What do porn and substance abuse have in common?: They are both mind-numbing escapes from emotional pain. They both do that very well, engaging the attention of the victims caught in their grip so completely that they can actually fool themselves into believing they like what they are doing. After all, drugs and sex are very powerful chemical agents acting on the brain. And, of particular importance, they both have an equally rapid come-down from their highs. That’s why the true addict must have more very quickly; it doesn’t last.

So you think you’re not addicted? Take this test regardless of the substance of choice–work, sex, drugs, explosive anger, cutting, bingeing & purging–

  • Do you get anxious when you don’t have/use/do your addiction?
  • Does that anxiety diminish right in the middle of it?
  • Does the anxiety/tension/need start building up soon after giving in to the pull of the addiction?
  • Is that indulgence a big part of your life? Do you plan your schedule around it? Do you look for it in new places you visit? Is it on your mind a considerable amount of time?
  • If you had to choose between your wife/children/girlfriend/job and the substance/behavior, what would it be?
  • How many arguments with your significant other are about the addictive behavior?
  • When it’s all done-not at the moment it’s happening, of course, but later-do you feel content and happy or strangely empty, missing some obscure something?

Now here is the most important question of all:

  • Does your indulgence fulfill you? Is it lovely? Is it meaningful? Is it joyous?

    How you answer that one is so significant. You need to make a clear distinction between releasing tension (like what an aspirin does for a headache) and pure, unadulterated joy (like the pleasure of seeing your favorite team win when your kid is not playing, when it’s just pure fun, or like the first breath of cooler air at the end of October in Florida). If there is a buildup of tension that you need to discharge, that’s a bad sign. If it can wait and you can take it either way but it’s beautiful if it happens, that’s a good sign.

  • So what would an intimate relationship look like? Another way of asking is: what would love look like? Here are some answers:

  • Intimacy means wanting the other to be happy and being willing to sacrifice for her/him
  • Intimacy means taking joy in discovering the other person’s personality
  • Intimacy means delight in doing things together
  • Intimacy means going through tough times together without blame or withdrawal
  • Intimacy means being unafraid to expose one’s own weakness, flaws, or idiosyncrasies because the other will not take advantage of that information
  • Intimacy means living in a nurturing atmosphere, one that fosters your growth
  • Intimacy means gratitude for sharing a life with this special person

    Hey, wait a minute, you’re asking, where’s the sex? Real intimacy is the water, soil, and sunshine needed for sex to be exhilirating, all-encompassing, joyous, and wonderful. Sex is a language of love; without the love, sex is a mechanical activity that never quite satisfies. The hungry soul looks for more and more, wondering why there is an inexplicable emptiness inside.

    Getting Intimacy

    That’s the first mistake. Wanting. Needing. Wanting more and more, never being quite fulfilled. You can’t get intimacy. It is a state of being, like good weather, that you enjoy when it’s there. However, you can contribute the conditions that could make it flower. Here are some things you can do:

    1. Learn to be a giver. Learn to give not only material things, but time, energy, and attention. Notice how good you will feel when you have listened to your true love tell you something that perhaps you might have considered boring perviously. My own true love (of 25 years) has a riviting interest in business. I used to throw out the business section. No more. In opening my mind to that subject because it was important to him, I discovered a side of myself that I didn’t know existed.

    2. Learn patience. Intimacy flowers at its own rate. Give and keep giving without a time limit or else the original giving will seem conditional rather than unconditional. Both people should be giving, generous of spirit, happy to discover one another at an unhurried pace. Until intimacy is reached, sex isn’t going to be what it can be. If it is held off, it will be so much better later on.

    3. Don’t be a fool. The creation of intimacy is a mutual thing. If it is all one way, something is wrong and this may not be the right person for you. There is no contradiction between numbers 2 and 3. Patience does not mean only one person gives. It means both contribute to the process of discovery, although it goes slowly.

    4. Be very careful how you interpret the other’s meaning. Often people misread each other and feel hurt when the intention was not what they took it to be. Check first before you get angry.

    5. Learn to take delight in that which is different. The opposite sex is different in most ways; enjoy it.

    Sex is one of those free delights like fresh water. But in chasing it, it slips through the fingers like water. We must put some effort into creating a clean and shiny container for it.

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