Is Flirting With Another Harmless When You’re Already In A Relationship?

Do you think flirting with someone who’s not your significant other is harmless? I’ve often told myself it’s totally ok, so long as I don’t cross a physical line whenever I do it. Yet, the more I’ve worked on my character defects in life, the more I’ve begun to feel otherwise.

First and foremost, the main reason why I’ve ever flirted with another, while in a relationship, has been due to a deep-seated inadequacy that began long ago in my early childhood, one that led to me seeking validation outside of myself to deal with it. The more I’ve grown older, the more that’s become even more apparent, especially as all signs of youth continue to fade. In any of the monogamous relationships I’ve ever been in, including my current one, the validation I’ve received from each of them eventually always becomes not enough for my ego because of those deep-seated inadequacies. This in turn then beckons me to look elsewhere for them to go away, hence the flirtatious nature that begins to arise within me. And as I start sending out flirtatious missiles to those I find attractive, if their well received and returned just the same or better, my ego gets temporary highs or “hits” from it. Unfortunately, they never last though, leading me to feel the need to flirt even more. It’s definitely not a healthy place to be in, because flirting has never and will never permanently remove any of my deep-seated inadequacies. Rather, the more I’ve ever engaged in heavy flirtation on a repetitive basis, the more I’ve usually fallen straight back into addictive behaviors that ultimately led to me cheating on my partner and leaving them altogether.

In addition to this, I’ve also found that flirting can be very hurtful to the person I’m dating, especially when I’m not offering any of it towards them. Not only has it regularly led some of them to feeling jealous, it’s also led to greater mistrust as well. I’ve often placed myself in my current partner’s shoes and thought about my flirtatious behaviors whenever I’ve done them, wondering how I’d feel if he was engaging in the very same ones with someone else. Would I be ok if he said some of the flirty things to someone else he found attractive that I’ve personally said to others? If I’m being truly honest with myself, the answer is no, I definitely wouldn’t. Yet, my ego has the tendency to frequently forget about that, as it seeks to do whatever it can to quickly cover up all of my deep-seated inadequacies of life.

Ultimately, I believe that being monogamous with someone means doing so on every level, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And I’m clearly seeing these days that flirtation with another only leads directly away from that. The bottom line is that I love my partner and don’t want to lose this relationship, as it’s the healthiest one I’ve ever been in, so I know that I must do my best to refrain from flirtation and instead, go within whenever I feel the urge to resort to this behavior.

It’s a tough place to be in, especially for this recovering addict, because I’ve felt a tremendous amount of inadequacies in recent years that go well beyond my getting older. With the health issues I still am facing on a day-to-day basis and the fact that I haven’t had a paying job for a very long time, I’ve had a consistent urging in my mind to resort to flirting, solely to fill that void, even if it is only temporary.

While I’ve been much better about restraining from flirtation since getting sober from a former sex and love addiction six and a half years ago, I continue to give in to the behavior from time to time, which always seems to correlate to those days when I’ve gotten into arguments with my partner or have just felt very down about my life in general.

For me, the only solution to prevent this behavior has been to try to draw closer to my Higher Power and to continue working on more self-love. Most of my deep-seated inadequacies stem from not receiving enough unconditional love when growing up, yet looking for that in another in my adulthood through flirting won’t fix that broken record either. Instead, I know I must embrace myself exactly as I am, loving myself through all my character defects. As the more I have, and the more I’ve drawn closer to my Higher Power, the more I find I don’t want to flirt, the more I find myself drawing closer to my partner, and the more I seem to feel anything but inadequate…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

How Skipping My AA Home Group Reminded Me Of A Former Character Defect…

As I write this, it’s Sunday evening, a night I normally attend my AA home group. It’s also the month I signed up to be chairperson there, except I wasn’t able to keep that obligation tonight and had to get someone else to cover for me, solely because of the level of pain I felt in my back. What’s interesting about this is how guilty I felt initially sitting at home while the meeting was going on and it totally relates to an old character defect of mine, that being an integrity-based one.

Integrity is something I never used to have much of. I often skipped obligations and commitments, backed out of plenty of gatherings, and was definitely not a man of my word, unless it suited me somehow. While I know I wasn’t truly out of integrity with my home group this evening, because I honestly didn’t feel well enough to go and was sitting at home on a heating pad for most of the night, it simply was a reminder of a time where I would cancel out on doing things like chairing a meeting, all because of a better option coming along.

