Let’s Talk About Sex

Let’s Talk About Sex

I’m gonna just come out with it: today we are going to talk about sex. We’re going to go there. For one, I do not find talking about sex uncomfortable (just ask my kids). It’s a big part of a healthy relationship. Sex is one of the key areas of a romantic partnership and it can be complicated at times, especially when you love someone suffering from addiction.

Listen to the podcast episode here:

Read the transcript and find more details here:

I don’t know about you all, but my life did not turn out anything like what I thought it would be when I was 13 or 14 or even 18 or 20.

I think it’s way different and way better than it could ever be, but it was undoubtedly incredibly challenging along the way. You may be in a similar position, feeling challenged, and wondering how did you get here? And when did you start taking a path that might have been destructive for you?

I’m in the middle of researching a lot on codependency for an upcoming program, and we’re not born with codependent traits. They stem from our childhood and the trauma that we experienced and the painful memories that perhaps our parents put us through. It’s been fascinating to know that it didn’t all start when we met the one we love, and addiction came into our lives.

The pain and the suffering started long before meeting our loved ones and before their addiction was prevalent. It actually started when we were kids, and we were set up to attract or be attracted to somebody who was ill or struggling with something. But anyway, I’ll go into more on that in the program.

Today we are going to talk about sex.

We’re going to go there today. For one, I do not find talking about sex uncomfortable, as my kids will tell you. I educate them a lot about safe sex and what sex is and what it should be and all that stuff.

So we are going there. We are going all the way with sex, not all the way, not like super detailed, but a lot of you are in relationships. And when you’re in a relationship, you are expected to sleep with the person you love. That’s part of being in a relationship. Sex is the difference between having a friendship and having a relationship, right?

It’s the touching, the kissing, the sexual part, that’s one of the significant differences. And it can be difficult to be intimate with somebody who suffers from addiction. So let’s talk about the obvious reasons why it could be difficult.

Number one, often, people struggling with addiction can lack physical self-care. So they may let go of their looks. Perhaps they’ve gained weight. Maybe they’re not bathing correctly, or they’re not shaving. Maybe they’ve let themselves go a little bit.

Their breath may smell like alcohol, or if they’re addicted to specific substances, it can mess with their skin. They may get sores on their skin, or maybe their teeth are gross because sometimes drugs affect your teeth. If you’re inhaling or consuming a substance that is bad for your body, your body is going to have negative consequences, right? It’s going to show up.

Addiction shows up physically.

And often, part of why we fell in love with our partner is their looks. But because this disease is progressive, they don’t always look like that. Years later, maybe they’re too skinny, or maybe they’re really overweight. In any case, they can look different and be not so attractive to us anymore.

Another thing that happens that nobody seems to be talking about with addiction is that they can often wet the bed. They can urinate next to the bed. They have accidents. Look, I know it’s disgusting, but it is true. Losing control over your bodily functions can be a problem when you’re intoxicated a lot. It’s really common. And in our secret Facebook group, women talk about it all the time.

So what do you do then? If your partner’s wetting the bed, how are you supposed to be intimate with somebody who does that?

Alcohol certainly has a smell, and it can come out of your pores. No matter how many breath mints, colognes, showers, or whatever, there is a distinct smell to somebody who has been over-consuming. And that’s a real turnoff. It’s a trigger for many of us; we smell it, and we have a physical reaction. So how are we supposed to be intimate with somebody when we’re being triggered?

There are many physical and mental issues for the partner of somebody suffering from addiction. We suffer from that, and it’s real. And we need to acknowledge it.

It’s that we’re not attracted to the person that we love, because of the adverse effects of their addiction. That’s part of coming to terms and being honest with ourselves.

It doesn’t mean we’re not sexual beings, and we don’t have needs anymore.

I know some of you still want to have your needs met, but not necessarily by your partner anymore. And then you’re like, well, what do I do then? Because I deny my needs because of their issues.

And some of you might be turned off altogether; it’s just shut down. The shop is closed, and you have zero interest in sex because you’re in fight or flight mode.

You’re living with too much anxiety and stress to even get in touch with those feelings of desire.

