Haunted, haggard, and hollow. These were the eyes that stared back at me from the motel bathroom mirror. What am I doing here…again?
A maddening collage of memories raced through my mind. They chronicled my promiscuous crashes, causing me to turn away. Looking at myself in the eye had become too painful and shameful. Except to shave, I had long stopped looking into mirrors. I knew quite well and loathed the face reflected back to me.
This evening’s motel rendezvous was the third one today – with just as many different women. Yet instead of it soothing my sexual appetite, it left me feeling hollow, haunted, and afraid.
“I’ve got to be a sex addict or some kind of nymphomaniac!” I thought out loud. I couldn’t imagine what could be worse than this, nor would I dare ask anyone for help. What would they think? “I’m just another self-centered, selfish man who doesn’t care about my wife or children.”
“But I do care! I do love them…as much as I know how to love. Although, truthfully, I’m not sure I know what love really is. I thought I did. I know it’s not this! What am I looking for? Why, no matter how many women I have sex with, I always feel so lonely – even within my own home?”
Haunting questions flung into the night air with no reply. These same mid-night questions would be repeated again and again over the coming years, only to be interrupted by short periods of fleeting fidelity.
It cost me my marriages, my children, two careers, and countless amounts of money. It left me alone once again twenty years later, staring into a motel bathroom mirror with nothing but questions and a desperate, lonesome soul.
My story is an all too familiar tragic tale. Like hundreds of thousands of other men, I struggled with a driving desire for real intimacy. Ignorantly choosing more frequent sex to “fix” my feelings of loneliness and isolation, I became even more sexually dependent. I was using sex as my go-to remedy anytime I felt anxious, worthless, lonely, or lost.
This is sexual dependency’s dirty secret. It slowly, secretly, and succinctly makes sex the measure of all things. Sex began to define my sense of worth, whether I felt loved, or even wanted. Like Captain Jack Sparrow’s compass in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series, it only gave direction to buried treasure. Sex had confused and corrupted my moral compass. And you know how bad we men are at asking someone else for directions.
Sexual Dependency: Is an excessive preoccupation with sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors like pursuing pornography, that is difficult to control, causes you distress, or negatively affects your health, job, relationships, or other parts of your life.
Does this sound familiar? Have sex, pornography, masturbation, or extramarital affairs become the norm for you? Are you sexually dependent?
Here are some indicators that you just may be sexually dependent too:
- You have recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors that take up a lot of your time and feel as if they’re beyond your control.
- You feel driven to frequently seek out sexual partners, pornography, masturbation, or extramarital affairs, which provide a brief release of tension, but also feelings of guilt and remorse.
- You’ve tried unsuccessfully to reduce or control your sexual fantasies, urges, or behavior.
- You use compulsive sexual behavior as an escape from other problems, such as lack of self-worth, loneliness, depression, anxiety, or stress.
- You continue to engage in sexual behaviors that have serious consequences, such as the potential for getting or giving someone else an STD, the loss of important relationships, trouble at work, financial strain, or legal problems.
- You have trouble establishing and maintaining healthy and stable relationships.
You may struggle with one, two, or all of these indicators. The real question is, “Are you allowing sex to be the measure of all things in your life?” How’s that working out for you? Not very well. I know. I’ve been right where you are.
I hope today’s blog has encouraged you. Make sure you sign up to receive blogs posted every Tuesday and Thursday. TransformingFamilies.org resources are designed to guide you through the restoration process of developing your heart, mind, and strength, enabling you to become the man God created you to be.
I also provide one-on-one coaching, if you want to improve your relationships, let’s connect through e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. My hope for you is that through these blogs, references, and resources, God will transform you from being bruised or broken to an abundantly blessed man.