69: The Sex Programs – Everything You Wanted to Know (Sort Of)

We explore Sexaholics Anonymous (SA), Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) this week. We look at what each defines as acting out behavior, and what each program defines as sobriety or sexual clean time. We talk about SAA’s 3 circles concept, and similarly, SLAA’s idea of top and bottom lines. We give some descriptions of what sex or love addiction can look like in your life, to give you some new ways to examine your own life to see if you might qualify. Ritualistic masturbation, seeking comfort from emotionally unavailable partners, and other attention seeking behaviors often go unnoticed in our society or are made out to be normal behaviors. Finally, we answer some of the questions on SLAA’s quiz to see if a person identifies with some of the behaviors and feelings of a sex and love addict.

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To take the SLAA quiz for yourself, go here: https://slaafws.org/40-questions

To take the SAA quiz, go here: https://saa-recovery.org/am-i-a-sex-addict/self-assessment/

Sex Addicts Anonymous: https://saa-recovery.org/

Sex Addicts Anonymous quiz: https://saa-recovery.org/am-i-a-sex-addict/self-assessment/

Our sex addiction episode with Joshua

Our LGBTQ episode with Matt

Transcript:

recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy in long term recovery

and i’m billy i’m also a person in long-term recovery

and we don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the episode numbers but it’s episode 69 and so we’re going to talk about sex obviously just like salt and pepper

yeah and we were joking someone pointed it out to us we should have saved our sex expert

joshua

joshua for episode 69

yeah it kind of ties right into being an addict that we would once again talk about sex two episodes later we’re obsessed we can’t get enough yeah so today we’re going to explore some of those programs that we talked about a little bit with joshua you know he i don’t want to say he to use your words he didn’t poo-poo on them or anything he said they’re useful for some people they just weren’t his kind of bag and i think there was a point in time in my life when i was just all 12-step fellowship man all the time that i would have been like what the [ _ ] 12 steps is perfect right and now it’s like no i kind of get it you know they’re not for everybody but i do think there’s a lot of value that you can find in 12 steps i also get his points of they don’t necessarily specifically say hey let’s talk about your underlying trauma i do think some of the steps delve into some of that i think at the same time while they’re delving into it sometimes you know we delve into these with a sponsor who may or may not have experience dealing with trauma or an understanding of trauma they might not be as beneficial to helping us deal with it or process it as like a professional counselor might be but i do think it’s somewhat addressed it’s not like we’re just like oh whatever happened in your past [ _ ] it just deal with now right like we look at four and five and six and seven and eight and nine like those steps deal with our past

yeah for sure and i i felt that and again it wasn’t worth trying to debate points with him i mean his experience with 12 step fellowship is his you know and i can’t say he was wrong i mean my experience was that that was kind of wrong that through the 12-step fellowship i’ve addressed a lot of my sexual abuse issues and talked about some of that stuff could i get potentially possibly more out of a therapist or something i mean maybe i’m not saying that’s not true and it just it’s the anonymity of the program like i chose to divulge that information and address it and discuss it through my step work right not everyone does not everyone feels safe and maybe they shouldn’t you know i’m not saying they should i’m just saying my experience was different from what he shared his experience was and i wanted to get defensive of the 12-step fellowships there for a minute and then i thought you know what for the sake of this conversation right it’s not worth it

yeah well and like we talked to matt who talked about being gay in recovery and he still hasn’t told his sponsor that yeah whereas like you were able to share about you know childhood sexual trauma so yeah it does differ depending on i guess your comfortability level and who your sponsor is and what experiences they’ve shared or had or varying degrees of what kind of help we’re able to get and i don’t think that’s any certain person’s fault or the program’s fault but i guess we all get something different out of it but yeah today we’re gonna address the big three s programs if you don’t know what the s programs are that’s might be something i completely made up i have no idea but there’s three different sex addiction type programs out there if you didn’t know that first there is s a sexaholics anonymous which is an interesting term that someone coined sexaholics and then there is s-a-a sex addicts anonymous so i guess maybe people left a a that were into sex and people left n a that were into sex and they had to make different programs i don’t know and then there is s-l-a-a which is endearingly termed slaw by many people which is sex and love addicts anonymous and so they all somewhat focus on a similar type issue and come at it from similar type means but it’s interesting that there’s three different ones i mean you know i’ve learned in the not too distant past that there’s also like opioid anonymous and heroin anonymous and cocaine anonymous and i always found that weird i’m like we have [ _ ] n a why do you need to like do you need crack smokers anonymous like i don’t know it just seems strange to me but here we are with three sex programs

and i want to try to remain anonymous so i’m going to try to be general in my language which is going to be a little difficult but i talked to someone who has attended some s programs over the years and said that the difference for them wasn’t that they needed something different from their experience in narcotics anonymous it was that they felt a safe place to talk about specific issues that they believe that n a could help them with the same issues i mean the program and the steps you know they could address those things but to talk about specific behaviors and specific issues they were struggling with that the identification in the s programs felt better felt safer to divulge some of that information so well

and i think that makes total sense if you walked into an aa meeting where they’re trying to focus on alcohol and talked about all the heroin you shot up last week the guy that’s at his first aa meeting ever and just wants to stop drinking isn’t going to be able to relate to that so they’re kind of losing the clarity of their purpose right similarly if i go into an n a meeting and talk about how i love to spread peanut butter on my balls and have my dog lick it off like right they’re gonna be like what the [ _ ] right like this guy’s gonna there’s an addict out there somewhere at his first meeting thinking uh i just want to stop using drugs this guy’s i don’t know if i belong around these crazy people right and just for the record i don’t put peanut butter on myself or have a dog but you know it’s just one of those things like there’s a place to share certain information that’s gonna feel more comfortable and more welcome and more accepting and maybe even just be more appropriate can the 12 steps of na help you with sex addiction sure but does your sponsor have any familiarity with sex addiction that he can assist you in working that or is the fellowship the right place to share those kind of concerns where you want to feel look i couldn’t walk into church and tell them that i used to you know fire heroin and cocaine directly into my veins and you know steal ibuprofen to get more money to do it like they had been like what the [ _ ] is wrong with this guy but an a meeting is a perfect place to say that right so there’s appropriate places to say certain things right so the main things that are different with these programs obviously sex and love addicts anonymous has a slight tendency to be able to be more universal where it’s not just about sex addiction it’s also about the the relationship and love aspect of addiction the validation we seek a lot of times in our relationship seeking i guess and some ways we’ll get into some ways and how that looks in a little bit and that was the one

