Just quit! It’s annoying… yes, that is a favorite word of mine.
But seriously, it is highly annoying for this to continue, and it is not productive for me or for our continued relationship.
This problem is well documented in many relationships. Remember when your significant other protested that the only basis of your relationship was one-sided and you weren’t living up to your end of the expectation matrix? Sex…
Except I don’t need more.
Like scientifically debunked science such as Tabula Rasa or Phrenology, the theory that life is seen through a lens of sex is not true whatsoever. Well, yes, I will concede that the procreation of the species is a high drive. And yes, males do think of sex quite often… 3 times every minute is probably too high of an estimate, but that estimate rings true because 1.) it is sensational 2.) it addresses a common grievance 3.) it is not too far off to sound outrageous. But that is NOT the only drive! For instance… yesterday, I was mowing my lawn. Why? Because the flipping grass needed to be cut, and I like order! Not because I find the grass particularly sexy or a mowed lawn makes me tingly in the nether reaches of my pantaloons.
The same applies to relationships… yes, even for a sexual addict. There are certain things a sexual addict needs in relationships. It may surprise you that sex is at the bottom of that list.. if it is on the list at all. You see, like people (making a sideways joke here about how people view…) sex offenders need love, shelter, food, etc. Really, our needs pyramid is not any different from a non-addicted individual.
The fact that our pyramid is all wonky doesn’t help your evaluation of our needs drives especially if you already know that I am a sex offender. Because then, you will be looking for evidence of our sex drive. And, no matter what I do to convince you that I am not a raging hormone on two legs, you will still see my being as defined by the scarlet letter sewn onto our relationship.
Look, if I see an attractive person, I’m going to look. Sorry, but men and women do understand, evaluate, and appreciate things based on appearance. Men understand that the shape of a woman shows him basically how healthy his progeny will be if borne by that person. That is a primary drive… continuing our species. If a woman is out of shape, then a man can see that she is and will either understand this is an psychological manifestation or a physiological manifestation. At that point he can decide to stick with this person or not. For this reason (drive for procreation), for men, seeing an attractive female is a bit of an endorphin boost and that boost is natural. It helps us get a boost out of finding a suitable mate or drives us to couple with our current, committed mate. Stop faulting men for doing what they are designed to do.
Start faulting them for twisting that design into useless or destructive pursuits.
The problem is when the same male (or female) sees that person they just viewed as available to them to explore. That is when there are problems… even when the person viewed actually IS available. All sorts of options for failure open up. Marriage in the traditional sense is designed to thwart those disasters, but that’s a morality argument best left for another essay.
The point is that we are designed to feel attraction for the opposite sex and to act that out in productive ways. Nevermind that we misuse that so often. At its core, sexuality and the attraction drive is a good thing, so ladies… please, give us some credit for having an attraction for you and take it as a compliment.
Now what I will say about this point is that women are NOT the gatekeepers of morality. Not alone anyway. You men… remember the part of the Bible that says to be angry but don’t sin? Well, the same applies here. Be sexually attracted, but don’t sin. Let me give you an example… a woman that I do some work with is a very nice shape. She bent over in front of me during the course of us working together and frankly, I enjoyed it. She has a nice shape, and I can appreciate that. Now don’t take this out of context, I didn’t even look directly at her ass, but I can still “See” and you men know exactly what I mean. Sometimes we can see without looking. Nothing wrong with that… or looking for that matter. Just don’t undress her in your mind. She doesn’t deserve that… but I digress.
Is the previously described situation “using” the person that was attractive to me? No, but had I stared and began to undress her in my mind, then yes, I would have been essentially raping her. She did not consent. I should not entertain those thoughts. So how does that relate to the problem of sexuality being the basis of all relationships that the sex offender is involved with? Well, I’m glad you asked.
This illustrates, that most sex offenders have a pretty good grasp at least intellectually, of what a healthy sexual relationship is, and while most folks believe that sex offenders and sexual addicts are raging out of control, we are not. How many obese or food-addicted folks do you know? Ever see them working? Reading? Having a positive relationship with someone? Sure… same goes for the exercise addicted person or the drug-addicted person. Sexually addicted people exist in all strata of our society. So do Sex Offenders. Ever wonder how Harvey Weinstein made so many films while still being a raging sexual offender? It wasn’t by sitting around all day and twiddling his diddle.
