ReAL TaLk

How does one handle coping with a loved one who has an addiction, a sex addiction, at that? When does your patience become martyrdom and detrimental to you?

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My entire life I have experienced abuse and addiction in numerous forms.  My ex-stepfather is an alcoholic to this day.  I have several cousins who have successfully, (with incredible work and time) overcome drug addictions.  I have been around sexual harassers who are sex addicts. I currently have a few close loved ones who have been sex addicts —- most likely since puberty.  One should have been put in counseling at a very young age, (in my opinion, 10 or 11 years of age).  He wasn’t.  He has struggled for years, and still does.  Lately his counseling has helped him gain an awareness of the appropriateness of his actions.  For example, he now knows that it’s not appropriate to fixate on women in public.  Sadly, he didn’t know this was not appropriate until middle age.  He didn’t have the best examples of appropriate behavior in his youth.  In fact, his older family members sexualized him, had no boundaries, still have very “flexible boundaries” and don’t behave appropriately.

This particular loved who struggles now tries not to leer, or to stare too long, and to look women in the eye, instead of scanning up and down incessantly.  Behaving appropriately and not wanting to stare in a fixated haze at every, and I mean every woman who crosses his path is a true struggle for him.  He has to mentally prepare himself when he goes shopping, to a concert, and to dinner with other loved ones.  He has to meditate, journal, “clear” his head before going out so he can control himself.  Staring at women in a lustful way is his drug and it consumes him-and he LOVES staring.  He says he just loves to stare at beautiful women.  He is a sucker for it.  He also likes to view attractive women online in any free time that he has.  For his significant other, this is very difficult.  Imagine you’re out to dinner with your partner, and he can’t even listen to you, make eye contact with you, or have a conversation because an attractive woman caught his eye and he can’t look away.  He just stares, perhaps breaking his intense stare with a couple of head nods, then back again, BOOM!  Fixated.  Many wonder what thoughts and feelings saturate his addicted mind at these times.   AGAIN, Imagine you are talking to him, and he doesn’t answer because he’s so “entranced” by his fixation……..he forgets your presence, your voice, everything—but his prey.  He really wants to make a “connection” with her, he would say.  Wouldn’t his dismissive behavior and inability to recognize your existence cause you to feel hurt?  Of course, it’s not his partner’s fault, but his partner’s human.   How does a partner ride the waves of one who is a fixator, and addict, before it causes irreparable damage to the receiver?  How much is one supposed to take?  Yes, one wants to be supportive, kind, and to help.   But, if true, consistent change is not being made, I don’t think one should have to, or should endure the behaviors of an addict.  When has love gone too far?

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