The knock-on effect on normal living is massive,” says Fiona Markham, chief clinical officer at The Cabin, an addiction treatment and rehabilitation centre based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Primary sex and love addiction clients account for one in four cases at The Cabin, which has an outpatient addiction counselling clinic in Hong Kong’s Central district.
And it is behaviour that counsellors are seeing more of, thanks to the increased use of dating apps.
“These people are your neighbours, they are parents at your kid’s school, they are people sitting around a dinner table.
After a bad day at work, or when they are bored at home, they might download the app another time, and the cycle starts all over again.
In a study last year of dating app use in Hong Kong by the US National Centre for Biotechnology Information, 40 per cent of those surveyed who met a partner online had sex on the first date.
She says it’s important to recognise that sex addiction and love addiction operate in many ways, just as other addictions, such as alcoholism.
“Perhaps there are two teachers at the school who are gay, they now know that little Joe’s father is hunting around on a gay website. Similar mishaps have also happened using Tinder, Markham says, as people begin to take higher risks.“This is all about the self, about the ego, about being stuck in that place,” she says.“They are not actually in a relationship with anyone although they can be in a relationship on the outside with multiple people.” The Cabin is treating people ranging in age from 18 to those in their senior years.You are a happily married woman out for dinner with your husband. It’s a real-life scenario that has played out in Hong Kong.He leaves his phone on the table while he goes to choose the wine, and a message flashes up on the screen. That’s all it takes for your life to unravel as you discover that not only is he on dating app Tinder, but he’s been having sex with a string of women. Sex addiction wrecks families, destroys relationships and burns careers.