It was brought to my attention last night that female addicts are more common then we realize and many women wouldn't even recognize their own addiction because it doesn't manifest itself in the same way a man's addiction manifests itself. Women are by nature more emotionally stimulated, thus addictions are more emotionally geared. A woman's sexual addiction does not manifest itself often by outward sins, such as masturbation or the common definition of pornography. Women become addicted to fantasies of another nature.
The problem with this is, a woman can obtain a high (create the same addictive brain chemistry) from an emotional connection. Thus, it could be from a seemingly harmless relationship online with someone anonymous, or a secret crush on a celebrity or even a member of her community. A woman could envy another married couple because the husband (to her) seems to have great characteristics that she feels her own husband lacks. This seeking of love and fulfillment from other sources then her husband can become addictive because if she finds it, she gains a high off this other source and therefore does not seek the closeness from her husband anymore.
I know I have been guilty of this in my past. It is difficult because being married to an addict also means my husband cannot emotionally connect to me on the level I long for. I have tried. I have tried really hard. But there always seems to be a barrier between us as he just won't or can't open up. And the most painful thing about it is that I can see his effort! I can see that he's trying so hard to give me what I long for, but he still isn't succeeding. Just talking to me seems to take so much effort. I can see him writhing inside because it is so uncomfortable for him to try to talk to me - even to have a simple conversation. That's what hurts me the most.
And this is one of the reasons I have become addicted to media, to internet relationships in my past which I have since eliminated, to movie or book fantasies where I rewind and play a scene over and over because of some emotional connection being portrayed on the screen that I long to have. It is never something pornographic, but it triggers that emotional high and so I seek it again and again. Of course, this is not related necessarily to my self-gratification addiction, but if I get to a place where I am vulnerable maybe that's when I have failed with that addition to, on those rare occasions since my marriage began.
What is interesting to me is that ever since I have decided to begin working the steps toward this addiction in particular, I have been finding others that can relate and share with me their own experience. The first week I attended the support group meeting after I began this endeavor, a woman sat next to me for the first time in the meeting and introduced her sharing with telling us she is a recovering addict. Then the next week a woman I've known for a while in the group shared how she had discovered within herself that she had other addictions. We had a conversation later that prompted this post.
I recall reading the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer and being completely encompassed by that world. I enjoyed reading it, even though I felt some of the writing wasn't very good. It was the idea, the romantic notion of being with someone who really showed his love. I didn't just read it because it was a good story, I fed on it with a hunger that could not be satisfied, and when I put the books down I was still caught up in that dreamworld. I read it and then reread it because I didn't want it to end. I became addicted to the fantasy land, and it disconnected me from my family and my kids and my husband. I felt completely unhappy in my reality because the world I lived in did not hold the fantasies I craved, and my depression grew. And my blame grew - everything was my husband's fault.
Later, the series was banned from Deseret Book and I read that they discontinued selling it because they felt it was "emotional porn". At the time I was affronted. I snorted and thought they were being snobbish and I rationalized my own fantasy addiction. It eventually wore off for that particular story, but my addiction continued in the form of writing poetry and posting it and dwelling on the other people's writings on that website. That finally came to a head with a relationship that became too emotionally charged and I had to take a step back and began visiting with the bishop. By that point I didn't think love existed in my marriage at all. My husband was clueless to all this because he lived in his own contented world with no progress and everything is rosy. He ignored me even when I was blunt. He just shrugged it off and forgot I even ever said a word.
I would become so emotionally involved in television shows the drama would make me crazy. I would react openly when the plot would take a turn I didn't like and my husband would look at me like I was crazy, because I was! The story was my life!
Ok...this post is turning into more history and I'm losing focus. My point is, the addiction my husband has is not the only source of our troubles. Focusing on the here and now has helped me a lot but I am still prone to this addiction of escaping into that fantasy world of movies or television shows. I have to be careful.
I think some people (online men) even sort of prey upon women like this because we are very vulnerable and unhappy and seeking intimacy where we should not be seeking it. I'd never thought about all this as addiction, but now that I have it makes more sense then before. So I will also be working the steps for this as well as the self-gratification thing.