Both are okay, and both are normal. It’s okay for one day to feel completely out of touch with your sexual needs. And then it’s okay for other days to want to be wanted, to want to be touched, to want to be caressed, to want somebody to be gentle and kind with you and show you they love you with sex and through their touch.

It’s a beautiful expression full of love. And it’s a gift that we offer people who deserve it, who have proven to us that they will take care of us and treasure us.

And that brings me to my next point. If you are with somebody struggling with addiction, I want to encourage you. If your partner has lied to you or manipulated you or is not getting help, I want to encourage you to consider the idea of not being intimate with them.

Now, when you hear that, you might think, isn’t that being manipulative back?

Am I holding sex over their head to force them to get better?

I’m going to say no to that. And here’s why, and again, as always, feel free to disagree with me. It’s okay for you to read this and say, I don’t think so. That doesn’t ring true for me.

You have the right to own your own opinion, always. Follow your own opinion over mine because you got to listen to yourself, and I’m only one person. What I say isn’t always right for everybody. There’s no such thing as blanket statements that apply to everyone.

But let me explain my case. Let me make a case for why I think you should refrain from having sex if your loved one is still lying to you or manipulating you or not seeking help to get sober for good.

Sober or not, if they are not treating you well, I would encourage you not to be intimate with them.

And intimacy can be defined as touching or kissing or having sex or hugging or anything of that sort, anything that makes you feel vulnerable with them, anything that makes you feel like you’re offering your heart to them. I would encourage you to set a very healthy boundary to stop that behavior.

Here’s why: the process of getting yourself healthy, which is what our entire community is about, is recognizing that your vulnerability to somebody can only be offered or should only be offered to people who deserve to know how you feel, what you want, your dreams, your desires, your pain, and your suffering. Because being vulnerable with somebody who manipulates you or uses your feelings against you, that will teach you that being vulnerable comes at a cost, right? That’s not healthy behavior.

And it’s probably one of the reasons why you got into this relationship to begin with because you didn’t have boundaries around your vulnerability. So getting healthy is identifying who deserves and who you can trust with your vulnerability and intimacy.

Sex is one of the most significant ways we can be vulnerable.

If you are truly in touch with yourself, with your soul, with your being, with your essence, with your spirit, how can you possibly offer your body and your love and your trust to somebody who hurts you without having consequences on yourself, on your spirit, on your soul?

It’s a very, very intimate act. It’s an act of love. And you should only give that act of love when it comes to intimacy with somebody who deserves it, who can receive your gift and share it, nurture it, and make you feel special. And thank you for offering this gift of intimacy.

That’s what you really want, right? And then you want somebody to reciprocate it back to you. You don’t want somebody, and I’m sorry for saying this because this will sound crude, but you don’t want somebody who’s going to put you over a couch and close their eyes and pretend that you’re somebody else and sleep with you.

You want somebody who’s going to look you in the eyes and tell you they love you.

And really look at you and look at your body. You want somebody who’s going to touch you gently and make you feel special. Who’s going to hold you afterward and tell you things like, I’m so glad that I found you, or I want to do this forever until we’re old. Or, this just keeps getting better for us. I could never grow tired of this. There’s nobody else that I’d rather do this with than you. I love you so much. You bring so much into my life. You are everything to me. I think about you even when I’m away from you, and I can’t wait to be in your arms again. Don’t you want to be told things like that?

You don’t want to be treated with disrespect or like your body is being used to meet somebody else’s needs. And it doesn’t matter who it is. They’ll just do it just to get their needs over with, and then move on and go back to lying and manipulating you because the truth is that, if they genuinely wanted to get sober, they could.

It’s not impossible. People do it quite often. And there are the tools out there. There are programs, education, therapists, and meetings. All of the resources are available in this world to get sober. They have access to that. No matter what their excuses are, it doesn’t matter. If they really wanted to get sober, they would. They would make the time and prioritize. They would stick with it.

So the reality is if your loved one isn’t getting sober, it’s because they don’t want to get sober yet.

Maybe they will one day, maybe they won’t, but maybe they will.

And until they do, until they’re showing a real concerted effort, I just encourage you to take self-inventory and ask yourself if you are continuing to be intimate with the one you love, and they’re showing no real genuine effort of consistent sobriety, and they’re lying to you and manipulating you, how do you feel afterward?

