Dear Richard: Sex Addiction or Just Really Busy?
My boyfriend is older than me and is always getting himself in trouble when it comes to sex. He is constantly posting in the casual encounters section on Craigslist, especially when we travel. He's always on gay dating apps and "looking for fun." He says it's just his way of making friends and that he rarely does anything, but I just can't believe that.
A few of his hookups have become not-so-secret and then he gets into periods of being "good" afterwards. Then it starts with another post or something that he tries to hide. Suddenly he's washing the sheets all the time. I really hate the secrecy. I always seem to find out later and it makes me wonder what else I haven't found out.
It bothers me because I feel he can have fun with others, but not with me. He says he's always horny, but never when I'm in the mood — only when it's works for him. The sense of adventure he seems to have never comes out with me.
Yes, he has made it clear that there are differences between his hook-ups and his making love to me, but all the hook ups make me feel as if I'm not doing something right and he has to go elsewhere for it even when he reassures me that's not the case. I try not to be jealous, but what's the point of a relationship when his dick is posted all over the internet and anyone can have it that wants it. It disgusts me in a way and makes sex feel loveless.
Our relationship is great in all other aspects, but this is tearing us apart and conversation after conversation get us no where or just back to good for awhile until he slips up again.
Losing my Patience
I wish I had a dime for every letter that describes this problem. I have had many letters from both sides of this issue. I used to have a simple answer for this situation until I lived both sides of it myself.
I would get up on the high horse and tell folks to ditch the cheater and get with someone who is true and loves you. I don't think it's always that clear any more.
Here's the deal: If you want to have a relationship you may have to also make space for some difficult issues the other partner is struggling with. And the worst part of it is that the partner may not understand they have issues.
From where I am standing it looks like your partner may have some sexual addiction issues. Disclaimer: A very busy sex life does not a sex addiction make. The red flags of addiction are the secrecy, the denial, the self-justification. The addict is often the last person to know. For you to gleefully pounce on this and announce to him what his problem will certainly not help.
Here are some options and suggestions: First of all, try to find a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting. You may not have the addiction, but understanding where your partner is coming from will be very helpful. And his actions are definitely affecting your life.
That brings us to the next step: In a non-accusatory, gentle way, let him know how his actions are affecting your life. You may want to spend some time with paper and pencil on your own first so you can be really clear about that. Ask yourself some questions. Do his actions affect your self-esteem? Your sense of security? Your own sex life? Put that down in some simple ways like "When you do (fill in the blank) I feel (fill in the blank).
Then the harder part: Decide if this is something you can work with or not. Even if he has a come-to-Jesus moment and admits he has some problems, that does not mean that things will change right away. Staying with someone for who they might be one day is not such a good idea. You don't have to like everything about someone, but if this is something you really can't accept, then you have to make a decision. One of the definitions of addiction is having lost the ability to choose. He may want to stop, but can't. You both need to talk that one out. Counseling can help.
But consider this: Many, many gay men have this issue. Coming to accept oneself as a gay man is still not easy despite how many advances have happened in the world. It's a journey few can understand who have not been there. Many men get stuck at a sexualized state in the process. Because men can so easily find sex with other men, the possibility of moving past a sexualized reaction to identity issues gets really tough.
If you can accept your partner for who he is and what he is going through, you may find a deep connection with him. He may have his own intense experience with you if you are able to encourage him to be open and honest about his actions without out judging him or diagnosing him.
And finally: Please be conscious about the possibilities of STDs with a busy partner. Often, with hyper sexualization comes a certain denial about the realities of sexually transmitted diseases.
Dear Richard is not a medical doctor, a licensed psychiatrist, a counselor, a reverend, or a rabbi. He has not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the BBC, and his words are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The information is for educational purposes only and it not intended to serve as medical advice. Dear Richard does, however, love hearing from you and answering your questions. Leave a comment or send him an e-mail.