Archives for Intimacy & Fidelity
A few months ago I wrote about a recent French study looking at porn use among adult males and its consequences. In that study the research team concluded, among other findings, that men who look at porn to self-soothe and regulate their emotions were significantly more likely to experience porn related consequences and to view their usage as problematic. (Click here to read my earlier article.)
Now we have...
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A few weeks ago I agreed to host a Reddit AMA without actually knowing what I’d agreed to do. So I did a quick bit of research and found out that Reddit is a huge website that hosts “discussion threads” on almost any topic you can imagine. And many of the site’s most popular discussions originate with AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions, where celebrities or subject matter experts answer...
In his popular 2015 TED talk, “Everything You Think You Know about Addiction is Wrong,” journalist Johann Hari discusses research into the underlying causes of and effective treatments for addiction, ultimately concluding, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection.” While Hari is not a scientist and he tends to overgeneralize in his presentation, making it relatively easy to nitpick, his belief that addiction is linked to early-life and adult struggles with emotional intimacy is, in my opinion, right on target. In fact, any therapist who has worked with addicts on a relatively routine basis will recognize the addictive pattern he describes.
It’s March. Valentine’s Day is a distant memory and wedding season looms. Essentially, this is the time when psychotherapy clients often want to review and discuss their romantic relationships. For clients who struggle with problematic behavioral choices related to love, attachment and intimacy, in particular love addiction (also known as romance addiction and relationship addiction), this can be a very difficult undertaking. These individuals see friends and loved ones finding relationship success, while they take one manic spin after another on the relationship merry-go-round – desperately hoping to find that one special person who can make them feel complete and worthwhile and loved for longer than a few days or weeks at a time.
Debra Kaplan, a psychotherapist working in Tucson, AZ who specializes in trauma, intimacy, and sex addiction treatment has published a new book entitled For Love and Money: Exploring Sexual & Financial Betrayal in Relationships. I recently spoke with Debra about the book, and I wanted to share her thoughts here. RW: The concept of financial betrayal is not often discussed. Could you explain what financial betrayal is and give some examples? DK: You’re correct, Rob. Financial betrayal is not often discussed yet it stands as a significant area of discord between couples. Financial betrayal speaks to the hidden use of money, currency, and/or “relational tender” to deceive, exploit, control, and/or manipulate a partner in a committed relationship or marriage. An example might include using a couple’s resources on addictions. When we are speaking about a sex addiction, for instance, the monies or resources might be spent on prostitutes, affairs, the support of an affair partner, and massage parlors.
Amidst revelations of an affair between CIA Director General David Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, not to mention the alleged inappropriate communications between Petraeus' successor in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and Petraeus family friend Jill Kelley, one can't help but wonder: What were these men thinking? Of course, we asked the same question with Tiger Woods, Anthony Wiener, Eliot Spitzer, and a whole bunch of other sexually misbehaving public figures.
Working Out… With Benefits Until last week, most people probably hadn't even heard of Kennebunk, Maine, and those who had probably remembered it only as the summer home of former president George H.W. Bush. But that was before the Zumba gym turned prostitution ring opprobrium came to light. Now, once again, we find ourselves in the midst of media frenzy over a sex scandal involving prominent men.
For most people affected by serial sexual or romantic infidelity of a spouse, it's not so much the extramarital sex or affair itself that causes the deepest pain. What hurts committed partners the most is that their trust and belief in the person closest to them has been shattered. For a healthy, attached, primary partner, the experience of profound and/or unexpected betrayal can be incredibly traumatic. One 2006 study of women who had unexpectedly learned of a loved one's infidelity reported such women experience acute stress symptoms similar to and characteristic of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sadly, it's only in the past few years that the aftermath of intimate partner and marital betrayal has been considered a legitimate area of study. Today, family counselors and psychotherapists are slowly gaining insight into the traumatic, long-term emotional effects of betrayal of a closely attached partner. As part of this professional growth, those specialists who deal day-in and day-out with marital infidelity and relationship betrayal have become much more open to spotting and treating the oftentimes fragile, rollercoaster emotional state of cheated-on spouses - both male and female.
“Infidelity is the breakdown of trust caused by keeping secrets in an intimate partnership.” - Robert Weiss The Agony of Betrayal I’ve employed the above definition to describe cheating ever since the Internet came along in the early 1990’s. When working with clients and their betrayed spouses, I attempt to bring home the concept that it is the betrayal of relationship trust caused by consistent lying, rather than any specific sexual act, that both defines infidelity and causes the deepest pain to the betrayed partner. The emotional violation and trauma experienced by a spouse who is forced to live with ongoing secrets, lies, and the resulting denial of his or her own reality by a cheating partner is indeed deep. The sudden discovery or unraveling awareness that a long-term intimate partner has been living a secret life filled with sexual infidelity—whether that infidelity has been carried out in-vivo (affairs, prostitutes, anonymous sexual partners, etc.) or online (porn, webcams, social media, dating/hookup sites, etc.)—evokes feelings that lead the betrayed partner to question literally everything about his or her relationship.
Nuptial Nonentity, or, Why Go to Weddings When What You Really Want is to Have One? Late spring and early summer in America is wedding season. If you’re already married, good for you, even though you may now dread this time of year because it means you have to attend the weddings of god only knows how many friends with weird relatives and buy them a gift that’s at least as nice as the one they bought you—not to mention the expense of a new dress (or dresses) and possibly a new suit or tuxedo (if your friends insist on formality), plus plane tickets, car rentals and hotel rooms. Frankly, it can all get a little expensive. But you didn’t want to go to Hawaii this winter anyway, did you? If you’re not married, then during this seemingly endless “mating season,” which lasts until mid-September at least, your biological clock/time-bomb is probably ticking double-time as you desperately wonder what the heck is wrong with you that you can’t seem to find Mr./Ms. Right.