Do you feel closer to them? Or do you feel used and empty? Do you feel even more alone laying in bed crying, wishing that you had something different or someone different? If you’re doing any of those things, those are real warning signs that you’re not honoring your body and soul. You’re not honoring the truest part of yourself, your values, and morals, and you lack boundaries in areas that you need to have boundaries.

And that’s part of your growth. I went into my first marriage, absolutely broken, needing to work on myself because I put all the effort into fixing and solving and curing and helping everybody else in my life. And that left me empty, not validated, alone, and used. I needed to implement boundaries.

And so do you; it’s part of your growth. It’s part of you growing into the woman that you’re being called to grow into. Part of you escaping this painful relationship is setting boundaries. And when I say escaping, I don’t necessarily mean leaving, but I mean you no longer feeling the pain, because that is possible.

If you’re going to stop feeling pain, it’s going to come with setting boundaries.

And the way you set boundaries is you ask yourself, what are your values? What are your morals? What feels right for you, and what feels wrong? When it feels wrong, and you’re not feeling good about what just happened, that means there needs to be a boundary around it.

Now, if you’re a woman with needs, or maybe you’re just really in touch with that side of yourself, there’s a solution.

I’m going to go here. It’s going to be kind of a bold place to go, so buckle your seat belts. Remember how we talk in the programs about meeting your own needs? Right. Okay. In all areas, meet your own needs.

In every area, meet your own needs.

Some of you get where I’m going with this, hopefully, all of you, but just in case, I’ll spell it out a little bit more. If you feel the feelings and your partner is not treating you with respect and decency and love and getting sober, then go online and order yourself a tool that will help you meet your needs. Most of these websites have very discreet packaging, and you can get it sent to your friend’s house if you’re worried about that.

They actually make some very pretty ones too. There are some out there that are very discreet and beautiful. There’s a whole variety, let me tell you. Just order yourself one or two of these little gadgets, and you might never go back to the old fashioned way. I’m just kidding.

But have your needs met. And you don’t have to tell your loved one, okay. You can go into the bathroom by yourself. There’ll be times where they’re passed out, and you can just enjoy your Friday night.

If you feel like you need to speak your truth and say, this is what I’m doing, you don’t owe anyone any apologies. Last time I checked, men have been meeting their needs since they were 12, 13, or 14 years old.

So why can’t we feel free to do this without apology?

If they were getting sober, you would gladly substitute them for your device. And you can say that. You can say, look, I love you. And my first choice is to be intimate with you, but I need to be intimate with somebody I trust, who I can be vulnerable with, who I know will honor my body and myself. And I want you to get sober. I need you to get sober for me to do that. And until you do, because I don’t want to pressure you or hold this over you until you do get sober, I need to meet my needs, and you feel free to meet your own.

And hopefully, one day, we can come back together and do this for each other in a loving, compassionate way. But until that happens, I’m so sorry, but this is what I need to do for myself. And it has nothing to do with you or your lack of capability. I would prefer it to be with you, but it makes me feel bad right now. And I don’t want to feel bad anymore. I want to feel good.

So that’s what I would say to that. And for those of you out there that are like, well, my loved one will have a temper tantrum. If I choose not to be with them, they might go to other people. If I refuse to sleep with them, they might turn to another woman or another man.

Let me get this straight. You would rather avoid a fight or avoid somebody cheating on you by pawning out your body and letting them use you because you’re afraid that they might get mad or cheat on you? How does that work? How does that really make you feel?

It probably makes you feel used and resentful and empty, right?

That’s no way to have a healthy relationship with somebody else. And it degrades you because you are way more worthy than that. If someone is going to cheat on you because you’re setting this boundary only because they have a drinking problem or drug problem, and they’re refusing to get help, that’s ridiculous. That’s holding you hostage. It’s saying, I expect you to meet all of my needs while I completely ignore yours so that I can continue to get high or drunk.

And if you don’t meet my needs, I’m going to sleep with somebody else because I’m still unwilling to stop getting high or drunk. How does that work? Does that sound fair to you? Because that’s the position that they’re putting you in.

