Addicted to love: When do you stop?

A reader contacted me recently to ask what had to be a very, very hard question to ask. To protect them, I have removed all reference to their identity.

Dear Cunt–
I have a major cheating problem. I love sex so much that it’s almost compulsive, almost a disorder. My love for sex has ruined every relationship I’ve been in. I can’t stop myself from cheating. Even if I’m completely happy in a relationship, my eyes are always wandering. Naturally I’m a sensation seeker, and I don’t know how to stop it. I know that it’s wrong and hurtful to cheat, yet I just keep doing it. I think maybe there is some type of psychological reason for this behavior. I’ve dated a few scumbags, but I’ve also dated some really good guys before. Either way, even if I am passionately in love, I still cheat. A friend gave me some advice recently when he said he thought that maybe I don’t feel like only ONE man can truly love me, and that is why I look to others. Have you ever heard of this situation? I feel like there is something wrong with me, like I don’t have control over it.
-Unintentionally Wanting

I’ve already responded to Unintentionally’s email, but I think it’s an important topic, and something people don’t like talking about.
Sex can be an addiction. Yes, there are folks out there snickering and saying shit like, “I’ll show you addicted…” But yes, it can be a compulsion, a life-affecting disorder. There are support goups for sex addiction, too.
I’m not a shrink. I don’t profess to have an inner Freud who can unlock the mysteries of the mind for my masses, but I’m at least a pretty with-it chick.
My speculation? Yeah, maybe, all right, maybe there are pangs of “no one man can ever love me enough,” kinds of sensations going on. Or maybe it’s something deeper, darker, like “no one man will ever love just me, so I need to protect myself and keep others on the horizon.” Or maybe it’s much more intense and buried than that. As Toucan Sam would say, “Only the nose knows. The nose always knows!”
The reasons for addictions of any kinds come from some pretty dark places. Places it takes more than just a flashlight and a curiousity to find your way around. Getting to the bottom of addictions takes courage, unflinching examination, and relentless studying. It’s hard work. It’s paralyzing at times, when you’re jumping without the only parachute that’s ever kept you insulated from the world. I don’t see why something like sex addiction would be any different.
Are you addicted? Well, has it negatively impacted your life? Have you chased away someone you love as a result? Has it ever affected your job? Has it ever affected your friendships? If you can answer yes to any of those, you might have a problem. But if you click here, you can answer a basic quiz that’ll give you a better notion on all ‘o this.
Like I says, I ain’t no shrink. I’m not some sorcerer of the psyche who’s able to wave a wand and make a diagnosis. This is my gut reaction, and the limit to which I feel comfortable commenting.
Sex Addicts Anonymous offers a support network that includes more than 750 meetings worldwide. There are online chat systems so you can talk to others like you. There are books, tapes, meetings, everything you need to have for an assessment of where you stand. Hell, there’s four or five groups that meet in my city, Vancouver, including one for gays and lesbians.
I’m betting there’s a few dickheads out there thinking, “Oh ho! Now there’s where to go when I need to be gettin’ a little somethin’-somethin’…” And if so, then it’s important to note that yes, you are indeed a dickhead. It ain’t a singles bar. These are people trying to eliminate unhealthy sex from their lives. Don’t fuck ’em, and don’t fuck with ’em.
I haven’t heard back from Unintentionally. I imagine she’s doing some soul-searching, or else she thinks I’m a twat. Either way, here’s hoping it comes together. What a shitty thing to be mired in. I’d like to hear back from you, chickie.

7 thoughts on “Addicted to love: When do you stop?

  1. Anonymous

    good post, steff.

    i’ve been a serial cheater all of my life.

    my husband (an honest, loving and faithful man) finally divorced me after my second affair. that’s when i finally woke up and got the help that i needed thru counseling.

    for me, it was issues involving self-esteem – i needed to be constantly reassured of my sex appeal – even though my husband constantly complimented me, and showed his attraction – it wasn’t enough.

    your blog is great – you talk about so many things that need to be talked about – in an open and unjudgemental way. thanks for being here.

  2. scribe called steff

    Hey, you’re welcome. We all have skeletons, right?

    I used to be an incredibly narrow-minded person when I was younger. (32 now.) It’s taken a few really hard years of looking at myself to realize that I had as many issues as anyone I’d judged.

