You Have Questions….
I did an Ask Me Anything Webchat with Jezebel the other day about sex and love addiction, and I was amazed at the number of queries that came in. There was no way to answer everyone in the time allotted, and I feel bad for all those I didn’t respond to… probably because I’m a sick codependent people-pleaser, but that’s another column.
We will probably do another Jezebel event (sure, email them a request. Why not?) and I may end up being the world’s least qualified advice columnist. I function best as a bad example, but hey, it’s better than nothing.
In the meantime, here are a few of the questions you haven’t seen on that site. And please, feel free to send me your own.
I have been with my husband for 7 years now - married for 3. Recently, a new person began working in my office and I have fallen for him. It’s just a crush at this point, but I am very tempted to tell him how I feel and have an affair with him (if he is interested). I know this is wrong, but I am not sure why I feel so strongly attracted to him. I love my job; quitting is not the answer. Do you have any suggestions for getting over a crush before anything happens? Or should I just give in to my feelings? (I have not told my husband - whom I dearly love but am not very passionate about anymore - about this.)
The Seven Year Itch didn’t get its name by accident. To look at it from a biochemical point of view, the dopamine (the “woo-hoo!” chemical) rush is over, the serotonin (the “I’m okay” chemical) is relatively balanced and the oxytocin (the “cuddle chemical”) has kicked in. Compared to dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are pretty boring, so our brains will often seek excitement in other places. New romances. Mind-altering substances. Like that.
I recommend less destructive ways to get your brain over the hump. Having children is a common solution — it increases your bonding oxytocin and provides a steep dopamine learning curve. If you’re not nesting, try taking up an extreme sport for the dopamine and a charity project for the oxytocin.
Believe it or not, building Habitats for Humanity with your spouse and/or skydiving can fill the same needs as an affair, and cost way less than divorce lawyers.
As far as disclosing - don’t tell no one nuthin’. It has no upside and the potential for great hurt. “They don’t lock you up for thinking crazy shit. They lock you up for doing crazy shit.”
Hi Ethlie! I was wondering what your advice is on being in a relationship with nasty arguments. Since my boyfriend and I started dating we would get into vicious fights. I used to see couples fighting drunkenly on the street at 3am and think “geez, get out of that relationship already” but now I’m in one of those relationships! It’s hard to reconcile with being called a “delusional, selfish, fucking bitch” and then go back to things as usual the next day. My boyfriend seems to think of these arguments as fleeting and gets over it quickly, even though he’s the one who says the most extreme things. 90% of the time I’m happy in this relationship, but the fights are exhausting. Have you been in a relationship like that? Any thoughts? Thanks!
I’ve been in a relationship where it spiraled downward from that into verbal provocation and physical abuse. It’s pretty awful when I look back on it, but at the time I thought it was a demonstration of our passion for one another. “I want someone who will fight for me, fight with me, fight over me!” I would cry. I had no idea that what I really wanted was a honking great jolt of adrenalin.
I’m not here to comment on your boyfriend’s behavior; he didn’t write to me. But you might want to take an objective look at his rages and decide if he actually gets off on them. There is such a thing as a “rage-aholic,” and they’re no fun when they’re acting out. You also want to think about whether you’re getting off on these fights. Adrenalin is a powerful drug. Not so good for you, but powerful.
I am always the first person to say “I love you” in a relationship. I haven’t always meant it in the past, and now that I’m 26 and getting a grasp on the root of my behaviors, I get that. I am, however, in love with my current boyfriend of 9 months. I want to tell him, but it took us almost 7 months to be exclusive (we were both scared after each spending 7 years with our previous partners) and I worry I will scare him off. I am incredibly neurotic and always terrified of expressing my emotions. I know that comes from years of living with emotionally abusive drug/alcohol addicts (including my father.) If you have some advice on how to approach the subject and how to address my own neurotic expectations, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!
Abusive addict parents = childhood trauma = attachment disorders of many varieties. Sex and love addiction are one of the varieties, but unless you cheated like crazy on the boyfriend who was with you from ages 18 to 25… who were all these guys you said “I love you” to? (We all get a pass for puppy love!)
Fear of rejection/abandonment, of not having your feelings returned, isn’t weird or unhealthy behavior. It’s human. The bad news: It doesn’t go away just because you both confess your love. It doesn’t go away when you get engaged. It doesn’t go away when you get married. I know one pretty damn healthy sober addict who has been with her guy for… it has to be more than 20 years, and she still wakes up every day wondering “I wonder if today is the day my husband figures out who I really am and leaves me?”
Then she tells her head to shut up, and makes herself and her husband some breakfast.
Do you think that polyamory could be a form of love/sex addiction? I’ve known my boyfriend about 8 years, but only dated him for six months. He has year+ long relationships, sometimes with one person, sometimes two, and though we’ve talked about it extensively, I’m not convinced that it isn’t the high of infatuation that he’s after.
It depends on the polyamorist. You can be non-monogamous and non-addicted. You can’t be non-monagmous and be my boyfriend, but that’s just me. It may be the high of infatuation he’s after, which is a red flag, but I haven’t met him.
My question to you is: Are you looking for a polyamorous relationship? If not, why are you dating a polyamorist? If you’re expecting him to change for you… we may have located the crux of the problem.
My husband & I have been together for 13 yrs & for the 1st 7-8 years he cheated regularly, although I was too naive to see it ‘til about 7 yrs into the relationship. He had random pieces of ass on the side, and for a few yrs took on his godkids’ family as his own, even telling their mom that he & I weren’t together, that I was just a crazy ex who refused to let go. Granted I was no saint, but I just wanted some attention (cybersex) when he was out fucking around.
We have moved on & are still together & we even have a 2nd child now. But the problem is he has never manned up & admitted anything he did. I know it all happened cuz once I found out he was cheating I stayed in his phone, email & saved IM convos all the time. Do you think this makes me stupid for sticking it out & trying to build a trusting relationship? Would a sane person have jumped ship years ago? I guess I’m just looking for an affirmation from an objective party that I’m not a moron for the choice I’ve made.
I don’t think you’re a moron, but you are a classic love addict. I didn’t even need to know you stayed with a man who was cheating on you for years, or that you were cruising for romantic hits online. I would have diagnosed just from the part about listening in on his phone calls and reading his email. That is total love addict behavior.
Getting him to “man up and admit” what he did will do nothing but hurt your feelings and give you ammunition to hurt his. Before you find yourself in a dance of death with the father of your children, I hope that one or both of you will check out some self-help programs that deal with these issues. SLAA, SAA, CODA… I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear there’s some some alcohol in this mix, which qualifies you guys for AA and/or Alanon.