i think before discussing some of this or doing any kind of research i i didn’t understand you know i didn’t quite get it i’m like sex and love addicts and i’m like what is that like right to me again sex comes back to the physical act of and it’s like yeah it feels great like it’s easy to see how someone would get addicted to that like it’s yes you know who doesn’t want to have sex all the time right no and i agree and i think the more i learned about slaa the more i thought everybody’s got this [ _ ] problem like everybody i know has this problem so interestingly when i read some of their literature i was like wow i really maybe don’t have a healthy relationship with sex and relationships at all you know for for just kind of researching into this i’ve never been to either or any of the programs and so i went and read some of the literature and kind of looked through what i could find and it’s very interesting and it definitely opened my eyes to like wow you know the difference between like i guess love and relationship issues now made a lot more sense because i could identify some of those things in myself

yeah and when we talk about this during this episode we might you might get that sense that like this is generally what i think at least the internet vision of what relationships look like in 2021 this is like tinder right all over the place it has it written all over it basically the three programs are separated by maybe their definition of clean time or or how they approach it i mean they all follow the 12-step model as adapted from alcoholics anonymous like every other 12-step fellowship does so there’s not much diversion there where they’re going different ways but sexaholics anonymous in particular actually has the only defined clean time sex addicts anonymous and sex and love addicts anonymous both operate on a system where you and your sponsor and your network and anybody who you choose to include in your program you come up with what your clean time is or what your acting out behaviors are that you need to avoid whereas sexaholics anonymous the one thing i always thought was kind of intriguing about that program was that they define it like this is what our [ _ ] definition of clean time is follow it or don’t and i think for some of us who are more rigid like hey we just don’t use drugs that is a little simpler right because it’s hard to figure out you question yourself you’re like do i masturbate too much am i spending too much time what’s my rules am i allowed to spend 10 minutes or am i allowed to spend half an hour where do i cross the line

and of course we know with addiction denial rationalization justification are huge problems right and those are things we do to ourself you know so if we can have these lines that are but i mean i guess we do run into that in narcotics anonymous you know or other fellowships too in this sense of you know when is it okay to take medication and not and when if i’m in pain and i’m taking these pain pills well you know maybe i could have stopped after day three but the doctor said i could take them for seven so i’m [ _ ] taking them for seven you know like yeah so we can it’s a little hairy yeah we we like to act like it’s pretty black and white or what about if you’re on you know psych meds and your doctor puts you on psych meds or antidepressants and when are you taking those safely so yeah it’s it’s more blurred than we have been yeah yeah i’ll agree i’ll agree especially nowadays we’re getting more inclusive yeah we gotta fight to define that line a little clearer i mean there’s never going to be an absolute definition mine and mood altering substances every i everything changes my mind in my mood yeah food for sure i definitely have issues with caffeine i mean i at times manage it better than others right now i’m kind of being a little more managed than i have been in the but there’s been times where i [ _ ] know i have way too much caffeine in a day i mean that’s all i drank all day was coffee and energy drinks like no water no anything else just coffee and energy drinks all day every day

i’m in a good spot with my relationship to coffee right now but i know for a fact there’s been times in my life and i don’t know maybe eight nine ten years ago where i specifically was making a coffee wanting that energy warm feeling yeah i’m like what the [ _ ] is the difference between that and shooting heroin i’m like chasing a feeling right here with this cup of coffee but anyway uh sexaholics anonymous their definition is that you do not have sex with anyone outside of with your spouse and they define spouse which i found extremely interesting in 2021 as your partner but it’s a marriage between a man and a woman period i was like oh really that’s that shocked me honestly yeah that’s almost like saying i mean that’s almost excluding you know yeah it’s very much excluding the lgbtq community which i yeah i don’t know that was weird i found that on their website i was like oh yeah and i so on the and i want to jump ahead too much but in the saa they actually say for all you know relationships gay straight you know right all-inclusive so well maybe that’s a distinguishing maybe they put that on their home page on purpose right look this other essay like they’re telling you you can’t come there we want you to know you’re welcome here yeah sexaholics feels a little christian conservative i don’t know they definitely i mean to say that only marriage that’s recognized is between a man and a woman is very weird yeah for sure especially nowadays and that includes no masturbation you can’t have sex with yourself either it is only with your spousal partner that you can have sex so no cheating on your partner and no no doing yourself somebody tells you to go [ _ ] yourself you gotta be like can’t that’s all right program bro and i do that i assume that includes like pornography or any sort of that stuff never looking at any of that well i so it didn’t define that specifically but i would imagine if you’re not going to masturbate do people recreationally watch pornography i guess they do guess yeah i don’t know i’m looking i got a right you know this isn’t recreational purpose driven yeah so that’s the only program that has a definitive this is what using looks like and so i was told and this was by an old therapist and i don’t know she was joking or not but she said that she believes that people were in that program that weren’t married which means you just can’t have sex at all and she thinks they were like yeah [ _ ] that that’s not gonna work these these married dudes are getting it right we’re gonna get it too we just want to not be sex addicts so they deviated out of sexaholics anonymous and made sex addicts and that huh so that people could be single and still get it right which would make sense yeah i mean i yeah what are you gonna do be celibate until you’re married like yeah that’s tough and it’s interesting i go back to what joshua was talking about how it’s like it’s hard for me to understand because it would be comparable to like a food addiction where i can’t imagine most people would want to be completely abstinent from yeah yeah i mean you can’t be off of food that’s impossible but you you know i can’t imagine most people want to be completely celibate for the rest of their lives you know so you’d be seeking more of a healthy relationship with sex you know a healthy relationship with you know how to manage that in a healthy way and joshua kind of alluded to it too generally when you do find someone that doesn’t want to have sex for the rest of their life they are just as unhealthily skewed but in the other direction like there’s it’s not really a healthy choice either most of the time if you find it it’s kind of like the the difference between someone who you know overeats versus someone who’s anorexic both of them are struggling with their relationship with food and themselves and it’s the same with sex we call them sexual anorexics but people who you know avoid sex that’s not really generally usually healthy either it’s usually for reasons that are traumatic and right the ways they feel about themselves so yeah and i guess if you’re not overly religious again especially in today’s day like getting married like it seemed to be a cultural thing that everyone did 50 years ago but nowadays that’s not so common you know yeah so sex addicts anonymous and sex and love addicts anonymous both operate under a system of creating your own acting out behaviors that you will avoid because they are your problem behaviors very similarly they go about defining it in two different ways but it means the same thing generally slaa operates with a bottom line which is your behaviors that you know if you cross your bottom line those are the behaviors that are acting out and you have to start your clean time again and on the other side of that they have a top line which is behaviors you want to aspire to to replace these negative behaviors saa calls it the three circles they have the inner circle which is the behaviors that are acting out they have a middle circle which focuses on behaviors that are slippery right they might not be acting out but you really got to watch yourself when you start doing them because that generally leads you back into inner circle behaviors and then you have your outer circle which is all the behaviors that are you know you want to include more in your life and and things you want to do and i love the concept of both of them right and i i’m kind of sad we don’t have something like this in n a or in our recovery programs but it’s i guess it it takes like in n a it’s like oh just don’t get high right we focus all on what you want to remove from your life but we don’t really talk about hey there’s this outer circle or this top line behaviors that we want to put in your life man you want to spend time with your kids you want to practice the drums more you want to you know meditate like it’s not 100 focus on what we need to remove from your life it’s like hey these are things we need to remove but here’s some really positive things let’s eat healthy let’s get enough sleep like these are things we want to include in your life too for positive i really love that that it’s got both those folks yeah that’s really important i mean i know it is for me in my focus on recovery is like all right so what are good healthy practices like i don’t always recognize them like part of my journey through recovery has been kind of spelling them out for myself like these are things that i want to do in my life and sometimes i gotta re-remind myself like oh yeah you know commitment to things and sticking to stuff when it’s tough is a value that i think is important right and so that can motivate me and then i get the benefits of living that because i don’t always feel like that you know a lot of times i feel like it’s easier to like walk away from [ __ ] that’s annoying or give up on stuff that takes work that i wasn’t planning you know right yeah so that’s good that’s really i like that too well if you think about putting it on a piece of paper right and you draw these three circles your inner circle is going to have your defined behaviors of acting out you know it might be oh masturbating maybe you struggle with masturbating and you have some kind of ritual around it and it’s taking up a lot of your life or you’re doing it inappropriate times and you might have you know three or four other behaviors but it’s this little list in the center of the paper and then as you move out right you have your middle circle behaviors maybe this is where the guy watches porn but he’s not going to masturbate right and you start saying well why are you really watching that right where is that going to lead one day and then the outer circle is what takes up most of the paper so when you’re really looking at your plan for staying clean or or you know staying away from acting out most of what you’re looking at on this paper is filled up with these positive things you want to put in your life and i just feel like that’s such a better picture to look at right i’m not like staring at the thing i can’t do it’s like if you say billy don’t think about a pink elephant like you can’t not picture it right but when you’re looking at this paper you’re seeing all these positives instead of this negative thing you can’t do and i just i don’t know it just seems so useful yeah and i’ve heard people describe you know again n a and the other a programs as like that being a challenge you know like you just well we’re in there and we’re talking about drugs and what you can’t do and what you’re not supposed to do and giving up all this stuff and it’s sort of hard to picture sometimes a whole different life or a new life away from what you’ve grown up or done for 15 20 30 years and all your friends and all your family and all and you’re leaving all those things behind you know for some unknown who knows what you know so it’s nice to kind of have a visual of what you’re working towards

this episode has been brought to you by voices of hope inc a non-profit grassroots recovery community organization located in maryland voices of hope is made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity and respect of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopecilmd.org and consider donating to our calls

