Memoir, recent

The Confessions of a Male, Feminist Sex Addict

I had the privilege of growing up with wonderful females in my life—including my brilliant mother, who remains my hero, and my sister, who earned a PhD. My father has a penetrating kindness for the planet and all its inhabitants, including women, about whom he advised me: “Be their friend. Never cheat them. Love them.”

My desire for female companionship started young. As early as sixth grade, I was drawn to intelligent, confident girls. As I grew older, I was fortunate enough to often have these attractions requited.

In my teen years, I did not experience the stereotypically male desire for attractive, submissive playthings. I wanted smart, full-spectrum romantic partners who enjoyed sex but were not shy to assert their own needs, thoughts and feelings. My joy was my partner’s joy, and vice-versa. Later in adulthood, I would learn that sex, at its best, is the ultimate expression of intimacy. But I would also learn—at a much earlier stage in life—that sex, at its worst, is toxic, traumatizing, violent and dehumanizing.

*     *     *

I was 17 years-old the first time I paid for sex. This was in Amsterdam, that canalled, bicycle-mad city, which I was then visiting with my mother, sister, their partners and a few of my close male friends. It started as a bit of a dare. We egged each other on to visit Rosse Buurt (the red-light district) late at night, after the adults had gone to bed and we’d smoked a few joints.

Women in lingerie and high heels stood before full-length windows, illuminated by fluorescent lights. Many dragged cigarettes, faces glum, waiting for the next John like lonely tollbooth workers. Their makeup was heavy, cakey. Men walked by, mostly drunk, tipsy, oafish, gazing lustfully if they saw something they liked. We decided to split up and meet back in an hour, none of us saying out loud what we intended to do.

I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say the experience was three steps below perfunctory, one above terrible. For the first time in my teenage life, I had trouble maintaining an erection. This was not the sex I wanted, but it was the sex I paid for. Having lost my virginity in the normal fashion a year earlier to my high-school sweetheart, I knew sex well enough to know that what had happened here at Rosse Buurt wasn’t right. Masturbation would have been a less grubby, more fulfilling experience. Even then, at 17, I considered myself a “feminist”—and had read books such as The Feminine Mystique. So it wasn’t just my emotions and moral sense that rebelled against the experience, but also my intellect.

The next night, I went back to the same place, alone, without my friends.

*     *     *

I have had sex with over 200 sex workers. I have done it unprotected, in filthy places, in strangers’ homes, in motels, offices, my motherʼs home, my fatherʼs home, and several different ordinary apartments I’ve rented. Many of the women were clearly broken, vulnerable, beat-up creatures. They were of various shapes, sizes and colors. I have been mugged, threatened, had knives pulled on me. I have had a few car accidents rushing out for in-calls to fit my habit into a dayʼs work schedule. I have pressured women to do things they did not want to do. I have witnessed some take drags on meth and crack pipes before, after and during the act. I have made a few cry for reasons that were not connected to physical pain.

By my calculations, I have spent about US$150,000 on this habit, all told, once all related expenses are imputed. I am a 34-year-old professional with several university degrees, earning a good salary in a big North American city. But my hourly rate is lower than what most of these women charge. So my sex habit not only broke me emotionally, but financially as well. Yet I never told anyone, not even therapists, until, like most addicts, I hit rock bottom.

What did it was the lies—including the lies to girlfriends whom I respected and loved. When I found a woman I wanted to date, I made great efforts to stop acting out before engaging. I would try to time my STI tests so as not to expose them to danger. (By sheer good luck, I never contracted anything except one asymptomatic case of chlamydia). But a self-sabotaging pattern always emerged. As the word “love” started getting thrown around, my urge to act out intensified, and I often would end the relationship under some fictional, face-saving pretense.

The first time I cheated on a woman, I was 25. I had unprotected sex with an escort, thereby exposing the woman I loved to potentially contracting a venereal disease. The shame I felt at having done this was devastating. I wasn’t just betraying my girlfriend, but all women. My claim that I was a female “ally” had been shown to be a joke. Not long after cheating, I initiated a break-up, lying about my reasons. On the last evening of our journey as a couple, we had drinks and cried, each for our own reasons.

I spiraled and binged, sleeping with more prostitutes, engaging in higher-risk sex. As the self-inflicted pain of the break-up grew distant, the binge subsided, and I was back looking for a new partner. Like most addicts, I promised myself I would never relapse again. Like most addicts, I did.

*     *     *

Throughout all of this, I used my claim to feminism as a lure to seduce women. And this was not completely a lie—in the sense that I did not hate women quite as much as I hated myself. Even in my worst moments, I tried to do, say and think the right things about women. And I was tortured by their traumas, including the ones I had inflicted. I felt powerless to stop acting the way I did, while also desperate for women to forgive me for doing it.

In almost all cases, I went into a session of paid sex with some drug in my system—cocaine, alcohol, but mostly just plain marijuana. This helped keep things business-like on the surface. Still, I found myself acting tenderly to some women, despite my efforts to be drugged and numb. I sometimes could not help it. My natural reflexes pull in that direction. If I had enough spiritual energy, I would make a joke, get a laugh and even reveal a bit of my true self.

I didn’t want any of these women as partners, though a few could have been my friend were the context different. I was disciplined enough to partition them from the other women in my life—the women I dated, loved and was ready to love. There is a kind of inherent cruelty in partitioning women into different categories like that.

I liked the world-worn wisdom of some of the older ones and, yes, the paradoxical innocence of some of the younger ones. The stretch-marked mothers who compromised their bodies to help feed their children made me feel oddly respectful. The overtly drug-addicted ones terrified me and always made me sad. The tough, guarded ones confused me. I did my best to resist imagining how that disposition developed. The immigrants, the wanderers, the ones I considered exotic—they intrigued me. I really wanted to know their stories, though I rarely asked to hear them.

The aggressive, dangerous, scheming, weaponized ones who mugged or stole from me constituted the most upsetting group. But what they did to me felt cosmically appropriate, and we both knew it. I considered it a cost of doing business, a fair comeuppance. To be honest, I worried about them, fearing what would happen one day when they tried the same stunts with a different kind of man on a different kind of drug. None of this makes me compassionate any more than a butterfly collector shows tenderness by studying the markings on insects under glass.

I still have trouble with the question of whether these women were victims. I never did anything non-consensual with them. But consent isn’t a binary—and things had happened to these women in life that had led them to these moments. Seen through the rosiest of possible lenses, they were self-empowered women running their businesses, and I was just a client. Some sex workers swear this is true, and find it condescending when people suggest otherwise. But I could never escape the feeling that almost all of these women would have chosen different paths if they had better luck or the world were a gentler place.

Men and women might experience sexuality in different ways. But all humans are social creatures who desire safe companionship. Sex can work fine without companionship, and (more obviously) vice versa. But, in my view, over time, sex without companionship corrodes the soul. I know this because it happened to me. 

*     *     *

I was a sensitive kid. I wet the bed until after it was age-appropriate. I was obsessed with death, unfriendly monsters, and I often drew ultra-violent scenes of muscled anti-heroes and sci-fi boogeyman. My mother had me skip a grade during my early education. She thought I might be gifted, though I don’t think I was. I was a disorganized student who acted out a lot. I was voted “class clown” when I graduated from high school.

I was a daily masturbator from the time I was about five years old, having discovered my parents’ porn collection. I knew too much about sex for a little boy and, worse, I thought I didn’t know enough. I was overcurious about things for which my young mind wasn’t ready.

This was around the same time my parents separated, and then divorced. Their rupture went down relatively well. It was civil, consensual. There was no real custody battle, no real fight for assets or alimony. My sister and I lived with our mother, slept over at my father’s every Friday and split holidays. Post-separation, my mom was happy to give my dad the key to our house. He visited us nearly every day after school. From kindergarten age, I went to a therapist—maybe too often. Encouraging a young mind to go to strange places will have all kinds of consequences.

