I have a terrible addiction to sex. The trouble starts Saturday morning. If I don’t have plans with my live-in girlfriend or friends, I browse personal ads. If I cannot find a woman, I go to prostitutes. I have tried to stop. I have told myself I will pray when I feel the need. I have donated money to charities to avoid spending it on prostitutes. I have tried talking to friends without telling them I go to hookers, but it doesn’t stop me. I have almost gone broke looking for sex. I have love and sex with my girlfriend, but I want more sex with many women. Sex and love are different and have nothing to do with each other. I know my sex addiction could hurt my girlfriend emotionally and physically. I know that people who read this will say I am weak and only think of my penis. If they ever had an addiction and trouble controlling it, they would know that this is the same.
Yes, but do you know it’s the same? An addiction is like a manhole. You need a tool to lift the heavy cover and, for safety’s sake, others with you as you do. Then there is the descent into the dark sewer of memories, feelings and thoughts that you have avoided. You may have a flashlight and a posse, but ultimately you must face yourself.
Addictions are symptoms of an underlying trauma buried in the dank recesses of your mind. You will never free yourself from this denial on your own. In the Alcoholics Anonymous program, it’s often noted that it’s easy to say you have a problem but hard to admit that you’re mentally ill. So, are you ready to admit your illness and commit to maturity? Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, a 12-step program, is a tool to lift the manhole. You also need psychotherapy. After all, sex and love are two different things in your life because your neurosis requires you to separate them. That needs to change.
Like any active addict, you are self-centered. That’s why you place yourself and your girlfriend at risk of physical and emotional harm. It’s why you lie to her daily. That’s not love. It’s control. So is your pattern: You are bored. Your subconscious is terrified of releasing its traumatic secrets to the conscious mind, so you keep it hyper-busy sniffing out sex. How much more desperate and chaotic does your life need to be before you realize you are dying?
The woman I love had an affair. I wanted to be done, but she convinced me that she made a mistake, so I agreed to forgive her. She made it clear to the other man that she wants me. I’m in my 50s and have never felt so in love. The problem is that she still has the other man in her life. He calls to cry on her shoulder. I feel foolish that I am here, but I love her enough to work through this. Is it unreasonable to want her to stop talking with him?
It is unreasonable to deny the truth: She has not given him up. Affairs are spurred by neediness, or lust, or an inability to sustain intimacy in the primary relationship, or the dearth of courage to end a relationship that is not working (betrayal forces closure). When an affair ends, there should be no contact—perhaps ever, but at least for one year—to allow the primary relationship to heal. People prone to affairs are often addicted to the adrenaline hits that cheating offers. Your girlfriend’s willingness to remain the confidante of her ex-lover is a continuation of the betrayal, only now it’s emotional.