a native american tradition you know each of us has two dogs on our shoulders you know there’s a good dog on one side and a bad dog on the other and they’re constantly at battle at odds inside our heads you know the young boy asks the old man well which dog wins and the old man says what’s the one you feed the most so it’s that idea that if i’m focusing more on the positives more on the benefits more on the things i’m gaining that’s going to win out right yeah i would totally agree that’s generally how my life works whatever i focus on is what happens do you have sex addiction do you have love addiction these are things that i don’t know and especially in our society this is very much like alcohol to me i think and joshua said this a little different when we talked to him he was saying how the stigma is around using the alcohol or the drugs but the stigmas around like not masturbating and i kind of agree with the not masturbating thing but i think with alcohol it’s very similar i think the stigma is around not drinking a lot of times i think that’s how our society has done it and so as difficult as it can be to recognize that you have an alcohol problem because it just seems so prevalent in society that that’s what people do especially in certain age groups and certain demographics like you go out and drink on the weekends that’s what the [ _ ] everybody does that’s right they’re all yeah it’s harder to recognize that there’s a problem well i think our culture of dating and sex and everything has also lent itself to being very difficult to recognize that you have sex or love addiction personally like i i think this is what you know we have the ghosting culture we have the culture of like dating people that are emotionally unavailable we have the culture of like pick up like the hookup hookup culture one night stay in culture we you know all this has become the norm people not wanting to be married people not really wanting kids yeah which that doesn’t mean you’re a sex addict because you don’t want kids but i mean it’s just it’s become the norm to just kind of do whatever and it’s okay and so i think that makes it more difficult to recognize when it’s a problem yeah for people for sure what might this look like and i’m just gonna throw some stories out there of some things i’ve heard along the way from different people different places this can look like if you talk about you know the porn addiction as joshua kind of focused in more on a guy who or a girl who has like a ritual around their pornography experience where it’s not just hey i got on pornhub i found this video within a couple minutes and then i knocked one out in the bathroom and then life went on five minutes later this is like i sit down every night i’m reading seven different articles because i like to read erotic literature to get the right setup in my head and then you know two and a half hours later i’m looking for the right video that matches the scenario that i read about and then four hours into it i’m almost ready to finish like it’s this is like a long virtualistic process and if i would think if you’re sitting down at your computer to masturbate for four hours a night you might know that you have a problem but maybe not i mean maybe you just think that’s normal i’ve heard the story of people like not being able to find the the right material right to finish with and then being up till like three in the morning and then waking up for work at like six and calling out because they’re too tired but then they don’t go back to bed they get up and get right back on the porn wow and it’s like oh yeah wow that’s got you in the grips right this can look like somebody who has a wife and kids at home and they’re at home every night generally but they’re texting like five or six other girls for attention whether that’s and i’m not trying to put guys or girls or this can all be interchangeable but texting five or six other people trying to get naked pictures trying to plan hookups for the future where the family that is at home with them just seems like they’re in the way and annoying they might physically be home but they’re not really yeah that’s interesting i didn’t think of that and we didn’t talk to joshua about that but like the sexting and and that whole aspect of some of this i mean we had a i don’t know what do you want to call it experience or i had a friend that told me you know they had an issue with a co-worker they got involved with just sexting back and forth you know and it started with innocent work text and then it was some kind of you know minor insinuations then all the way to like i guess you would call it like fantasy type sexting whereas they worked together and according to him they were never there was never any physical interaction they weren’t like meeting up to go to hotels and whether it would have led there or not i don’t know but his claim was that this was just like a i guess that would be an emotional type thing or a fantasy type thing where they were just had these you know the sexual relationship through text messaging and the blurry line between is that really an affair like he wasn’t doing anything with this person and he wasn’t quote unquote cheating traditionally cheating and this was a guy that’s older i mean his isn’t like a 20 year old guy this is a somebody who’s 50 you know like and been married for you know whatever 30 years and feeling like well i’m not really having an affair i’m not really i’m still home with my wife i’m still you know sleeping with her but i am in this other whatever you want to call this and yeah you know the internet and sexting and and all that technology has sort of played into some of this it makes these types of cheating and affairs like way easier you know than they would have been you know 20 years ago where you’re trying to like sneak to a pay phone and [ _ ] arrange a meeting well and there’s that 90 easier jumping out there too like i could say things to women online in a message jokingly joking right feelers right that i could have never said in person yeah or they had that whole site the ashley madison site for a while i don’t know if there’s still a thing i don’t either they got outed a bunch of people got out for their affairs yeah didn’t they get hacked i remember yeah they got hacked and someone took their list and put it out i think i remember my wife saying to me like i went on there to see if your name but yeah i mean there was a whole site dedicated around you know hey hook up with someone else who’s married or in a relationship that wants to just have [ _ ] casual hookups that we can keep all this anonymous right right like they were coordinating that [ _ ] for you that kind of ties back into some of these other stories that i’ve heard like there was a guy who wanted more attention online and and sexual conversation and excitement and he couldn’t get that and so he ended up taking a female’s pictures that he knew and putting them as his profile he came up with like a profile as if he was a woman and was getting the attention and sexual conversation and stimulation he wanted pretending to be a woman even though that was like in no way part of anything that really turned him on but now he’s having these conversations with other men online as if he’s a woman it was just such an interesting story i was like i’ve never thought of that i mean i’m not saying i wouldn’t do it i’ve just never even thought about it i mean there’s a bunch of that kind of stuff on the i think it was mtv had the catfish show if you ever saw that like that [ _ ] fascinated me i think i’ve watched every episode of that show it just it’s so amazing like these people go online and create these whole new personalities these whole fake lives you know and interact with people and then the different varying degrees i mean some of them have multiple personality pages you know they’re right they’re they’re spending so much energy being five or six different people maintaining five or six different relationships and a lot of what you’re talking about now is that like emotional connection that feeling wanted that feeling special feeling important and then just maintaining all the lies and energy to do all that i’m like how the [ _ ] do you even find the time or energy but then keeping track of all the lies yeah well life is boring and monotonous once you become an adult and you get a job and you pay the [ _ ] bills and it all happens every day and every month and every week and it’s scheduled out and my t-mobile bill is on the [ _ ] 18th of the month and it comes out and it’s 182 dollars it’s like it gets old it gets stale so excitement freshness something different something that i can’t really live so i fantasize about it further there’s you know there’s guys who fantasize about sharing their wives with other men none of these behaviors specifically are unhealthy in and of themselves like the problem becomes when they become problematic for your life and so generally the people you’re going to hear tell these stories in these meetings have taken them to an extreme right they’re like forcing their wives or coercing or manipulating people to go do things they don’t want to do to please their own sexuality there’s guys who masturbate at times that are inappropriate whether that’s in their car at work i think joshua talked a little bit about that then if you get more into the love addiction side of this and how this can look you’re talking about people who don’t have many healthy boundaries who become sexually involved with emotionally unavailable people without knowing them and and frequently this is i don’t want to put a particular gender on any other but people who sleep with other people’s spouses often have this because they know automatically that person’s not really emotionally available right they’re already in another relationship they’re not leaving that and yet the sex and love addict will do this time and time again and expect that one day they’ll be enough that the person will leave the relationship for them right it’s like looking for that validation but looking for it in places where you’re not going to get it right people who ignore all the red flags early on in in the dating scene all these flags that scream hey this guy is not going to be anything healthy and not only ignore them but i think it goes unsaid sometimes too that it’s just that’s where the draw is it’s not like we’re putting uh broccoli on the table in front of me and heroin and i’m just picking the heroin because you know i picked