Sex, Dating, and Romantic Addictive Behavior

Submitted by vlepo on
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I have just completed 4 full days of my own sobriety. My commitment is to achieve a very extended period of time with no sex, masturbation, or romantic dating of any kind. I believe this is important to create a healthy baseline for healing. Interestingly, lack of getting off, so far, seems like a breeze compared to my longing for romantic connection. Even though it's been a few days, I feel like I'm going crazy by keeping myself from hooking up with so many potential partners, even though I know we wouldn't have sex. I'm discovering just how much validation I've learned to get from others in the context of romantic dating. This urge seems to be stronger even than the getting off urge. At least for now. I mostly feel afraid -- afraid that I might not be able to handle experiencing myself outside of the context of a romantic other. Even though I'm only planning on 3 full months of no dating. This is not a long time, but feels like an eternity for someone who so easily connects with other people. I realize that I have the knack and history of creating dates -- for sex or for more serious connections -- with the ease of a fish in water. Not doing so makes me feel like I'm choking and gasping to breathe for my life. If getting off, dating, and romantic behaviors make up my addictive cycle (which indeed they do), I feel both proud and terrified to have so far made it through 4 full days. I just hope that my expectation for a real shift in my brain and body will start to kick in eventually because the withdrawal symptoms are unspeakably difficult.

I'd appreciate hearing from others with encouragement or similar experiences confronting this. Just letting myself ask for help like this is a radical shift for me.


WHY are you not dating? I honestly think you may want to rethink the plan to avoid friendly dating without sex (for now). I think sites that advise that are not understanding the underlying neurochemistry of us pair-bonding humans. For more, see: No wonder you're choking and gasping to breathe. Smile

I would say that your inclination to date is one of your healthiest impulses - as is your decision to avoid masturbation and porn until you're back in balance.

Affectionate contact with other is very soothing. Helps with withdrawal symptoms.


Thanks so much, Marnia. I appreciate being able to think more carefully about my plan. I'd be curious to hear your ideas after I explain a little more.

I think I need a break from dating because I am still trying to heal from a recent break up and I've already gotten myself a bit overwhelmed with multiple connections in too short a time. My partner of 3 years broke up with me in July. Interestingly, although we had our problems, I was the most stable I had been in years around sex addiction, etc. I think because of the basic fulfillment of being in our committed relationship.

After the breakup, I was shocked but managed to get through the loss relatively well over the first couple months, mainly, I think, because of my steady involvement in triathlon training and competitions and because I surrounded myself with loving and very supportive friends and family. By the third month, things really fell a part: I took to rampant sexual encounters, frequent masturbating, and porn. During this time, I met this wonderful guy and we started dating fast and furiously. After a dreamlike and flawless beach vacation together, we made plans for him to go to my parents house for thanksgiving. He met my parents and family and we then made plans to take a trip together over Xmas holiday. Things were definitely getting serious and I was elated. About a week before Xmas, his father died unexpectedly and he had to immediately return to Poland, where he grew up. All of our plans fell through and my sexual patterns intensified. Mind you, they never stopped during our happy dating, but now they intensified as the pain of my loss resurfaced. Since being in Poland, he wrote me to say that he may not even return to the States for several months and that I should feel free to move on and not wait for him. Within the space of these two weeks, I've connected with two new people and have already gotten myself and them serious about wanting to date. The whole thing does not seem healthy to me at all. First, I think that I am still trying to mourn the loss of my 3 year relationship, which makes the new relationship with Polish guy, I think, tricky. But I really want to date the Polish guy. I know that the other guys are kinda like fall-back plans if it doesn't work out.

It is all this that makes me think that I need a time of aloneness to find my own basic footing and perspective before getting others involved. Especially if I'm going to even try to make things work with anyone. This alone time only applies to dating because I know what my tendency is. I'm not trying to punish myself with a lack of human contact. I have such a vibrant and supportive system of friends and family that should be able to meet my needs for bonding during a few tough months. I think the time -- though difficult -- can help clear my thoughts and feelings about what I really want, etc. Meanwhile, I plan to spend lots of quality time with loved ones with lots of physical affection too. But I think it dangerous to date even if not sexually.

Any thoughts? Does this make sense? Do you think my estimations make sense?

Yes, perfect sense

Excuse my mouthing off!

Dating isn't essential if you have lots of other affectionate contact. (And there are spiritual practices that connect people with the Divine that can also comfort, as can exercise, etc.) I just didn't want you to cut yourself off from others.

Obviously you know more about your situation than I do. Wink Trust yourself.

ah, thanks

Ah, no need to excuse you at all. Your concern was much appreciated and a very important way to get me to check my motivation. I am far from cut off from others and feel so blessed and fortunate for it. I will have to be sure to rely on it too since the lack of sex and romancing are very hard for me!!!

You and this website are doing so much good in the world! You should feel proud! I promise to make good use of it and pass it onward...