My father once said to me that there are three kinds of people in the world, those who learn from others mistakes, and those who learn from their own mistake and those who never learn at all! His words have always stuck with me. Einstein’s famous quote comes into play right about here: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
Sex and love addiction is so mercurial in nature that even the brightest person can’t always see that they are in it, even when all the evidence is right there in front of them. It’s kind of like if a guy found a lump on his shoulder and ignored it for years and then finally goes to see a doctor. The doctor doing due diligence does a biopsy. Going over the results with the patient the doctor says: it’s cancer but it’s small, now come back when it turns into a grapefruit! Can you image a person responding that way? I can’t.
I saw a man in his early 40’s this week who was sent to me by his therapist for some coaching in recovery. Twice divorced and still in active addiction he has found his next “victim” and he is planning on moving in with her later this month. When I asked him about how much of his past and present sexual history she knows he said she knows only broad stroke stuff. At which time I responded so you’re taking her hostage! He wasn’t pleased with me as Eisenstein spins in his grave.
This guy’s picture should be in the text book about sex and love addiction if there was one. Parents divorced when he was young. Father was absent yet successful in his chosen field. No offense meant to single moms but he was raised by a helicopter mom who as he described her was totally invasive. When he did see his father he experience him as a tyrant. This man has never had a man friend and always sort comfort from women. In his adult life he is over educated, under employed and an under earner. Then factor in 4 or 5 geographic cures and it was crystal clear what I saw and I don’t think I was particularly insightful [Ray Charles could have seen it and he’s blind and dead] yet it was just impossible for him to see no matter how much light I placed on it. The entire time we were together I kept looking for the “man” in him. It was opaque at best. He presented as Mr. Nice Guy.
So I told him his illness was the “size of a grapefruit” and that he needed to deal with it now before involving himself more with someone else, the thought of being alone and having to connect with men ran him further towards that dark side. I tried to challenge him about the fact that this poor woman had no sense of impending doom and yes she did give him consent but she in no way gave him informed consent. The only thing missing from this level of betrayal would be “oh by the way I’m HIV positive”, which he’s not but you get my point. By the way did I say that he only knows her a few months and that they met online! As PT Barnum once said “never give a sucker an even break.”
He didn’t even have the strength of character to tell me eyeball to eyeball that he wasn’t interested in my solution, so the next day he sent me a text cancelling our next appointment. In character for sure. This elk of man is conflict avoidant for sure. I feel sad for his partner, there is a tornado coming in her life and she doesn’t have a clue. Poor baby. And I feel sad for him. I set the “keys to the kingdom” as the Alcoholic Anonymous Big Book calls a “design for living” down in front of him and all he had to do was pick them up but he wasn’t in enough pain yet. I can only hope that when this one implodes and I believe it will at some juncture, he comes back. What he needs is the gift of desperation.
As I write this I want to be clear of one thing. I don’t want to be right, because when I’m right someone is bleeding, in this case it will be more than one person and I’d much rather be wrong than see people bleed. Yet I know what I know and as in all types of diseases, if left untreated it will always get worse.
Just another day at the office for me, sad as it was. And did I mention, I liked the guy. My mind keeps going where it always goes, misery is optional. If your suck in the muck and are looking for a way out, call me.