They're writing songs about it. The tabloids are filled with stories of it: Women Who're Addicted to Love and Sex. The women may be smart, attractive and strong, yet they ignore their judgment, ignore the screaming red flags and attach themselves to unsuitable men because the sex is phenomenal and there's an unconscious belief that this man will fill the emptiness inside.
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What is a love and sex addict? Is there really such a thing?
There is, and I know because I've been there and done that.
I was a student at Berkeley in the 60s, an embedded reporter in the sexual revolution, and I wrote about it all in Loose Change, Three Women of the Sixties.(Italics) Back then the concept of a "love and sex addict" did not exist. We thought we were experimenting, freeing ourselves from bourgeois inhibitions like jealousy by allowing men to do as they pleased. Later the phenomenon was called "Women Who Love Too Much," or smart women who make foolish choices. But a love addict?
No way. Not me. I don't smoke and never got hooked on alcohol or drugs. I've had two marriages, (one lasted ten years) I've raised two kids and some of my relationships have been predominantly happy and nourishing.
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Yet there's a pattern I've repeated often through the decades. We all have a pattern and mine, I hope, is no more embarrassing than others. Men pursue me and I think they're not right for me, they persist, I give them a chance, we make love, I fall for them and they call in sick. When they leave, the pain is so awful, so excruciating that my chest feels like it's being clamped in cement and it's hard to breathe. I start looking online and everywhere I go for another relationship that will relieve the pain and make everything all right.
Okay, I know, this sounds like an addiction, but I didn't recognize it until an affair I had last year with a man I call Billy the Bad. Billy pursued me and wouldn't take no for an answer. He wore cowboy boots, wrote decent poetry and drove a hybrid Lexus. "I have a tux and a tractor," he wrote in his online profile. "I can work with my head or my hands." He said he loved me and took it back, said it again and denied it again. When he turned on the love it was bliss, and when he withdrew it was hell. When he told me again that he loved me the pain went away, only to return with greater intensity the next time he reneged. I cut things off when I could stand it no more. I mean, I realized I was crying over a man I didn't even like! Something deeper, more primitive was clearly going on, and I turned to books and even a 12-step program for help.