Are Sexual 'Hook-Up' Websites Addictive?

The internet has made it easy for people to watch others having sex, but it has also become a place that may pose an even greater danger by allowing strangers to randomly “hook-up” with one another for sexual experiences.

One question that's been asked regarding these sites is, “Can a person be addicted to sites that allow strangers to hook-up sexually?” Brent Hartinger, “Relationship Expert” for the gay-focused website, tackled this issue for his readers, writing that sex may or may not be an “addiction” but that it can certainly “make people do really stupid things.”

He writes that random sexual encounters don't have to threaten a person's well-being, and that for some people they are no worse than a “serious distraction” from finding a more meaningful relationship.

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Rob Jackson, a professional counselor with Christian Counsel International, spoke to The Christian Post on Monday with a much different point of view, saying that the Internet has changed the pace and intensity of sexual addiction in the United States.

“It was like someone threw gasoline into the fire,” he said of when the Internet became widely available to the public. Jackson has been working with sex-addicts since 1994. He now sees that people are prone to become addicted faster, more severely, and at a younger age than they were prior to the influence of the internet.

Research suggests that an addiction to porn is 300 percent greater than an addiction to morphine, he said.

"People don't get addicted to pornography, they get addicted to the neurochemistry within their brain. Pornography just happens to be a delivery system."

He says that pornography addiction may also lead to an addiction to random hook-ups.

"Basically we're talking about how the brain is requiring stimulation. So when you go to pornography online your brain is getting accustomed to that level of neurochemistry. And when it satiates, or when it is no longer able to be satisfying with that, then you're more apt to go from there and try to find real, live partners. So there's definitely a connection between the two."

"It is similar to drug addiction,” he said. He says that God gave humans the gift of sex. The problem is that sex, unlike drugs, binds people to one another, bringing a number of other complications into consideration when multiple partners are involved.

In the article addressing this issue, Hartinger writes, “It's possible these hookups are harmless (as long as you're having very safe sex).”

Yet there are a number of issues beyond the physical that need to be addressed in this discussion. In addition to the risk of contracting an STD, Jackson says there are mental and spiritual issues to consider as well when it comes to random hook-ups.

"They're much more de-humanizing,” he says. “Many times people don't even know the name of their sexual partner, and yet there is a bond, or a connection, that is occurring between body, mind and spirit.”

CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, says that between 1998 and 2003 the number of pornographic web pages rose from 14 million to 260 million.

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