Bisexuality – Passion or Addiction

2016-03-26_0931Now that our relationship hurts and pains are under control, we can get back to gender and sexual orientation issues. In the past, those hurts and pains may have led to compulsive or even addictive sexual behaviors. All forms of compulsion and addiction are destructive and filled with negative energy. We have to turn that energy to the positive side; we have to go from destructive compulsions and behaviors to instructive mental and heart-based patterns.  That means turning addiction into passion.

To do this we first have to understand or become conscious of compulsion and addiction. The best source of information that I have found on this topic is a book called In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate[1]. Even though his main focus is drug addiction, he also applies his theories to behavioral patterns, including some sections on sexual addiction. If you have similar experiences as I have had, you will feel these words hitting home:

“People jeopardize their lives for the sake of making the moment livable. Nothing sways them from the habit — not illness, not the sacrifice of love and relationship, not the loss of a mate, of all earthly goods, not the crushing of their dignity, not the fear of dying.”

“I (Alvin) get a high of some sort. Which lasts about three to five minutes (in our case, an hour or two), and then…you say to yourself, ‘Why did I do that?’ But then it’s too late. Something makes you keep doing it, and that’s what’s called addition.” [2]

“Cocaine (or in our case, sexual addiction), as we shall see, exerts its euphoric effect by increasing the availability of the reward chemical dopamine in key brain circuits, and this is necessary for motivation and for mental and physical energy.

“He (Aubrey) feels incomplete and incompetent as a person without the drug (or in our case, gay or lesbian sex) a self-concept that has nothing to do with his real abilities and everything to do with his formative experiences  as a child…and the sense that he was a failed human being were a part and parcel of his personality before he ever touched drugs (or as in our case, engaged in gay sex).[3]

“Dr. Sigmund Freud used cocaine (or as in our case, gay or lesbian sex) ‘to control his intermittent depressed moods, improve his general sense of well-being, help him to relax in intense social encounters, and just make him feel more like a man’.”[4]

Let’s put these quotes together and apply them directly to compulsive or addictive sex.

First of all, for bisexual men and women, this usually means a heterosexual primary relationship with a desire to engage in same-sex encounters and relationships.  Usually these sexual adventures have some degree of guilt and shame, or at the least, a sense that we are doing something that is not quite right. However, we are driven by our own desires to seek a deeper sexual experience that can give us a rush (dopamine drive) and to fill a kind of emptiness inside that seems to always be there just below the surface.  At times, when we feel down or trapped, these desires rise to the surface demanding a stimulus that can break us out of the blah mood.  When we engage in gay or lesbian sex, we feel the dopamine rush that leads to an opiate response (intense pleasure) and a hormonal drive (a mix of testosterone or estrogen and oxytocin). Throw in an Adrenalin rush because we feel we are walking into forbidden territory, and we have a powerful rush equivalent to a combined shot of ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. After a few encounters we are hooked on the rush provided by our own body chemicals. We become addicted.

At this point, we are caught in a dilemma: we need the rush to survive, but we feel obligated to our partner to stay in a monogamous relationship. Enter guilt and shame.  We now create a cycle of drive and withdrawal.  Our depressed desires become a major part of the feelings that trigger a compulsion for another same-sex encounter.  We now are aware of the possible consequences of our sexual behavior but we feel powerless to stop. The power of the relationship with our spouse or partner begins to fade, and we become more and more addicted. Eventually, we realize we can no longer control the behavior, but we feel we have to get out of the relationship because we cannot deal with the dishonesty and shame. If we are brave enough, we come out to our partner with a willingness to live with the consequences.  If we are not brave enough, we get careless hoping the spouse will discover our behavior and make the decision for us.

At the bottom of all this, there is usually a root cause that goes back to a traumatic event or wound suffered during early childhood. In other words, we were an addiction just waiting to happen.  This brings us back to the inner healing which we have discussed in the previous blogs.  If the wounds of the past have now been healed, the key now is to become conscious of the addictive behavior, detach the thought and behavior patterns from the root cause, and consciously reattach them to positive circuitry.  In other words,we take control of our own behavior. We are honest with ourselves and our partners, and we make the decisions that will be best for both of us. We are now free to change addiction to passion and begin to enjoy our sexual bodies without shame, guilt, and compulsion. More on that in the next blog.

[1] Mate, Gabor. In the Realm of Hingry Ghosts. Knopf Canada, 2010.

[2] Mate, page 31.

[3] Mate, page 40.

[4] Gay, Peter. Freud a Life for our Time. W.W. Norton, 1998. (page 444).

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