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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Sex Addicts More Likely To Shun Intimate Relationships

December 17, 2010

People who are hypersexual or otherwise addicted to sexual activity are more likely to have anxiety or insecurities about intimate relationships, researchers from Massey University in New Zealand have discovered.

In a study conducted by clinical psychology student Karen Faisandier, more than 880 adult subjects participated in an anonymous online questionnaire about their sex-related activities, including their orientation and their thoughts about how their relationships with others were affected by their sex-related attitudes and behaviors.

“Questions included whether they engaged in online sex, prostitution, sex that made them feel degraded or put them at risk of harm, sex with multiple partners or public indecency,” the university said in a Wednesday press release. “They were also asked about alcohol and drug use, relationship experiences and feelings about themselves.”

Faisandier, who was assisted in the project by clinical psychologist and Sex Therapy New Zealand co-director Robyn Salisbury and academic specialist Dr. Joanne Taylor, used 621 of the responses in her study, classifying approximately two-thirds of them as having problematic sexual behavior and the remaining third in a different category, as they reported engaging in relatively few such practices.

Those in the first group, identified as having ‘out of control sexual behaviors’ or OOCSB, “reported higher rates of insecure styles of attachment, characterized by a perspective of relationships as threatening, and feelings of either anxiety towards or avoidance of closeness or intimacy,” the Massey University press release said.

“In contrast, the non-OOCSB group reported higher rates of secure attachment styles, characterized by a perspective of relationships as safe, partners as trustworthy, and closeness and intimacy desirable and rewarding. OOCSB was associated with higher insecurity in attachment relationships, and the presence of a secure attachment style may be important in healthy sexual relating,” it added.

According to the researchers, OOCSB behaviors include not only frequent participation in sexual activity, but also “impulsive or compulsive sexual thoughts, feelings and actions.”

Faisandier states that the findings “in no way” should be used to indicate the approximate percentage of people who engage in these problematic sexual behaviors. She says that existing research shows that between three and six percent of all adults may engage in “problematic” sexual behavior, and the very nature of the Massey study “means it was more likely to attract people who may have had OOCSB.”

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