The Importance of Boundaries in Sex Addiction

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013

To live a healthy and fulfilling life, it is essential that individuals practice healthy boundary setting and maintenance. Boundaries are a word that individuals often hear in therapy and especially in therapy focused on sexual addiction. You may be asking yourself, “what is the pop psychology word mean?”

Boundaries are limits on what you will or will not do. 

Boundaries are internal principles that guide your behavior and allow you to establish a sense of safety, calm feelings, rational thinking and respectful behavior for yourself and those around you.

You may be wondering what is the relationship between boundaries and sex addiction. Individuals struggling with sex addiction use their addiction to self-medicate, escape, numb or rebel.  When emotions such as hurt, pain, anger, fear, loneliness and shame accumulate as a result of difficult situations, individuals may rely on their high/“drug.” If a person is able to remain calm, find constructive ways of getting one’s needs met then a person diminishes the feelings that can trigger addictive behavior.

In sex addiction treatment the term “boundaries” is often used in a narrow sense to imply rules about what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are part of one’s addiction.  These boundaries identify behaviors that signal relapse.

The broader meaning of boundaries in sex addiction treatment and therapy in general includes things like:

  • Knowing the limits of what one is willing to tolerate in a relationship
  • Engaging in behaviors that are congruent with the kind of person one wants to be
  • Being assertive with others when one disagrees or is being misrepresented
  • Exercising one’s right to privacy and pursuing one’s personal goals without guilt
  • Being able to comprehend that certain people and situations are toxic and stay away from them

Boundaries prevent one from reacting to voices from the past

Individuals with addiction(s) tolerate various types of unhealthy situations because of their fears of being hurt or rejected due to early childhood conditioning.  The types of boundaries that allow one to stand up for themselves and ask for what one needs requires a willingness to risk being rejected or disapproved of.  These fears of rejection often manifest in the form of a disapproving voice of a parent and/or a judgmental voice that exists in one’s head.

Boundaries build a more positive sense of self

Many individuals are so focused on how others perceive them that they have no sense of power over their lives.  People who grew up with narcissistic or disengaged parents, for example, are likely to feel that the only way to get their needs met is to be pleasing or useful to someone else. When individuals interact with others from such an unhealthy framework, one’s sense of self and your ability to attain personal growth are severely limited.  This can easily lead to interactions and relationships where an individual fluctuates between being a victim or rescuer. This leads to a poor self-worth.

If criticism from others is accepted without question, then a person easily allows someone else to define who they are. Feeling helpless about oneself fuels anger and self-hate which serve as catalysts for addictive behaviors which serve to release you from the feelings of being constrained or confined by others.

In deciding to place the “locus of control” inside oneself and in learning the boundaries that separate one from another in the manner that one thinks, feels and behaves; a person becomes more independent and more able to like and respect the person one is.

Boundaries protect your recovery

In sex addiction recovery and recovery in general an individual is building a new and stronger sense of self.  Boundaries allow one to protect that new-found sense of self.  They are a way of demonstrating to yourself that you will be OK, that you can weather the storm and stay grounded. Information provided by Dr. Hach at psychcentral.com.

A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and Rancho Santa Fe 92067 area.

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