wrong or something like i’m picking it because it feels way [ _ ] better than the broccoli does and so this girl or guy might meet healthy individuals in the dating scene too but those people don’t have any draw for them they’re like yeah they’re boring i don’t there’s no spark there’s nothing there i don’t really i’m not really attracted to them but then they have these strong feelings of attraction to people who aren’t available to actually provide them with anything healthy yeah and you know again all those same things that we see in drug addiction it’s like the denial and rationalization and justification you know yeah he’s married but you know he’s not happy there he tells me he’s not happy there he tells me you know he’s going to leave you know yeah yeah absolutely all that’s there people with sex and love addiction might also they might fear abandonment and loneliness and they stay in and return to painful destructive relationships time and time again people who have that on-again off-again relationship where it’s terrible but you keep going back anyway it doesn’t necessarily have to be abusive physically but it could be but it’s one of those things where you just can’t seem to pull away from unhealthy or toxic situations right confused love with neediness physical and sexual attraction pity and or the need to be rescued or to rescue others and i think that’s a strong one too that a lot of people struggle with i hear this and i guess maybe when i say this is what our dating scene looks like i’m looking at some of the memes on the internet for what the dating scene looks like i’m not in the dating scene i have no [ _ ] idea yeah or what i hear people in you know the rooms of n a or or recovery situation share and so yeah we recover from drug addiction we stop using the drugs but in that recovery process a lot of our relationships look really really unhealthy like this right i know the people who confuse physical and sexual attraction with love that lustful feeling i know people who confuse that early on butterfly i can’t be without this person i want to spend 24 hours a day with them for the first three months feeling with love i know people who confuse saving people with love like i know a lot of rescuers that want to fix people and all that like and so i i guess this is what i just assume all relationships look like i’m sure you there’s some optimistic view of like there’s healthy people out there but i don’t know them so yeah i i do believe there are healthy people in healthy relationships i mean we know there’s tons of books and tons of information if people are looking for how to have healthy relationships and how to set healthy boundaries but those are things we’re responsible i believe to teach people young you know like if they aren’t developing those skills in their early teens their early 20s and and they aren’t taught these lessons at home is a lot harder to develop them later well i think one of the things you’re missing there is that we’re definitely developing skills and learning while we’re young the problem is we’re learning what we’re seeing yes that’s the skills we’re developing whatever’s put in front of us and so by default that’s usually well if we’re not getting those needs met at home we will develop strategies and skills to get them met other ways you know it’s the for example like if i have a dad that’s not loving and supportive and caring i’ll seek out men that are loving supporting and caring you know and i watched my parents were married for 47 years before my mom passed and they had i mean again i don’t [ _ ] know i’m just gonna say what seemed like a healthy relationship from everything i could tell from the outside like they loved each other you know what i viewed as love they respected and cared for each other there was not affairs there wasn’t you know a lot of i don’t know people being outside of the home or outside of the marriage for what seemed like extensive periods of time you know doing other activities or other things like it seemed like a pretty healthy respectful mutually loving relationship and even i still have a really unhealthy view of relationships and [ _ ] you know this is not the time the place and i am not the person to ruin your picture of your parents marriage oh you can i mean i and again i you only kind of know what you see especially as a kid growing up so a lot of times we will again because of denial or rationalization just assume well this is what i knew so this is what is normal i mean and then we find out oh [ _ ] that totally was not normal right right i don’t know anything about your parents marriage i didn’t like do get a private investigator and research it or anything like that i just from having conversations with you talk about some of the unhealthy coping and trauma that your mother had that was never dealt with and i personally my belief is if that’s where one person’s coming from there’s no [ _ ] way that there’s a healthy relationship going on between their closest partner in them like if that’s where they’re at obviously the other person’s just as sick in some other direction and they magnetize together and they probably it sounds like they did great with it but i don’t know that that means it was like necessarily healthy and this i feel like goes back to some of the sexual stuff for me personally like i don’t think there’s a everyone should do it this way or there’s a right or wrong or whatever like if you’re into any kind of sexual practice that is like between two mutually consenting adults and everybody’s on the same page and there’s not you know a lot of manipulation and coercion and things like that then more power to it you know more power to you if you want to go out and sleep with a different person seven nights a week and you’re being safe and you’re being upfront and honest with people or you know you’re in a marriage and you and your wife decide you want to be swingers and sleep with people like more power to you i have nothing against any of that stuff like polyamory is a thing that is getting thrown around now and i watched a little documentary the other day saying how like monogamy actually is a is a bad thing that it actually not the way we were intended to be all along and that monogamy is just a result of like property ownership and land rights that you know when we got into this building of wealth that people started to take on this idea of marriage to keep their property ownership and wealth within their families right the old idea that cultures used to be like tribal and they used to live like communal style living and like the one tribe they described said you know if a woman was pregnant she would go and try to sleep with other people in the tribe at that time because then everyone that she slept with during her pregnancy was considered apparent to that child so that kid would grow up with multiple fathers in that community which is a blessing because then you have different dads that can teach you different things and give you different skills and help protect you in that environment and that this idea that polyamory is a natural way that we should be living and and whatever i’m i’m not saying i agree with that i’m obviously married in a monogamous relationship i don’t plan on changing that i’m just saying there’s lots of different ways that people live and choices they make and i just feel like if you’re okay with the situation you’re in you’re not hurting yourself hurting someone else you know sort of selling your soul or causing harm to other people have at it but if you see that you’re in these patterns of like hey man i’m i feel really a lot of guilt shame remorse about what i’m doing i’m hurting my wife i’m hurting my husband i’m hurting people that i’m in a relationship with then maybe you need to start taking a look at some of that y’all hear that all y’all judgmental people that have been watching mari all this time judging that lady for not knowing which of them 21 dudes was the father she was trying to get a lot of participation yeah if we had a culture that supported that that kid might have a chance right you know but instead we shame and guilt them into [ _ ] see having no daddy i think this communal sharing wife property i think you’ve just excited many women that are listening to us possibly they’re like yeah yeah why aren’t we living like that so two consenting adults so no sheep we can’t include the sheep i there’s something inherently in me that says that that’s wrong because i don’t know if the sheep can be consenting can we get a can we get sheep consent is that possible yeah i don’t know i i don’t know and it’s i mean that was one thing that came about with sort of the internet and porn in my era because i grew up you know before the internet when i was a kid and looking at porn it was still in magazines and [ _ ] my first introductions to it yeah and then online came and then you heard about all these crazy videos of like people having sex with animals and [ _ ] that you could go on and watch and there was some interest in just the sheer i don’t know what you want to call it craziness of people’s sexuality and like the weirdness of the but and now that was years ago but the two girls one cup like that kind of you know there’s just so much don’t research that if you’re listening and now it’s the same way i mean now you can go on and look up almost any fetish or you go on you know these porn sites and there’s any kind of weird i don’t even want to use the word weird any kind of different or unique fantasy that you might have with [ _ ] family members and steps step parents and older people or younger people or you know like any weird thing interracial weird you know whatever i saw you try to be inclusive there and then you said we’re here it’s it’s difficult out of the ordinary yes that’s what we mean when we say weird it’s there’s nothing wrong with it as long as like you said everything yeah oh i don’t think i mean it’s to me it’s fascinating like i’m like hey man if you’re if you can find other people that are into that stuff like [ _ ] have at it right you know life’s too short to you know if you got some interest i mean let’s say i go out and i decide i want to study [ _ ] rare insects that beetles that live on some kind of tree like people might think that’s weird but [ _ ] it i like it i’m gonna do it right and it’s the same with sexual stuff if you i mean it’s maybe it’s kind of great that people can explore some of this stuff again as long as you’re not hurting other people