What Are They Thinking? Beliefs and Thought Patterns of Sex Addicts

If you suspect your son suffers from sex addiction, you have probably struggled to understand why he makes the choices that he makes. It is obvious to you that your son’s choices only cause him to hurt himself the people that he loves. You might wonder why he cannot see that for himself. However, people who are addicted to sex often have toxic core beliefs and thought patterns that make it difficult to recognize the reality that you see so easily. In their book In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior, authors Patrick Carnes, David Delmonico, and Elizabeth Griffin outline the dangers of online sex addiction. They also describe core beliefs and thought patterns common to sex addicts.


In this two-part series, we will take a look at beliefs and thought patterns commons to online sex addicts.

Toxic Core Beliefs

Many sex addicts share four common false beliefs or thought patterns. These beliefs are:

  • I am a bad person who doesn’t deserve to be loved.
  • No one will accept me for who I am.
  • I cannot count on anyone else to meet my needs.
  • My most important need is sex.

As children grow into adults, they form core beliefs. When children grow up feeling supported and loved, they typically develop healthy core beliefs. However, some children grow up without having their needs met. They may have experienced neglect or abuse. These experiences might cause them to believe that other people will not meet their needs, or that they do not deserve love and support. These beliefs make forming healthy attachments to other people a struggle.

People who share these experiences and core beliefs may feel like they are struggling to survive. Therefore, they turn to sex for comfort and satisfaction. Sex may be the only source of comfort and satisfaction that they feel they have. So, when it comes to sex, they take control. They try to see that their needs are met themselves.

Developing a Destructive Pattern

Without healthy core beliefs or healthy relationships, having healthy sexual relationships is almost impossible. They may become involved in dangerous or illegal activity. Feelings of paranoia or shame might lead them to try to conceal what they are doing, and further isolate themselves.

If people are addicted to pornography, cybersex, or online sex games this state of isolation is even more exaggerated. Casual sex, no matter how unsatisfying, involves another person. Generally, online sexual activity is a completely solitary activity.

In addition, the isolation and flawed core beliefs can lead to destructive patterns of behavior and ways of thinking. To family and friends of people who suffer from sex addiction, their behavior can seem out of control and self-degrading. Next time, we will look at the distorted thought patterns that contribute to these destructive behaviors.