If somebody is going to cheat on you because you’re taking time out from being intimate with them because they refuse to get sober, then they were going to cheat on you long before that. And they’re not worth a relationship or marriage, period.

You have to reevaluate your relationship.

If they’re going to go outside of your marriage or relationship, they don’t value it. It’s a two-way street. You can’t just be the one giving and giving and giving and giving. It leaves you feeling crazy, exhausted, and hopeless.

You have to go there. If they’re not going to get sober for you, then it’s up to you to value yourself and place boundaries around sex.

Intimacy is one of the best ways that you can start to value yourself. To not hand over your body and your heart out of fear that they’re going to leave you, cheat on you, or get angry with you. You are stronger than that, better than that, and you deserve way more than that. And even if you don’t believe that or think I’m not worth it, whatever, okay. But it still makes a great relationship. And don’t you want a great relationship? Isn’t that why you’re sticking around for so long in hopes that this is actually going to get to be a great relationship?

Yeah, you are. That’s what you want. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be listening to this and learning how to get one. A recipe for a great relationship includes healthy boundaries where you honor yourself; that’s it.

Is it easy? Nope, it’s not.

But nothing I teach is easy. Nothing I tell you is ever going to be easy. If it were, we all would be doing it. And we wouldn’t have to listen to this over and over again every week. And we’d all be happy and healthy and blah, blah, blah.

But that doesn’t work, and that’s not true for anybody. It’s not just us. Be kind to yourself and be loving to yourself and honor your darn self, because I honor you. I believe in you, your body, your soul, your being, you. No matter what, you’re worth protecting you. Don’t hand over your heart and body to just anybody. Have higher standards than that.

Look at yourself and go, damn it. I might not necessarily believe in my soul that I’m worth it right now, but I’m going to act like it. And then I’ll start to believe it. I’m going to make healthy, strong choices so that I can grow into feeling like a healthy, strong woman.

Let me ask you a question. You know those women that say, and very rarely do you meet them, which is sad, but they say, I’m a courageous and strong woman. Those women that, or maybe they don’t say it, maybe they just act like it. Those women act strong and courageous and do hard, difficult things.

They don’t wake up in the morning and go, I am strong. And I am courageous. And then believe it right away.

No, it doesn’t work that way.

You wake up in the morning, those women, and they feel full of doubt. And they feel kind of scared. And then they go about their day. Most of the choices they make, they’re afraid to make, but they make courageous choices anyway.

And then what happens is slowly, every day, that fear becomes smaller and smaller. And the courage, they start to count on the courage because it’s working for them, and they’re choosing courage every day. Then all of a sudden, the courage starts showing up more and more and more. And then they can one day after months and months and months, sometimes years and years and years, look at themselves in the mirror and say, holy crap.

I really am courageous. It really happened. I’m still afraid as heck. I know that I’ll always have that little fear, but I know that courage is the dominant emotion. I can count on my courage, even when I’m afraid. It hasn’t failed me; it shows up.

That’s how you become a strong and courageous woman. That’s how you start to feel like one. It doesn’t happen overnight. You’re not born with it. You have to develop it and choose it. And you have to be consistent.

If you want results, you do. That is the key. Let’s be consistent with making courageous and healthy choices, and we will show up and start to become courageous and strong women.

One of the ways we can do that is with our boundaries around intimacy. Have the courage to do it. You deserve to honor your body because I honor you. I love you, and I think you’re valuable. I know you’re valuable. You deserve to be loved and cherished the way that you want to. You actually deserve that.

It is as fulfilling to be loved and cherished as you think it is.

If you have that fantasy and you think, Oh, it’s going to fill my heart if they treat me this way, the answer is, yes, it does fill your heart.

It feels so good. It feels so loving. And the act of sex takes on a whole new meaning when you do it with somebody who really genuinely loves you, and you can trust wholeheartedly. It’s not just about having an orgasm. It’s about your souls meeting and trust and love and forever and growing old together. And it’s just so affirming and confirming, it fills you. That is truly what I think sex was designed to be and feel like.

And you can’t feel that way with someone who you don’t trust sweet peas. So please, please honor yourself because you are worth feeling what I just described.

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.

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