Inside the Mind of a Sex Addict

Weiner World: When one prominent urban professional got caught by his wife doing what Congressman Anthony Weiner was doing, he finally realized he had a problem. Sadly, that came at a cost

by Susan Avery • Digital Director
weiner on fire

When Congressman Anthony Weiner’s sexual escapades emerged last month, they reignited the “Are all men perverts?” debate in the blogosphere.

For Ryan James*, a prominent urban professional, this scandal was more than a titillating headline: It was a page from his own life story. After he'd been married for just a few years, his wife discovered that he’d been doing similar things as Weiner: having explicit sexual discussions with virtual strangers over e-mail, participating in phone sex and, when the technology emerged, sexting. His wife filed for divorce, but even that hasn’t stopped him; the sexting continues.

As we all contemplate the congressman’s seemingly inexplicable actions, James, *not his real name, talked to More, in person and by telephone, about what goes on in the mind of a sex addict. An edited version of the interview follows.

More: Where do we even begin?
Ryan James: My behavior started off as innocent and harmless. I was enticed by porn from a young age; then I started getting addicted and using it as a substitute for real intimacy. What started as a curiosity changed into a substitute for what I really needed, which was one-on-one intimacy and a healthy, monogamous relationship.

More: How exactly did you go after sex online?
RJ:
I used to have a separate e-mail account. I found ads online for other people looking for these virtual sexual relationships. I’d send a picture of myself sometimes. I’d have a sex dialogue in e-mail, phone chats, text messages. Women sent me explicit pictures, even if I didn't reciprocate.

I would discuss things with women that I was excited about. I liked to hear from a woman who was turned on by bisexual men. When I learned about transsexual porn, I was like, “What the fuck is that?” I developed a curiosity because it was very taboo.

More: Are you saying you discovered your bisexual side?
RJ:
No. I’m definitely heterosexual. I just became curious to hear about taboo topics, but not participate. If it wasn't suggested to me in anonymous phone chat, I probably would've never had interest in any of these topics. It was fantasy, but you talked about it with others safely because it was anonymous.

More: Where else did you find these women to talk to?
RJ:
Chat lines. Men pay by the minute to be on; for women it’s free. I spent money on this phone line. My wife never looked at my credit card bill. I sometimes spent $400 to $500 a month on this. I looked at it as an extension of porn. I had to raise the stakes and it became more exciting to hear someone’s voice talking to me. The phone line was safe. You didn’t have to leave your house and didn’t have to worry about your appearance. It was hot, but it was empty. I even met a lot of people on the phone line who I got to know and ended up meeting in person and dating before I got married. It was a very convenient way for a professional guy to meet people. Ironically, I gained a lot of confidence from doing this.

More: What did you talk about with these women?
RJ: A lot of it had to do with oral sex, role-playing or bi-curious fantasies. You can’t talk to your wife about this, but you can talk to a stranger about it. The Internet and chat lines and text messages have made it so much easier to indulge your fantasies. There is so much temptation out there, and I didn’t have the willpower. It cost me my marriage.

More: Some would say men who do this kind of thing hate women.
RJ
: I’ve loved women my whole life. I don’t disrespect women. I’m a good guy and I loved being a husband.

More: When did it start?
RJ:
Like I said, I was doing it before I got married. I think my wife knew that I looked at porn quite a bit. She came from a very conservative background and found it immoral, indecent behavior. I was a ladies’ man and had lots of girlfriends who were sexually crazy, but I picked a different kind of person as a wife and mother for my kids.

First Published June 22, 2011

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Comments

Liz 02.06.2013

I found this article after Googling 'sex addiction', after my boyfriend informed me that he is one and used it as the reason he broke up with me. I found the writer to be very sympathetic and self-aware--up until the point where he says that his wife had to recognize her part in it. BULLSH*&. He actually said before this point that he had chosen her in particular, due to particular qualities that appealed to him, to be a wife and mother. When he "discovers" that she isn't all he desires sexually, he uses it as an excuse for looking elsewhere. This is the ultimate in rationalizing, coming from someone who has not yet accepted responsibility. Incidentally, if someone gives you a sad story about being an addict because of their childhood trauma, but claims that they are "handling" it (like my boyfriend informed me on our second date), think very carefully about whether they are telling the truth. They may be lying either to you or to you and themself.

