How recovery improves your sex life

Being in recovery from sex and porn addiction, or compulsive sexual behaviours, means giving up your unwanted behaviour, not giving up sex.  Sex is great. It’s fun, exciting, exhilarating, relaxing, romantic, intimate, erotic and esteem building. What’s more research suggests it’s good for our emotional and our physical health as well as for our relationships.  Of course that’s not true of ‘all’ sex, which is probably why you’re reading this, but ‘good’ sex brings with it many benefits and a satisfying sex life is one of the most powerful relapse prevention strategies available. Step 4 of the Pivotal Recovery course is all about identifying and enjoying positive sexuality.

A mass of colourful vegetables on a packed market stall.

Positive sexuality comes in many different guises and each individual must decide for themselves what it means to them. It’s not necessarily monogamous and it certainly doesn’t have to be vanilla, but it does have to be free from negative consequences and fit with your value system. It should also be pleasurable and respectful of self and others and be confidence and esteem building.  Discovering what positive sexuality means to you often means unpicking old negative messages and letting go of shame from previous experiences. It means setting your own boundaries and committing to keeping them.

So how will recovery improve your sex life?  Let me paint you a picture.  If human sexuality was a fruit stall, it would be the most amazing display of fruit you’ve ever seen. There’d be lots of fruit you recognise, apples and oranges, fruits that you’re particularly fond of but don’t get all the time, strawberries and mangos, and there’d be fruit that’s more unusual, that maybe you’ve tasted before and don’t really like, lychees and kumquats, and maybe there’d be some that you do like, but they’re just not good for you, they upset you in some way, they hurt you like your unwanted behaviours have. Ideally we’ll enjoy a varied diet of fruit and if there’s some we have to avoid, that’s OK because there are plenty of others. But so often we focus on the fruit that we can’t have, rather than seeing the amazing array of what else is out there. The reality is that we can’t change our sexual tastes and therefore we need to accept them, and focus on enriching our fruit bowl by adding more fruit, rather than focussing on the ones that we are choosing not to have.

The bottom line is that addictive and compulsive sexual behaviours can rob you from seeing sex as a fulfilling part of your life, but discovering, or rediscovering this experience, is a fundamental element of long term recovery.  How you enjoy your sexuality is your choice, but addiction robs you of that choice. Getting into recovery means making new sexual choices; ones that will make you feel not only good about yourself, but great.