“[With sex addiction] it’s not really about the person,” Hudson says.
“People become objects to be used and not people to be related to.”Our society mostly focuses on guys with sex addiction because, well, from the outside their spiraling-out looks pretty juicy.
“We don’t do it because the addictive substance feels so good, but because nothing else in life feels at all.”Recovery for de Guzman and Riley came from joining Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA).
Like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, it’s a 12-step group that provides a support system for anyone seeking to control an addiction, though individual therapy can be helpful as well, explains Linda Hudson, the counselor.
“I would date someone for six weeks and I would suffer over it for six months.It was just becoming unbearable.” Her obsession with sex and relationships affected her daily life, including her career in Hollywood: “You’re sitting at your desk fantasizing about having a relationship with your married boss.Or [actually] having a relationship with your married boss—[I’ve] done that more than once! “Running around with married men was just, like, ‘This is so fun! I just get all the good, fun parts and they treat me like a princess and we don’t have to argue about bills or any of the dull parts!Charlene de Guzman says her sex addiction started as a “hunger for love and attention and validation.” For her, the confusion came from misplaced messages about her self-worth.“I had this story from a very early age that a woman who was sexually desired, a woman who was sexual, a woman men wanted to have sex with, was of value,” she told .“From as early as I can remember, I would be what was called boy-crazy by anybody who was watching,” Riley says.But this "boy-craziness" didn’t stop in her teenage years, or her 20s, or even her 30s.’” The expansion of women’s sexual freedom made it easier for Riley to justify her harmful behavior as “rebellious” or “antiauthoritarian,” she said, because it’s more palatable to consider yourself “free-spirited” than, say, a homewrecker.“I look back on it now and I think, Wow, I was really hurting a lot of people."But as with any type of addiction, the addict in question probably isn’t thinking clearly about who her behavior could hurt.The trouble was, De Guzman chose men who couldn’t or wouldn’t commit to her.When she got to the place where she felt suicidal over the guy who wouldn’t text back, “I wanted crumbs from guys at that point.”It’s a story that sounds familiar to Lee Riley*, a 60-something woman (she declined to share her exact age, preferring to identify as “old enough to know better”) living in Los Angeles who is also a sex addict.