The word “anonymous” these days is often taken to mean completely unknown or without identity. When speaking about sex addiction, however, the word carries various meanings and connotations.
When a sex addict engages in anonymous sex, it does not necessarily mean they know nothing of their partner. For the purposes of this discussion, anonymous sex can refer to what is commonly called “hooking up,” or a “one night stand.” People meet for a sexual encounter and once the act is completed they part ways, possibly never to see each other again outside of casual social situations.
Extreme forms of anonymous sex can fit the common definition of the word quite accurately. There are clubs and other places that facilitate strangers meeting for sex. Names are not exchanged and in some cases, the people do not even see each other, the sex act being completed through a curtain or hole in the wall. Called a “glory hole,” they are often found in lavatories or adult video arcades.
The activity does not need to involve physical contact. The people involved can watch each other perform sex acts, and one may be a paid sex worker. An addict involved in this sort of behavior, like any other sex addict, is acting compulsively and doing it to avoid negative emotions. The behavior may be illegal, as well as a severe health risk or financial drain, yet these people continue it because of their addiction. It is the level of intimacy that defines where addiction to anonymous sex differs from other sex addictions.
Pornography and masturbation are typically solo affairs and do not generally involve any level of social interaction. Phone sex and cybersex offer a heightened level of social involvement but physical contact does not occur. Anonymous sex as described above offers physical contact while lowering the social components to the bare minimum. This appeals to sex addicts who may feel they lack social skills or are ashamed of themselves in some way, whether it be their bodies or personality. The addict seeks physical sexual contact but not social contact. It may also simply be a method of keeping their identity secure should the behavior have public or familial ramifications.
Anonymous sex, as stated above, includes brief sexual encounters where little to no emotional connection is made. These encounters can range from a few minutes in a private area, or they can be the more stereotypical one night stand scenario. It’s also not uncommon for these relationships, to the extent they can be called that, to last a day or two or lead to other sexual encounters. Anything beyond a day or two, however, is not considered anonymous sex addiction. The distinctive factor in sex addiction remains that the relationship is about physical sex with no other type of connection apparent.
This issue can involve or lead into other forms of sex addiction. A person may enjoy the seduction aspect of the anonymous hookup and be addicted to that, or use the Internet to arrange sexual encounters, keeping their knowledge of the other person’s identity to a minimum. In any case, the addict is trying to avoid an emotional connection, and over time this can stunt their ability to form such bonds.