Archives for August, 2011
Dating seems to confound even the most rational among us. Dan, a 31-year old sociology professor put it this way, “I don’t know what it is about me, I can teach classes about the meaning of relationships, but I can’t seem to actually get one of my own going. I go on a few dates; maybe it gets hot with women or another for a while, but eventually just ends up right back where I started… single! Usually I give up in frustration for a while, just to start all over again. I can’t figure out why I haven’t gotten hitched. Is something wrong with me or are there just no good women out there?” To clarify the concept, Wikipedia* – the ultimate, hip online encyclopedia, offers the following definition of dating: …An occasion when one socializes with a potential lover or spouse to communicate with and to understand each other better. The purpose of a date is to become acquainted with each other and decide whether to enter a relationship. During dates, people often explore each other’s personalities, to discover whether or not they would be compatible together in a relationship. Dating experts advise that finding a suitable companion can take a lot of effort and easily be as time consuming and involved as a career move, not to mention hard on your self esteem. Dating is a numbers game, the more potential spouses you meet, the better chance you have of finding a good one. Unfortunately too many people give up looking too quickly.
The issue of cheating is one of the most difficult problems a couple will ever encounter. A lot of blame and self worth is wrapped up in the issue of cheating. In fact it is incredibly important to understand the differences in both how men and women handle cheating and the reasons why they teeter off from the man or woman that they love. Why Men Cheat 1) He resents not getting more love, adoration, appreciation, time, focus etc. from his spouse (who is likely trying to balance her own priorities like kids and work). Often not fully aware of his emotional needs, he gets into the affair or liaison to temporarily validate and make himself feel better without resolving the underlying issues in his relationship. 2) He wants to leave his current relationship, but first wants another one on the sidelines to fill that void. 3) He has an intimacy or sexual addiction problem that keeps him distant from those close to him while at the same time he uses sex and romance to fill his own emotional emptiness.
Sexual Addiction without a Sexual Partner? Compulsive masturbation to fantasy and/or online porn carries some of the most shame, secrecy and isolation of all the problem sexual behaviors practiced by active sexual addicts – both male and female. Often devoid of intimate sexuality and healthy intimacy in adult life and frequently raised with extensive histories of childhood abuse and/or neglect, compulsive masturbators are often the last to seek help as they don’t see or relate to their solo sexual behaviors as being the underlying source of their adult unhappiness. While most sex addicts race to find treatment the moment they have serious relationship, legal, work or health problems related to sexual acting out, the solitary nature of the compulsive masturbator’s behavior often leaves their actions less subject obvious problems.
Recovering love addicts who have worked on themselves in therapy and 12-step programs like Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) can relate to the idea of having used a well-rehearsed repertoire of manipulation to find and hold on to sexual and romantic partners. Jose, a 32-year-old IT administrator put it this way – I was always hunting in one form or another to find the special attention and sense of importance that only the right girl might make me feel if I could get with her. I figured I could make it happen with someone if I just wore, said or did the right thing or was good enough in bed, etc. In recovery it was necessary for me to recognize all the manipulative strategies I used to employ to attract and seduce women. As I slowly began to cast these aside, with the support of 12 step members, friends and therapy I actually began to learn my own value and real human worth, which over time has helped to remove the powerful and empty fantasy life that I lived in for so long.
When love and sex become a means to distract or escape from emotional pain, partner choice becomes skewed. Compatibility becomes based on "whether or not you will leave me,” “how intense our sex life is" or "how I can hook you into staying," rather than mutual compatibility or whether we might truly become intimate and healthy peers, friends and companions. It can be difficult to understand how the gifts of love and romance can evolve into painfully destructive and compulsive patterns. Yet for the love addicted, romance, sexuality and emotional closeness are experiences more often beset with painful emotional highs and lows than graced by genuine intimacy. Living in a chaotic, desperate internal world of need and emotional despair, romance addicts –these men and women, straight and gay - fear both of being alone and rejected or trapped and stuck in an unhappy relationship.