or causing harm you know that’s where i think it can get dangerous and that’s where i think a lot of us sometimes in our acceptingness and i’m not saying we shouldn’t be accepting of all these varieties of sexual expression but i do think it becomes less clear to know when we’re causing harm to ourselves or others right and frequently not frequently but there are times when we get caught up in this sexual addiction or love addiction and don’t realize it like when i was earlier on just chasing relationships to feel better i never knew that there was something wrong with how i was dating but had i never got clued into that i would be in a perpetual cycle of 18-month relationships that i get in they feel great we’re gonna live together forever then i [ _ ] hate you and we’re done and i’m moving on and i would have just done that over and over and over again and never realized like i really thought i was looking for a person that was going to be the answer i didn’t realize that my process was all goofed up to begin with and i just don’t think a lot of us do realize that that we’re like it’s the process we’re living in that’s skewed it’s not that we’re going to find this individual that’s the right one that’s going to end the process yeah and there’s no i guess right in some of these this searching or relationship stuff i mean i listened to a i listened to a podcast called radiolab the other day and there was a lady on there describing her experiences dating in new york city like before covid you know like pre-covered and now the differences going on in covid now and dating and she was describing this process of like dating in new york as someone who’s uh you know in their early 20s in the dating scene going out with different guys couple nights a week you know she was saying she would go on an average 20 to 30 dates in a month and sometimes wow with other people you know i mean sometimes with the same person more than once but a lot of times it was just out and like she was talking about all this in in my mind part of it sounded really unhealthy and then but her being very open and very just okay with her behavior and activities and and she wasn’t i mean in my head i immediately assume oh you’re out sleeping with 30 people a month but i don’t know that that’s what she meant and she never said that but that’s just what i picture like dating equals sleeping with people and you know these weird concepts that i think are quote unquote normal for example the whole process of dating is just to find a mate like that’s the point of dating and then realizing oh [ _ ] like you said the way she’s describing it in this current generation like that’s not it at all she’s not looking to settle down in the least just having fun yeah she’s having fun she’s meeting people she’s going out she has an active social life he goes to lots of fun cool places you know and does interesting things and meets new people and some of these guys that she’s dated have ended up being just friends that she now hangs out with they didn’t have any spark or connection but she’s developed these new friends and you know all this like healthy stuff around dating where i was like the only reason you go out on dates is to try to find the person you want to marry like you date him three times you know if that’s the right person or not if it didn’t work out you move on to the next dating person and it’s like well [ _ ] that’s i mean in a different context like that sounds really unhealthy i mean you said she’s doing 30 dudes a month i’m like does she need to be married i love her she’s my new favorite woman there’s this 40 question self-diagnosis that slaa has for sex and love addiction and if you might want to hit some of their meetings saa has one that’s only like 12 questions which is probably better for our format but it was more sex focused obviously because they don’t deal with the love aspect of it i thought this one might be more relatable so let’s just ask a few of them and get into it and see what our thoughts are first one have you ever tried to control how much sex you have or how often you would see someone i mean yes of course like kind of that’s kind of weird yeah i i mean i don’t know what they mean by control so i think for me like i used to meet somebody and then we were gonna spend the next 72 hours together just because i couldn’t figure out how to leave you alone now i was like addicted to wanting to just be around you every second of the day and of course i was younger so that was like actually possible we had no lives but at the time when i realized at some point after doing that four or five times it doesn’t work i was like i’m gonna make sure i don’t see you tomorrow yeah i’m gonna see the third day and then we’re not gonna have sex until after the third time we’ve seen each other or you know or then i would cheat that then i would cheat that so i would like see you tuesday morning tuesday night and then wednesday morning and now we can do it so then it would be like well we gotta wait 30 days before we have sex like i would set these [ _ ] limits as if i could control it i think that’s what they’re talking about well and again now i’ve been married 20 years so it’s hard but going back i mean i just think yeah when i was young in my 20s like i was trying to have sex a lot i was always trying to coordinate dates and you know when can i see you again do you find yourself unable to stop seeing a specific person even though you know that seeing this person is destructive to you i have definitely found that i’ve had some relationships where the i don’t want to call the other person out but the relationship was surely toxic and i could not i would be like i’m done i’m never seeing them again and then they text me like two days later and i’m like all right when are we gonna see each other yeah i haven’t had that experience you might not be a love it do you feel that you don’t want anyone to know about your sexual or romantic activities do you feel you need to hide these activities from others friends families co-workers counselors etc yes but mostly because i’m gonna self-diagnose here and say i was raised catholic and i there’s a tremendous amount of like shame embarrassment and guilt around sexual stuff so the even sheer fact of talking about it is a big step for me for me to come on here and talk about any sort of sexual stuff and if it were to get into like personal areas it would get very uncomfortable for me even in things that i think are fairly normal i mean even like an admission that like oh yes i masturbate like that is like there’s so much shame and weirdness wrapped around that well and i’m not trying to pin you into any kind of sex addiction whatsoever because it doesn’t seem like that from knowing you but shame has a big contributing factor to a lot of this sex addiction stuff because we keep it in the dark because we feel worse about it and then we keep doing more to cover it up i guess similar to how we use the drugs so i don’t know that that works that way for you but even not telling people out of shame i think can be part of it yeah and with sex and pornography both you know my relationship with both over the years i definitely aware that they could easily turn into a [ _ ] problem you know what i mean that i’m like whoa i gotta step back from this ledge i can see this is starting to get a little unhealthy and i was never able to find that ledge with drugs i just proceeded on [ _ ] whole heartedly right just jumped right off wiley cody well and my experience has been that way with gambling i mean i’ve been to you know atlantic city and vegas and done a little gambling here and there and then i’ve had those experiences where it it started to feel different you know what i mean like it started you could like recognize like this is getting not healthy and i’ve been able to kind of just step back and and leave it alone and get away from it right i don’t know what you call it luck you know self-awareness i mean what i don’t feel like it’s any healthy i mean is there all times in my life where i wasn’t overly healthy but i don’t know why those areas seemed easier for me to identify than the addiction i don’t know yeah that’s interesting but i definitely am aware especially after reading some of this literature over the last couple days that i i definitely don’t have a healthy relationship with sex with sex and sexuality you know and again not that i think it qualifies me to go to one of these programs but there’s probably some things that some sort of talking about it or therapy would help with right unresolved trauma issues and [ _ ] i personally just didn’t want my sexual or romantic activities to be known by my wife that was my goals like i’m gonna hide this from you yeah yeah that’s funny that’s a joke about cheating sorry do you get high from sex and or romance and do you crash i was surely yeah i had those early romantic relationship highs where it was like oh my god we’re so in love we’ll be together and i have and i mean what i know reading sort of relationship and and different uh information over the years like part of that is there is a biological component to that this infatuation stage that we get in in relationships and i guess that’s similar to like the addict and the endorphin or dopamine hits you get with that stuff so i yes i’m aware of those things but i don’t know that it ever affected me in an unhealthy way to where it was like obsessive or compulsive oh my god i was completely obsessed with every person i met yeah have you had sex at inappropriate times in inappropriate places and or with inappropriate people oh my god yes yes yes yeah i was gonna say yeah a lot of i mean using sexual relationships were in that category i mean when i was on drugs but that’s i mean i’ve always personally attributed that more to just the drugs and the drug lifestyle yeah oh yeah i had an unhealthy sexual desire everywhere i mean i’ve had sex like on top of roy rogers at like 7 30 in the morning before school i’ve had sex in the baltimore arena and during like the second period of a hockey game like just any yeah it was pretty unhealthy definitely inappropriate people i didn’t know people i did know that i shouldn’t know gosh i think my shame and guilt kept me from doing any of that unless i was [ __ ] up on drugs and drinking right but it didn’t matter anymore i didn’t care about the shame and guilt at that point have you had or do you have sex with someone you don’t or didn’t want to have sex with yes yeah me too that’s sad

how does that happen for me i take it back to you know my terribly low self-esteem and low self-worth again it was all using behavior i mean i’ve i’ve been with my wife for most of my time clean and i’ve never had any affairs or anything and obviously i want to have sex with her so so my wife doesn’t qualify for the last 20 years of my life but before that it was just needing validation needing to feel like important or special or worthy of love i guess and and there was definitely some confusion some issues i had to work through with the differences between love and sex and that just because someone was having sex with you didn’t mean that you love them or just because you’re having sex with them doesn’t mean that you love them like all that [ _ ] was all twisted up in my head right do you believe that sex and or a relationship will make your life bearable and we don’t have to answer all these have you ever felt that you had to have sex do you believe that someone can fix you oh yes i used to feel that all the time oh i’m gonna find the right woman and get married and settle down and that’ll fix all right right that’s what i need do you keep a list written or otherwise of the number of partners you’ve had i did it i did yeah i used to yeah i don’t anymore but well you stopped adding to it right do you feel desperation or uneasiness when you are away from your lover or sexual partner that’s yeah that’s what i part of my obsession like i got to be around you 24 7. huh a because that’s the only time i’m not alone and b because who knows what you’re doing or what kind of great guy you’re finding when i’m not there have you lost count of the number of sexual partners you’ve had at this point yes do you feel desperate about your need for a lover sexual fix or future mate have you or do you have sex regardless of the consequences threat of being caught risk of contracting herpes gonorrhoea or aids etc yeah oh yeah i should have used protection a whole lot of times and did not well you know similar story to most people you know you get clean and like you go and get tested for the different venereal diseases and aids and all that [ _ ] and like just [ _ ] scared to death i mean i don’t know about nowadays it used to take a couple of days before you got the results back and it was like [ _ ] holding your breath like holy you know what’s gonna happen you know what did i get

