by Brian Hickey
The Philly Blunt
A Philly woman cleans up her fucking act
“There’s a tremendous amount of shame and guilt being a slut,” confesses Patricia (not her real name). “It takes a lot to say that,” she sighs, looking out on the scenery beyond the kitchen window of a suburban nook so leafy that realtors would highlight “Serene Views of Natural Beauty Just 20 Minutes From Philadelphia!” The place is cozy. Any woman juggling marriage, motherhood and a high-end career would find comfort and security inside.
Patricia is a middle-aged, shoulder-length blond who wears glasses and a friendly smile. There’s nothing exceptional about her, nothing seems unusual, though she’s embarrassed that she gained, and subsequently lost, close to 100 pounds in recent years.
As she wraps her hands delicately around a teacup, Patricia uses socially acceptable jargon to explain how discomfort and insecurity snuck inside her world. “I was two different people,” she says, “I was a soccer mom with a secret life as a sex addict.”
That declaration is not as Lifetime- movie-ready as you’d think. Patricia’s told this story plenty of times, but not openly. She’s being candid about experiences she’s only shared with fellow sex addicts, but hopes that by telling her story publicly it will help people see sexual addiction as a legitimate disorder that should be recognized.
More than that, though, she thinks it will resonate with other sex addicts who’ve known there was something wrong with them, but just didn’t know what to call, or how to handle, it.
Patricia got hooked on sex after her marriage ended in 2001. Her husband had been having an affair for a while. She knew about it, but being co-dependent, decided not to do anything. Co-dependence is a word that comes up often in the burgeoning field of sex addiction; it explains why people shoulder incredible burdens as long as they feel loved, even when they aren’t.
Life was too good to make waves, so other than withholding sex for a few years; Patricia chose to ignore her husband’s transgression. That worked for a while, but the couple eventually went their separate ways when their son turned 12. “That gave me the opportunity to date for the first time in 21 years,” recounts Patricia. “And I did it very, very well.”
She started out frequenting a dating website. That quickly became four dating websites. She got a buzz from the attention, and was swept up in “the addictive hit” that searching for partners gives you. “Dopamine, that’s our drug,” says Patricia. “We’ll drive over bodies to find some.”
That rush—when it comes to sex-and-love addiction, easy Internet access to prurient interests have made a sideshow issue mainstream—turned mainline when she opened responses from men who wanted to get to know her better, so to speak.
“Someone likes me!” she’d think when emails arrived.
“Nobody loves me,” she’d lament when the inbox was empty.
At first, there were rules to her newly rediscovered—and heartily embraced—sexual freedom. She only went out on dates when her son was with his father. She always met the men in public places, and never brought any of them back to her house until the third date.
Soon, all those rules were broken.
“There were men I don’t even know their last names,” she admits. “Man after man after man after man.”
Asked for a consummation tally, she laughs, but immediately discloses a number: 30 in four years. Most didn’t get to the third date, instead those now-faceless conquests were treated to sex on the first date, and condoms weren’t necessarily required.
“I thought this was just how dating was done these days,” she says. “I had no idea I was caught in an addictive cycle. I just couldn’t control it.”
The addiction took over four years of her life.
“I was literally having phone sex upstairs while my son was downstairs. I never even thought to lower my voice. It’s such a high that the way you avoid the crash is going out and getting another one.”
“I was fighting with my son to use the computer. You don’t ask a drunk to share his drink; you don’t ask a sex addict to share his computer.”
Patricia admits she’d drive past partners’ homes just to get a mental fix: “Stalking never manifested itself. Just looking for a hit, like drugs on a street corner.”
Sometimes, she would sneak out of the house for a sunrise booty call while her child was still sleeping. “I was emotionally absent from my son,” she admits.
She’d log on to dating sites while working at a “very prestigious firm.” Eventually, she was fired. “They didn’t say it was because of that,” she says, “but I was told in no uncertain terms that spending six hours a day on dating websites was not acceptable.”
(The remainder of this guest post can be found at The Philadelphia Weekly: News and Opinion)