ADDICTION & RECOVERY Category in Blog

Sex: My Antidote to Loneliness

Lonely

Lonely via istochphoto

I grew up the golden girl in a wealthy family. Private school, a cheerleader, on the field hockey team, and all that went with it. As a kid, I had the perfect life on the outside. Though I had a lot of “things,” I now see that “things” were often given me in exchange for my Dad’s attention, as he was always travelling (and as I later learned–having affairs). “Things” also replaced precious time I needed with my mother, who just seemed too busy with important events and people to pay me much attention back then. I now think what I really learned from childhood was how little I was worth – unless I was doing something fun, pretty or entertaining to amuse and get attention. Once I discovered that I could use my body to get boys to reliably take interest, my worth, appearance and attitude began to revolve around which guys liked me, how to get them to want me and how many girls I could make jealous with all of that attention. Early on I learned that being a “player” with guys brought me a sense of control over feeling valued and important. If sex was what it took to keep his interest that was ok too – at least until a cuter, smarter, or newer boy came along. But I always had my steady guy – the one I could pull back in with sparkle, charm, and sex should I find myself alone.

Despite an uneven history of dating success (what a surprise), my fantasy was that after college I’d settle down, meet the right guy, fall head-over-heels in love, get married and live happily ever after. That was the story I told myself. But that’s not what happened. Instead, I just repeated the same pattern I always had: find a guy, fall in love/lust, and them dump him when bored. Or he would dump me when he inevitably felt trapped by my obvious (to everyone but me) neediness. As my 20s melted into my 30s I watched old friends getting married and starting families of their own. I was still out there meeting men, getting dumped or dumping them. Eventually I stopped talking about dating. I didn’t want friends, co-workers or my family to know about the latest new guy in my life because I didn’t want to share about yet another relationship that I knew was unlikely to work out. As dating slowly evolved into desperation, I used blind dates, speed dating, chat rooms, virtual dating, apps and dating websites. I had profiles on Match.com and eHarmony, among others. I would ask everyone I knew to introduce me to someone to date. And then there were the hobbies and groups taken on solely hoping to find HIM while making ceramics, hiking, or learning to play bad tennis. I just knew if I could find the right guy everything else would be ok.

With each new man arose exciting feelings of both hope and obsession. Sometimes I had sex right away as it made me feel wanted. Sometimes I played hard to get – avoiding sex to keep him around – but it was always just a game. I was constantly trying to find the right mix of me to get it to work out. Sadly, I inevitably either scared him away with how “in love” I was, or my blazing interest in him would swiftly die out and I’d move on. Plus, I never stopped checked those dating sites before bed or at work – ever. In my unhappiness and lonely desperation an occasional glass of wine slowly became my most reliable best friend. By my early 30’s I was drinking nightly – often to blackout – not even remembering where I’d been or who I’d been with the evening before.

Through the intervention of good friends I eventually found AA and got sober. But my sobriety from alcohol and drugs didn’t slow my desperate need for love and attention. AA quickly became a whole new place to practice my search for love (read step13). Fortunately, over lunch one day, a dear AA friend told me her story of alcoholism and sex/love addiction. It was during that meal, on that day, and in those moments I first realized that my relationship “problem” was actually within me! It had never been about finding the “right guy.” I completely related to her story of alcohol and love obsession, how it wrecked her life – just as my desperate search for “love” and relationship was ruining mine. I finally understood that my happiness, or lack of, was never about the men I dated, whether or not I was single, having sex or engaged. The problem was that I had no idea who I was or what made me happy. Since that day, with help through SLAA, therapy and a lot of hard work, I’m gaining the upper hand. For the first time I am experiencing fun, laughter and non-sexual connection with other women in recovery and all without a guy to show me my worth. In time I’ll date again, lord knows I want to. But when that day comes I pray it will be because I actually like who the man is and because he joins me in what makes us both happy. I finally won’t use another person to avoid feeling alone or unlovable.