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.
For men, I've learned, the addiction is usually a compulsion to cheat and sleep with lots of women. (Think Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards) For women, the addiction tends to be an obsession with one man. (Why are we not surprised?) What's true for both men and women is that we can't stop ourselves, even when we know it could destroy a marriage or our sanity or the chance to lead a country. And this goes back to the earliest civilizations. Antony lost Rome because he couldn't keep away from Cleopatra.
The good news is: we can do something about it. I've learned the first step in breaking the pattern is to name and observe it precisely. (And in my case, write a book about it—titled Sex Love Enlightenment—and post it online as a serial.)
Once you can see it, you can choose whether to play it out. As my friend, Claire, one of the wisest women I know, says: "Awareness is a wonderful solvent."
I'd love to hear your ideas and experiences.
Written by Sara Davidson for More.com
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