The Cost of Sex Addiction: Loss of Friendships/Dorothy Hayden, LCSW

Reclaim Sexual Sanity:  Find Recovery Now by Calling 212-673-5717 for an Initial Consultation.  See www.sextreatment.com for 35 full-length articles about sex addiction and for details about my private practice.

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“In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.”                                                                 –Aristotle

One’s friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.  

 George Santayana

Something that strikes me in my work with sex addicts is the amount of time porn takes away from them.  Porn addiction can easily steal 4-5 hours of your daily life, with some folks reporting whole weekends being spent at the computer screen.

Usually one of the first things that get replaced in sex addicts’ lives is friendships.  Yet, friendships can be at least, if not more, important than a person’s immediate family.

Tom Rath, author of “Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without”,  makes the point that if you ask people why they became homeless, why their marriage failed or why they overeat, they often say it is because of the poor quality, or nonexistence, of friendships. They feel outcast or unloved.

Rath undertook a massive study of friendship, alongside several leading researchers. His work resulted in some surprising statistics: If your best friend eats healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself. Married people say friendship is more than five times as important as physical intimacy within marriage. Those who say they have no real friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job. Conversely, if you have a “best friend at work”, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job.

A close friend is a mirror of your own self, someone with whom you realize that, though autonomous, you are not alone.

Spending time with friends is fun, but it may also yield a multitude of long-term physical and emotional health benefits. Studies show that healthy relationships make aging more enjoyable, lessen grief, and provide camaraderie to help you reach personal goals, among other things. Maintaining positive relationships should rank up there with healthy eating and exercise as a necessary investment in your health.

Friends and Well-Being

A number of studies have highlighted the importance of friends and good relationships to health.  Here are some of the findings:

  • Socially engaged adults age more successfully. According to surveys of women over age 60, those who are socially engaged and visit with friends and family throughout the week are happier as they age.
  • Friends can help you achieve your weight and fitness goals. Encouragement and just sharing goes a long way to boosting your willpower.
  • Happiness is catching. If you have a friend you consider to be happy, you are more likely to be happy and you are able to spread that happiness to the people around you. A study of 4,739 adults who participated in the Framingham Heart Study between 1983 and 2003 showed that people tend to cluster into happy or unhappy groups, and happiness appears to spread not just to those immediately inside the social group, but to their contacts as well. Having happy friends who live less than a mile away was an especially powerful predictor of happiness.
  • Building a circle of friends makes you happy. People who see themselves as a leader in their social circle are happier than those who see themselves as outsiders — another reason why actively building relationships instead of waiting for the phone to ring is important.
  • Friends lessen grief. A series of interviews with parents who lost a baby during pregnancy or immediately after birth showed that those who felt they were receiving social support from friends or family were better able to cope with their grief. The most welcome forms of support were simply being physically present, listening, and offering sympathy, encouragement, and practical help, such as making meals or funeral arrangements. In contrast, feeling socially alone tends to worsen grief.
  • Being social boosts your immune system. Being socially engaged leads to more positive emotions, which in turn may actually boost your body’s immune system and reduce the physical signs of stress, say health experts.

It’s also important to be a good friend yourself, providing others with as many of the benefits of friendship (infectious happiness, social support, someone to confide in, food in times of crisis) as you can. It feels good to help others, and that only adds to your own self-esteem and happiness in sexual recovery.

If you’re interested in treatment, feel free to contact me at dorothyhayden1231@gmail.com for a free 30-minute phone consultation.

See htpp://www.sextreatment.com for 35 articles on sex addiction

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