It was in my mid-twenties when I finally told my then-therapist that I compulsively slept with prostitutes. A cognitive behaviorist, he approached the problem with the tools available to him. He had me challenge cognitions, journal my urges, and encouraged me to not judge myself. He was a kind, intelligent professional, but his efforts failed. On my habit, he said: “I’m not the morality police. I know men who pay for sex and don’t beat themselves up about it. Do what makes you happy. Just stay safe and don’t hurt people.”

The next session, I told him we should stop seeing each other. I had told him I wanted to change therapeutic modalities, that cognitive behavior therapy did not answer the questions I was asking myself, even if it helped in other ways. I suggested my acting out had the hallmarks of addiction. I asked for a referral. He replied: “Well, there’s the 12 Steps, but it’s far from empirically validated. They’re also God freaks, so I don’t think you’ll have any buy-in.” I asked how much it cost. “It’s free,” he told me. My brow furrowed. It must be shit, I thought.

I was desperate enough to go anyway. The only 12-Steps program I could find was AA. The fellow who opened the door after I knocked was so welcoming that I immediately grew suspicious. I walked in, glanced at the addicts sitting in a circle, and one word bounced in my head: cult. Twisted people with good intentions, high off the pageantry of ceremony, tricked by the illusion of human connection, dying to overshare, tripping over themselves to define an undefinable God (or, rather, a “Higher Power”). Cult. Cult.

Like most addicts, I struggled in 12 Steps, though I do count it as the start of my recovery from sex addiction. I am not an alcoholic, even if the parallels between the two habits are striking. (I did consume drugs and alcohol but, as I explained earlier, it was mostly a means to numb myself in advance of paid sex.) Eventually, I migrated to SA (Sexaholics Anonymous), flirted with its sister groups (Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) and went to see a sex-addiction therapist. I read the literature, made friends, and cycled through a few sponsors. My very first remains special to me. We keep in touch.

In SA, my record was more fully shared with other men like me. (I only ever saw a few women there, and they rarely stuck around.) I like talking and I like people, so those parts of the program played to my strengths. What did not play to my strengths was the first three months, which required total abstinence. No sex, no masturbation, no porn, no second looks at attractive women, no sexual language, no mind-altering substances (they want your mind fully sober) and, most challenging of all, no sexual thoughts. They don’t police any of this. They can’t. It’s an honor system. You get what you put in.

I put in a lot, eventually getting the hang of abstinence. But I could never get to three months, just two and a bit. My biggest obstacle was that I still loved an ex-girlfriend and hoped to cure myself, see about her, and make things right.

I now understand that this was a form of self-negotiation. Addicts are skilled at it. As my first sponsor warned, “guys like us can negotiate our way through a pinhole.” Thinking there was something like a cure for what ailed me and some fairytale ending lying in wait was what recovered addicts sometimes call “stinkin’ thinkin’.”

I was taught that addiction has no cure. You can only “recover.” The distinction means a lot. An addict will always be an addict. It is a chronic condition, like diabetes. It necessitates lifelong caution. This can be discouraging. But ironically, a life led with caution enables a certain kind of freedom. Living with complete abandon, on the other hand, always yields a prison.

My functioning improved, and my insights sharpened. I even got back with my ex and revealed to her the real reason I broke up with her. Our relationship gradually improved, and we became more connected than ever. Recovery programs typically suggest at least one year without romantic relationships. But I negotiated through that. After all, this was love. I wanted this woman’s babies. “I’ve been good. I deserve this.”

Together, we tried to do the three months of abstinence. But we weren’t up to it. Assuming it was partly her job to enforce the moratorium was a great mistake. The subsequent “forgivable” slips gave way to a devastating, nearly rock-bottom relapse. I went missing. She found me in a hotel and demanded I go to rehab immediately. With little hesitation, I accepted.

She broke up with me shortly thereafter. The pain was tremendous. I don’t blame her. Would you want your daughter or sister to stay with a man addicted to prostitutes?

*     *     *

I was at a males-only sex addiction rehab center in the United States—the kind that famous (or infamous) people such as Tiger Woods and Harvey Weinstein sometimes end up at. It was expensive.

There were 30 of us living in isolation for 45 days. Most had money, far more of it than the ones I’d met in 12 Steps, but they were not all masters of the universe. Over time, I would meet executives, doctors, accountants, engineers, dentists, lawyers, judges, politicians, trust-funders, programmers, actors, athletes, soldiers, police officers, bureaucrats, writers, professors, salesmen, truckers, drifters, carpenters—some of them very outwardly religious—trying to figure out what went so damn wrong.

Isolated in a compound in the middle of nowhere without Internet access, we bonded. We shared things with each other we had once thought we would take to the grave. Some were pedophiles, rapists, voyeurs, flashers, gropers, workplace-harassers. Others were porn obsessives and chronic masturbators. A few were seducers, sexual anorexics, sadists and masochists. Many paid money for sex. Most of us were hybrids, straddling different categories. Plenty of them had wives and children.

Many were smart, playful personalities, though not all. Cliques developed. We busted each others’ chops and held ping pong tournaments to pass the time. Some of us clashed, but it wasn’t high-school-level nastiness. We took to calling the place “sex camp.”

Were these “good men”? As good as most. Had they done reprehensible things? Definitely. Did they deserve punishment by the state, ostracism within their professional community, or even some sort of enforced quarantine from respectable society? Some, definitely some. Others needed serious psych medication, more than just anti-depressants or anxiolytics.

*     *     *

When I think about the men I met at “sex camp,” I’m not sure I met any who called themselves feminists—or who struck me as feminist in outlook. You might think that this is a weird detail to notice. But I had never stopped wondering how this aspect of my own thinking squared with my addiction. Throughout all of that 12 Stepping, the answer to that question remained a mystery. Even as my life was unraveling, I always took abstract ideas seriously. And it never stopped bothering me that I could not bring my life into compliance with the feminist ideals I’d inherited from my parents.

I never found any grand unified theory that explained the contradiction. My behavior was the result of a mix of childhood traumas, misplaced anger and resentment, a pinch of genetic predisposition, “bro” culture and its demeaning attitude toward women, insecurity, ego, the enabling effect of wealth, narcissism, ready access to increasingly intense pornography and, yes, plain horniness. I also failed the marshmallow test. Bad.

As with other addictions, recovery from sex addiction requires you to avoid triggers and cut off enablers. It helps to be vigilant but not too self-serious. Keeping an eye on self-care and stress management is fundamental. So is finding pro-social hobbies, checking resentments, finding a comfortable identity, continuing to explore root causes, forgiving parents and communities for whatever things they could have done better, forgiving yourself, preferring “I” over “you” statements, being open to guidance from masters while also helping to guide newcomers without egocentricity. As a long-sober fellow once put it to me: “The key is knowing, really knowing, that nobody on this planet is better or worse than you.”

The man who is thought to have popularized the term “sex addiction” is the Arizona-based psychologist Dr. Patrick Carnes. He calls it an “intimacy disorder.” His 1983 book Out of the Shadows was valuable to me, and I urge others to read it. He speaks of fear of abandonment as a root cause. Were I to collapse the message I took from his book into one paraphrased quote, it would be this: “The sex addict deep down fears intimacy because he considers himself unlovable.”

You might want to know if I ever got back with my girlfriend, or if I am today in any kind of relationship. The answer to both questions is “no.” I still love this woman, but we do not talk, and I keep my love tucked away in a safe place. Since I checked out of rehab, which is many years ago now, I have not been in a relationship. I sometimes desire one, but I am still more focused on trying to be a better man. I want love, I want marriage and I want children. I am sure they will come when the time is right.

*     *     *

My mother now knows rather fully the bad things I have done. It warped my relationship with her for a time, but things now have been mostly put to right. She is someone who feels a lot and is sometimes too smart for her own good. We are similar in that way. Her love for me is and always was oceans deep, but the truth about me disgusted her nonetheless. I understand that. It disgusted me, too.

