From the book "Addicted To Love" by Steve Arterburn

It is easy to confuse normal sexual desire and conduct with addictive compulsion and gratification. A person can have a stronger-than-normal sexual appetite and not be an addict. Here are some characteristics of addictive sex that help distinguish the two.

1. Addictive sex is done in isolation. This does not always necessarily mean that it is done while physically alone. Rather it means that mentally and emotionally the addict is detached, or isolated, from human relationship and contact. The most intimately personal of human behaviors becomes utterly impersonal.

2. Addictive sex is secretive. In effect, sex addicts develop a double life, practicing masturbation, going to porn shops and massage parlors, all the while hiding what they are doing from others – and, in a sense, even from themselves.

3. Addictive sex is devoid of intimacy. Sex addicts are utterly self-focused. They cannot achieve genuine intimacy because their self-obsession leaves no room for giving to others.

4. Addictive sex is devoid of relationship. Addictive sex is “mere sex,” sex for its own sake, sex divorced from authentic interaction of persons. This is most clear with regard to fantasy, pornography, and masturbation. But even with regard to sex involving a partner, the partner is not really a “person” but a cipher, an interchangeable part in an impersonal – almost mechanical – process.

5. Addictive sex is victimizing. The overwhelming obsession with self-gratification blinds sex addicts to the harmful effects their behavior is having on others, and even on themselves.

6. Addictive sex ends in despair. When married couples make love, they are more fulfilled for having had the experience. Addictive sex leaves the participants feeling guilty, regretting the experience. Rather than fulfilling them, it leaves them more empty.

7. Addictive sex is used to escape pain and/or problems. The escapist nature of addictive sex is often one of the clearest indicators that it is present.

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