An addiction can be a great starting point from which to observe the power of bonding-based lovemaking. However, you (the addict) will need to make an important decision first.
An addiction is the result of seeking self-sufficiency and comfort by manipulating one’s own mood, rather than trusting to the comfort and balance of connections with others. Many of us have chosen this path. In a recent USA TODAY/HBO nationwide poll of adults, one in five reported they had a spouse, parent, sibling or child who was, or had been, addicted to alcohol or drugs.
Unfortunately, these two ways of seeking comfort—mood-altering substances and close connections—work at cross-purposes to each other. You cannot share your real self with another person if your have altered your personality artificially. You will have to choose between them.
Ask yourself if you want to give up your addiction. If not, it’s best to wait to explore the gifts of karezza until you honestly want to give up your addiction. On the other hand if you’re sure you want to recover, but don’t think you can, you can still experiment with the Exchanges.
Explore what the magic of bonding behaviors can do, without medicating yourself in your habitual way. Put your full attention on nurturing your partner while you do the Exchanges. At the same time, and take a vacation from the cues related to your addiction to the extent possible. This might mean avoiding your drinking buddies, some favorite websites, or the routines and haunts associated with your addiction.
As my husband and I went through the Exchanges, and stayed with the practice of karezza, I watched two things happening. First, he found bonding behaviors more and more rewarding, which seemed to reduce his cravings. As a science teacher, he thinks in strange ways. He said later—thinking back to this experience after learning about the unique properties of oxytocin—“That’s probably what it felt like to sprout new oxytocin receptors.” Second, he grew more optimistic and open to new insights about his addiction. Those insights seemed to arrive at just the right moments. Within about four months his addiction was behind him.
Advice for mate: Throughout my experience with this process—which involved a number of relapses—I was very clear that his decision to recover was entirely up to him. He knew that if he changed his mind I would not argue with him; I would simply end the relationship. As it turned out, I was able nourish him while he regained his balance because he kept his commitment to stay with bonding behaviors and karezza (despite a slip or two). Otherwise, I would have found the resulting passion cycles of intense mood swings intolerably draining.
If your partner is not willing to address an addiction, and you don’t feel you can leave the relationship, you may still find some comfort emphasizing bonding behaviors while you’re waiting for a clear direction.