Marie Woods, LMFT, CSAT
Primary Counselor, Gentle Path at The Meadows
The recent movie premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey has caused quite the media stir, and I think we can all agree that it’s got a lot of people talking. In many ways, it has provided a valuable opportunity to reflect on where we each stand in regards to relational intimacy. As a therapist specializing in sex addiction, I hear my patients talk about sexual development, sexual trauma, relationships and compulsive behavior on a daily basis. The current media stir provides an ideal platform to elicit authentic, open, honest, and sometimes difficult discussions about sex-related topics, including relationships.
For sex addicts, skewed messages about sex and relationships have often been imprinted in their brains from a very early age. Many sex addicts had either too much or too little sex education during their developmental years. It was either explicitly stated or implied that talking about sex was unacceptable, so such individuals may have internalized messages like “sex is bad” or “sex is secret.” This lack of meaningful dialogue on this important subject is one of the biggest barriers to authentic intimacy.
For many individuals, therapy is the first time they’ve ever truly discussed the concept of intimacy and what defines healthy sexuality. Unfortunately, many individuals completely separate sex from intimacy. They don’t understand that true intimacy is developed through meaningful emotional interactions that enhance and enrich sexuality. In the case of sex addiction, such conversations and questions often means working through deep pain and confronting the consequences of maladaptive behavior that has gone on for far too long.
Even though our culture is full of sexual messages, it does not provide accurate sexual education. It fails to highlight the importance of emotional intimacy as it relates to sexuality. It does not underscore the value of human connection that is at the very root of sex and intimacy.
The cultural impact of Fifty Shades of Grey opens the door for discussions and opinions about the relationship between sexuality and emotional intimacy. We should be grateful for such growth opportunities despite our opinions on the subject. Such discussion allows us to dig deep into our core and evaluate our thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs – and stand firmly in our sense of self. What happens in this process is that we truly come to know ourselves and have more meaningful relationships with others. With these insights and understandings, each of our lives grows richer, and we are stronger as a collective community when we are practicing this kind of authenticity in relationships with others.
We Can Help
Every journey begins with a single step. Through an array of time-tested modalities, we’ll give you the tools to develop healthy relationships. You’ll have these tools with you for the rest of your life. We want to see you and your loved ones prosper and thrive. For more information on sex addiction, call an Intake Coordinator at 855-333-6076.