Problematic Sexual Behaviors

gars.seul.troubléProblematic Sexual Behaviors

A lot of my work as a sex therapist is with people who feel sexually out of control or conflicted about their sexual thoughts, feelings, urges or behaviors.

Some of my clients recognize that they’re making bad sexual choices but feel helpless to change despite the negative effects their behaviors are having on their lives or the lives of others. Others worry that what makes them feel good sexually is abnormal and is threatening their reputation or relationships.

My role as your therapist is to hear your concerns, learn about the effects of your behavior on your life and relationships and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to facilitate the changes that you wish to make in your life.

Below are some types of problematic sexual behavior that might have brought you here:

Excessive or compulsive sexual behavior (“sex addiction”)

You spend a lot of time engaging in sexual activities and this behavior is negatively affecting your life.
Such behaviors may be one or more of the following: masturbating, watching pornography, online sexual activity, multiple sex partners or affairs, frequenting strip bars or prostitutes, anonymous sex in public places and others.

Because of your sexual behavior, you may be feeling bad about yourself and emotionally isolating yourself from others. Or, you might be neglecting your responsibilities at work or jeopardizing your marriage and family life at home.

You also might be spending significant amounts of money to maintain this behavior and facing serious financial problems. You may even be putting your health and the health of your spouse at risk by engaging in unsafe sexual behavior.

If you’re single, your sexual behavior might be keeping you from finding someone and fulfilling your needs for love and companionship.

Despite how this behavior is impacting your life, you’ve tried to stop but have failed.

Paraphilic Disorders

The term “paraphilia” refers to atypical or unconventional expressions of sexuality.

Now most people who practice atypical or “kinky” sexual activities do not merit a diagnosis of sexual mental illness. Healthy sexuality can encompass a wide variety of sexual behaviors and sources of sexual stimulation.

However, paraphilic disorders refer to atypical types of sexual expression that are in some way problematic and that involve one or both of the following criteria:

A. The sexual behavior causes you distress or affects your ability to function in your personal, professional or social life.

For example, you may be incapable of functioning sexually (for ex. achieving erection or ejaculation) without engaging in the atypical sexual behavior and this is making it difficult for you and your partner to connect sexually.

You might also fear rejection if you were to disclose your sexual interests and this is keeping you from meeting potential partners and fulfilling your needs for love and companionship.

Or you may feel that your sexual urges are stronger than your self-discipline and they make you do things that are against your personal values and beliefs. You keep promising yourself you will not repeat the behavior but find yourself returning to it over and over again.

B. The sexual behavior involves causing psychological or physical harm to non-consenting individuals or individuals who are unable to give legal consent (children for example).

These sexual behaviors involve victimizing others and are by law criminal acts.

Most individuals with these types of paraphilic disorders are men. In most cases, events and relationships in childhood led to developing paraphilic disorders in adolescence and adulthood.

Individuals engaging in illegal sexual behavior are often struggling with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, a fear of rejection and trouble forming healthy intimate relationships.

If you’re engaging in any criminal sexual behavior, you need to seek help now before this ruins your life and damages the life of others.

Examples of atypical sexual fantasies or behaviors that are by nature problematic or can become so:

Fetishism: achieving sexual arousal and gratification almost exclusively by handling or fantasizing about an inanimate object (e.g. high-heeled shoes, panties, leather, stockings, diapers, jockstraps, etc.)

Partialism: sexual arousal focusing exclusively on a specific part of the body (the feet for example).

Cross-dressing or transvestic fetishism: sexual arousal from wearing female clothing or accessories.

Sadism: sexual arousal from inflicting pain or humiliation on another person.

Masochism: sexual arousal from experiencing pain or humiliation.

Voyeurism: sexual arousal from observing others in their private activities without their consent or knowledge.

Exhibitionism: sexual arousal by exposing your genitals to unsuspecting strangers.

Frotteurism: sexual arousal by rubbing one’s genitals against non-consenting people in public while fully clothed.

Pedophilia: sexual arousal and gratification depends primarily or exclusively on having sexual relations with children*

*Legal exception to your right to confidentiality. Please take note that as a therapist, I am required by law to report any abuse or neglect of children, sexual or otherwise.



Mylène D’Astous, M.A., CCC

Clinical Sexologist and Psychotherapist

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