Sheryl Lipke07.27.2012

I believe that this is real, I live it almost daily. My boyfriend of 4.5 years is a recovering alcoholic, past drug user....he has been sober for quite some time. He does this !!!! He doesn't look at sex as intimacy, he looks at it as a conquest. He is addicted to the euphoria that comes with this addiction. The high is from the attention of the other women, the fact that he can have them just by talking to them, he looks at it as power.....control...and that he feels as if he is getting away with it. And when I have caught him in the past, the blame falls back on me and its my fault for noticing things and finding out and confronting him. I thought it was me, I went to a therapist, she said I was right....spot on with his behavior. She asks why i haven't left...and I tell her because I have faith that things will change....they have decreased, but.is still there. I can't ask him questions or even look at his phone without him getting mad because he is doing things he.knows hurt me and are not right. At times I wish i had the nerve to leave him like the wife in the story did.....I just go with my blind faith and I.pray that he changes.

Curtis Neeley12.18.2011

Oh what a poor addicted guy. NO! What a crock of shit. "I do this and enjoy it - so I am addicted and it is NOT MY FAULT."
"Sex addiction" is entirely a HOAX.
It is simply infatuation with lust called a disease for an excuse.
The Internet should be regulated by the FCC and then no "alleged" adult will be utterly anonymous due to the importance of backing up the assertion that you are not a minor.

Monica 10.19.2011

Sex addicts are addicted not to the sex but the chemical reactions from it....
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stefan Geroge08.23.2011

I think that an addiction to sex is not about addiction really. Sex is not an addictive substance like nicotine. It can chemically force you to seek after it. But here is the thing, if you have that sense that you are "not okay" and that doing X will make you "okay" (i.e. feel wanted, desired, loved). It is more about obsessively filling that hole in your life than it is about exactly what you are addicted to. It's not about the sex, its about fulfillment and people having a skewed sense of reality that sex is their only way to fulfillment.

Adam Green06.30.2011

Obviously excellent view points!!! I just catch the point "How exactly did you go after sex online?". Hopefully it'll be useful topics inside the Mind of a Sex Addict. Thanks!
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06.27.2011

I give this man a standing Ovation. This county needs to hear more about Sex addiction and what it can do to a family. My son got caught looking at internet porn. He will have to pay the price for his crime in Prison. What I don't think is right is that he will have to registry as a Sex Offender when he get out. I think what we need is for this addiction not prison.
I would love to get this word out more. Not all Sex offender are bad people, and the more people read or hear about it then maybe we can get some changes done. Thank you MORE for this story.

David Warn06.27.2011

Haha.....I guess what do meant by the comment? SEO Companies Are you believe Monogamy is fiction? SEO link building

06.25.2011

I am surprised that women still see this as some aberration. This has been happening since the beginning of time. Monogamy is fiction. This man is not a sex addict - he is normal, yet society treats him as a freak. There is an unnatural emphasis on monogamy. It is not natural nor is it the norm. Hello?

Fred Brenson06.25.2011

Nice, pretty good and excellent too. mini laptop By the way I can impress to read you good content in Sex Addict issues. SEO marketing I just think how's it effective/harmful for the body? Affordable SEO

Jamie Miles06.23.2011

I think he's brave for sharing this (even if he remains anonymous) but I wish he had the courage to tell his wife about his behaviors before getting caught. Then I would be more convinced he loves his wife enough to share his weakness with her and seek help.

06.23.2011

He blames his problems on "male frailty"? Really? Ugh. While I appreciate his candor, this guy doesn't seem to take enough responsibility for his own actions.

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