Day #247 – Am I A Sex Addict?

Recycled photo taken earlier this year. At the Hot House.
Recycled photo taken earlier this year. At the Hot House.

Monday

2012/12/17

A road trip to Houtbay and back includes a not-so-brief stopover in Jarvis Street, in Cape Town, at the infamous and infinitely delicious Hot House, a place for men who like men to explore the more physical side of their personalities, in a safe, secure and totally-up-for it venue.

I’ve been going there since 2001, when I first moved to Cape Town, and in my active addiction, I used the encounters there to maintain my single status. I used sex as a tool to strike out at the world, telling guys who tried to chat me up “We’re here to fuck, if you want to talk, talk to someone else – I don’t want to know about you, your wife or your kids or your baggage. I’m here to treat you like the object you are, you are nothing but something to do, a hole to fill…” Something along those lines. For some guys, that was an extreme turn on…for others, it struck a nerve, and they got up and left. I felt nothing for them…or the ones who stayed. I used them, and when I’d had my fill, or given it, rather, I stood up, toweled off, and went away, without a word.

Now, when I go, I talk, I engage – I allow the person I am going to engage in an anonymous encounter with, to be human, and to have feelings, desires and an equal part in the game we’re about to play. Still, I go there often, and though I am more affable in my approach, there are no names or numbers exchanged – I’m not there for the happy-ever-after ending…just the happy one.

Some of the people at my Narcotics Anonymous meetings also go to Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous meetings, and after Monday’s lengthy session at the Hot House, with three different guys, I wondered why I am not attending these meetings myself…according to these very basic descriptions, I fit the bill of a sex addict. Still another definition seems even more over-simplified, deducing that the end of the road for many sex addicts is child molestation or rape. (This of course is bullshit, as far as I am concerned, and that which concerns me: I am addicted to sex, and sex with men, and at no point does my need to get my rocks off make me suddenly fancy children, or taking sex from someone who doesn’t want to give it…it is a dangerous piece of sensationalist writing – in my humble opinion!)

Still, I want to counter and say, that “No! I am NOT a sex addict!” but already I can hear the bigots’ cries of “Denial!” and if I had the time or the inclination, I would at length explore point for point why on the surface, it seems I am a sex addict, but if you look deeper, you’ll just find I am a man who enjoys sex, and lots of it, with lots of people. It is allowed, and I do it responsibly, for the most part, and think that perhaps liberalism still has a long way to go, to allow for people like me to enjoy our lives without being made to feel guilty, or branded man-whores. The names hurt, the image is not a good one, and feeling this way about an aspect of my life is a big part of why I was so good at masking the feelings with drugs, for so long.

If you want change, be the change you want. No, that doesn’t mean I am going to suddenly go straight, marry, settle down to a life of once-a-month-if-I’m-lucky-for-the-rest-of-my-life situations. It means I am going to be acutely aware that doing what I do CAN very easily morph into sexual addiction, if I do not stand guard over my heart, and protect the people I engage with in these encounters the same way, even  when they don’t do the same for me. It means I am going to examine my feelings, and talk about them, openly, in terms of my vast, and frequent sexual encounters, and the change I want is going to be to educate the world that sex is not only a beautiful thing, it’s a lot of fun, and because I enjoy it with – haha! – such gay abandon, doesn’t make me a bad person, a criminal, or a moral refugee. I also don’t have the right to become a moral activist, a warrior for the cause of ‘lots of anonymous sex’ – that wouldn’t be fair. As I educate YOU on my lifestyle, I also learn about yours, and how to treat you with the compassion, and tolerance I expect from you.

I am not a sex addict, I just love sex.

© Dave Luis 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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8 thoughts on “Day #247 – Am I A Sex Addict?

