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November 6, 2021

Addiction & Online Dating: Swiping for Sex or Love?

 

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Online dating is treachery for a person like me, prone to overindulgence and debauchery.

I no longer drink or keep ice cream in the house in order to protect myself from my own impulsive, compulsive behavior. I will take anything that feels good and do it until it hurts—until I am sick and raw. Other people might stop there, not me. I keep going as if continuing will somehow take me back to the beginning when it was fun and felt good.

This is, in part, the nature of addiction.

I love sex, and I don’t have a casual relationship with it. I long for partnership, but looking for it in an online dating app is treachery for me. Swiping through a catalog of men putting their best face forward is irresistible to the part of me that always needs more—and instant gratification.

I start with the intention of looking for a potential partner, an intellectual match, but I end up swiping for sex because sex is easier and immediately intoxicating. Partnership requests vulnerability and patience, neither are my forte.

I recently went on a feeding frenzy of swiping. Within 48 hours, I had exhausted the catalog of men and I was spent from swiping, sexting, and fantasizing. 

I am woozy from the spin in my own head, hungover from two days lost in an unreal world chasing a feeling that is impossible to get from casual sex, virtual or not. I collapsed—spent and still unsatisfied, like eating an entire pizza and still feeling hungry (another impulsive overindulgence that I am capable of).

I stumbled my way off of the dating app, desperate for a break from my own obsession and compulsion. The regret and exhaustion only last about 10 days, then I am ready to get back on, convincing myself that I can do it right this time. I tell myself I’ll be different, believing I’ve learned my lesson—that I will be able to resist the temptation of instant gratification and the false promise of getting the reward without the work. 

I am familiar with this pattern of thinking and behavior, I thrive after having survived drug addiction by recognizing the part I play in my own misery and cultivating the willingness to let go of believing everything I think. I recognize the danger of getting right back on that ride and decide, instead, to give myself the gift of abstinence; a retreat and a reprieve from the storm of churning, grasping, trying to transform a lie into truth.

Sexting and virtual sex—the new safe sex—are expressions of lust, raw instinct, and urge—an intoxicating element of this exquisite human experience. I long for a physical connection with a person that I respect and admire. I long for the real-life sex that is an expression of affection, creation, and connection—the physical bond that is poured over the mental and emotional union that is built slowly over time with trust, vulnerability, and commitment.

This longing of mine has no willingness or patience to go with it. I am unwilling to remain in a state of openness and vulnerability long enough to build the bond that creates the spectacular sex that I crave.

Dating apps create a treacherous situation for me, where I can believe my own lies and convince myself that I’ll just look at one more—just send one more sext—and then I’ll be done.

I have cultivated enough self-awareness and humility to admit defeat. If you see me on there, do me a favor, and swipe left.

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