The following formula is suggested as a guideline. Signs of compulsive sexuality are when the behavior can be described using the SAFE acronym:
1. It is a SECRET. Anything that cannot pass public scrutiny will create the shame of a double life.
2. It is ABUSIVE to self or others. Anything that is exploitive or harmful to others or degrades oneself will activate the addictive system.
3. It is used to avoid or is a source of painful FEELINGS. If sexuality is used to alter moods or results in painful mood shifts, it is clearly part of the addictive process. Also, if sexuality is used to avoid the pleasurable feelings of monogamy , there is trouble.
4. It is EMPTY of a caring, committed relationship. Fundamental to the whole concept of addiction and recovery is the healthy dimension of human relationships. Marriage takes a lot of work. There are ups and downs in marriage, that is part of what makes a long-term marriage satisfying. There is a great shared history. If the addict avoids the work of commitment, he runs a huge risk of being sexual outside of marriage.
If the SAFE acronym applies to you, I urge you to get help.
This material is taken from the book Out of the Shadows (pg 189).