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SCA Online Intergroup — Commentaries on the Characteristics Most of Us Seem to Have in Common


The Characteristics Most of Us Seem to Have in Common were developed by the early members of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous in New York, and first written in 1983. They describe in a general way how most of us coming to SCA have experienced sexual compulsion.

Early on, SCA’s New York fellowship sought to identify which traits its members had in common. A Literature Committee grew out of spontaneous group discussions. These efforts resulted in an initial draft of what we now know as The Characteristics Most of Us Seem to Have in Common. The individual Characteristics were reorganized and further edited before their publication in SCA: A Program of Recovery in 1996.

These commentaries expanding on The Characteristics Most of Us Seem to Have in Common developed from individual writing followed by a series of workshops. The resulting text was further refined and developed by an SCA literature committee.

Many members of our fellowship have described their reaction to hearing The Characteristics read at meetings. While it may have been uncomfortable to listen to the unmanageability reflected in these descriptions, they also gave hope. If others could understand the pain reflected in The Characteristics, then there was a sense of finally being in the right place to get help. Many members have described their identification with The Characteristics as a feeling of belonging. The reading of The Characteristics further signifies that meetings are places where there is the potential for the healing process to begin. It also indicates that there can be a definite move toward spiritual growth.

Each of the following commentaries expands on the core Characteristic and describes how those of us coming to SCA have manifested sexual compulsion in its many forms of expression. It also summarizes how our behaviors and lives can change as we work the SCA Program and pursue recovery.

Click on the links to read the individual commentaries:

Characteristic 1

As adolescents, we used fantasy and compulsive masturbation to avoid feelings, and continued this tendency into our adult lives with compulsive sex.

Characteristic 2

Compulsive sex became a drug, which we used to escape from feelings such as anxiety, loneliness, anger and self-hatred, as well as joy.

Characteristic 3

We tended to become immobilized by romantic obsessions. We became addicted to the search for sex and love; as a result, we neglected our lives.

Characteristic 4

We sought oblivion in fantasy and masturbation, and lost ourselves in compulsive sex. Sex became a reward, punishment, distraction and time-killer.

Characteristic 5

Because of our low self-esteem, we used sex to feel validated and complete.

Characteristic 6

We tried to bring intensity and excitement into our lives through sex, but felt ourselves growing steadily emptier.

Characteristic 7

Sex was compartmentalized instead of integrated into our lives as a healthy element.

Characteristic 8

We became addicted to people, and were unable to distinguish among sex, love and affection.

Characteristic 9

We searched for some “magical” quality in others to make us feel complete. Other people were idealized and endowed with a powerful symbolism, which often disappeared after we had sex with them.

Characteristic 10

We were drawn to people who were not available to us, or who would reject or abuse us.

Characteristic 11

We feared relationships, but continually searched for them. In a relationship, we feared abandonment and rejection, but out of one, we felt empty and incomplete.

Characteristic 12

While constantly seeking intimacy with another person, we found that the desperate quality of our need made true intimacy with anyone impossible, and we often developed unhealthy dependency relationships that eventually became unbearable.

Characteristic 13

Even when we got the love of another person, it never seemed enough, and we were unable to stop lusting after others.

Characteristic 14

Trying to conceal our dependency demands, we grew more isolated from ourselves, from God, and from the very people we longed to be close to.


The Characteristics Most of Us Seem to Have in Common show us the nature of sexual compulsion, and remind us of where we are in our recovery, or of where we have been in our compulsion. They contribute to our self-awareness and understanding of our fellow members of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous. This insight helps us to develop humility and compassion, and enables each of us to find a personal path to sexual sobriety and healthy sexuality. The Characteristics invite us to do a thorough, honest and soul-searching review for the presence and effect of each one of them in our lives. In reading and reflecting on them, it is important to remember that The Characteristics Most of Us Seem to Have in Common are a general description, and not a form of criticism, or an inescapable destiny. They are both a map of our problems, and a map out of our problems. Recovery is a journey, and working on ourselves takes time, patience, perseverance, understanding and compassion for ourselves. We are not alone on the journey. Others who are with us and further along the road can support and guide us as we experience the miracle of recovery, and become the very different people we assuredly can be.

Click on the link to read the full commentaries:

Commentaries on the Characteristics Most of Us Seem to Have in Common