From the Archives
(March 2005) Woody Allen said “I don’t know what the question is, but sex is definitely the answer.”
My cheating pal is cheating again and I feel dirty knowing about it. And I wish I didn't have to watch her repeat this all-too-familiar pattern.
She craves intimacy and asks woman after woman out seeking connection, then runs as hard as she can when she finds it. The more attracted she is to the woman, the harder she runs (or she has another affair despite being in love with this woman, effectively destroying their intimacy and thwarting their potential, which somehow makes her feel safe and in control).
She's in a long-term relationship now that is safe, but it has never provided the intimacy that she desires. Or, as another pal said, her partner is safe, and my pal knows taht her partner will never introduce any monsters into the equation.
My friend has always been terrified of internal exploration and seems incapable of acknowledging her fears or what's going on inside that makes her unable to endure intimacy and, ultimately, leaves her miserable. Like me, she has a strong need to be perceived as competent, in control, and capable of keeping a firm handle on things—only she doesn't have the creative outlets that I have that (sometimes) balance that control and she runs away from self-awareness the first time it brings up anything scary (whereas I seek it out, for the most part).
She's been having an affair with a woman who has really helped her get beyond some of her walls and they say they’re in love with each other, but my friend has now run away three times when this woman has left everything behind in order to be with her.
I hate to see a relationship end, but I hate even more to watch her screw up because she's so afraid to let down her guard and risk getting hurt.
I think a place where my friend can expose herself and feel unconditional safety—in a relationship or, if she would tell the truth to her shrink, with her shrink—might allow her to figure out what makes her this afraid of intimacy, of digging deep, but she can't let her guard down enough to trust or accept intimacy when it is offered to her. And now she's messing up her affair, which actually seems good, by continuing to see a third woman (who will express intimacy and then my friend will find another woman and . . .).
I've thought for some time that sex is the key to getting past my friend's walls, is the thing that might give her access to those scary places in a way that doesn't cause her to run away because she's exposed and naked and might get hurt. She lets her guard down sexually (eventually) and is sexually curious, so B&D just might be the thing that will allow her to trust a woman.
I keep hoping she'll find some determined femme who's so alluring that she'll go to new sexual places with her despite her fears, someone who will dominate my friend in a safe manner so that she can finally lose control and see that she survived it.
Guess we’ll see.