I became sexually active as a teenager. Even in my first serious relationship as a teenager, I fooled around with other guys. Ever since then, I have cheated on every single boyfriend I’ve had. I have loved them all, but I will sleep with pretty much anyone who shows a passing interest. I’ve been sexually promiscuous for the past 6 years. I slept with my best friend’s boyfriend. I’ve slept with the friend of a guy with whom I cheated on my boyfriend. I know it’s wrong, but I continue to do it anyways. Is it simply lack of control? Narcissism? I don’t know. I feel like I can’t control it anymore. I have never been faithful, even after taking time off from dating, so I could “get my head right”. When I’m single, I sleep around indiscriminately. When I’m in a relationship, I’m marginally better.

A: I am glad you are challenging yourself by questioning your sexual behavior. It seems to me like you are using sex to prevent intimacy, rather than deepen it. This isn’t a good or bad thing, per se, but it is something you need to understand the consequences of, and the impact it has on you and those you are with. The fact that it concerns you enough to write us means it has become something worth trying to understand.

Being drawn to other people, even while we are in a relationship, is natural. But acting on it, particularly with the pattern you describe, sounds more like a sex addiction. This prevents intimacy and uses sex as the “high” being chased. My first encouragement is to take this test designed by Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) and see if pertains to you. If you think it does, then you can contact them for information and to find an SA meeting near you. SA follows the principals set out by Alcoholics Anonymous and is a free program available in most communities. These programs are commonly referred to as twelve-step programs.

Of course you may want to address this in individual therapy which may be easier to start than by entering a group. You may get a referral for a therapist here.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan