Why do people lie?

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.

Youtube movie kisses

Being celibate has made me go a bit soft. I never used to value the romance in kissing, probably because I wanted to get to the “good stuff” (sex). But this video montage from YouTube featuring a series of staged smooches is enough to make even the most jaded among us swoon.

Do you have a favourite movie kiss?

Blue Valentine

I read a succinct and poignant blog post today that asked one simple question:

“What is the hardest thing you have ever done which, looking back, resulted in your own growth?”

Of course, the answer is my year without sex. I’ve spent my whole adult life entangled with one man or another, usually for the long-term and occasionally for only one night (well, twice). One night to ten years: these are the varying lengths of my trysts. Inside of those “relationships” I lost myself and I’m willing to bet the guys did, too. I simply could not imagine myself without a man so I never let myself be without one. The idea seemed inconceivable to me. Until I challenged myself to a year without them.

Now halfway through, I am discovering myself in a way I hadn’t realized I existed, who I am when I am not looking at myself through another person’s eyes, especially a man’s which are always (in my case) objectifying and sexualizing. As John Berger wrote in Ways of Seeing: “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” Away from men for a decent length of time, I am finally breaking free of that self-imposed object-ness.

I saw a movie today called Blue Valentine. An antidote to the happily-ever-after romances that tell us fulfillment lies in finding a life partner, the film traces the erosion of a relationship/marriage from its “love at first sight” beginning to a treacherous end. Having been part of a soulless marriage I could relate to the deviant fighting, sex, and reliance on alcohol these partners dissolve into.

When we have not dealt with the baggage of our past, when we look to another person to make us whole, when we see ourselves through their eyes, and try to please them in a way that does not please ourselves, we are doing both the man and ourselves a disservice.

I have never been in love although I’ve had several long-term relationships. I believe the reason for that is I have never loved myself. Being on my own these past six months, I have begun to see a way to love myself and care for myself, to be gentle with myself and treat myself with kindness. Now that I am beginning to do that perhaps there is a chance for me to love someone else. The irony is the longer I am on my own, the less I need the attention of another. I realize that I am enough.

The Notebook Sex: Does It Exist?

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams got romantic on the the set of The Notebook

Is this what it feels like to be a man? And, if so, how do they get anything done? I’m talking about the fact that I can’t stop thinking about sex. I heard somewhere that sex pops into a man’s head something like every 20 seconds. I”m doing much better than that today. It’s been a constant stream of flashbacks to sexual acts I’ve performed in the past, accompanied by the same rush of pleasure they gave me at the time. I think it’s what you call fantasizing. Except it’s about stuff I’ve actually done.

Someone challenged me the other day on my decision to stay celibate for a year. She said there is nothing wrong with casual sex and if it’s so difficult for me to abstain, why don’t I just do it and enjoy myself? I was a little angry with my so-called friend, I have to admit. If someone tells you they’re in AA, you don’t advise them to stop suffering and go have a drink! I’m not sure if I’m actually addicted to sex but the withdrawal symptoms I am going through must indicate some level of dependence.

Another friend, bless her, told me I was doing the right thing and that sex can and should be “sacred”. Sacred! Now that’s what I’m talking about. I want some holy sex. I want to have sex that goes beyond the limitations of the physical and represents a psychic and spiritual connection between two people. I want sex like they have in the movies. Like the bedroom scene in The Notebook between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Is that unrealistic? I used to chide people for wanting that stuff, saying they watch too many movies. If not movie sex, I at least want something real.

I do find after only 5 sex-free weeks that I am valuing myself more. I now insist on being loved for my inside as well as my outside. So far men have really only been interested in my looks and I’ve encouraged that. To some extent I’ve been afraid they won’t like the inside so I keep it hidden and distract them with sex. I haven’t done this consciously, and looking back now I see how my ego did it to protect me from getting hurt.

I am excited about the dry months ahead of me and what they will uncover. If in only 5 weeks I’ve discovered that my sexual impulsiveness stems from insecurity, then imagine all the fascinating baggage I have yet to unpack in the future.

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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