My sister, the clinician with the PhD, was more patient with my recovery, but no less hurt when the truth came to the surface. Responding once to some of the things I confessed, she said: “There is no such thing as a bad person, only a person who does bad things.” I asked her if this was some noble bullshit parents tell their children or some philosophical jujitsu she learned in university. She laughed and admitted that both propositions were true. She also affirmed that that does not make the observation any less true.

When I revealed to my father the things I did, I held back tears. I told him I was ashamed. He paused and then asked if I knew the difference between guilt and shame. I did not. “Guilt is having done something wrong. Shame is hating yourself because of it. Let the shame run its course. Never forget the guilt.” We speak regularly, and he is not shy to celebrate my sobriety nor ask direct questions if he feels I am under a lot of stress.

The guilty voice in me now says, to women: I am guilty. I am guilty of hurting your kind. I cheated women after gaining their trust. I loved many and then betrayed them. I lied to them. I exposed them to injury. I broke their hearts. I also disrespected many dozens of women by paying them for sex.

I have heard it said that men give love for sex and women give sex for love. But I have learned that it is high-order delusion, for men and woman alike, to think sex can be monetized without injuring human dignity. Men might be more inclined to sexual misconduct than women, but I do not think it is in their nature per se.

I am a sex addict and I will be one until I die. I still have urges, but they are less invasive, I let them pass and I do not judge them. The potential for them to manifest will always be there. Hopefully the next woman I love, and who loves me back, will care for me enough to accept that.


Eric Frances McKillen is a pseudonym. 

Featured image: Interior of a brothel in Naples, Italy, photographed in January, 1945.


  1. codadmin says

    The male sex drive is a curse for all men.

    Many older gentlemen say that it passes, and freedom from it is possible.

    • James says

      You want a near cure for the male sex drive? Get depressed and put on 60mg of Paxil. All SSRIs suck for sexual side effects, but Paxil is like a shotgun blast to your libido. The massively decresed sex drive actually does have a lot of positives (unless you’ve got a very sex driven partner), but the part that really sucks is when you finally do get really horny its damn near impossible to actually bust a nut.

      It’s a shame too because Paxil seems to be the best SSRI for anxiety. It’s also the worst for withdrawal side effects too though. I still take it but now just at 20mg. It’s the type of dose doctors sometimes prescribe to one minute men to stop premature ejaculation. Taking longer to ejaculate with a woman sounds like something most women would love, but in my expeirence they just get really self conscious about why you take so long to cum. I took to faking orgasms with some girlfriends just because I didnt want to deal with 2 hours to cum. The grass is always greener I guess

    • The Italians call it “la pace dei sensi” or “the peace of the senses”. They see it as the blessing that comes to older people.

    • Dan Love says

      The author has a much deeper problem than sex addiction. Tragically, I don’t think he is close at identifying what that problem is.

      Identifying the problem necessitates questioning things he seems to be very convinced are virtuous – things he has never considered questioning – things he would consider wrong, nay evil, to question.

      I get the feeling he would even denigrate the kind of thinking that would allow him to identify the problem.

      The fact I think it will be obvious to some of the readers here makes it all the more tragic.

        • chrism says

          It’s pretty obvious this is written by a female troll out to make some sort of Sokal-ist point against Quillette.

      • The story comes off like a fictional therapeutic purge written by a woman studies major to quell her rage after being romantically rejected by a man.

        This answers the question of why the story was unnecessarily soaked in ideology and passive-aggressive virtue-signaling.

        • Dan Love says

          This is telling. Not decisive, but telling….

          “Eric Frances McKillen is a pseudonym.”

          There have been writers who wrote things on Quillette that could get them in a lot more trouble than what is written here, and they still used their real names.

          Too much evidence has built up. This narrative is not trustworthy in my opinion.

      • Josué Guevara says

        He has gone to several people and institutions seeking help and yet a stranger on the internet who only read his story as told by him, knows him better enough to know what’s actually wrong with him?

        Of course.

  2. Great article. As a recovering heroin addict and alcoholic there was a fair amount of overlap in the emotion and self loathing that I related to. The flavors are different, (The personal details of my heroin addiction sound 1000 times grimier IMO), but it’s all rooted in the same psychological, emotional, and spiritual (if you believe that sort of thing) defects and the maladaptive behaviors we develop and hold onto for dear life to just to cope with living a life feeling the way we feel.

    12 step programs aren’t for everyone, I personally no longer attend, but the skills and lessons learned through the program are invaluable and I live many of them with strong conviction today. I have many dead friends who have also attended 12 steps, cognitive behavior therapists, Tx facilities, detoxes… It’s an unforgiving crapshoot on who gets out alive. Intelligence, money, family, relationships count for next to nothing in terms of successful recovery.

    So with a cliched,”Thanks for sharing!”, I’m appreciative of the writing and I hope my fellow commenters leave their moral judgements at the door and allow a fellow human’s experience to permeate their own and transcend a little with kindness, curiosity, and understanding.

    • James says

      Former heroin addict too. Although in the last decade Alcohol has mostly been my problem as the combination of Suboxone and seeing enough of my friends OD finally drove me away from the needle. Ive put in so freaking much time and energy into 12 step programs. Ive worked the 12 steps with several different sponsors. Ive even had people that I sponsored, but at the end of the day AA and 12 steps in general just feels like The Emperor’s New Clothes for me.

  3. Jezza says

    You say that you were sexually aware, from pornography etc., and sexually active (masturbating)from the age of five. Maybe that is why you respond like an infant in these adult situations. I believe profound emotional experiences, including orgasm, in childhood can anchor a person’s mind at that age while the body grows and matures Maybe – I’m not a psychologist – maybe that is the root cause of your cognitive dissonance. You were clearly a troubled child as your bedwetting suggests. Your parents seem to have been too focused on their own demons to notice that things were somehow astray in your life but then you never see what you don’t expect to see, do you? I think you have some very big fish swimming deep in your subconscious. If the line is broken I suggest you send down another hook.
    Thank you for posting this essay. It is never easy to be totally honest about oneself so I congratulate you. I notice many parallels with my own life. One thing, for crying out loud, stop being a faux feminist. Not ALL women are worthy of respect, not those who lie cheat and steal and mistreat those who rely on them. Women are human and as adept as we men are at self-delusion. Eschew identity politics and try to assess people as individuals. Good luck.

    • Heike says

      How can a 5 year old get an erection and ejaculate?

      This whole piece was weird and disjointed. I’m not really sure what the point of it was.

      • A Smith says

        Any age male can get an erection and orgasm. The ejaculation comes with puberty.

      • James says

        Yeah I think thats quite unusual for boys that young. Sort of play masturbating is normal, but full on ejaculation is uncommon. It’s more common for girls to be able to orgasm that young because they don’t need puberty to make the physical changes necessary for full male orgasm. I know my wife said she started masturbating at like 6 and she’s about as normal and square as they come as an adult.

      • Stella says

        Oh, yes, it’s possible, I have two young boys, I know better.

  4. “My behavior was the result of a mix of childhood traumas, misplaced anger and resentment, a pinch of genetic predisposition, “bro” culture and its demeaning attitude toward women, insecurity, ego, the enabling effect of wealth, narcissism, ready access to increasingly intense pornography and, yes, plain horniness.”
    Not to mention what is by far the most important reason, which is your decision to do that behavior. I’m happy to hear you’ve changed that behavior and I wish you well.

    Readers may wish to note that Dr. Patrick Carnes’ theories remain controversial after three and a half decades, and are still not recognised by the DSM psychology manual.

    • It’s not always that simplistic, John. The desire to change can be there all along, but there’s an underlying, unseen disease that compels the self destructive behavior. If you don’t have the disease, it can be relatively simple to stop drinking, or recreationally using drugs or sex. A little will power and “Bam!”, your ship has righted, and you’re sailing straight again.

      The addict has a different experience. The power to stop is beyond their control and often this is summarized by non addicts as a lack of fortitude or weakness of character. It’s not. I understand that it’s not a rational thing to look at from the outside, but it makes sense while it’s happening within, and that’s why it’s such a powerful and deadly disease. It encapsulates the psyche within itself and the road to recovery and redemption often starts with a violent shock that jolts that person out of the cancerous bubble to a sometimes momentary outside and rational perspective.

      It’s impossible to explain to someone with the preconceived idea that stopping is as easy as just putting it down and walking away.

      • I didn’t say it was simple or easy, but being complex and difficult does not make something a disease. I am skeptical about the disease model of ‘addiction’ and ‘mental health’ in general, and the ever-expanding medicalization of people’s behaviors. We are all subject to various influences from within and without, but free will and choice remain, otherwise nobody would ever stop destructive behavior. The author did not mention his own decision even as a contributing factor.

        • Disease is too strong a word for some, I get that. Allergic reaction is another term I’ve heard, although it is also a medical term.

          There is definitely a discernible difference in the reaction that some people have to substances (and sex) compared to the the population at large. I’d disagree that these differences hinge on free will and choice though. There are so many standard variances among peoples’ genes and how their brains are formed that I think the idea stating there are different possible reactions to ANY substance affecting the central nervous system would be considered a layup.

          How those differences are referenced and whether they need to be medicalized is important. And I agree that too much of what is common human experience is being diagnosed as symptomatic of this illness or that.

          That said and being a firm advocate of free will, personal choice, and accountability…I had no choice in how my body and brain reacted to illicit substances.

          • A Smith says

            In truth it is probably in the middle of you both though I think John hews closer. Consider this review article from the New England Journal of Medicine: “Brain Change in Addiction as Learning, Not Disease” oct 2018. Addictive behavior (and the subsequent brain changes) appears to be significantly learned. That doesn’t make it easier to break out of, but significant amounts of free will got you there, perhaps when you were young and your pre-frontal cortex was not entirely developed.

      • James says

        I’m a 10 year recoverd heroin and cocaine addict whos still struggled with alcohol more recently.I’d split the difference between your opinion and the opinion of the commenter py responded to. Clearly there is a significant hereditary aspect to addiction that makes some people who abuse drugs and alcoholmuch more likely to develop full blown addiction. That predisposition we addicts have no control over, but we can control whether or not we relapse.

        • James says

          Or we can control it to the extent that you believe humans truly have free will or whether were just slaves to our brain chemistry. I think we have to accept a degree of free will because otherwise society couldn’t function.

          • Good points all.

            “perhaps when you were young and your pre frontal cortex was not entirely developed” grabbed my attention and made me think of my own children.

            If I sat my 18 month old son in front of a puddle of maple syrup and told him,”You have the free will at your disposal to consume this syrup responsibly, now try a taste and then conduct yourself prudently.”, the results would be syrup-1, free will-0 in a cute and sticky free for all.

            Looking back at my younger self it feels similar. At age 10 my life was miserable and riddled with chaos and abuse. A stolen bottle of gin and some tokes on a joint were the escapist version of maple syrup. At 10 I certainly hadn’t developed self control and the way those substances made me feel was numb to the realities of my life and euphoric to boot. I pursued that state of consciousness on and off for the next 25 years.

            That everything from 10 on out was learned behavior…is actually a compelling way to examine the past. I’ll give it some thought and read that NEJM article further.

  5. Jezza says

    Quite so, Isaac. If you could be happy by just WANTING to be happy, why, everyone could attain bliss in no time at all.

  6. Beautiful essay.

    I’m an addict too, recovered from marijuana and booze but still struggling with porn.

    Seeing how you describe and talk about the women in your life, the attachment to them and your feminist principles, I came to the conclusion that you’ve put women very high up on some idealistic, almost divine pedestal.

    That’s never healthy.

    When I see men seeking intelligent, confident but most of all non-shy, assertive women, it always seems to me that the men are more invested in finding a replacement to their mother and not a complimentary partner in life.

    I know some people like this and they all seem have some common traits.

    One example being having most (if not every) thing catered to them often and early in life. Secondly, lacking the confidence to actualize their own dreams and visions, only to try to live vicariously through their partners success.

    Assertiveness and confidence are, traditionally speaking, male qualities. And that’s the paradox of feminism.

    Complimentary, but not equal.

    • Dan Love says


      There’s a certain kind of man who virtue signals his “wokeness” at the expense of his self respect in an attempt to buy respect from women – whose ingratiating knows no bounds and considers his shame the pinnacle of male virtue.

      Though clearly atheistic, the author is a deeply religious man and your use of the word divine points toward his religion.

      …trying to buy salvation.

  7. Motley Crude says

    Masturbating at 5 shocked me and made me think if the Seven Up Series – eg “Show me a child by the age of 7 and I’ll show you the adult”.

    From Psychology Today talking about sugar use:
    “As Piaget learned in his studies of children several decades ago, kids don’t understand the many differences between advertising and truth, dreams and reality, until perhaps reach age 7 or 8. And those early ideas often stick for a lifetime”

    So for me while brains are pliable and new habits can be formed to replace or rid ourselves of old ones – perhaps the habits learnt from 5-7 become fundamental/foundational and cannot be changed by relearning. This doesn’t mean they cannot be controlled though – I don’t chuck tantrums like a 7 year old anymore (well except really brief ones on Twitter).

  8. Too much psycho babble self analysis. Nothing to be proud of here. Just do the right thing and stop it.

  9. I call foul. Still sounds like he’s negotiating his way out of a pinhole. All that time and money spent, wasted so he can continue to wallow in guilt and feminist ideals?

    Who he is (as shown by his behavior) and who he believes he should be (as shown by the inherited ideas of feminism of his childhood) are clearly in conflict. And he solved this by accepting massive quantities of guilt and shame which spiraled downward? Yeah, no. This does not sound healthy at all.

  10. Arnie Snipe says

    “the stereotypically male desire for attractive, submissive playthings”

    I’ve never met a man like this in my life. What a crock.

    • Dan Love says

      @Arnie Snipe

      His passive, implicit denigration of feminity, while simultaneously virtue-signaling his feminist “wokeness”, is extremely revealing.

      • James says

        Wants to sleep around and watch porn, all in the language of critical theory and psychology … and did you count the number of ‘I’s … zzz

    • Heike says

      This is what feminists say men want, he learned it from them. Just imagine all the other things he learned from feminists that have no basis in reality.

    • Dave Bowman says

      Point taken. But I’ve met plenty. He should have said “horny adolescent” instead of “male”.

  11. Luke Dale says

    I’m on a medicine that suppresses testosterone. Learn to love and channel your libido – don’t wish it away for crying out loud. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.

  12. ThereAreDozensOfUs says

    Well done for pulling out of the death spiral! Glad your life is on track!

    Quillette, please print more of these. The Culture Wars are all good and well, but I believe the impact of one of these pieces is so much greater to some people that need to hear it. We need to hear more stories like this.

  13. W2class says

    I get that you have demons and compulsions with which you struggle and that have had a negative impact on your life. I sympathise and wish you well.

    But you didn’t wrong ”woman-kind”, you wronged specific women, autonomous individuals, not a category of people. Drop the feminist, identitarian bullshit.

    To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, “There’s no such thing as the patriarchy. There’s just you and me.”

  14. RadixLecti says

    Thank you for sharing your story. I admire your efforts to combat your addiction, and I wish you all the best.

    Though I have met reasonable people who call themselves feminists, the bulk of those I’ve met and come across online all subscribe to the idea of women as perfect victims. I have to say that what you’ve written seems to put you in the latter camp.

    I can’t pretend to know your circumstances or your mind, but it seems to me that seeing oneself as perpetual oppressor and ones partner as eternal victim is no recipe for a healthy, mutually supportive relationship. I don’t see how paying for sex “disrespects all women”. Few people in history have ever managed to cause pain on a worldwide scale, I doubt you’re among them.

    Has anyone ever told you that women also have a duty to love, be a friend to and never cheat the men in their lives? I don’t believe that the real or perceived oppression of the group removes the obligations of the individual.

    This doesn’t apply to you but I’ve noticed that some men who have grown up seeing their fathers treating their mothers unjustly (or even abusively) often develop a saviour mindset and find incredibly demanding individuals to date and marry. They ask nothing of their partners until it all gets too much, and then act out in various unhealthy ways. I count myself among those men.
    The reason I mention this is because I get the distinct impression that male feminism leads to the same self-denial and eventual bitterness.

    Whether or not anything I’ve written is valid, I wish you well in your quest for peace.

  15. This guy clearly still doesn’t understand that pretending to care about feminism was just one of his tricks to get women to think he’s a good guy so that they would feed his sex addiction. Don’t feel too bad, this is a very common tactic among beta males.

    • Mary Yost says

      Yes, what you believe has nothing to do with what you say you believe, and everything to do with your behavior.

      Now he’s acting all apologetic with over the top platitudes in hopes of finding a wife and kids. I don’t buy it dude, you’ve already shown that your word doesn’t mean anything.

      Either become polyamorous or keep having sex with prostitutes and own it and be proud of it, there’s nothing wrong with either of those options at all. What’s wrong is being a liar, betraying others and putting others at risk unknowingly. Just quit lying to yourself about who you are.

      • “there’s nothing wrong with either of those options at all”


        • Fuck you K says

          K, thanks for elaborating with that brilliant analysis. For a moment there I thought Shakespeare was still alive.

    • Castro Simplex says

      He also uses feminism as a self-negotiation tool, making it very convenient as both a sword and a shield.

      He thinks feminism defines him as a good person and that his shitty actions are a betrayal of his own innate goodness. That innate goodness being confirmed every time he says he’s a feminist.

      Sadly, as an addict he’s likely to go to the other extreme once he abandons this particular fiction. On the bright side, he’ll probably save money as a “pick up artist.”

  16. The article is fascinatjng but you get the feeling the author is avoiding answering or even examining his beliefs or a y of the deeper causes.

    First feminism – what does he mean by that? It clearly is not straight forward equality between the sexes. Almost everyone believes that nowadays and actually it is clear he is place himself in a position where women hold all the power over him, charging him more money than he can afford. Does he mean the modern idea of feminism where men are the source of all evil in the world, women are morally superior and should be deferred to in every way possible? Perhaps, the author does seem consumed by self loathing and self destructive urges but he clearly does exactly what the sex workers he meets want him to do it is unclear. Is he the sort of feminist who sees all heterosexual sex as rape? His association of his loathing of his own behaviour with a betrayal of feminism suggests this is possible but at the same time he celebrates sex as the greates intimacy.

    The origins and nature of his behaviour go almost unexami ed. Constant masturbation at 5 if even close to the truth suggests a biological problem. I am sure this is not possible for the overwhelming majority. On the other hand it is clear he has a fear of close relationships and sabotages them when in his words ‘love’ is mentioned. This is clearly a big part of his problem yet goes unexamined. The solution he has found to live without amy intamacy or closeness is not really a solution at all but the same behaviour of sabotaging close relation performed at an even earlier stage.

    Overall one cant help but feel sympathy and hope he finds a solution in the end although it seems unlikely.

    • Stoic Realist says


      I have to admit I agree with your thesis. The author describes himself as being thoughtful and introspective, but I come away from this piece with the feeling that he lacks the courage to honestly explore his thoughts. I would not hazard to declare that his true issues/demons are. I also laud his efforts to face his problems. However when it comes down to it at the end I do not think he was/is willing to completely face himself. He clearly retains some areas as no go zones for exploration.

  17. ““bro” culture ”

    You are not a bro and your problems are not that of bros.

    Leave bros out of this.

    • I’m in full agreement with you Ted. “You are not a bro…”

      There’s nothing masculine about this written piece. Nothing. Even the length of it is typical of female writing. It goes on and on, and in an illogical manner, lacking cohesive argument. I don’t believe Eric (pseudonym) is a man at all.

      I’m of the opinion that the writer is a woman (perhaps tranny) who has fantasised a story about being the character of this novel. Why would she do this? I don’t know. Maybe to elicit comments about what she supposes is everything “toxic” about masculinity and evaluate reader’s opinions and compile them into a later op-ed piece for the Huff-Puff Post’s feminism section. Whatever, who knows.

      Hey Eric, don’t look now but I think your lacy pink slip is showing, dear.

      • Lightning Rose says

        Ayup! Sounded like a bad “Mary Sue” to me . . . faker from Mt. Holyoke?

        • You’ve gotta laugh Lightning. Thanks. I can’t believe anyone who gets published could be that screwed up. It’s got to be a wind-up surely. Ted was the first one to pick it.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        Wow. You’re so determined to live in your fantasy world of machismo and tough-guy bullshit that you’re going to speculate that the essay wasn’t even written by a man? That is some ninja-level self-delusion. So you just close your eyes and play make-believe when you encounter something you cannot process?

        Actually, I’m having a hard time accepting your post into my self-constructed worldview. My preference is that you’re actually an alien with shit for brains and a face covered with scrotums.

        It works!

      • JWatts says

        “I don’t believe Eric (pseudonym) is a man at all.”

        Until you said something, that thought hadn’t occurred to me. However, it would explain a lot of odd things about the post. It certainly reads more like a women’s writing style than a man’s. Particularly “his” description of the bet in Amsterdam. That’s not how a male generally talks.

  18. Lorena says

    Eric, the sex addiction issue and coupled with drug use, alters energy patterns of body. and aura, the electromagnetic system of human soul-body. It can only be cured using Kundalini yoga approach and White Tantra, no psychological treatment, coaching, rehab therapies can break through … I can guide you in solving the issue, and it is better, you do it BEFORE entering into a next serious relationship.

    • davido says

      The authors problem is the problem with all of us, and it’s not ” energy patterns of body. and aura, the electromagnetic system of human soul-body.” It’s an ancient word that needs to be rediscovered again. Sin.

      • Lightning Rose says

        Sin: Doing anyway what you know perfectly well to be WRONG. A form of perversity once considered the “work of the devil” or the proof of evil. Nowadays we excuse anything in the name of “brain chemistry” or “difficult childhood.” Which is why every social pathology known to mankind is proliferating by leaps and bounds.

    • Sydney says


      Good point. At the base of everything we are powered by energy in our cells that can’t be accounted for by conventional science. This made me think of how psychedelic therapy appears to offer a sort of body/mind ‘reset’. Leads me to think that psychedelic therapy will be more and more common for things we experience as ‘addictions’ as well as loads of traumas. (Isn’t Gabor Maté, MD working with addictive personalities and psychedelics?)

      Of course none of this is opinion; at this point there’s loads of credible, serious, current research out there on the responsible use of psychedelics in professional settings. Energy medicine is absolutely the cutting edge of Integrative medicine, and seems an obvious go-to for this sort of issue.

      • Lorena says

        Psychedelics are the destroyers of the self-control mechanisms. The main criterion is: you have to be self-sufficient , not depending on anything except food, clean air, water to stay healthy, happy, holy. As Yogi Bhajan has said. 🙂 Anything else robs you of natural powers of your body/mind. 🙂

    • That and hanging crystals charged with prana energy from your ‘nads. People say it works so it must be true.

  19. Andrew says

    Interesting piece. I really enjoyed this quote: “None of this makes me compassionate any more than a butterfly collector shows tenderness by studying the markings on insects under glass.”

    It was wordy and at times disjointed though. I love that Quillette publishes diverse pieces and writing styles, but as Quillette grows I hope they put more resources into editing for length and clarity.

    • Craig WIllms says

      Hmmm, I don’t know. I lost interest quickly. I guess this kind of ‘revealing’ leaves me cold, I had zero compassion for him. I’m not proud of that, but I think your have to be able to relate in or to have compassion, I couldn’t relate at all.

      Also, this piece was far too long as are many articles here on Quillette. Again, it was not my cup of tea.

      • Craig WIllms says

        wish this site had editing capabilities… Knock, knock Quillette

        • Tarstarkas says

          Every site where blog entries can be edited also demand a lot of personal information. I get enough cookies tracking me from this site and other WordPress-using sites as it is.

      • Stephanie says

        I didn’t feel much compassion for him, either. Sex addiction is a dubious concept, I don’t think it’s a real thing. The use of feminism as a cloak screams “deceptive” to me. I don’t think the author has examined himself as fully as he thinks he has.

  20. davido says

    Only Christ can remove you from the endless labyrinth of yourself.

  21. Heavy. Yeah I know what it’s like. No, I don’t offend anymore, at least not that way. [Are you sure you’re a man if no one ever takes offence at your actions?] Yes, I hurt myself more than anyone by being what I knew at the time was a jerk. I more or less turned myself into law enforcement, I was so tired of getting away with it. Yes, given the above I maintain that it is possible to excise a from of behaviour from your personality if you honestly and truly desire it. It may involve a particular chemical regime, either short-term or long-term. It will also likely have some assistance from “energy work” as Lorena pointed out. The South Asian and Indian traditions wouldn’t have lasted so long if there was nothing in them. There is a lot in them, actually. And yes, I’ve been told by one purported to know that sex addicts / sex offenders tend not to commit suicide in any higher #’s than the gen public, in spite of the gravitas of their situation.
    So there you have it. If they own up to what they have done, and can reflect on it from both a psychological and a temporal distance, they / we / I will likely be able – willing even to explain what it was that prompted our descent into anti-social and destructive behavior. But I fear too large of a segment of the population reacts with unexamined fear and loathing to our existence. Meaning that a lot of the knowledge that is gained individually may go unexpressed – verbally and explicitly – at any rate, owing to a perfectly predictable caution on the part of former ( and even present ) deviants.
    Shit, if someone wants to dox me, I guess they will. Would be better if they just showed up where they can find me and maybe we can talk about whatever concerns them.

    Oh, if the graffiti artists / stoners of the 70’s had been more thoughtful when throwing up moronic sophorisms such as: “When In Doubt…” would the world have been a better place??
    At discrete moments, a gram of levity may be in order when dealing with tragedies.
    It was 17 years ago that I got called to task on this business and no, I don’t want to repeat it again in this life or any that are to come.

  22. Funny how I reached 33 without reading the Feminine mystique or whateverthefuck, never called myself a feminist, yet I still managed to not cheat on gf’s. Yeah I visited escorts but only when I was single, and never pressured them into having unprotected sex with me…
    Eric you’re not a feminist sex addict, just a shitty person.

  23. Railing on ‘feminism’ is de rigueur for the Quillette comment section. (and warranted quite often in context IMO.)

    But are we to really think that feminism is a root cause or major contributor of this person’s compulsive behavior and feelings of self-loathing? The author makes clear that most other men claiming to have a self-professed / self-diagnosed sex compulsion problem do NOT identify with feminism – which seems quite possibly and even likely to be true.

    So why should we conclude his ideological identification with feminism is THE important factor in this piece? (If the only too available is a hammer… yadda yadda yadda)

    • #metoo was chocked full of “feminist” men like Harvey Weinstein. The question was always was it consensual or not. But for a while there, it started to look like the creepiest men out there were known “feminists” and nobody was getting any real work done. Lol

    • Stephanie says

      @coreycroom, the relationship between feminism and toxic masculinity is the most interesting theme in this essay. I don’t think the author is ready to explore it, which leaves room for speculation.

      The first possibility is that the author’s feminism has nothing to do with his compulsion. He doesn’t consider the men he met at sex camp to be feminists, but this may be another woke signalling, allowing him to distinguish himself from others with toxic behaviour. It’s also possible that there are multiple pathways to this compulsion. It’s also possible that many of the men there were just cheating assholes who claimed sex addiction as an excuse when their wives caught them.

      Feminism could be a cloak with which he shrouds his toxic behaviour. Very few men think women aren’t capable or valuable, but self-identification as a feminist coincides with being proud of oneself for that awareness, and thus a tendency to use it as social signalling. Such signalling becomes necessary when one is insecure about one’s actual values, as the author ought to be.

      The author admits he used his feminism to attract women, and it is the experience of many women that men use feminism as a mating strategy. He says he’s attracted to intelligent, competent women, but he cheats on these women with (presumably) stupid women who’s only marketable skill is lying on their backs. That may betray his true desires, the one he condescendingly refers to as that of other men, for weak women he can control.

      It is possible that the author has been convinced that being a good man means he must like a certain kind of woman, but the reality of those relationships leaves him unsatisfied, and so he inevitably indulges in a “quick fix.” If he were honest about the kinds of women he’s attracted to, perhaps a traditional woman who doesn’t intimidate or emasculate him, or a slutty, broken type, he might find the need to sleep with dirty hookers is less compelling.

    • Charles says

      The comment section latching on to the word “feminism” is missing the point. I think the author meant more that he wanted mature and respectful relationships with women he viewed as equals, as opposed to pushing some large political agenda. I thought the essay was well written and insightful.

  24. Albigensian says

    The author’s failure to define what’s meant by “feminism” even while using the term over and over here seems a great weakness of this essay. My impression overall is that the author attempts to use his self-professed feminism as a moral shield, as a defense against criticism, and then to confess his sins against feminism in a bid for absolution.

    I tend to think of “feminism” as meaning “advocacy for women and girls.” At least, this seems more accurate than “advocacy for equality between the sexes,” for femininists have always been uniquely concerned with advocating for women and girls. And if you should point out some area where men and boys are treated poorly, well, most feminists will tell you you’re welcome to do something about that, but, really, that’s not their problem.

    Nor is there some United Church of Feminism that maintains a consistent creed for all, but, as with the endlessly schismatic denominations of Protestant Christians, each “church” seems to have its own set of beliefs.

    So, overall this seems an essay in the confessional mode, yet, in repeatedly invoking feminism seems lacking in self-awareness. So what is feminism to you and, why do you feel such a need to confess your allegiance to it as well as your (apparently greivous) sins against it?

    In any case, the author should be aware that heretics are usually treated far more harshly than heathen, and absolution likely will not be forthcoming. Sometimes you’ve just got to throw that heavy ideological baggage overboard, lest its dead weight sink your ship.

    • “Damn Straight” posted in the wrong place… Intended to reflect approval for the comment that essentially said enough naval gazing, just stop seeing prostitutes and be faithful to your romantic partner (to which I would add “then shut the hell up about it and get on with it”)…

  25. This writer is full of it says

    Maybe those women don’t want to have sex for money, boohoo, poor them. Seems they prefer that choice over cleaning toilets, mining coal or fixing power lines for much less money hourly, or else they’d be doing other jobs instead. Too much victimhood narrative all around in this piece.

    The main underlying problem here is that society has brainwashed people to think there’s something morally wrong with you if you enjoy recreational sex with more than one person, which is absurd. Whether paid or unpaid, consensual sex or two consensual adults trading sex for money is perfectly natural, and anyone who says differently is a phony hypocrite.

    What’s not acceptable is the lying and the hypocrisy. Trying to squeeze yourself into the mold of monogamous family man is the real problem here, because it’s not who you are. That’s what causes you to break women’s hearts and put people at risk of diseases unknowingly. That’s the part that makes you a piece of shit, because you haven’t been honest with yourself and are still bullshitting yourself with writing this drivel. Just admit who you are and live your life honestly.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @this writer is full of it

      I agree with this. Being ashamed of his sexual desires and trying to fit himself into this pathological feminist mold is the guy’s real problem.

  26. Dan Love says

    @Max Wilson

    Shit man, I had considered the same thing. I think there’s a chance this is a troll article written by a radical feminist woman.

    The character is so simplistic he’s inhuman. He’s a walking feminist stereotype.

    The pedestalizing of unfeminine women, passive aggressive contempt for feminine women, and the constant stream of male shaming is a dead giveaway.

    Take this excerpt for example – “I did not experience the stereotypically male desire for attractive, submissive playthings. I wanted smart, full-spectrum romantic partners who enjoyed sex but were not shy to assert their own needs, thoughts and feelings.”

    This is so cliche and tropey I cringed. It’s as if the character is a super heroine from a feminist comic book. It’s specifically something a feminist woman would say.

    • I had the exact same feeling. It doesn’t feel real.

      Maybe this is a woman writing about a guy who hurt her and creating a creative back story.

      When I’ve been single, I’ve visited prostitutes. It was nothing like what was described. That didn’t feel real either.

  27. Don Ron says

    If I wanted narcissistic confessional I’ll watch Jeremy Kyle.
    Self-centered guff. The self-deception starts early in the article and doesn’t let up.

  28. Asenath Waite says

    I would disagree that you did harm to these prostitutes by hiring them to perform services that they were freely offering to perform. You harmed yourself financially and I guess you harmed yourself and your romantic partners by cheating on them and screwing up those relationships. The prostitution, though, was a free and consensual exchange, as you noted. It seems irrational to consider these women to be somehow your victims, even including those who actually robbed you at knifepoint. That is just twisted feminist logic.

  29. Patrick says

    This article was so obviously BS, that I find it hard to believe that commentors, other than numerous fellow addicts who felt impelled to yell me too, me too, take it at all seriously.
    The article is an example of the curse of cleverness supported by extreme narcissism.
    The writer is, without a doubt clever, but cleverness when turned inward quickly runs out of anything interesting to say, and soon exaggerations creep into the narrative to be followed by out and out falsehoods.
    The end result is a very clever piece in the tradition of Mailer, Capote, Thompson and various other clever writers who could never get over the fact that sum of their lives was far greater than the
    actual substance.

  30. Wow, a lot of contempt for this writer and his confession. Makes me wonder what’s wrong with me that I am sympathetic to his experience. Clearly some assortment of factors–developmental or genetic–predisposed this person toward behavior that he suffered from and regrets and seems to have taken pretty sincere steps to atone for. If he has succumbed to feminist ideology, well, that’s just another pit he’s fallen into that he presumably never asked for.

    I thought it was pretty well-written too.

    Like several commenters, the phrase that most stuck out for me was the one in which paying women for sex amounted to “disrespect.” I find this concept is fascinating and more difficult to unravel than it might seem at first, especially given the way the feminist ethic can be seen as tangled up with the theme of addiction.

    Would paying a drug dealer also be considered disrespectful to the dealer? Presumably not, so what’s the difference?

    Maybe we live in a world in which to fully respect women’s freedom and independence–the ostensible goals of feminism–we should treat them as fully autonomous individuals whose personal decisions should not be questioned or second-guessed any more than a man’s. A true male feminist, then, would welcome the opportunity to engage in any sort of commerce with female entrepreneurs, including prostitution (especially when one is a good customer), and feel nothing but satisfaction for supporting her business.

    The non-feminist, however, refuses to accept any of feminism’s doctrines, especially those predicated upon denial of the psychological aspects of sexual dimorphism in human beings, so strongly argued in the scientific literature. He believes (knows!) that women are different than men, certainly less predisposed toward sexual promiscuity, which is why they get paid for sex in the first place, though at great cost to their emotional (and perhaps sexual) health. In a sense, then, these prostitutes are victims of feminism, gradually led by our sexually permissive culture to a place they would never have found themselves if America had remained an Ozzie and Harriet-like conservative ideal. To enable their self-destructive choices is morally similar to giving a child all the candy he wants. Wrong!

    Both perspectives seem less than noble somehow. What am I missing here? Perhaps a middle way?

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Reducing another human to just a body for sexual pleasure is problematic. Turning sex into a financial transaction also creates some tricky ethical and social algebra to sort through. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with feminism. In my opinion, the gender doesn’t particularly matter; it’s the dehumanizing nature of the exchange that bothers me.

      You’re supposed to feel sympathetic. Not only does that demonstrate your humanity, but it shows that you understand that not everything is all about you and your impulse to pass judgement and assert your moral superiority. This is a lesson the typical Quillette poster doesn’t understand.

  31. Scott M says

    “Many of the women were clearly broken, vulnerable, beat-up creatures.”

    A point of order! As the problematic Steve Martin (speaking after Carrie Fisher died) incident showed us, men are not allowed to call women “creatures”.

  32. Woodrow says

    Isn’t the article itself is just the latest manifestation of the author’s real problem which is a penchant for terribly uncomfortable public self flagellation?

    Theres nothing wrong with sex. Sex is necessary for life, and for most people essential for emotional and mental health.

    We’ve got no problem understanding that homosexual people and women can’t decide to alter their sexual needs and desires to fit the shaming and beliefs of the culture they grew up in.

    Nor can a heterosexual man.

    Wouldn’t the author be better off ditching the therapists and support groups and seeking an intimate relationship with an understanding woman (or women) who like him has a high libido and a promiscuous nature?

  33. Alanna says

    Hey, he’s like the modern-day St. Augustine!

    Except, not at all.

  34. WOW mostly this author tells the story of having a fucked up sex and love life, in spite of having access to women and money. Don’t even worry about my little fkt up post, its nothing don’t worry about it. I don’t need your help, don’t want your facile or fascist advice. You think people like this are works of fiction. I think you are are a work of yo grandma. I only put it up there to point out that other people besides this author have either fuct up their own lives by weird actions or wierd karma you people don’t really get it.
    Apologies to Lorena, she might kind of get it.
    I’ll go back to reading Q for the interesting articles. Not for the comments.
    The earth and the people on it would be so much better off with 94% of the population removed. yes I absolutely said that and I meant it.
    Yeah and i no, it starts with me.

    • Dude, don’t come to Quilette for comments – they will ruin your day. If you want to read comments of value, head to – fewer assholes and trolls, more people who are able to disagree with others but still be respectful.

  35. SoleTender says

    I’m surprised that so many commenters would regard this article as a hoax. What in the world would someone have to gain from publishing this, under a pseudonym no less? He can’t cash in on any virtue-signaling and it’s mostly self-flagellating and icky. It also doesn’t seem to put forward any political idea or polemic. I can’t even tell if its pro or anti feminist.

    Seems to me like a man’s sincere portrayal of his sexual troubles. It’s thoughtful. It contains details and addiction recovery particulars that I would think only someone who had gone through it would likely know.

    Strange piece. Represensible stuff, though not as smarmy or douche-y as Jian Ghomeshi’s New York Review of Books article, which is refreshing I guess. Unlike Ghomeshi, this dude seems to really hate himself.

    Not sure why this belongs on Quillette, mind you. Not sure what sacred cow is being slayed, what PC meme is being countered or on what front of the culture war this piece belongs to. Is the author crapping on feminism? Is he complicating #MeToo? Or is this just some personal therapy? All I know is I found it a pretty sad read. Not sure what to make of it…

  36. chinese in montreal says

    The reason I don’t want to call myself conservative is on full display here in the comment section and no it has nothing to do with peer pressure in the academic world. So many condescending judgmental comments , not to mention some weird conspiracy theories!

    Believing in free will and self-determination doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole to those who suffer in real life, and criticizing crazy feminism religion doesn’t robe you of the ability to feel compassion towards those who believe sincerely in something you don’t, no matter how misguided they are.

    I am not familiar with sex addition and can’t offer any useful advice but this piece certainly is a very powerful personal account that deserve support and encouragement. I wish the author well and hope he will eventually finds someone who can gives him loving companionship.

    • chrism says

      “The reason I don’t want to call myself conservative is on full display here in the comment section and no it has nothing to do with peer pressure in the academic world. So many condescending judgmental comments , not to mention some weird conspiracy theories! ”

      Oh, I know. It’s at least as ugly as watching the horde at Pharyngula do the same thing from the other side. I solve it by ignoring both, and voting for whatever is needed as a corrective. It’s completely rational to vote OUT a government, rather than voting IN the one you want. I voted out Harper, but feel dreadfully disappointed with the incompetence of Trudeau, so come the fall I would like to vote for Bernier, but given the risk of splitting the anti-Trudeau vote it will probably have to be Scheer. Then we’ll see if he can keep me on side for more than one term!

