The gifted speaker in this Youtube video confirms that love addiction often occurs in people who grew up in alcoholic/drug addicted homes or with emotionally and/or physically abusive parents. My mother was alcoholic with borderline personality disorder. Love addiction often occurs in people who lived in homes where their emotional needs weren’t met. Love is the drug that attempts to fill a hole which is actually a childhood wound that needs to be examined and healed.
I saw the film Friends With Kids about two pals who decide to have a baby together without a romantic relationship. They are inspired to the arrangement by their married friends who went from being cool Manhattanhites to hate-filled suburbanites upon becoming parents. The story was interesting and unique and the cast rendered the film highly enjoyable, especially Maya Rudolph who is a personal favourite. The intense dinner scene at the chalet was a huge turning point in the film and I’ll stop there with the synopsis as I want you to see it unspoiled.
My problem with the film is not so much in its ridiculous premise, but with a scene in the film in which the lead actress (who also happens to be the writer and director) meets a wonderful man after striking out countless times on the dating scene….AND SLEEPS WITH HIM ON THE FIRST DATE. The act of sudden intimacy was portrayed as normal and desirable and the couple went on to enjoy a mature and loving relationship. What? Films are usually terrible about glamorizing casual sex and treating sex with a virtual stranger as the norm but the characters at least know each other a little bit before diving into bed! I was astounded to see sex on the first date touted as a cause for celebration. In reality, this woman would probably never hear from this man again if she gave it away on the first date. What a terrible message and what a LIE to tell women. Casual sex is not liberating unless you are a man. For women, it is punishing. If you want a relationship with a man …MAKE HIM WAIT! He will love you for it.
Shame came out on DVD today. The film by director Steve McQueen stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a sex addict living in New York. I used to laugh at the idea of being addicted to sex – how ridiculous! Now I realize sex can be just like any other addiction – when you use something outside of yourself to fill a hole that only God can fill. The fellow in the movie was obsessed with sex, having daily encounters with strangers and prostitutes, consuming constant pornography both at home and at work, and masturbating several times a day at home and work. Ironically, even though he was swapping fluids with strangers, he was compulsively clean: a germophope. And fittingly for a sex addict he had no real intimacy in his life. When the opportunity came to have sex with someone he cared for he couldn’t get it up! Immediately he went and had sex with a stranger in a high-risk encounter. He was hooked on illicit sex but sex with any tenderness was impossible.
Brandon’s sister who has her own issues (perhaps alcoholism) comes to stay with him and turns his perfectly ordered life upside down. she speaks my favourite line in the film when she says to him: “We’re not bad people; we just come from a bad place.” To me, that ties into childhood traumas and how they can cause pain so deep that addictions seem the only way out.
After I learned about my “addiction to love” I was led to a book called the Wounded Woman about the fractured father-daughter relationship and how it wreaks havoc on our future relationships. I had already heard about the “longing for Daddy” that comes up when we pine away for an unavailable man. If your father was absent either emotionally or physically you will gravitate toward unavailable men because that’s your experience. The author, Linda Leonard, also asserts that a girl’s relationship with her father can result in her being either a “guarded amazon” at one end of the scale or an “eternal little girl” at the other end.
The former is the over-achiever who has taken on masculine qualities to get ahead in business or some other competitive field. Often, her father wanted a boy or made his daughter know that his love was conditional on her achievement. The eternal little girl (that’s me!) is a woman who feels herself inadequate and mistrusts her own ability to take care of herself because her father was weak and/or unavailable. This could be an absent father, an emotionally unavailable father (that’s mine!) or a father dominated by an overbearing and critical mother (mine, too).
The Wounded Woman is not an easy book to read as it’s written in psychology speak and I prefer plain language. It does give much insight, however, into the importance of the father/daughter relationship and the devastating effects that can have on future relationships with men. I’ve never had a satisfying relationship with a man because I was carrying around so much baggage from my childhood. And my father won’t change. This is another false belief of the daughter of the emotionally available man: that if she just tries harder, does better, is better, her father will show her love. I can tell you it doesn’t work that way. My father is completely closed off to emotions or warmth and that has nothing to do with me. He’s now exhibiting the same behaviour towards my two daughters and I feel as though I’ve had enough. I’m reducing our visits because I can no longer abide the lack of attention and affection toward his granddaughters. They deserve better and so did I.
My friend called me the other night in tears because she had discovered someone she was seeing was seeing other people. She wasn’t even #1 – more like #3. A few hints revealed the betrayal: the Victoria’s Secret bag she found in his room and her excitedly awaiting her lingerie gift which never came. His refusing to let her take off his t-shirt during sex even though it was 90 degrees hot – when she put her hands under his shirt she felt the scratch marks on his back. If he wanted to be with other women, why had he told my friend the two of them were in an exclusive relationship? Why had he lied?
I had told this friend about my addiction to unavailable men and she said she thinks she is addicted to men who treat her like shit. Because in spite of his lies and disrespect, she still wants this man and it is taking everything she has not to text him. She admitted to knowing she should be feeling angry and betrayed but she still finds it tremendously difficult to stay away from him. Now, let’s take a look at the definition of addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (I’d add detrimental – ed.) to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. Clearly, my friend is under the thumb of an addiction.
Over the past week or so since I discovered how serious my relationship troubles are, I’ve felt traumatized and even a little depressed. I’ve had to let go of the lie that a romance is going to rescue me from my life. It’s a subconscious lie I’ve been telling myself for a very long time and it’s caused me to live my life “in the meantime”. Yes, I’ve done a tremendous amount of work on myself since I took a vow of celibacy in August 2010 but I’ve still clung to the belief that finding the right partner was what I needed to make me feel right, that I wasn’t enough on my own. It’s a lie that is sold to us by all forms of media including movies, romance novels, love songs and the like.
That type of romance – love at first sight, can’t eat, can’t sleep – is better described as obsession rather than love. Look at any popular media image of love: love involves great struggle and obstacles to be overcome. Love hurts. Love takes you away from your real life. Love is an escape. Real life love is actually the opposite of movie love: love is easy; love is kind; love is not a struggle; and love does not hurt. One of the few films that shows the “ever after” part of the Cinderella story (which ends at the wedding, by the way) is Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple who fall in love and then fall apart. The film captures the realism of a couple who never took the time to get to know themselves and could therefore never be any good for a partner.
I’m a person prone to extremes and it’s difficult for me to comprehend that love might feel good in an even-keel kind of way. As the daughter of an emotionally abusive mother and a distant father, feeling good does not feel like home to me. For me, the familiar is uncertain, unpredictable, unavailable, and unsupportive. Accepting that about my parents was too painful so I went into a pattern of denial which has continued to present day. It is only today, LITERALLY, that I am accepting the fact that some people lie. And sometimes they do it to me. I keep repeating the same phrase when someone lies to me: “But they said… But they said…” Guess what? They LIED. There’s no excuse for it and it’s not the end of the world. Lying happens. And sometimes it happens to me.
I chatted in my last post about an addiction to unavailable men. I had no idea in turning a phrase that is normally used to describe substance abuse, that I was referring to a true affliction around which many people (mostly women) have to work a 12-step program to be free. I learned that love addiction is not about true “love” but romance and attraction, that it is often characterized by an aversion to “nice” people, falling “in love” with someone you’ve met online and not in person, longing for someone who has no idea about your feelings or who will never reciprocate them (unrequited love), and other fantasy-type relationships. Basically it’s an escape from reality. I confess I have suffered in all these categories and had no idea it was a disease!
I’ve always longed for the man who will take me away from it all rather than one who will become part of my life. When people say you have to get to know someone on their home turf, meet their families, find out about their hobbies and work, that just sounded so boring. I realize that’s the fantasy aspect of the affliction. I was relieved to discover there is a name for these horrible feelings around my failed love life and a reason why I keep going back to the same types of men. It’s the insanity that Einstein talked about in doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Before I had the awareness of what I was doing, I was powerless to stop it. Now I see the reality of the situation and can learn how to change it.
I’ve already picked up new habits, like do not give more than I get hoping he will reciprocate. Actions speak louder than words (pay attention to what he does, not what he says). Stand by your boundaries (I started giving out my landline so he doesn’t have the option to text). I always laughed at the title of the book by Robin Norwood, “Women Who Love Too Much” but now it turns out I am one of them. I have to read this book to discover what is going on with me!
It also turns out that fearfully abstaining from sex as I have is a form of anorexia – withholding from yourself the thing you want out of fear that you will binge if you have even a little bit. It’s an unhealthy form of self-control. That doesn’t change my desire to remain celibate but it does give me something to consider. If you avoid something out of fear, that is markedly different than staying away while you engage in self-reflection and personal growth. I plan to get going on the latter!