do you find you have a pattern of repeating bad relationships do you feel that your only or major value in a relationship is your ability to perform sexually or provide an emotional fix god i hope not yeah that’s not almost inadequate

i fail on that one yeah me too do you feel like a lifeless puppet unless there is someone around with whom you can flirt do you feel that you’re not really alive unless you were with your sexual romantic partner that’s interesting so i laughed at that when i first started reading it but i definitely remember times in my life where there if there was not a new you know we call it the thrill of the chase or the hunt or whatever i think that’s how society has made this acceptable this behavior this toxic behavior of like chasing women to get validated by them when they say yes or when they giggle at my joke or whatever it is that i’m looking for but i have definitely yeah been like oh my god there’s nobody new to try to get to like me i don’t think i’ve done that like i’m not aware that i’ve ever done that but i i know someone currently that fits that very well beside you but but no and and it’s funny i you know when you read it i’m like oh like this person popped in my head immediately i’m like ah that’s what that is you know people besides me

do you believe that problems in your love life result from not having enough of or the right kind of sex or from continuing to remain with the wrong person have you ever had a serious relationship threatened or destroyed because of outside sexual activity i just told you all i cheated do you feel life would have no meaning without a love relationship or without sex do you feel that you would have no identity if you were not someone’s lover no do you find yourself flirting or sexualizing with someone even if you do not mean to i tend to say i’m a flirt yeah that’s some personality trait that i can’t control i mean don’t get me wrong i’m not this overly outgoing flirt but i don’t know that there’s anything even wrong with that sometimes i mean yeah i’m not saying there’s something inherently wrong with it but i’m saying it has in the past got me into situations that i didn’t necessarily mean to get myself into and then didn’t see any reason to stop once i was there um yeah you know because you had open doors and then i was like [ _ ] it i’ll walk in right which is you know like say that that middle circle thing it’s like that’s a behavior that gets me into trouble yeah and we do talk about that in a fellowship or at least i try to talk about that with sponsees and stuff it’s like those red flags those things those warning signs like [ _ ] danger right but i guess i like the circle thing better but yeah this could be one of those well and the cool thing so if you picture going to one of those water fountains remember they used to have those like pointy cups those little yeah pointy cups so if you picture looking down into that where your outer circle is the rim around the outside right and all the entire middle circle is on the sloped part down right to that point of the inner circle so it’s kind of like once you get on there it’s not just a middle circle like i might slip it’s like oh you’re slipping [ _ ] yeah you’re going down yeah you’re skiing right so i i just always thought that was a cool piece of imagery to think about right and i’m no i’m just gonna justify and say maybe because i haven’t had bad sexual relationship or you know unhealthy sexual relationships in that area a little innocent flirting every now and again isn’t you know you can tell when people flirt a little bit maybe flirt back or a smile and but for me it’s always been that’s never led to anything or right or turned into any like weird sexual relationships i’ve noticed that since i’ve had therapy since my life changed a whole lot like it’s just different now like things don’t have the grip they used to have like i used to feel and i didn’t know this is the crazy part because i can look at it now and totally recognize it i felt like i was caught in a [ _ ] 1980s sci-fi tractor beam like i was just totally out of the ability to like stop my body from going forward towards this action and individual and i i did not like it all seemed really appealing then i was like oh yeah i can’t wait to do this but i look at it now and it’s like that doesn’t happen in situations that look exactly like previous situations right i’ll say some similar flirty things the response is there and there’s just like literally it’s not that the person’s not attractive or anything it’s there’s just literally no desire to follow through with anything and i’m just kind of like uh and i think some of that so how much would you think or i don’t [ _ ] i don’t even know like how much for as a man has to do with just getting older yeah none none that’s what i will say no so i have a a half brother who has very similarly had all the same womanizing crap that i’ve gone through and he’s 54 and still doing it he’s 54 he’s got like 48 kids by 16 different women or something crazy and he is still seeking out the next one that’s going to fix him he’s still living like this life of being a bartender and hooking up with girls 20 years younger than him so that tells me nothing changes unless you yeah true okay that’s just my yeah that makes sense i get it yeah i guess that’s like addiction i mean you might not be able to run as hard as you used to when you’re 45 compared to when you’re 20 but it doesn’t mean you aren’t trying i can’t imagine being like 72 and still trying to like flirt at the nursing home like hey girl i don’t know but yeah that’s all so there’s a bunch of questions on there and you know generally if you’re finding dissatisfaction in your life around sex or relationships i think that’s the time when we start thinking about asking these questions or maybe visiting the website or maybe even going on right now pandemic there’s a billion online meetings easy way to find out you can duck in without your [ _ ] screen on nobody even knows you yeah but if things aren’t pleasing to you if you’ve got rituals around your sexual behavior if you’ve got sexual dissatisfaction where it’s just not working if you find yourself constantly in a similar relationship situation that just doesn’t work out for some reason maybe it’s time to start thinking uh we’re the common denominator you know maybe look at that and also making a decision to possibly check out one of these fellowships or to you know like you said just popping online listen to a couple meetings like you don’t have to admit that you have some issue with sex or commit wholeheartedly you’re a sex addict maybe if you you know you you know this isn’t feeling so good or you know maybe this this doesn’t seem to be getting me to where i want to be in my relationships you know it can’t hurt to check it out i mean it’s you know you can like you said anonymously check in listen to some information decide if it fits or it doesn’t fit and then make decisions going forward it’s not like you have to commit to being a sex addict before you can check out a meeting or two right one of the coolest things i heard when i went to saa and slaa that i had never heard in an a meeting was they have been a reading in the prologue a lot of times that if you attend the meeting if you’re unsure about it they suggest you attend six meetings in different locations and different times a day and all that and generally because meeting they say you know meetings can take on the personality of whoever’s here you might find you fit better in one than another but they recommend going to at least six before you make a decision of if the program is right for you so that you’re not judging the program by any specific meeting that you might attend and i just that struck me as kind of brilliant because there’s definitely a lot of n a meetings i’ve walked into where i’m like if this was the only meeting i ever went to i would have never [ _ ] came back yeah this was what i thought na was similar i think i believe to what josh was talking about when he was out in you know california in the meetings there and the meetings in the urban areas compared to when he got back to rural maine i think it was in maine you know we got back to this rural area the meetings were very different and things looked very different and felt very different and when that happened he kind of stopped going and the the ability now with online stuff hopefully makes the process of exploring different areas much easier yeah and and also important in this don’t just think about this as in like oh i got to address this sexual problem i’m having right it’s not just about addressing a sexual problem this is about even people who are already somewhat healthy finding healthier sexuality so that we can like enjoy the [ _ ] out of it that’s right right enjoy the [ _ ] out of [ _ ] right feel love yeah sex get it on right get it on we’re all for any healthy sexual expression that two consenting adults are a part of right and so once we get to that place where we don’t have to feel the shame and the guilt and all those weird feelings about it we can really dive wholeheartedly in and just be fully in the experience and so this is about improving sex so if you think sex is good now just wait and that’s all i got i think yeah i think we’ve done good for episode 69 episode 69. i mean i guess if we make it to 420 we’re gonna have to have weed people out here it’s a long ways off thank god yeah i’ll forget yeah me too okay all right have a good week everybody share this podcast with people in your life who might enjoy it check out recoveryswordup.com to find our episodes and link up with us on facebook twitter and instagram we’re always looking for new and interesting ideas for topics sort of if you have any ideas for episodes or think you have something to come on and talk about reach out to us

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