Today's question is on how to deal with an inevitably sexual relationship in recovery.
he has 16 months, i have 100 days. he suggests we keep our recovery first. i totally agree. my sponsor says wait a year. he says he would wait 12 months for me. perfect guy, right? he suggested i call him and we could go to meetings together. i get all cheesy in front of him and i'm a little school girl again. i can't stop thinking about him. my mind just thinks SEX he's SEXY and SEX. while i don't have any intentions of having sex with him (because of my step 4 sex inventory convictions), i am confused if i should even talk to him because I’m so deeply in lust. should i practice being friends like we agreed upon or stay away from him?
Janice Dorn: Dear Deeply in Lust: Thank you so much for reaching out for help. You may not like what I have to say, but I assure it’s from many years of recovery and treating others in recovery. With 100 days of sobriety, you are very vulnerable. I suspect you have been where you are now a number of times in the past. I also suspect it has not worked out so well for you. How many times before do you think you have come across the “perfect man?” How many times were you wrong about this?
He says he will wait 12 months for you and you say that he’s the perfect man. What does this mean? Wait for what? Does this mean he will wait 12 months and then have sex with you? Does this mean that he will go ahead and see other women and then, at the end of 12 months, be all ready to give himself fully to you? Do you seriously think that something like this is even possible?
Here’s my answer:
NO. He is not the perfect man for even suggesting this to you and leading you on and giving you some kind of hope for the future. He is much better served by focusing on his sobriety, and you on your sobriety.
He asked you to call him to go to meetings together. My answer to you is two words: Don’t call. If you must, let him call you. If he calls, tell him that you would prefer to go to meetings alone or with your sponsor. Who is this man? He has more sobriety than you do. Is he for real? Is he a predator who is trying to do a 13th step on you? How many other women has he asked to call him? Do you have reason to believe that you are the only one?
I don’t know the answer to any of the questions. I suspect he would not tell you, even in his state of “rigorous honesty.”
You are in lust. You are thinking of SEX, SEXY, SEX (all in your caps). Do you understand that you are hijacking your recovery by thinking of him constantly and being in “lust?” How is that lust working for you, and how did it work when you were in your addiction? How about when you were not in your addiction?
One major reason that people relapse is over relationships. You think it will be wonderful, that the sex is great and nothing can ever go wrong. It can and it will. Relationships are the most difficult thing we do. The rush of “love chemicals” is every bit as powerful as the high from drugs or alcohol. And then something happens. You try to get the high and keep getting the high and maybe its good sex or maybe it isn’t. In any case, once you have sex with someone everything changes. There is a huge difference between sex and love. Lust alone is not love. Sex alone is not love. Love is love, and it is built over years, time and shared experiences.
We don’t get sick because we use. We use because we are sick. Now is the time for you to get well. Now is the time for you to fall in love with YOU. Once you do that, everything will change. This is a beautiful time for you to truly get to know who you are - clean and sober. This is a remarkable opportunity for you to become the person you truly are - your authentic self. This is the time to let go of shame, guilt and fear without using drugs or alcohol. Once you do that, you will attract men who truly love you for you.
At this point in your recovery, I do not think it’s a good idea to have this man as friend. It is a slippery slope because of your present emotional state. I also think that there is a real possibility that you are at great risk for substituting one addiction for another. You are working the steps. Keep working them. Keep in close touch with your sponsor. Start to become aware of any person, place or thing that might derail your recovery. There will be many - sometimes in the most surprising ways.
Stay strong, stay safe, keep working the steps and don’t get into a relationship now. It’s too early. You need time to heal and time to learn that you are truly becoming the woman you really are meant to be.
There is hope!
Janice Dorn, MD, PhD, specializes in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine. She holds a PhD in Anatomy and has done extensive research and teaching in brain anatomy and physiology. She is also an expert on addiction to stock trading and on stock trading itself. Her second book, Mind, Money and Markets, with co-author Dave Harder, is scheduled for publication in the fall. Full Bio.