  1. So, here’s one comment this posting received on Facebook:
    “Hows about going to get an AIDS test. That 10 minutes of waiting should scare the Sex Addict out of you”

    Now, considered comments and debate are fine, and I am open to being shown that I am incorrect – but this one smacked a bit of trolling* so after offering to invite this person along on my next AIDS test, which he declined, I countered with this:

    “Tsk! Tsk! So you’re just the catalyst to my guilt trip, eh? The agent who smiles warmly and who says “Pack your bags, dear, you’re going on a guilt trip!” True to form, young Mike. The uncomfortable questions, the statements of “fact” that nobody else can see…the trolling…the apathy…not really so much social commentator as social agitator. But again, I post these statements, I must be able to stand up the judgment from my contacts, the aspersions, the poking, eh? Don’t stress, I’ll send you the results, positive or negative, then you either chant “dodged the bullet” or “got what you deserved” as you please.”

    All respect to the man, because he came back with something I appreciate more than a million ‘Likes’ – a considered reply, one that allows for the humanity, without the destructive criticism or judgement; a thoughtful review, and this is what he said:

    “As u well know im a huge advocate for lifestyle choice. A person must do as they please. But at the same time i champion personal responsibility. Coming to terms with what some would deem a wreckless sexual lifestyle is part of a consequence that you are clearly dealing with. My tone my be harsh but i do understand the concept of being kind because we are all fighting our battles. I apologise if i made this uncomfortable….i know u are searching for solace. For me my choices have taught me this yet im not near the end of my battle. Life itself is so fucking complicated and it helps not to add to this complication over something that could be a choice….ok im done”

    AND this made me think for a minute…and I realise that the posting as it stands seems very hippy-like in it’s all-bar-none approach to sex, and doesn’t address anywhere except in one aside, the realities of modern-day life: AIDS and its companion STDs. Now, I am not going to go into detail to justify the lifestyle I lead, but I do want the reader to appreciate that there ARE responsibilities that must be met, if you enjoy a lifestyle like mine, in order to protect one’s self, and the other people who one engages with. It’s not just an emotional risk, it’s a physical one. This chap’s response made it important to explain why I posted this, why it was important to me to put this out there in the public arena, and subject myself to the judgement and the criticism that I knew must come. Here’s my reply, which might also make this more comprehensible to the reader, as a valid question: Am I A Sex Addict? (No, but I am grown up enough to be one, and so I must be adult about it, and take care not to harm myself, or anyone else…)

    “Hmmm…well, in posting this I first had to face down my fears of the reprisals it would bring – remember, I know people who like to challenge this sort of thing, like yourself, like Laura Shortridge – and then I have my sister Lynn van Jaarsveld on Facebook, who I know will struggle to accept this on the face value of a written post, and the subsequent parody posting even less so. My brother George Charles Luis has a sense of humour about everything in life, except promiscuous gay sex – maybe because his brother is gay, I am not sure. But here’s the thing, and which was a driving force (or one of them, when I posted this) – in South Africa, one of the perceptions is that we’re very conservative, sexually, that we don’t talk about sex and we don’t enjoy it; we use it as tool, as weapons, as blame, and we never celebrate ourselves as sexual beings. Part of my psychosis is that I have never been “grown up enough” to talk about sex – a misconception on my part, sure, and one which has its foundations in my youth. Part of my healing is about growing up and taking responsibility. But at no point do I want to act or be seen as the goodie-two-shoes who is dull, boring, and who takes the safe options, because everything else is a risk, a danger. Part of my healing is taking accountability for my actions. Part of my healing is finding a niche to have a meaningful, and enjoyable life. One of those aspects is a healthy (ok poor choice of words, let’s rather say vigorous, and frequent) sex life, on the understanding that it is something that many people despise, judge etc – without ever understanding what happens, and why, and how, and what precautions people take with the obvious risks, they judge and think it their place to dictate who other people should live, and this is something we ALL know that you rally against, Mike, you are the champion for the downtrodden, on Facebook – so I know you get why I am doing it, and I also know you are the one person I can count on to ask these questions, that force more thought, debate – whether or not you are in agreement with the posting, the statement etc – this is the GOOD part of being the agitator. So, yes, your thread made me squirm, and rightfully so (No, I’m not backing down because you’re right, I’m expounding my post, because maybe these things are not clear (certainly not in the parody posting) – but learning to deal with squirmy situations is really the BIGGEST part of my journey. Life isn’t neat, and doesn’t fit into all the right little ‘Bree Vandercamp’ boxes of happy emotions – and these conversations, these debates, these arguments and counterarguments I love, even when I squirm, because more than anything, I know that I am alive, and I matter, enough to spark them. OK NOW you’re done.”

