This man came into my life almost three years ago. Unlike most men who got caught doing something their spouse did not like, this man was different. He came in because he wanted a better marriage. He wanted more emotional intimacy, he wanted more openness and he wanted more connection. He came in with a ton of awareness mostly gained from his long time sobriety from drugs and alcohol. He was the one in the relationship who dragged the other into counseling many times. She was who she was. Nothing changes if nothing changes. In the end he left the relationship wanting more and finally understanding that he deserved more, and that more was not going to come in that relationship. There was no irresolution or guilt over how things might have been if only he had tried hard. He did his best. Time to grieve.
Then we had to get to work on why he chose her in the first place, who he was back then and how has he changed. With this work came the awareness of the role of sexuality in his life past and present. He was given an assignment to write about the power sex played in his choosing and staying with a partner. I knew he would be up to the task.
Why does sex have such a draw for me? Why is it hard for me to turn it down when I have the opportunity to get it? What does it mean to me?
This is what he wrote:
“I think there are a lot of reasons for this. Besides the obvious fact that I am a warm-blooded mammal that is pre-programmed to procreate, I can identify many experiences from my life that have ingrained the message in my mind that sex is more important than it actually is in reality.
My first sexual partner came to me at a very low point in my life. I hated myself and almost everything about me. I couldn’t imagine anyone liking me but I dreamed of the day that someone might. I had held hands with girls and even got kissed on the cheek once. But if someone was willing to have sex with me that must really prove that they genuinely like me I thought. When I did have sex it wasn’t as amazing physically as I had imagined. But I did get respect from my male peers and I got the validation from a female which was addictive in itself. It was finely a little glimmer of hope that I might be loveable. It quickly turned into a very codependent relationship which I must maintain in order to continue to have sex.
I think that experience started a pattern in my mind of connecting sex with feeling loved and intimate on some level. I wanted someone to be there for me and I thought if we were sexual it was a good sign they were. It also was a way of feeling “grownup” in a world that seemed to treat me as a weak and unimportant child.
Later in life my sexual encounters held the same draw, but in addition they created an outlet for displaced emotion, an escape from myself and reality as I knew it. The conquest of sex was greater than the thrill of the actual sex in most cases. Being able to “get the girl” was proof in my mind that I was good enough. I always thought if I got enough girls in bed I would feel equal to other men. At times I did feel validated by men at their recognition of my accomplishments which reinforced the belief that sex made me OK even more.
Pornography and fantasy was always a big part of my sexual template. It was a constantly accessible fix I could turn to in almost any situation. There was always the idea of that next bigger and better hit.
Today my beliefs around sex have changed but I still harbor some of the old ideas deep down inside. I value myself much more than I used to. I work hard to always put my spiritual needs ahead of my sexual desires. I believe that emotional intimacy must come first and I am learning how to create that in my life. I want to find that and cultivate it with a woman one day so that I can add sex to the relationship to further the intimacy. I want sex to be a byproduct of love.
When I am spiritually centered, this is the reality that I hold in the forefront of my existence. But when I am distracted, some of the old beliefs sometimes resurface and seem to be very enticing. I want sex in order to create emotional intimacy and in the moment it can seem that it will work. I have to continue to reinforce these new beliefs to strengthen them in my mind until they are reflexive. “I commit to reality at all cost knowing that that is where I will find true serenity”.
Woo what honesty. Now the task at hand is to turn this awareness into action. As he ventures out of the recovery cocoon to try to find a life partner the theory now will get tested. Can he hold true to himself and not lead with lust? Can he go slowly to see if she’s really the one when he finally thinks he’s found her? Or will he retreat back to selling himself to the lowest bidder?
I have faith that he will meet a woman who can match his self-awareness and ability to be rigorously honest, a true partner. A woman who intrinsically knows that sex is a by-product of a shared, committed, trust and co-operation in a partnership.
This time will be different because he is different. This time he has a committee of recovery men and women to guide and sustain him on his journey. He is loved and he is not alone and he is complete. And all that is in place the day before he meets her.
We got your back!
If this story resonates with you, give me a call.