I was always looking for a better option any time I signed myself up for something. Because in reality, I was constantly looking out for “numero uno”. I can’t count the number of times where I left friends hanging on evenings where we were supposed to hang out, usually because someone I was attracted came along and made a “better” offer for me. Yes, I really was that low, more than not, cancelling out on so many people, failing to keep to my word, letting many down in the process. I was truly out of integrity on most days of my life.

So, on an evening, where I couldn’t fulfill my chairperson duties and sat at home on my heating pad, I felt somewhat guilty, guilty for all the times I didn’t fulfill other obligations in the past and rarely for valid reasons. Because back then, I was never cancelling my commitments over health reasons and was always coming up with some sort of a lie instead. Why? Because I selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and afraid…the four core character defects underlying anyone who suffers from addiction.

Thank God I’m not that person anymore. And thank God for that temporary period of feeling guilty tonight, even if it was misdirected and not necessary. Because the reality is I am a man of integrity today and I don’t ever want to return to a life where I’m not. I’m glad I’m a man of my word now, and I have to thank the 12 Steps of recovery and my walk with God for that…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Severing A Cord That Still Kept Me Tied To Codependency And Sex And Love Addiction

I recently had to sever a cord that tied me energetically to a guy I met years ago in AA when I first moved to Toledo in 2014. After many years of living in somewhat of a codependent and addiction-based friendship with this person, I recently came to an acceptance of how unhealthy it was for me to keep it going anymore and finally ended it.

Honestly, I should have done so years ago, yet I didn’t, all because of two reasons. One, was the fact that I really cared about him and understood much of the reasons why he acted the way he did towards me and others, and two, which wasn’t a very good reason at all, was the fact I found him attractive.

The biggest thing that I used to suffer from when my sex and love addiction was fully active in my life was developing friendships with those I found attractive, but who also had a lot of baggage in their lives that usually included confusion around their sexuality. The more I spent time around those type of individuals, the more I frequently found myself developing a love addiction to them, imagining myself being the savior to all their woes in their lives. Doing so, always kept the focus off of my own life’s baggage, and also made me feel really good anytime those people would tell me I was the only one who truly understood them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see those sex and love addiction behaviors early on when I initially befriended this individual. In fact, we really had some great times together hanging out back then, going to meetings and grabbing a number of meals together, some even at my own house where my partner and I entertained him there.

Eventually, at one point, I was even asked to be this person’s sponsor, which was the period where I truly got to know this guy on a level I’m not sure anyone else has. I got to see his inner workings and the reason why he has struggled so much making friends. Sadly, getting this close to him also ended up making me a recipient for abuse, just like it often did in many of my prior connections. It was only after that brief stint of sponsorship did I begin to see unhealthy patterns emerging in my relationship with him.

Patterns such as being friended and unfriended by him numerous times on Facebook, being told how much I was a great friend one week and a terrible friend the next week, hearing how much I was a positive inspiration in their life, only to be told in a short period later how much I was toxic for them, again and again, always feeling as if I was being pulled in and then pushed out. Yet, I kept enduring it, constantly remaining unconditionally loving and accepting, thinking that’s what Christ would do. Knowing much of this guy’s deepest, darkest secrets, and pains and despairs of life, made me believe that I was meant to remain there in support of him.

Regrettably, I wished I had practiced what Al-Anon had taught me long ago though, which was to detach with love with people like this. Unfortunately, it took me going through a ton of pain to get there, both from keeping this friendship going, as well as from my health issues that had nothing to do with him.

Thankfully, my connection to this guy never once led me into a full-blown relapse with my sex and love addiction, but it did test my sobriety on a number of occasions and taught me a valuable lesson as well about some of the more subtler ways that my sex and love addiction often attempts to get a grip on me.

Nevertheless, while people who have suffered from codependency and sex and love addiction can befriend people in recovery they find attractive, it is very important to look out for any warning signs that may arise. Looking back, I see a lot of them now and have a far greater understanding of myself, which I know will help me in the future.

I learned a lot from this connection over the years, yet I feel so much freer without it now. I don’t wish to be on the receiving end anymore of someone else’s mental and emotional imbalances, nor do I wish to be someone else’s punching bag either. I deserve far better. I’m just glad I was finally able to sever a cord that still kept me tied to my old codependent and sex and love addicted life…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson