[Read: Confessions of a Former Shopaholic.]
Therapists try to teach intimacy on every level – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and sexually – with one person, Bley says. "That's hard for all of us, but it's really hard for people with an intimacy problem." And yet, it works. "When they learn that, and really get it, it's kind of beautiful to watch," she says. "It's a real transition, and their partner feels it."
As with any addict, the first step for sex addicts to get healthy is realizing they need help. After reaching that milestone, it's critical to get help as soon as possible, Bley says. "Really look at yourself, try hard to overcome your personal denial before some tragedy happens in your life that is threatening to ruin you."
One way to determine if you have a problem is to go cold turkey, so to speak. For example, if watching porn feels compulsive, eliminate it from your life for 30 days. If you can do that, without replacing it with another pleasurable obsession such as food or alcohol, then you're in control. But if not, seek out a 12-step program and a therapist trained in addiction, preferably sexual addiction, who understands the vulnerabilities at the root of the disorder, Weiss says. "We're designed to connect. We're designed to be in community. We pair bond," he says. Sex addicts "either don't know how, or they're too frightened."