I’m either a sex addict or falling in love.

Every once in a while I have the distinct pleasure of listening to Love Lines. One night a woman called in to discuss her friends with benefits situation. Her lover/friend had acquired yet another tattoo of a woman on his body and it wasn’t of her. She was reasonably upset because, as the experts adroitly pointed out, “You’re in love with the guy. Admit it.” And so she did.

Dr. Drew and friends then went on to say that there really was no such thing as “friends with benefits,” that either a person was a sex addict if she felt nothing or was falling in love. That’s it.

I think I drove for another mile with my mouth hanging open.

Those are my options? Either I’m a sex addict or I’m falling in love with my friends with benefits? I have, let’s see, 4 right now: Jason, The Neighbor, Phillip, and Kevin. And since I’m adamant about keeping my emotions at bay with each of them (though, I admit to it being a struggle), then I am an addict.

I think this line of thinking is appalling. I have the drive (sexually and physically) and the means (I’m attractive and alluring enough) to get laid pretty much whenever I want. This does not an addict make. And, NO, I’m not in denial.

Let’s look at what is an addiction — in this case a behavioral, or process, addiction — most simply put, it’s maladaptive and persistent behavior. Is frequent sex with multiple partners always (and immediately) maladaptive and persistent?

The Love Lines folks appear to believe this means that anyone not in a monogamous, longterm, meaningful relationship who happens to seek out and enjoy sex with people would be considered an addict without further knowledge or understanding of the afflicted. And most alarmingly, that would be me.

But it’s not. It’s been a conscious decision from the beginning to help me explore my body, my mind, and to heal. I readily admit to using sex with men as a distraction and as a treat, but I have never felt badly about this; never regretted a single encounter; never felt guilty/low/ashamed. I’d argue that the sheer amount of pain I’ve felt regarding my divorce has upset my life in much more impactful ways than my sexual activities. While my pursuit of sex has been persistent behavior on my part, none of this has been maladaptive. It’s been a lifeline.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re connected, for sure, but why can’t I be allowed to be in pain and seek relief in any way I choose? In an adult way where I get contact and intimacy on my terms; where I feel like I’m in control of a part of my life that for so long was out of my control? Seriously. What is so wrong with that?

Of course, the experts would say I’m in denial, but that is far too black and white for my liking and it eliminates anything not mainstream and if I defend myself, then I’m automatically in denial. The whole “You’re so argumentative today!” and then the accused is painted into a verbal trap. He either has to admit to being argumentative or say he isn’t, which is argumentative, and thereby proves the accuser right.

OR

I’m in denial about my feelings and really I’m falling in love with one of my lovers – gah. It’s true that I fight feelings for Jason and The Neighbor frequently, but I am scarred and terrified of a relationship. I’m not a fucking robot. I don’t want my feelings on the line right now, but I want to feel that amazing release that only sex can bring. I want to let someone in only as close as I want him to be. Is that pathological? I think that’s pretty fucking smart.

Is having friends with benefits detrimental? My therapist sorta hates it, but he also is in a strange kind of awe at my approach to all of this. He understands that this is a phase and that I’m wading through it on my terms. He trusts me. I trust me.

Why are these definitions so narrowly illustrated? Either I’m an addict because I seek pleasure without intimacy or I’m in love and in denial.

*sigh*

The one thing I’ll concede in all of this is that I haven’t really thought out what Step 2 is in these FWB relationships. With Phillip and Kevin it’s just pure fun and frolic. Phillip lives a million miles away and Kevin has a girlfriend, but I’ve made Step 1 with Jason and TN: I’ve entered an intimate friendship with them; there are no emotional demands on either of us other than mutual respect and integrity; no monogamy; it’s fun. They are what I’m looking for, but I am not what they’re looking for. I am their place holder.

That new revelation, more than being an “addict” or “in love”, is what’s been preying on my mind the past few days. They both want marriage some day and children. I can honestly say I will never bear another child; I might remarry. Jason is struggling with his feelings for me. He’s scared he may want more than I can give. TN likes to hear my other exploits because it reminds him of our situation and he can remain distant. I think he’d love me if I let him. What I realize is that I have set myself up to be left. I won’t leave because I have what I want…

So, fuck the whole idea I can’t have friends with benefits. I absolutely can, but there is a price. I will be left.

10 thoughts on “I’m either a sex addict or falling in love.

  1. You should call Dan Savage and get his take on this. I think he calls the whole “sex addict” thing BS.

    I say, if you were to marry again, it would need to be with a man into the the whole “Hotwife” fetish. It would be a perfect fit. This would be a guy lime TN who gets off hearing about your exploits with others. But even so, why marry if you are happy? Even if any of these other guys leave you (or you FWB arrangement), there will be more, as long as you have the drive and you have the means.

  2. The problem with mainstream society is that once you step out of their box you need a label. Life is not black and white and such a narrow definition doesn’t come near to who or what you are. Do you even need a label. Your constant reflection on your partners and appraisals of their place in your life is honest and blunt. You understand the repercusions of each relationship. You know what you want from each one and they know what to expect from you.
    The fact that they may want more than your willing to give could become a problem if not addressed. I know I’ve been there. I had a regular spanking bondage sex thing going with a married woman. It was fun mutually benifical for both of us until she changed our relationship to exclusive without telling me. It went poorly and didn’t end well.
    If I learned anything from that its that even if you talk about your expectations and what it means to you and even if they agree it doesnt mean they are being honest with themselves.
    I have learned a lot from that experience and apply some new rules to my adventures. It might be fun now but someone will get attached, and they won’t want to admit it.
    Face it you are a beautiful sexy woman with an open mind and a healthy sexual appetite. Any guy that didn’t want to claim you for his own doesn’t deserve you in the first place.
    Does any of this make you an addict or in love. No just an exciting partner that some people don’t understand hence the need to define and label.
    Whats important is who you think you are and how that makes you feel

    Cruel

    • I think the other problem with mainsream society is that if you step outside of their box you’re pathologized. There should be a much, MUCH bigger buffer between “mainstream” and “maladaptive.” In this example, it’s about as wide as a ribbon.

      I found a website also siting the belief that nothing was wrong with the behavior as part of the pathology. I was like, “Well, fuck.” They have it all very tidy, which is why I’m frustrated with the whole thing. I can’t deny it because then I’m in denial as well as fulfilling part of the symptomatic criteria. It’s just super bullshit.

      I appreciate your support. My real life consists of only mainstreamers. I like that I have a virtual IV to the other side of things.

      I’ll keep in mind the rules and regulations of engagement, too. I’ve already had one big crash and burn. I’d like to avoid others.

  3. As Cruel said, people seem to feel the need to put labels on things. My personal take is that it’s to alleviate the responsibility and emotional struggle that often comes with dealing with the totality of a situation. When you don’t label something, then it is active and evolving and must be repeatedly assessed and considered. Most people don’t want to put the energy into that type of thing.

    What you are doing only becomes a problem if someone begins to be hurt, either you or them, and corrective measures are not taken. Addiction, by definition is destructive. If there is no evidence that this is destructive to the parties, then addiction doesn’t apply.

    The rest is simply about choice and boundaries.

    Best wishes … GC

    • I totally agree. Anything different makes people squirm, especially the unfamiliar or edgy. I also agree about it’s only bad when it starts to hurt someone (myself or anyone else). I have to be extremely realistic about all of that.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful support and insights :)

  4. I can’t help feeling Dr Drew is judging something he has no experience of. Maybe I’m wrong. But some people can seperate sex and love, and just because I like to drink doesn’t mean I’m an alcoholic.And in that context I see no problem with FWB. My guess is in many cases, one half of the FWB relationship (or one third) may be a sex addict or in love, or infatuated at least, but that does not necessarily go for all the parties.
    And even if you are a sex addict, so what? If no one gets hurt, what’s the harm? Just because it’s not regarded as the social norm (and I emphasise regarded) doesn’t mean it is inherantly bad. It’s more about who is deciding to condemn it and what their reasons are.
    Go forth, fuck for all your worth and enjoy yourself. I would if the consequences weren’t greater than the benefits. But maybe I’m a sex addict.

  5. I agree with the other comments. Dr. Drew is just the bad-ass edition of Dr. Phil, he just deals with sex and drugs but in a conventional way, in a way that makes your grandma feel safe. Don’t take him to heart honey. Do not.

  6. Pingback: I think the “purity movement” can go fuck itself. « A Dissolute Life Means…

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