“I need a lover who won’t drive me crazy.” That was my watchword. That, and “novelty is the best aphrodisiac.” It didn’t take me long to figure out that confusing new with sexy is just a function of my warped love addict brain, hungry for the jolt of dopamine it gets from the new and exciting. “Surprise me” is better said to the chef than the new boyfriend, it turns out. And uncertainty is a terrible foundation for relationship.
It has taken longer for me to give up on Watchword #1, the John Cougar Mellencamp motto. It’s those crazy-ass men who are my problem. I’m not alone: How many times have you heard a love addict moan, “My picker is broken”? That’s got to be the root of the problem: bad judgment. Put me in a room full of men and I will invariably pick the most unavailable, the most narcissistic, the most dysfunctional… yup, he’s a mess, all right. And I head straight for him.
You see where I’m going with this? I’m pointing my finger at him and him and him – the abandoning man, the unloving man, the withholding man, the unfaithful man – and beating my chest at my bad taste and worse luck… and never once think to point the finger back at myself. Every time I say my picker is broken, I am essentially blaming him — whoever he is, and whatever he did.
Mind you, I have picked some doozies over the years. Did I ever tell you about the guy I was dating, who — after he had disappeared for a while, as guys I am dating frequently do — called at 3am to ask me to drive down to his crack motel and pay off the hookers. Oh, and he needed a ride home, too. When I hung up on him, he tried again by having one of the hookers call me.
I need a lover who won’t drive me crazy? Okay, yes. But how about I don’t bring crazy into the room with me in the first place? As in, “True, he’s only a few months clean and sober. But I’m sure he’ll be fine with me around.”
There’s a line from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: “You cannot transmit something you haven’t got.” My lovelorn antenna was picking up the signals on its own wavelength, the sex and love addict wavelength, because that’s what it was transmitting. It’s no accident that we love junkies end up finding one another. Match-dot-com turns into match-dot-gasoline before you can say, “Why didn’t you answer my text?”
People in recovery talk a lot about learning to love themselves before they can find a relationship. I think that’s a load of crap. Addicts are altogether too much in love with themselves, as a rule. But I do think we have to heal ourselves before we can find a healthy relationship.
Because, let’s face it, there’s a lot more out of whack in there than a broken picker.