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(follow-up to) Suggestions on cutting compulsive sex?

Jul 12, 2005

Dear Dr. Bob,

This is a follow-up to a post you answered on July 10, about how to reduce compulsive sex when you're closeted and bisexual. Thank you so much for answering my question. I just wanted to let you know about a few of the barriers I encountered in trying to solve my situation. Since my health plan did not cover "behavioral issues", at first the only counseling I could afford was through a religiously affiliated network involved in "pastoral counseling," and they seemed dedicated to using faith-based psychology to cure me of same-sex desire. I also tried to see a counselor who operated through a gay and lesbian center and he was convinced that I had to break up with my wife and come out as gay, which I can't do, because we've built a life together and I love her in a way that I know I could never duplicate with anyone else, female or male. I have found a middle ground with a good psychologist, but I have to pay out-of-pocket at very high rates. I have managed to avoid any other extramarital sexual encounters for two months now, and my 9-week HIV test came back negative (as did my wife's), so I am close to knowing that my earlier lapses with oral sex have not caused an infection. My wife and I are struggling to come up with an answer together. You are right that honesty has been the greatest blessing, because now that I have no secrets from her at all, strangely, she and I have much more and much better sex (still using condoms, of course) and I have not felt the urge to engage in the old misbehavior. There were some things that I can suggest to people who have had compulsive sex problems though. Avoid taking trips without your spouse, make sure that she knows you've been bad in the past so that you know that she will catch you in the future (it's a way of outsmarting yourself), and work really hard on finding sexual pleasure with your wife. Also, it helped to know that I was bipolar, because the doctor figured out that my moments of risky behavior occurred most often very late at night, when I could not sleep, which is associated with a manic state and goes along, unfortunately, with a heightened sexual drive and a greater willingness to expose one's self to risks (a very bad combination to be struggling with at odd hours when the only people awake are men prowling 24-hour adult bookstores). I'm on meds that help me sleep and that has virtually eliminated 95% of the problem. Anyway, thank you again, Dr. Bob. Your humor stings a little, but sometimes people need to be shaken up, so I give you a thumbs up.

Thanks, Struggling in the closet

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Struggling in the Closet,

If my last response stung a bit, I better warn you that you may find this one even more painful, although my goal is only to help you, not make your situation more painful. (You're doing a fairly good job of that all on your own!)

First off, you health plan's refusal to cover "behavioral issues" could be contested. "Sexual orientation" is not a behavior; it's a reality.

Next, "religiously affiliated network involved in 'pastoral counseling' . . . dedicated to using faith-based psychology to cure same-sex desire" is, in a word, bullshit. Faith-based psychology directed at "curing same-sex desire" has been shown to be harmful, ineffective and, in my opinion, immoral. I'm quite sure God has a nice place in Hell picked out for those who persist in propagating these dangerous, scientifically disproven, and medically unsound programs that create havoc and damage people's lives.

Next, you report you cannot come out as gay, because you've built a life with your wife and love her in a way that you know you could never duplicate. I agree that we cannot nor should we even try to duplicate loves. Your wife sounds like a wonderful person and no one should ever deny what you have and have had with her. That, however, does not change one's sexual orientation. Both she and you have every right to happiness and a completely fulfilling sexual life. I think it is unfortunate you and your wife are "struggling to come up with an answer." I again encourage you to be brutally honest with both your wife and yourself.

Now, regarding your suggestions for others, I couldn't disagree more.

1. "Avoid taking trips without your spouse." What???? Successful relationships are built on trust, not on distrust of yourself or your mate.

2. "Make sure she knows you've been bad in the past, so that you know that she will catch you in the future as a way of outsmarting yourself." Gosh, your suggestions are going from bad to worse! Suggesting a relationship be built on suspicion? That, I can assure you, is not something healthy relationships thrive on.

3. "Work really hard on finding sexual pleasure with your wife." What??? Sexual pleasure is not something you should have to work really hard to find. It should be spontaneous, not a duty like mowing the lawn.

There you have it, "Struggling in the Closet" Guy. It's 1-2-3 strikes you should be "out!"

Sleeping pills are not the answer to your nocturnal desires. The real answer is in your sign-off name "Struggling in the Closet."

Coming out is a process. I suggest that since you now have no secrets from your wife, you show her this post and my reply. I also suggest you show it to your therapist. I'm confident they will both help you come to grips with your reality.

I wish you both peace and enlightenment.

Dr. Bob

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