      • Zaphbeeble says

        I gather from this that you don’t have much experience with Pharyngula. Criticising fellow commenters may be warranted, but the Pharyngula card is the equivalent of chanting “Nazi”.

  37. Skept-O-Punk says

    Clearly I’m not as smart as many (most?) commenters on Quillette, but I found this article strange and troublesome. I was dubious from paragraph one, though I couldn’t pin-point why. It felt very self-serving and it seemed to me that the author may have a sex addiction, but that his addiction to virtu-signaling his “woke-ness” was every bit as painful … at least to me as a reader. I would definitely not be reading Quillette much if this was typical fare of this publication.

  38. This article helped me to have compassion for feminists. If this is the typical crap you hear from your male counterparts, no wonder you want men to shut up.

  39. Terry Heaton says

    I, too, am a sex addict, and I find the vast majority of the comments here to be shameful, dismissive, and ignorant. To the writer, let me encourage you to continue with your recovery, for year after year of sobriety produces revelations that will help you make sense of it all. In the end, however, it’s acceptance that matters most, for sex is a natural function of life, and sobriety for sex addicts doesn’t have to mean total abstinence. As an addict, sex is your solution. Solution to what? The restless, irritable, and discontent that runs rampant in your soul. That is your enemy, not having sex. Relief from that takes growth through recovery and, hopefully, therapy. I was especially helped through group sessions with others like me. It’s the “profound alteration in our reaction to life” that produces health. Too many get hung up on the idea of sex and can’t see that sex isn’t your problem; it’s your solution. Fix that and you’ll be free. The urges may appear from time to time, but you’ll find that they don’t dominate you like they used to, for you’ll know what’s really going on. I’m 72 years old, and I have a great sex life. I enjoy the act like I never did before, for I’m in a love affair with intimacy that I never knew before. Learn to love yourself, my friend, and join the world of the living.

  40. chrism says

    “The urges may appear from time to time, but you’ll find that they don’t dominate you like they used to, for you’ll know what’s really going on. I’m 72 years old…”

    Rather like being an elderly vampire with your dentures out.

  41. The therapist in the story is either:
    a) not actually a CBT practitioner;
    b) a shit therapist, probably a Reichian;
    c) made up like the rest of this ridiculous story.

  42. Aaron says

    This reads like a Madonna-Whore complex. “Feminist women” and girlfriends are seen as saintly, moral, and wise. (His sister is his hero with a PhD.) Prostitutes are to be debased as dirty whores. His future wife is to be the mother of his children, but only when he is a “better man.” But such a woman will never sexually satisfy him.

  43. Area Man says

    I hate the term “sex addiction”. We aren’t addicted to sex, or shopping or gambling or Twitter. Why not describe this sort of thing–if it’s indeed genuine–as compulsive behavior that’s expressed through sexual activity?

    “Sex addiction” is a fallback used by cheaters. It’s spawned an industry not unlike “implicit bias training” peopled by sex-negative–and usually Christian–“therapists”. The end goal is forcing a man to comply with social conventions.

  44. david of Kirkland says

    Spock can tell you: humans are not logical and rational. We wish our brains ought to have only certain kinds of thoughts: be positive, be cheerful, be helpful, be kind and be generous….
    But your experience sure is different from most. Now you can choose to be depressed about it, or accept it and go on, trying to reduce the bad and increase the good ideas you think for yourself.

  45. Bob Again says

    To me the writer doesn’t sound like a woman so much as simply a British bloke who has spent a lot of time at “university”…

  46. Shaun Richards says

    I read this and wondered why the author keeps dating women who appear to have traditional moral and sexual standards. Why not look for a partner who is part of the ‘lifestyle’ or bdsm subculture? Why not seek out someone who also enjoys non-monogamous, higher-risk sexual activity? As Ron Jeremy once said, ‘A couple that plays together, stays together.’

  47. Jin Molnar says

    “Well the fact that I’ve changed my mind is evidence that I still have one.”
    I was “drunk” – somewhat out of character for me now – when I wrote that second post which only really means that I partook of about 8oz of Bourbon over several hours – not big deal really – after a good at work before a day off.

    But I thought about what I wrote and I’m OK with it. I was pissed. The “real” part of sex addiction is the addiction – or adherence to a deeply ingrained habit – if you must, to PROBLEMATIC sexual behavior. And it is real. And I was able to excise it out of my system with profound introspection, and an adjustment of my chemical routine, which I needn’t elaborate on here, oh, and with Buddhism. Of course, that particular prescription will not be universally effective, but I offer it as an example of what may work. Having law enforcement take an interest in your actions is a fantastic motivator, also.

    As pertains to the author of the article, that formally speaking, should be the main topic of discussion on this board, I think it was his overt adherence to the concept of “feminism” that made up a lot of the glue that held him stuck in this habitual way of being. Perhaps he was under the delusion that he could “fix” each woman he came in contact with. Perhaps he was waiting to find the one woman who would be strong enough (masculine enough, in a sense) to “fix” him? Does (did) he have no faith in the ability of men to fix, control and modify themselves?

    And I know it’s tangential to the article but what bugged me perhaps more than anything these last few angry days is that many of us, it seems, [can’t quite say we – because some of us don’t] have to / must / feel we need to / don’t have the guts to do anything but stay anonymous on ‘da web. I think humanity would advance faster to a better place if people were brave enough to stand by these comments – some smart, some not-so-smart – that go endlessly floating from screen to screen.

    I live in the SF bay area, for what that my be worth to anyone.

    and 1 to 3 oz of bourbon on some nights is about the right amount.

  48. Eisso Post says

    The alinea starting ‘in my teen years’ is so the opposite of everything else in the story, especially about the six year old porn user, you almost get the impression it is made up while writing and not even corrected to make all the pieces fit afterwards.

  49. Henri de Lesquen says

    I am a 45-year old male and I have slept with around 20 prostitutes in a time span of 15 years, that includes 10 years of monogamous fidelity as a married man. I started to visit prostitutes when I turned 30 because it was my only way to discover sex. I went back to prostitutes last summer when I found myself in a sexless marriage. I have no shame nor guilt. I like women, only problem is they don’t like me.

    In the lottery of life, I was born in a dysfunctional family and raised as Jehovah’s witness, which I left around age 25. In my family there was never any talk of sex or how to interact with the opposite sex. As far I remember, all I wanted in life was to have a girlfriend. It never happened until age 35, another completely dysfunctional individual that I ended up marrying. We have a wonderful daughter together, but I am filing for divorce.

    I think all addictions are bad, does not matter if it is Candy crush or sex. I don”t see myself addicted to prostitution, I go to see one every month more or less, always protected sex. The alternative is no sex, which I think it is worse. By now, paying for sex is the only outlet for a short, shy, ugly, middle-aged guy like me. I know I am dysfunctional and I have been trying to improve my issues. Who cares what I do with this woman in bed? I was raised to be the Gary Cooper, John Wayne, gentleman type. I have always treated women with respect, and this is the case for the prostitutes I visit.

    And give me a break about Feminism. Women control THE THING most wanted by men. How are they supposed to be victims? I understand why feminists and women in general don’t like prostitution. It is not because prossies are victims, it is because it removes POWER from them.

    I hope that after my divorce I will able to meet a nice, kind woman that will love me for what I am, not for what I can provide, maybe remarry and have another kid, but I am not optimistic. If it does not happen, MGTOW + prostitutes from time to time will be OK.

  50. This is the biggest crock of phony crap I’ve ever read in my life. Is this a joke? Did Quillette actually publish the fake diary of a woke eunuch, written by a radical feminist pretending to be him, for their readers to enjoy?

  51. David Ley PhD. says

    Such virtue signaling drivel. The writer was raised to revere women. But indulged his need for sex with women that too them off an idealistic pedestal. And blames the power of that emotional conflict on sex. As opposed to his complex feelings about men and women. But now he’s SAVED! Because now he can fight the scourge of sex addiction. He went from being a guy hiding behind the role of feminist, to now being a guy hiding behind the claim that sex was stronger than he was. Mmhhmm.

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