Addiction Part Two - Recovery
(Read Part One here)
Robert Weiss LCSW, CAS
Much of the
love addiction literature speaks to the love addicts' inability to live their
lives without a relentless search for a partner in most any situation or
experience. Upon reflection many recovering love addicts can relate to having
used some strategy or another all of their lives in an attempt to find and
keep sexual and romantic partners. One woman put it this way, " I never once
went to a party without wondering who I could get a date with or get into
bed, I always dressed for it and I always looked for it". Whether through
revealing dress, flirtatious manner or seductive talk; the addict is always
hunting and searching in one form or another to try to bring that special
attention, intensity and arousal that the latest tryst or liaison can bring
forth. One important part of the love and sex addicts' recovery process is
recognition of those methods used to attract and manipulate others.
As the addict
begins to consciously cast these aside, using the support of 12 step members,
friends and often therapy; they come to learn their real human worth, lessening
the need for superficial, sexualized attention.
In order for
recovery from any addiction to take place, there must be a bottom-line definition
of sobriety. For the alcoholic, this is a simple definition -- alcoholics
and drug addicts define sobriety as the amount of time they have abstained
from the use of alcohol and other mind-altering chemicals. Abstaining from
the use of these substances is the recovering person's sobriety time. (E.g.,
"I stopped using drugs and alcohol in on June 15, 1987; therefore, I am over
10 years sober").
For the recovering
Love or Sexual addict, however, sobriety can be a more challenging to define.
Unlike sobriety from the use of substances, love or sexual sobriety is not
usually considered to be complete abstinence from romantic relationships
and sex, although recovering persons may use complete abstinence for short
periods of time to gain personal perspective or address a particular issue.
Love addiction and sexual sobriety is most often defined as a contract between
the sexual addict and their 12-Step recovery support therapist or clergy.
These sobriety contracts are best when written, and involve clearly defined,
concrete behaviors from which the addict has committed to abstain in order
to define sobriety.
or sexual recovery plans have very strictly defined boundaries -- "No sexual
activity of any kind outside of a committed marital relationship" could be
one such defined boundary, "no sex without at least 30 days of dating", another.
Sobriety can be delineated as abstinence from any romantic or sexual activity
that causes the person to feel shameful, hold secrets or which is illegal
or abusive to others. Personal definitions may change over time as the recovering
person evolves in their understanding of the disease. An example of such
a plan might be, "I am sober as long as I do not date anyone who is married
or in another relationship, whom I would not introduce to friends, who is
abusive, unresponsive or uncommunicative to me," or " I am sober as long
as I do not engage in flirtation, intrigue or sexual seduction with strangers,
have sexual or romantic liaisons with strangers or with anyone I have not
known for at least 90 days." These types of definitions are always discussed
with at least one other recovering person, therapist or clergy, and are not
changed without thorough discussion and understanding.
motive for a concisely written plan of recovery, beyond a clear definition
of unwanted specific sexual or romantic behavior, is to offer the addict
an ongoing recovery reminder, even in the face of challenging circumstances.
One characteristic of addiction, particularly for love addicts, is a difficulty
in maintaining clear focus on personal beliefs, values and goals, when faced
with situations which potentially involve intensity, arousal and stimulation.
This is where the best of intentions, the pleas to be trusted "just one more
time," and promises "to be good" go out the window. Without clearly defined
boundaries, the love or sex addict is vulnerable to deciding "in the moment"
what action is best for them. Unfortunately most addicts' "in the moment"
decisions are not the ones which help them maintain their long term goals
and values. A written plan helps to maintain a clear focus on recovery choices,
regardless of situation or momentary motive.
As the love
and sex addict recovers, they begin to discover themselves in new and unexpected
ways. Time formerly put into flirtation and 'the hunt', now may go into family
involvement and work. Creativity formerly used to seduce or attract now goes
into hobbies, self-care and healthy relationship exploration. This
self-redefinition allows the love and sex addict to have a much clearer
understanding of healthy partnerships. As the single person begins to really
recover and their self esteem and understanding improves, so does their choice
of dating and romantic partners. No longer willing to take anyone who might
have them or give him or her away, they begin to develop clear criteria (often
written down) of the type of partners they wish to engage. Recovery for the
coupled person brings a deeper understanding of their emotional needs and
wants in their partnership, encouraging them to take more intimacy risks
in their relationships. As hope and honestly slowly replace despair and
superficiality, the recovery process brings about a deepening maturity and
sense of choice that the addict may have never previously known.
brought to you courtesy of http://www.sexualrecovery.com.
Thank you to the Sexual Recovery web site for such a great
Read more about love addiction
Chasers: The CP Addiction (Falling in Love and Dealing
with a Commitmentphobic Person). You can be reading this insightful
information, written especially for those who are in love with a commitmentphobic
person, in less than two minutes!
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