    I still have my judgmental days, but I keep it off of here, and hopefully usually out of my head, and I try to keep this place a neutral spot for discussing all those things that need a little more airtime.

    It’s awesome you’ve worked on yourself, and I hope you’re in a better place now. Counselling is the cat’s ass, man. I think it’s a really great thing and that everyone should try it if they’ve ever had occasion to ask “What the fuck have I just done?” or “What the fuck is wrong with me?” or “Why do I keep doing this?” Three really not-so-subtle hints you need to dig a little deeper. 🙂

    Thanks for having the guts to comment. Awesome.

  3. Simply Her

    that is a horrible position to be stuck in, I must say. I had this problem with cheating but it isn’t with sex.. it’s more or so the sense of being aprpeciated by someone else and being noticed?… but I try to keep my priorities straight.. I already fucked up a relationship like that beyond belief before, and I don’t want to do it again. y’know?

  4. Walking Wounded

    Psychological addictions are not an exact science, indeed, making even the more common ones tough to assess and treat. The causes are both speculative and tangible, even taking into account documented predispositions or previous trauma.

    Sex addiction from what little I have read is similar to addictions like gambling where the addiction is less physical on the surface but can manifest side-effects physically. Whether it’s the feeling we get when we first sleep with a “new” partner (exploring an uncharted sea so to speak), the feeling of endulgence/consumption (the psychological thrill of having someone you have never had before or whom might have been somehow forbidden to you), or simply the blissful feeling of climaxing (sort of like chasing the dragon) this addiction has many impacts beyond the physical act itself.

    The double-edged sword lies in the fact that you are addicted to an act that, by itself is quite benign (after all from a biological aspect fucking is fucking), but can become dangerous for a person for many obvious reasons. STDs, hurt emotions of partners, the addicted person’s own inability to emote and dangers arising from the many encounters with potential partners are all obvious. And there are many others that can be argued.

    I hope she is serious about her problem and does seek the advice and help of a professional. Personally, I despize cheating. But I’m looking at this less as a case of her consciously doing something wrong but that this repeated act is basically a lose-lose situation in the long run. Not only for her but for other involved.


  5. Anonymous

    I think this stems from a possible self esteem issue. I also think this has something to do with my overall attitude towards men in general. When I get into a relationship now, I’m very cynical. I have a history of being f*cked over in relationships. These previous relationships have jaded me slightly, making me somewhat critical of men. Because of this feeling, I seem to use cheating as a “way to get back at him.” This is bad for both sides and I know that; especially since I believe in karma and that things come back to you three-fold. Counseling is a possible option, but I’ve decided instead to take control of my life. I need to wash away any bad feelings/attitudes I have towards men..Hopefully I can find a meaningful relationship in the future…where I won’t be compelled to cheat. Thanks for all of the advice…this is an absolutely great blog..

    thanks Steff,

  6. scribe called steff

    Hey, honey. No problem. 🙂 Glad to contribute. I’m happy people find what I have to say helpful or interesting. It’s real, real cool.

    You CAN find a meaningful relationship in the future. Don’t doubt that.

    The question is, can you trust that you’re a good enough person to deserve it, when it comes, and can you trust that not all men are assholes? There are some mighty fine men out there. Some really, really awesome guys. The good guys aren’t all vanilla and cream. They can have lots of dimensions, lots of colour.

    I’ve been through a lot of situations where I’ve been fucked around. I’ve had to deliberately teach myself to trust others, mostly through writing about my woes and shit and not through counselling, which I’ve never been able to afford. It’s been HARD to learn to trust. I’ve had to force myself to be more open with people. I’ve had to learn that making myself vulnerable means I allow him to be the same way with me. My relationships in my life have ALL gotten more meaningful as a result, and I feel less like a prisoner of my emotions and hurts than I’ve ever been before.

    But it’s hard work. It requires a lot of soul-searching, a lot of honesty, and a lot of will-power. It also requires a lot of falling-down and a lot of getting-back-up.

    But you can, and will, do it. 🙂

  7. Knattyb

    ” I don’t feel like only ONE man can truly love me, and that is why I look to others. Have you ever heard of this situation?”

    there are lots of reasons people cheat, but this one line stood out im my head.

    I can’t help but wonder if this person has ever stopped to think about the possibility of her being polyamorous?

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