    *trolling is when someone comments with the express goal of showing you up, criticising or otherwise pulling your post apart; it is done for the fun of embarrassing you, nothing more.

  2. I was actually surprised that this came up, I suppose having been in this lifestyle I all too well knew that the precautions stretched over the emotional and that indeed you were taken safety measures against Aids and STDs. You don’t get to play in this game for long if you don’t. I’ve read too many status messages along these lines to know it’s the case by now.
    Also having spoken to you about this at length in the passed – this was not something I was noted as being missing from the entry.

    Others definitely might see it as, ok so when he gonna mention safety or even ‘omg tmi dude, i really didnt need to know your sexual story’. So I suppose its one of those bound to be asked questions when you put something like this out in the public. And yes it shows people care to wonder and ask the question! That your actions now matter to somebody other than yourself and whoever you play with. The hedonist in me was just thinking gooo Dave and living, seizing the moment, embracing his sexuality and his sexual appetite so freely.

    And like you so rightly said this journey is all about taking responsibility for your part in these deeds too, taken accountability and receiving the comments, debates and judgements (at times) to. Taking the time to pause and see the journey from another perspective. Having to actually address these now instead of just walking away or instead of drowning them out. This is taking control, this is owning up, this is healing…

  3. I am humbled by your review of the situation. It can so easily be seen as a brag, about machismo about “Look how many men I bed!”, yet that was not the point, nor even a desirable side-effect. It really IS about saying “Look, I am grown up enough to do this, to talk about this and say I am concerned that this could also be addictive behaviour, but I want to talk it out, to take accountability and act responsibly, so I can continue to enjoy my pleasures without harming myself, my friends and family, or the guys I sleep with.”
    There is massive hedonistic pleasure to be had, there is also massive emotional upheaval on the line at all times – you are not human if you do not connect with these people because you are engaged in the most intimate of situations – no matter how brief – and you risk losing your heart every time. Whereas before it was about killing the emotions with drugs, then using the guys and hurting them – sometimes physically, most often psychologically, now it has become a more mature agreement that we’re here to have fun, together, and we realise that there are risks physically, emotionally and psychologically, and we need to take care as we take our enjoyment. These are real relationships, just much faster, and more prolific in their frequency – but just as valid as long-term ‘healthy’ relationships.

  4. I am married to a sex addict. Addiction is about filling that empty hole in one’s heart. To fill it with drugs, alcohol, sex, that instant gratification, momentary connection, to have no real connection with others.

    I have no idea if you’re a sex addict or not. If you have healthy, solid, trusting and completely candid relationships with friends, significant other, family, whoever, and you can stop going for random sex with no problem, no issues, and still feel like a whole person, nope, not an addict.

