Cybersex/Addiction or just Compulsion
QUESTION: I have a friend, yes-really an issue of a long time friend, that has recently come to light. I have known him for about 10 years and he is a rather loud person who usually says things that cross his mind, sometimes showing disrespect, but not always. HOWEVER, he ALWAYS seems to make inappropriate comments to women, "in a playfull way". Sometimes the women shut him down, sometimes others do, but at least 1/2 the time, people just assume its "just him being who he is" and people assume he doesn't mean anything by it.
I give you that information because the issue that has now come out is that a young family friend of mine (female) came to me a few days ago and said that he was messaging her online and started sexual questions that were odd, and then after a few messages of her asking him to stop, it escalated to the point of him propositioning her. When I confronted him, he explained to me that this is a "problem" he has had for a while and he has a sexual addiction and can't control himself. He said that he often goes online and chats with women he knows and gets into conversations where he can't help himself. My question is; What qualifies someone as being a sex addict? I would think being obsessed with, or wanting to talk to women about sexual things shouldn't be an "addiction", more of a compulsion. Obviously a lot of people think about things they shouldn't and don't say, and I feel that this is what his issue is, and isn't that more of a compulsion or control issue. Do you think he goes farther online because he has a false sense of security talking like that online?
ANSWER: Hi Joe,
So a compulsion is defined as the psychological or mental "desire or need" to do something over and over again whereas the addiction is the physician act. I.E: Compulsion-Sex, Addiction-Online Harassment. Does he need help? YUP. And yes you're right that people tend to "shed their skins" when online because of the anonymity factor; I can be whoever I want to be and no one will know who I truly am. I think you should find a referral source for your friend since you care so much about him and see if he will muster the courage to find some help, but its likely he wont go on his own. So will you be the one to help make the first step for him?
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QUESTION: He has told me that he is going to get help and says he has an appointment next week with someone. He's been a family friend for a long time and I had thought about just meeting with him and talking one on one. The friend he did this with is my daughters best friend, so its kinda of an issue if we are to do things together as we HAD planned to do over this holiday weekend. I really am not sure how I feel about who he is if this is how he thinks about people/women all the time, but I could understand it if its just how he is when he gets online. I know he still would need help, but obviously I'm just trying to guage if he is hiding his true self, or if he isnt THAT person unless he's online.
That's really kind of you to care so much about your friend and yes you should support him by sitting down and sharing your concerns to let him know that he really needs help. You should let him know that what he's doing is NOT acceptable and he needs to see someone about his mental disorder. If you have any follow-up let me know.