Fourth Step Sex Inventory: A Guide To Understanding Your Sexual Conduct

Fourth Step Sex Inventory

Sex inventory from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. . . Who knew life in recovery was going to be so fun as to write down all our sexual partners, sexual contact, and sexual conduct, then share it with God and another human being? This step is crucial in the recovery process to change our ways to live in God’s will and stop causing harm to people we have any form of relationship with.

Things I talk about in this video and the below article are straight from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Fourth Step Inventory Worksheet is just a way to make what we read in the book structured. Your job through this is to be honest with yourself and with your sponsor or spiritual advisor taking you through this work.

Five Things You Will Learn In This Video From Sex Inventory Work

  1. You will understand the purpose of sex conduct inventory
  2. You will know how to build a list simply and quickly
  3. You will have the ability to answer important questions about your sex motives
  4. You will have guidance and strategies to find character defects
  5. You will learn how to form a sex ideal between yourself and God

The Purpose of Doing Sex Inventory

Fourth Step Sex inventory

The purpose of this inventory is not to feel shame from the past but to bring Power into your present decision making in regards to sex. Remember, a journey in recovery is one where we are consistently working to progress and grow our spiritual life by continuing to make the effort to be a positive light in the life of others.

This is a fact finding and fact facing mission, which when on the other side of, will affect the way you see others and should help you be a positive person in a relationship. Searching for the the flaws in our makeup and selfish ways we act towards others is a means to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. I don’t want to cause harm, as I am sure you do not either. This step will help us to make real change in the area of sex relations so we can stop causing harm that leads us to a drink or drug.

Important Things To Consider Before You Embark On Your Fourth Step Sex Inventory

Be Honest With Yourself: It is important that while you do this sex inventory, you do not try to “look good,” but really look at your conduct with each person and what was motivating you. Then, when answering the questions below, you will find legitimate ways to change your actions going into the future.

Do Not Leave Anyone You Think Of Out: Something I tell my sponsees and others I work with on inventory is one of the most important parts of any 4th step inventory is not intentionally leaving anything out. Whether you were molested or SA’d by someone, you molested or SA’d someone, or you experimented in something you are not open about, you need to put it all down in this. You are not alone in anything you have been through or have done and the point of this is to do what God would have you do in the future.

Create an Efficient List of People From Your Past Sexual Conduct

Fourth step sex conduct

Too many people make the sex inventory a difficult or time consuming process and go out without making a real attempt in the first place. This is not about reminiscing on a past relationship in your life and writing out all the exploits you had. Blah. Sponsors don’t need all that information and we don’t want to sit through that!

A system I use to do this efficiently and quickly is to start with a list of the individuals you have had sexual relations with beyond kissing. Man or woman. Consensual or not. Write down their names on the left side of your journal or in the 4th Step Worksheet. If you cannot remember someone’s name, a description is fine too.

Again, keep in mind the reason we are doing this is for a fact finding and fact facing mission. Trust the process and if a person comes to mind, write them down and don’t leave them out. You will never fail by writing something down, but leaving something out has caused many people in our fellowships to relapse.

Answering Page 69 Sex Inventory Questions from the Big Book

Page 69 Sex Inventory

For each relationship you have written down from your past, you are going to answer all the questions you find in page 69. To the right of each person, you are going to answer the question where have you been selfish, dishonest or inconsiderate?

Selfishness is when you are going into something for your own benefit, dishonesty is telling someone something untrue or letting them believe something untrue to get your selfish ways, and inconsiderate is when you do not consider the other person when making selfish decisions.

Next, you are going to tell the truth to yourself and God about who was hurt. Did you do something that hurt the person directly? Were they married, causing the wife or husband to be hurt? (Whether they found out or not, there is harm done) Were any kids involved that could have been hurt by your sex conduct and pursuing selfish desires?

Now, did you unjustifiably cause jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? An example could be that you intentionally did not respond to text messages, thinking of how they would feel knowing you read it. Or did you have the thought of talking to someone else in front of them to cause them to be jealous and want you more? Or after a breakup, did you start posting things with others in the hope it influenced their emotional state?

The difference between making an inventory that will be successful in causing growth in your relationship with other people comes down to how much truth you are willing to uncover about yourself. Take the time to really look at those before moving onto where the rubber meets the road, per se, and your life changes by looking at the following question: where were you at fault and what should you have done different?

Your spiritual growth is dependent upon your ability to answer this question about yourself and gain a sense of control over your actions into the future. The idea that you can maybe continue acting the way you were in your active addiction in regards to sex conduct must be smashed the same as the idea that somehow someday you are going to drink like a normal person. If we continue harming people with sex conduct, without correcting behavior, it will be hard to have a successful life in recovery and our relationship with the world and with God will be continually struggling.

Gaining clarity on these questions and reading deep into situations where you know you did wrong will help you discover the truth in a new way for the next section.

Some 4th Step Examples of Sex Inventory Could Look Like:

Bethany: I was dishonest when I told her I was looking for a relationship. I was selfish by allowing her to believe there was a chance for a long-term relationship. I was inconsiderate of what it would do to her when I ghosted her.

I hurt Bethany when I stopped replying to her texts. I hurt her friend Amanda by acting like we were dating and befriending her only to watch Bethany get hurt.

I caused suspicion at the restaurant when I was texting Laura at the table and then didn’t stay and lied about where I was going.

I am at fault because I was not honest with Bethany from the beginning about my intentions and took away her right to choose on day one. I am at fault for hurting her and then not being man enough to text her back or talk to her.

I should have been honest from the start about the reason I was dating at that time in my life. I should have been kind and considerate at the end and had an honest conversation with her about why I don’t want to continue dating.

Or maybe:

Matthew: I was selfish in wanting just sex. I was dishonest with telling him I was only talking to him. I was inconsiderate of how he would feel finding out about Brad.

I hurt Matthew after he told me one of his worst fears was being cheated on and I did it anyway. I hurt Brad because I did the same thing to him, but he never found out.

I caused suspicion in Matthew when he saw me texting Brad and then jealousy when he searched my phone and saw the conversations.

I am at fault by lying to and cheating on Matthew. I should only be in a relationship I am going to be faithful in and give all my energy and attention to.

Obviously, these are examples and I wasn’t wanting or having sex with Matthew or Brad.

Finding The Character Defects In Sex Conduct

From the examples we just went over, the defects in character we see in the first example are, when being run by self-will, you are dishonest in order to get what you want and are a coward when it comes to facing someone you have wronged.

The defects in the second example are you are dishonest to get what you want, are unfaithful in relationships, and don’t care what feelings you create in others.

Going through your whole inventory at the end and writing down all the different defects you see popping up in each example will show you a pattern of your personal defects that differ from others. It is worth it to take the time and get to know these points of failure in how you treat others, so you have a chance to change some or all of them forever.

Forming Your Sex Ideal

Alright, you know all the flaws of your sexual makeup when being run by self, now what? Notice the great little column about what you should have done differently? Welcome to the column that will help you move forward on your spiritual journey without thinking you need to live without sex. Granted, some faith walks may have this column full of the realization that you want to wait until marriage to be happy with your sex life. Some may not agree and just realize they are going to be changing the way they approach communication in relationships.

It is not your job to take someone else’s sex inventory and it is none of your business what they choose to do in their own life. The key to fourth step inventory is coming to understand how God would have you change your conduct in order to better be with Him to achieve long-term sobriety.

Free Resources For Addicts and Alcoholics

As seen on

Relapse Prevention Worksheet