturbation, pornography, cybersex, phone sex, or some other form of sexual stimulation. Sexperts say hypersexual individuals often turn to sex during stressful life events, or whenever they're feeling anxious or depressed.
Step 3: Weigh their recklessness Weigh the recklessness involved in your partner's pursuit of sexual pleasure. People who compulsively seek sexual satisfaction often do so with complete disregard to how their behavior may hurt themselves or their spouse, either physically or emotionally.
Step 4: Calculate the time involved Calculate the time your spouse spends on their sexual compulsions. Someone truly hooked on sex devotes a good portion of their time -- and often their money -- to planning their sexual adventures and engaging in them.
Step 5: Consider their conscience Ask yourself whether your spouse has truly tried to curtail their behavior. Trying repeatedly and unsuccessfully to stop the sexual compulsion is a hallmark of hypersexual disorder.
Step 6: Get help Make them get help. Regardless of what it's called, or whether it's even a real illness, a mate's obsession with sex that doesn't involve you is not good for your mental health. And it poses a danger to your physical health if it involves other sexual partners.
FACT: 3 to 5 percent of Americans engage in sexually compulsive behavior, according to The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health.