Many of us are sex or relationship addicts and don't know it. These questions will show you how!
I have been a sex addict for as long as I can remember. In kindergarten, I got scolded for having a little too much fun with a swing set pole. I then got sent home for repeatedly embracing a little boy in overly friendly ways.
I discovered my father's sex magazines and by the time I developed a crush on a little boy in the 5th grade, I knew exactly what I wanted him to do to me, and it was not G-rated. Sexual fantasies were my constant companion and I was sure that sex was the answer to all my dreams.
By the time I reached high school, I was terrified of my sexual urges and determined that the only safe course was to avoid guys altogether. I felt certain that when put in a sexual situation I would completely lose control of myself and probably get pregnant.
I was so paranoid that I started taking birth control pills at 17 although I was almost 20 before I actually had sex. I got married soon after because that seemed a "safe" solution to my hyperactive sex drive. He and I were mostly just friends - there was no particularly intense physical attraction between us.
But, this did not matter much to me then. Sex was sex, and I needed a safe environment in which to unleash that demon.
Divorced by 24, I had learned that tying myself to one man sexually was extremely frustrating. Maybe that was worse because of our inherent lack of strong attraction to one another. Or, maybe it would have been that way for me with anyone.
But, contrary to what I had previously believed, I now realized that not all men want to have sex more than all women. I started "dating" and having sex with multiple men in my life at once. I didn't cheat on anyone - they all knew that I had other men in my life. I had sex every day, often multiple times a day, sometimes with multiple different men in the same day.
I started to wonder if perhaps I should become a professional prostitute. And, I probably would have tried it if it had been legal.
I never had a tendency to "slut shaming" and so I had no negative emotion tied with my chosen sexual habits. In fact, for the first time in my life I felt free, and happy, and at peace with myself. In fact, I learned that no matter what was bothering me, sex would make me feel better.
In particular, I learned that I could not focus well on my college courses or my work if I did not have sex frequently. This feeling grew in intensity to the point where I needed to take "sex breaks" from work and school frequently throughout the day in order to go back to being productive for a while.
I acquired a largely unemployed "real boyfriend", in what I thought was a monogamous situation, because he could mostly be home all day and scratch my itch whenever I stopped by at home for a sex fix.
One day, I came home for lunch and he was having sex with another woman. I was devastated because that was not our agreement. I dumped him on the spot and went back to keeping a collection of multiple lovers in my life instead.
As the years went by, I met a few more of the "Mr. Unavailables" that constituted by primary emotional life. Sex was easy to come by, but emotional connection was more rare for me, and more troublesome. Starting with that guy in the 5th grade, my emotional pulls were almost always towards men who had no interest in relationship with me.
The single exception was a guy in 8th grade where there was mutual attraction and affection. And, I ran like the wind as soon as he made his interest known. So, I will never know if that could have been the only "real" or "normal" relationship of the first 4 decades of my life. '
The others were all fantasy lovers, men that I pined over from afar but could never really connect with. I had lovers, but the ones whom I "loved" were always the ones who were unavailable to me, for the most part, and certainly in a relationship sense.
When I was 30, I married suddenly under very strange circumstances. I won't try to explain all the details here, but we were both very devoted to the same spiritual practice and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Unfortunately, we had very little in the way of emotional, mental, or physical compatibility with each other. We made the most of it, for ten long years, but then finally divorced. I realized at that point - almost 10 years ago, now - that I had no idea who I was or what I wanted in life. I had largely submerged my sexual nature and focused on meditation.
But, almost before I could start to get in touch with the "me" who was a mystery, I went right back to my habits of multiple casual lovers and infatuations with one Mr. Unavailable at a time. It was as if 10 years of marriage had not changed me at all, like I had been emotionally frozen in time.
I started to notice that things had not really changed much since I was last single. It seemed to me that most people, most of the time, were in romantic relationships simply because they didn't want to be alone, and particularly because they wanted a sex partner. I started to realize that most people were actually not so different from me about sex.
But, many of them simply believed that what they wanted was "love", not specifically "sex". This particular belief was particularly dominant among women. I noticed that men were often more clear about when they were looking for a "sex fix" vs. when they were looking for someone to have a relationship with for a broader range of reasons.
I don't know if this is cultural conditioning or something naturally different about men and and women. But, people's focus on their lack of love, or lack of sex, or both, still seemed the dominant misery-maker in the social scene around me. And, ten years later, it still does.
So, I ask you, like I ask myself, are you looking for an intimate connection because you need a "fix" ? Are you looking for an intimate partner to GIVE you "love", "sex", "affection", "validation", "company", "attention", etc.? Do you get upset when your partner does not GIVE you enough of whatever you want from them? Are you angry because you know that your partner COULD give you what you want but they are not doing that?
In other words, is your relationship a celebration of connection between two delightful people in the world? Or, is it a stressful exchange between a junkie and a dealer, or two junkies and two dealers?
Here are a five questions to help you figure that out:
1. Do you NEED to be in touch with your partner often, or on a strict schedule, to avoid feeling PARANOID that something is wrong with the relationship, or that your partner doesn't care about you, or that the relationship is not providing you with what you need ?
2. Do you think about ending the relationship because your partner won't give something that you WANT or because you feel like the EXCHANGE between you is not FAIR ?
3. Do you frequently feel FEAR that your partner might leave you and/or JEALOUS if you think that they want someone else ?
4. Do you need constant REASSURANCE from your partner that they love you and want to be with you ?
5. Do you want to CONTROL certain things about your partner, such as his or her appearance, behavior, or schedule ?
If this sounds like you, then it could be that you are actually addicted to your relationship or some aspect of it, like sex. And, this is such a common situation in our society that this might even feel "normal" to you.
However, "normal" or not, I suspect that most of us would be much happier if we could simply appreciate our intimate relationships instead of relying on them to provide us with "fixes".
I figured out that this is the basis of the "Mr. Unavailable" problem for many of us, as well. The chronically unavailable man is a great dealer for the needy junkie looking for a fix of external validation. He is so removed, so remote emotionally, that any crumbs of attention, affection, sex, or whatever, feel like a big "win".
I think this is similar to the "fix" from gambling. We are, most of us, in that situation, looking for the final big payoff, the "jackpot" when he will finally change and love us "for real". THEN, we think, THEN everything will finally be wonderful and we will live happily ever after.
But, if you ask any experienced addict, they will tell you how this cycle really ends. Looking OUT THERE to fill your internal voids never works.
So, my suggestion, based on my limited experience so far with relatively healthy post-addiction relationships now, is this: if you have a great partner, APPRECIATE them as a fellow wonderful human on the planet and don't treat them like a dealer responsible for providing you with fixes.
And, if you don't have a great partner, then focus on becoming one for yourself by learning to love and appreciate YOURSELF as a fellow wonderful human being on the planet. Do you take yourself out to great restaurants for dinner? Do you tell yourself how beautiful and talented and wonderful you are? Do you cook great meals for yourself, provide yourself with a comfortable place to live, and take good care of yourself in all ways?
If not, why not? Who are you waiting for? You deserve the best relationship, and you are capable of providing the best relationship. So, why not start by providing it for yourself? At the very least, become your own inner dealer for your own inner junkie. I promise, that is finally a relationship that you have REAL control over. :-)