    I can say though… as a married woman, I wish my husband would have sex with me. Weekly, daily, twice a day… I am up for all of it. But unfortunately, he turns me down in favor of his addiction. He can not connect, can not love, and constantly needs new stimuli. I am losing the battle in his head, and it absolutely crushes me. Just thought you should know that it’s not all about you (if you are an addict… if you aren’t, it’s irrelavent 🙂

    1. Hi…thanks for the insight. I am a recovering drug addict, and was an active drug addict for 18 years. Addiction is selfish, because it swallows all your attention, and emotion, and makes you see, think, and do for no one and nothing other than your addiction. Addiction – or its impact, rather – is also selfless – because its impact is not only on the addict, but on all those around them: friends, family, colleagues and even strangers who unwittingly get caught up in the drama and the selfish needs of the addict. Of course, I am talking about myself, in my drug addiction here, trying to see if the patterns which made me a drug addict also make me a sex addict. More and more through these discussions and revelations (and yes, also through some of the criticisms and judgements I’ve had since posting this) I am coming to see that at a stage in my active addiction, I used sex as I used drugs: to kill emotion, to engage selfishly and ‘get what’s mine’, and to hurt…I think I am coming to realise that sex, for me, in active addiction, was a symptom of that addiction. Now, as I strive to reach my 365th day off drugs, I am trying to assume a more adult, responsible, and accountable role, when it comes to sex, while at the same time, still enjoying it with as much frequency and vigour as my soul craves. Part of that has been the institution of very firm boundaries: no sex with ‘straight’ (or ‘closeted’ gay) men; no sex with colleagues, no sex with married men…these were people I actively hunted in my active drug addiction, as I sought to even out the unfairness I stupidly felt I suffered as the person I was. As a recovering addict, I am learning and trying to apply that learning – that there are a million boundaries and limitations in the world – rules, which guide us to live healthy and productive lives, that don’t impinge on the rights, lives, loves and freedoms of other people. But I am also finding that there are many imposed boundaries that are in pace because of a lack of compassion, a lack of sympathy – or empathy – for the indulgences that can be quite easily enjoyed, when done responsibly. Don’t misunderstand me here – this does not extend to the recreational use of drugs! I am very firmly assured that for me, drugs will never be a part of any equation, ever again. However, an active, fulfilling and meaningful sex life DOES fall into that paradigm, and I am fighting to not justify it, but to explore it, reveal it, and embrace it. You yourself have a tough journey to take, with your husband – I cannot imagine your pain, though I wish for your sake you didn’t have to suffer it, and for your husband’s sake, that he didn’t have to inflict it – nor feel it himself.

      1. Like you, my husband is an addictive personality type. For some time with drugs, then cigarettes. The sex addiction has been a constant though. The tough part with sex addiction, at least as a non addict looking in, is that one can stay away from drugs completely, but a healthy sex life is a normal part of being human, which makes it somewhat different. Ironic that the root of sex addiction, and many others, I suppose, is that personal emptiness and lack of connection. This journey involves learning new ways to look at old things for us both.

        I wish you well on your journey too. What I have read so far of your blog has been incredibly insightful and candid.

  5. I read this nice little piece after going through your post and comments on FB Dave… but before that, I just want to say that you seem to be a much much better man than the one from barely a year ago. And you will have many more blessings in your life, God willing, on your current path of growth and progression through all the stages that you say you have missed. If only more people would put the same amount of work you have put in to yourself, I wish I had the strength you have to just go for it.

    ————-

    God created male and female, the Pope observed. “Man calls his nature into question,” he said, when he questions that fundamental concept of sexuality. Moreover, the Pope continued, because the “gender ideology” seeks to make every individual completely autonomous, it destroys the understanding of the family as a community designed for the rearing of children. Again citing Rabbi Bernheim, the Holy Father said that in this radical new understanding of sexuality, children lose their own rights because “the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain.””

    1. David, thank you for the kind words – I would like to say “if only I’d put this effort in sooner..” however, I think the lessons and progression would not have been as profound.
      It’s funny, I know many people would be at odds with that quote you posted, and at face value, there are parts I rally against – but reading it again a second and third time, I am called to mind the passages in ‘Only Love Is Real’, by Dr. Brian Weiss, which if not in letter, then in spirit echo the duty of family and community, as aspects our our spirituality and our closeness to God. Thank you for the posting, it has made me think some more, question some more…and grow, some more.

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