I have been away for a while and am touched to return to many lovely comments on my last post in which I wrote I have met a compatible man: one who has all the qualities I desire and who makes me feel like no one else. I have been working on myself relentlessly over the past year-and-a-half because I know that being your best and most authentic self is the way to attract someone worthwhile (and, hey, it’s the only way to be regardless of your intention).
After all my work, I attracted in a man who is everything I wanted – I dreamed him and he came true.
Although I adore him, I believe this man is unavailable. Do you know what I mean by unavailable? He may be married. He may be a workaholic. He may be a CIA agent. Whatever the reason, he has failed to call me on more than one occasion and then apologized after about an “emergency” that prevented him from connecting at the promised time. The first time was taking a colleague to the hospital and the second was unspecified. I sense red flags and my newly-honed intuition is saying ‘stop’.
I’ve learned over the past year or so that if something unfortunate happens to me I must have had something to do with it. What is my part in this situation? I believe, lovely readers, that I was enjoying the feelings I was experiencing so much that I did not ask the questions I needed to ask and I ignored the red flags that would indicate this man is taken….either by another woman or his high-achieving job (perhaps both).
I’ve also learned (from this experience specifically) that actions speak louder than words. I was in love with the things he was saying to me and the way he made me feel, but in reality, his actions did not back those up. He is still contacting me and I am still remaining open…but I’m also open to other men and know that I must stand by my boundaries and stay true to my new standards: no unavailable men and no secrets.
I’m excited about one of the men I’ve met recently. We’ve been talking daily, sometimes twice a day, and he has many of the qualities I desire in man. Through the latest part of my inner work, I spent much time and energy figuring out what I want in a man and I realize I really need a dominant man who will take charge and be in his masculine energy. I love the way this man communicates with me. He tells me what he wants and then asks me how I feel about it. So much better than a man asking me what I want. Men who ask you what you want, whether it’s what movie to see or where to go eat, are not nice or polite…they are lazy.
I’m studying my Calling In The One book, diligently doing my lessons every morning and I see it’s all about cleaning out the crap. Today’s lesson is about “toxic ties”: those relationships that do us only harm but out of fear we refuse to either sever them or set appropriate boundaries to protect ourselves. I’ve begun to set those boundaries with my mentally ill mother and I’ve noticed that like the excuses I’ve made for her, I’ve made excuses for everyone who’s treated me with less respect than I deserve. Rather than stand up for myself, I’ve taken the other person’s side, rationalizing bad behaviour in every possible way, as though everybody else was far more important than me.
At the moment, that’s what I’m working on: remembering that my needs are just as important as anyone else’s. Sometimes I have to fight to get those needs met by setting boundaries with people. I find boundary setting emotionally exhausting because I’m not used to it, and I hope as my journey continues it will get easier. I have always felt “porous”, overly sensitive to what others might be feeling. I might be happy as hell and put me beside an angry person and all of a sudden I’m riddled with anxiety. That’s a boundary issue. I must learn to be strong enough in my sense of self that I am not changing with the mood of every person I encounter. Such porousness is even more exhausting than setting boundaries, I realize now.
I’m also addressing my fear of intimacy, of choosing men that will never truly love me, the phantom relationship if you will. I have set an intention to release a certain gentleman from my hope of ever having love with him. My intention is to have a passing acquaintance with him and open myself to someone who is able and willing to give me what I need in a romantic partner.
A friend of mine was telling me about a woman at work who was bragging about trimming hedges over the weekend. “Was your husband out of town?” my friend asked innocently. The woman got very defensive and said “I can do it!” My friend replied (not out loud, of course) that she wouldn’t be surprised if that husband dreamed of having a woman who would let him be the man and trim the hedges himself. I can’t help but agree. What is this preoccupation, this insistence that so many women have on Equality?
As my friend reasons, as long as men can’t give birth, there’s no such thing as equality of the sexes. All so-called equality means (this is me now) is more WORK for women. That is ALL it means. Equality does not serve women, it serves men. They get to do less work because women are so insistent that they can do everything men can do. Which is about as true as saying men can give birth.
I’m not only talking about physical tasks but also things like decision-making. I often become befuddled when faced with a decision and when it comes to my children I give ultimate decision-making power to their father even though we’re not married any longer. He’s just better at it. He’s more logical, rational, and has superior reasoning abilities. When I told my daughter that was the reason I let her dad make the decisions, she said sagely: “Men and women both weigh all the options when making decisions. The difference is that women will second-guess themselves, but when men make a decision there’s no turning back.” She’s eleven and she understands this implicitly. She hasn’t been brainwashed by society to be outraged at the idea that men and women can be good at different things or approach them in different ways.