Friday, June 10, 2011
Kiss Me, You Fool
I have a close friend who is a recovering sex and love addict. She is an older woman (a phrase I use when I mean "older than me") and so dear to me. This woman has about 20 years of recovery under her belt, immense wisdom and humility. She's been nothing short of a gift from God to me and I am grateful to share this universe with her.:-) She doesn't mind my sharing some insight she and I both are gaining as a result of a new relationship she is in.
My friend has not dated for probably about 10-15 years now. I suspect much of this comes from the deep respect she has for sobriety and her own addiction. She is fully aware that returning to addictive relationships could mean death for her. Many of the men she dated or was married to in the past are already dead themselves due to reckless behavior and various addictions of their own. I have encouraged my friend, however, that I do not personally feel that God intends for us to live alone. This doesn't mean we are all meant to be married, however, I feel my friend has much to offer in a relationship and is certainly deserving of much love and admiration. I've encouraged her to remain open to healthy men and when there is an opportunity for a date, she needs to go! Unlike decades ago when she moved desperately from one unhealthy man to another in an attempt to get her love fix, she now has a circle of sober friends who will help hold her accountable. She also has years of healing under her belt and numerous new coping tools. She has taken my fine advice and has been dating someone for 2 months.
My friend has established a rule for herself that, at first, I didn't quite understand. She has promised herself that she will not kiss this many until and unless they have dated successfully for 3 months. I spoke to her this week and asked, "Have you gotten to smooch yet or not?" She says, "Nope, still no smooching! You'll be the first to know!" She and I discussed what the purpose of this personal contract has been and how in the heck is it even working. She and I are first and foremost shocked that she is dating someone who has not questioned this. She has not told him about her personal promise and he has not attempted to kiss her. They have held hands and demonstrate a romantic interest in one another but neither are anxious to push things too far too soon. I am learning that, by slowing things down in this way, my friend is experiencing many unexpected benefits:
1) Reduced possiblity for fantasy behavior: we all know that sexual feelings can cause you to feel a little crazy in your head and influence you to overlook otherwise unhealthy or inappropriate behavior in a partner. By not taking the relationship to that level that particular temptation is not there and they are able to experience each other at a more "real" and therefore more intimate level than other couples who are hopping into bed within the first few dates. Yes, Honey, BELIEVE it.
2) Reduced tension and anxiety around the sexual aspect of the relationship: by limiting the first kiss, the sexual tensions are held at bay. This allows for the both of them to just stop thinking about it and worrying about it. Instead, do you know what they do? They just go on a date and have fun with each other without worrying about when is the sex gonna happen! Again, they are opened to a truer level of intimacy because of this.
3) Maintaining a personal sense of integrity and safety: for my friend in particular this is very important. This is a big deal to her and very scary. It is exactly this kind of limit that has allowed her to safely date at all. We are also both shocked that she has found this man who is so respectful of it. It's made her realize that it wasn't the man who was always the problem in past relationships-- perhaps she was the one pushing things too quickly sexually and there are actually many men who would be willing to respect her timing and limits. THAT is a true paradigm shift for her and very freeing. Should things not work out in this relationship, she's learned something so important about men-- they can be safe and responsive to your needs when you express them.
I've been with the same man for 17 years and we have 2 children. We're way past the withholding the kiss stage, so walking through this with my friend is so special to me. A part of me gets to learn alongside her. Yeah, recovery!
Photo above found at: