When your boyfriend is a sex addict, the red flags seem exciting at first. Late night romps in the driver’s seat where we giggle when my ass hits the car horn. Or spending the day plotting naughty adventures via text. It’s exciting; we’re in love. We try new things together. We trust each other. Each of us promises not to judge one another, revealing fantasies, hopes, dreams.
He loves travel. He loves reading, learning. He loves me exactly the way I am. “I understand that you’re a bird. You want to fly everywhere. I just hope that I will be the branch that you choose to perch on.” He says things that make me think he understands me in a way no one ever had.
What amount of fantasy is healthy to cross into reality? I cringe a bit when he gives me his Reddit username and password. I read his posts from the past when he was single or with his ex. I learn some things are much easier to find than I imagined. Explicit photos of men and women. Threesomes. Cuckolding. Spicing up someone else’s marriage by joining them. I hold my breath when he shows me his Tinder account. He did it for us, in case we want to try more things. Was what we tried together not enough? It’s only been a week since a wild night that fulfilled both his wishes and mine. I do not judge the man I love, I don’t try to stifle this part of him. He was open, honest. He wants to explore with me. I was able to explore some of my own fantasies. I was free of judgment that held me down in my past relationships.
The best parts of us shine with such brilliance during the first few weeks of dating, but this brilliance began to melt his exterior, revealing his bruised, bumpy, bleeding insides; all torn up and completely lost.
I find out when he was jobless and living with his ex-fiancée, he’d sit in front of the computer watching porn all day. He was in a new country, it was a hard time for him, I think to myself. I’m here now, those days must be over. We trust each other.
The nights of passionate groping in the car turn into him randomly dropping me off somewhere, demanding me to spend the next 30 minutes with someone else, or to call an old flame to spend alone time with, and then to tell him about it. I look at him with confusion. I’m not sure I can do things like this. I try to explain. He says he understands, he says it’s not the most important part of the relationship.
And yet our relationship continues to morph into him planning games to appease his fantasies. When I arrive at a bar for a date with him, I find out instead that he wanted me to go there alone for the first hour. To get bothered by men I wanted nothing to do with. He gets texts from women asking to meet up for sex or to spend the night. They are now “just friends.” When you sleep with all of your friends, is there a difference?
Our fun, flirty text messages turns into him taking pictures of his penis while at work. Instead of flirting back, I worry he might lose his job at a school. I worry I’ve gotten into a situation that could potentially destroy me.
The “normal” dates I try to plan quickly plummet to his eyes wandering up and down every woman’s body that passes by. I tug on my dress. I fix my hair. The two hours I spent getting ready mean nothing to him. I have become a ghost, a faded old toy that no longer amused him.
Conversations about life, travel, art have been degraded down to Tinder swiping, him incessantly asking which women I found attractive or who should join us on our next rendezvous. Tears swell up in my eyes. I can never be enough. He doesn’t notice, he keeps swiping to the right. I am drowning in his addiction and my heart sinks down to my gut, pink, gummy, weak. Where was the sexy man I loved? I try to explain. I try to be honest about how I feel. He acknowledges it, deletes some of his accounts online. But the behavior doesn’t change. Eyes still wander, I still feel like shit.
I Google signs, symptoms. I call him out on it. He says he knows, he says he’s in a dark place, he says he wants to become a better person. That I am the most important thing in his life. My head is filled with his helium of hope. Hope that every other part of him that I adore with trumps his sickness. That once we start traveling together. That once he, or that once something changes I will get back the man I fell for.
I finally realize that he doesn’t want to change one night after he whispers to me a sexual assault comment towards an attractive bartender. That was the final comment that jolted me into reality. The car ride home, my eyes fill with tears. He kisses me and we share a few quick thrusts in the car. I feel nothing. I knew it was over.
Many months later, he sends me an email. Says he misses me. He’s writes encouraging words, comforting me at a rough time in my life. He also mentions he has a girlfriend and is sorry about everything that happened in the past. He says he’s not serious “boyfriend material” right now, explains how he’s still in a dark place. Maybe he will make a great friend. Again I suck in his helium, his empty, floating words. He invites me to his new apartment for some dinner and wandering around the neighborhood.
He pushes boundaries, just like he used to do with his other “friends.” Putting his arm around me, holding my hand. My heart swells a bit, but I remind myself he’s just a friend. I don’t need his drama in my life. He makes jokes about breaking up with his girlfriend, highlighting all the negative things about her. We say goodbye, I dodge a potential kiss. I drive home feeling sad, heavy.
The next day, he sends me a long-winded guilt text about his girlfriend, saying he wants to make it work with her. He then proceeds to invite me to go out drinking and dancing with him, alone. I try to explain why we can’t do that. I try to tell him if his girlfriend was with us at his apartment and saw how he behaved, she would be furious. He starts blaming me, accusing me that I was expecting a relationship and his romantic actions towards me were all in my head. I realize nothing has changed. He doesn’t respond. The behavior doesn’t change. His eyes still wander, but I no longer feel like shit. I feel free.