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Sober Dating with Dr. Flo

Sober Dating with Dr. Flo

Dr. Flo
July 8, 2022

Dear Phillip,

I really appreciate your taking the time to write to me the way you did when I asked you questions last week.  It was so soothing to know what you are thinking and where you are coming from.  I want to give that same courtesy to you.

When I refer to working the steps these days in SLAA, I’m referring to my being a member of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.  After becoming a member of AA in April 2019 when I got sober from alcohol, I started looking at other 12 step fellowships that might help me understand my struggles with sex and love.

I’ve always experienced a lot of anxiety about sex and romantic love.  I believe a large portion of it came from literally having never lived with a man or boy in my remembered conscious life as a child or teenager.  I wasn’t exposed to the presence of boys or men except for at school, when my best cousin would come to visit, or when my uncle would come over for holidays.  As I’ve told you but want to make sure I’ve spelled it out, my mother and grandmother raised me with a lot of fear of men.  They talked about life in such a way that - while I’m grateful I was prepared by them to be fully self-reliant and independent as a woman - led me to believe that trusting a man to keep his promises and commitments, to stay when the going gets tough, and to have anything else on his mind besides sex would be ridiculous.  I came away from my household and the culture believing that I was only useful to a man for sex and that if I wanted a man to stay committed to me, I had to be a particular way sexually.  I also learned that I needed to keep my neurotic personality to myself.  

When I decided in August 2012 to begin dating only women, I felt a sense of relief because I thought everything would be “easy” from then on.  I have experienced a great deal of surprising disappointment since then.  What I’ve learned is that it is not “easy” being in an intimate, romantic relationship with anyone.  I’ve learned that it’s hard for me and that it takes a lot of effort. 

I’m going to attach the “characteristics” of sex and love addiction to this email so that you can see them.  I have been using these and the signs of recovery as a compass for changing my patterns from the past.  I am very cautious and vigilant at this point about my choices sexually and romantically because in hindsight I see how completely blind and unaware I was to what makes a relationship successful. 

I don’t want to choke off any parts of myself or artificially limit myself.  I just know myself well enough to know that it historically hasn’t been good for me or anyone I have been involved with to rush without really knowing the compatibility of values, principles, beliefs, etc.  The things that ended up creating toxicity in my relationship with Kari I could not have predicted at the time because I was so clueless about them.  I now seem them clearly and several had nothing to do with sex but rather how we wished to spend our time, what quality time looked like to each of us, what values were important to each, how we thought of life both politically and spiritually, how much time to spend with family, etc.  I now know how important those things are for a relationship to work.  And most essential is the ability to communicate respectfully and to have smooth conflict resolution. 

I know that I’m in a vulnerable place, still grieving, still getting to know myself, still uncertain about a lot of things.  I think that introspection and step work have been helpful in beginning to illuminate patterns, but I haven’t completed this process. I will speak as plainly as I can about my boundaries and limits, I will honor myself in a way I haven’t before, and I know that I need time, patience, reality, honesty, and kindness as we continue moving forward.

Sincerely, Florence


© 1990 The Augustine Fellowship, S.L.A.A., Fellowship-Wide Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
1. Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
2. Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
3. Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
4. We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.
5. We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone. Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.
6. We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing care, and support.
7. We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.
8. We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies.
9. We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable.
10. We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities.
11. To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual and emotional anorexia for recovery.
12. We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.

DR. FLO is a 52-year-old philosopher, and aspiring soul guardian. View Profile

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