Characteristic 13

Even when we got the love of another person, it never seemed enough, and we were unable to stop lusting after others.

Paul N (Milwaukee)
The thirteenth characteristic is one example of paradox in addiction and recovery. The love that is often the goal of a sex addict is achieved. The pink cloud or honeymoon phase begins. One day, six months, a year, how long are we given? Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, the cracks begin to grow. The sex addict can have many thoughts that are addictive and we can use these thoughts to rationalize our behavior. Such as — is this love truly "the one", is it too soon to settle down, I bet he/she is looking around. The big book of AA calls this the cunning, baffling and powerful aspect of addiction. Triggers can seem to begin to heighten. Someone smiles at you. A complement is paid. Or you just notice someone who has that "look" that you search for. The paradox is that this can all happen at the same time that we have intense feelings of love for our current partner. These thoughts and feelings can co-exist in the same space. This is not a question of lack of love or strength of commitment. This is addiction. The conflict of our love for a current partner and a lust/romance for a new partner can be immobilizing, depressing, and at times cause the sex addict to question his/her sanity. Guilt and shame even if the addict does not act on this lust is possible. I've heard this described as "mental adultery". The fantasy or sexualizing that can occur in an addict's mind while he/she is in a relationship. This can be as damaging as physically act on their fantasies or urges. It removes him/her from the moment and he/she lives in the mentally isolating world of his/her addiction. Sometimes the sex addict may begin to resent his/her current partner. He/she can begin to be angry and act irrational without knowing it. A cycle of resenting the current partner for getting in the way of new sexual conquests, and love and commitment to the current partner as a salvation from addiction can begin. Both the resentment and the yearning for salvation are examples of how the addict does not deal with day to day experiences. If this cycle goes on, it can lead to separation without either one knowing quite why it happened. SCA allows the addict a safe place to share these thoughts with others who have been through it or are in it. The addict is no longer alone with just his/her thoughts. By staying honest with a sponsor or at meetings it is possible for the cycle of resentment/salvation to be broken. Addicts need other addicts to recover. Often these are the only people we can open up to about our thoughts and actions. Because we know they understand on a fundamental level where others, including at times our partners, do not. Meditation and literature can also get us out of our thoughts and into a more serene space, so we are more open to guidance from a power greater than ourselves. Like most characteristics of sex addiction, there is a chance this may never be fully lifted from the addict. The SCA program helps us understand the paradox within the thirteenth characteristic, and allows us the choice of staying in today and making the choices that lead us to serenity.