“All you need is love.” “Love is all you need.” “The greatest of these is love.” “Love is patient, love is kind.” “When love speaks, the voice of all the gods makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.” “Love is a many-splendored thing.” And so on and so forth…
Love is a pretty wonderful thing. Especially romantic love. There’s just a certain charge when chemistry is felt between a man and a woman. Romantic love has been the cornerstone of some the greatest works of art ever created – poems, songs, plays, films, television series, photographs. Even the hint of it is enough to lure a perfectly sane and rational person down all sorts of roads they never thought they would take. “To have loved and lost is better than to never have loved at all…”
If it’s love.
Does anyone even really know what love is anymore? There seems to be an awful lot of searching for it going on right now. Consider that nearly every TV show or movie that is set before our eyes today contains some type of romantic plot or sub-plot. Over the years, we’ve been treated to “Will they or won’t they?”, love triangles, extra-marital affairs, genuinely sweet and loving relationships, and even seen people defy God and heaven above in the name of romantic love. The “love story” element is so ingrained in our storytelling and artistic expression, it’s almost become a requirement.
There’s nothing quite so thrilling as the quest for love. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we’re chasing it so hard we’ve lost sight of what it even means. If I were to throw out the letters S, L, and A, they probably wouldn’t set of any particular alarms. I’m sure if I wrote the words Sex and Love Addiction, though, you might be a little intrigued.
Pinning down an exact definition for SLA can be rather difficult, as its very existence still seems to be in dispute in some circles. In general, it means repeating specific thoughts or behavior patterns to create a physical or psychological arousal. Tremendous mental and physical consequences are almost always at play, ranging from dangerous or risky behavior to massive feelings of guilt and regret to a sense of desperation in relationships. The internet is teeming with organizations dedicated to treating this condition, and most approach curing the addiction with the traditional 12-step model.
Obviously, if I were to label someone a sex/love addict, your perception of that person would alter dramatically. You might picture a man (or woman) hunched over a computer keyboard, filling their brains with images of pornography. You might imagine someone constantly cruising the bars and clubs in search of sexual partners. You might imagine someone trolling internet chat rooms, maybe not making a physical connection but certainly an emotional one. With any one of those perceptions, you would possess a high likelihood of being correct.
What about the more “respectable” of us, though? What about the soap opera or romantic novel addict? Television can string us along in the quest for love for years, which How I Met Your Mother recently did for nine seasons. Celebrity couples are a fascination for the more “common folk.” We want to see love enacted, and sometimes we aren’t even satisfied with that, as we want the relationship to be consummated before we’ll believe it’s genuine.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, I’m not here to beat up on sex/love addicts, nor am I here to loudly proclaim our culture is going to hell in a hand-basket. Men’s minds and spirits are under siege these days from sexual attack after sexual attack, to the point where pornography or sex addiction is almost always the elephant in the room of any men’s discussion. Even worse, SLA is tremendously difficult to talk about without making yourself sound like a complete pervert. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with it.
My point here is twofold. First, I want to open the floor to discussion, to get the ball rolling on this topic, because it will probably be addressed here again at some point. Second, I want to throw out the possibility that SLA is a lot more ingrained in the collective public consciousness than many realize. Why do movies with sex scenes require nudity and simulated sexual activity? Why do the scenes need to be included at all? Why does every story require a love interest? These are questions I don’t think many of us consider.
If you believe you might be struggling with SLA, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous has posted a list of 40 questions for self-diagnosis. They can be found here.