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Intimacy & Sexual Struggles

Impacting the ability to form healthy attachments

What Are Considered Intimacy and Sexual Struggles?

Intimacy and sexual struggles impair a person’s ability to create healthy attachments. Whether they include the obsessive need for a relationship or the compulsive desire to engage in sexual activity, these struggles often cause significant life disruption and result in an individual acting out and harming others. Many intimacy and sexual disorders stem from attachment issues, abuse, and trauma from childhood.

At The Meadows, we are able to address these issues during treatment. We also treat individuals suffering from sex addiction, Internet sex (or cybersex) addiction, relationship addiction, pornography addiction, love addiction, sexual compulsion, and sexual anorexia through our gender-specific programs: Willow House and Gentle Path.

Relationship struggles

Negative Effects of Intimacy and Sexual Struggles

The negative effects of intimacy and sexual struggles can be very severe. As with all addictions or compulsive behaviors, the individual with the condition is not the only sufferer. Family, friends, and partners can experience great distress and difficulty because of their loved one’s struggles.

Left untreated, intimacy and sexual disorders can worsen and result in illegal sexual activity, the development of substance use disorders, and the emergence of mental health conditions. An individual may often experience broken relationships, compounded trauma, legal issues, and other negative outcomes due to the struggles that compel him or her to obsessively pursue unhealthy attachments and sexual activities.

An estimated 5% of the US population may meet criteria for a compulsive sexual disorder.

-A Study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information

Intimacy and Sexual Struggles by the Numbers

  • A 2017 survey of 339 college students revealed that 10.3% met the criteria for cybersex addiction.
  • University of Chicago research indicates that among individuals with compulsive sexual behaviors, 22% experienced physical abuse and 31% experienced sexual abuse as a child.
  • According to a 2012 study, 5% of women reported having some problems with problematic sexual internet use and 2% having serious problems.
  • A 2015 study found that 39% of gay and bisexual men with compulsive sexual behavior had experienced childhood sexual abuse.
  • An estimated 5% of the US population may meet criteria for a compulsive sexual disorder.
  • A 2014 study on men’s pornography use revealed that the “frequency of pornography use and problematic pornography use were related to greater gender role conflict, more avoidant and anxious attachment styles, poorer relationship quality, and less sexual satisfaction.”
  • According to research by Meadows Senior Fellow Dr. Patrick Carnes, only 13% of sex addicts come from a family without any addictions.

Symptoms of Intimacy and Sexual Struggles

While the symptoms of intimacy and sexual struggles vary by the type of condition an individual is experiencing, all conditions are identified with these criteria:

  • Loss of control of sexual behaviors
  • Obsession with the behavior
  • Significant adverse consequences
  • Continuation despite consequences

Treatment for Intimacy and Sexual Struggles at The Meadows

If you or a loved one is in need of treatment for intimacy and sexual struggles, we’re here for you. The Meadows specializes in helping individuals with these struggles find the path to recovery, treating addiction and mental health conditions in the same setting for the best possible outcome. We are equipped to provide innovative, research-backed alongside individual, group therapy, and experiential therapies. Call us today to find out more about our

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What We Treat for Intimacy and Sexual Struggles

Here is an overview of some intimacy and sexual struggles we treat at The Meadows:

  • Sex addiction may be present when an individual who is seeking attachment compulsively turns to sex, sexual thinking, and sexual relationships to a degree that is debilitating or harmful to both the individual and others.
  • Internet sex addiction or cybersex addiction is related to the compulsory viewing of explicit sexual activities online as well as things like participating in sex chatrooms.
  • Sexual compulsion occurs when individuals have recurrent sexual fantasies and feel compelled to engage in sexual activities in a way that is disruptive to their daily lives or harmful to others.
  • Sexual anorexia is characterized by the lack of desire for a sexual relationship due to the fear of intimacy.
  • Pornography addiction is an addiction model of compulsive sexual activity with concurrent use of pornographic material, despite negative consequences to physical, mental, social, or financial well-being.
  • Love addiction is another attachment condition in which individuals feel they cannot function unless they are in a relationship. On occasion, it may be common to feel sadness, anxiety, or a sense of inadequacy due to a lack of romantic relationship, but love addiction involves a compulsory need to be in a relationship at all times.


Our Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and is experienced in assisting others with compassion, dignity, and respect — hallmark values of The Meadows for more than 45 years. The Meadows’ Admissions Specialists are here to help you on your way to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. When you call, they will lead you through a series of questions to determine if The Meadows is a good fit, and how soon your treatment can begin. If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out an admissions form today!

If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one call or fill out an admissions form today!

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