That’s not even the half of it. He was GOOD at what he did despite his predatory behavior. That doesn’t justify anything he did. No one is asking you to be ok with any predatory behavior, but what is being said is that it is impossible to put a single label on a person and call it accurate or complete. We are not cans of spinach or corn giblets for Pete’s sake. We aren’t (you and I) even a baked pizza or a 5 course meal. To label a human as a sex offender is like calling nature a “system of balance” ignoring the fact that, like nature, all humans are complex and wonderful. “Sex Offender” only describes one aspect (and possibly one moment) of that person’s life.
“Sex Offender” could also be “dad”, “husband”, “brother”, “cousin”, “person who helped me change a tire”, “person who helped me carry my 25 lb water bottle to the car”, “person who stopped me to tell me my tire was low and then stopped again to help me air it up.” I have done all these things and more. None were sexually motivated. None of those folks knew I was a sex offender either, but had I led any of these interactions with, “Hello, I’m a sex offender…” do you think they would have let me help them or do anything positive in any way?
Let’s put it another way… if a single doctor were to knowingly touch a teen in a sexual way outside of the practice… in a private personal setting (as most sex offenses occur), would that doctor suddenly lose the knowledge of how to take care of someone? Would they be less capable of taking care of someone? Would they still be able to take care of someone? Yes, a breach of trust has occurred, but that person carries significant knowledge about how to heal. Now think of that doctor as a female and the patient as a male. Remember, I never specified the sex of either party. How does that change your attitude?
Should this doctor be allowed to get her license back?
What is the path we should take to allow this person be re licensed and allowed to heal us while still respecting and taking care of the victim?
Now go back to the original assumption… Dr. is male and patient female. Does your attitude shift again? Is there anything redeemable that society can use to its benefit?
We carry with us certain prejudices and biases. They help us survive and navigate this crazy life. Let’s not throw them out, but in this case, I think drawing an equal sign between a sociopathic sexual predator and your typical sexual offender is just not accurate.
Yes, sex offenders do some horrible things. You can read my story here… but finding a complete stranger who is helpless against you doing whatever you want to with them is a whole different ball of wax than a person who has issues around relationships and a warped sexuality. The latter just needs better relationship information and to be weaned off porn while the former needs to be put away until they can be radically changed into someone who values others and sees their own desires as secondary to actual needs.
The point here is that the two are just not the same.
What does this finally mean to our relationship responsibility to sex offenders and sexual predators? One of them you can actually treat like a safe person to be around. They most likely have a relationship hole (or many) that are causing them some pain and needs to be resolved or worked through. In addition to that, the pervasiveness of porn in our society exacerbates that problem by removing the personal relationship from sexual relations. If this person can be allowed to be in relationship with others… knowing that some sexual attraction will occur, then probably they will be ok. Isolating and shaming them does NOT work. It really drives these folks further away from what they (and society) truly need. Relationship. Healthy, strong, dependable, safe, community, and relationship.
The predator is a different story. They need something more intense. First, they need to be isolated until we can determine they are not an immediate threat. While they are isolated, they should be reborn, as it were, into a new life of accomplishment and community. See above except they need to see value in themselves and through community understand their value is similar to the value of others.
All of this is easier said than done…
The first step is that you’ve got to quit treating these folks as if 1) they constantly are lusting after you and want to hump you 2) that they could pounce on you at any moment 3) that the past offense defines every moment of their waking and unconscious being. You think too much of yourself if you believe 1 and 2 are true, and you think not enough of the person before you if you believe 3 is true of anyone at all… even the predator.
Let’s not kid ourselves. There are dangerous people out there, but that person is probably not the registered sex offender. The dangerous person is the uncle or cousin that stays unsupervised. The danger is the teacher who doesn’t know the parents or the father who is there eagle-eyeing him during the parent-teacher conference. The dangerous person is the guy down the street or the baby sitter with daddy issues. Let’s face it. Humans are messed up. We are. So how to we keep ourselves and others safe? By being involved. The solution is to build better families that are closer and stay together. People with parent sized holes in their psyche are especially vulnerable to sexual offenses because they don’t have the boundaries that a well balanced young person has been brought up to emulate.
So STOP IT already!
I’m not the danger. I’m the person you can ask about the solution. Stop being afraid I’m going to rape you if you look at me in the eyes. I need that look. I need a relationship to learn positive behavior and relationships. Don’t worry, I won’t misinterpret it, but if I do, a NORMAL treatment of our relationship by you will tell me all I need to know. If I stare or get weird… what would be the best thing is to just call it out, but be understanding. Understand that I am struggling with pain and brokenness in my life that is creating in me urges and desires for love and companionship. I just haven’t gotten to the place where I have figured out that sexuality is not the place to find what I need.
The point is that SO’s are actually mostly harmless. They are just misguided and need a little push in the right direction. In fact, that’s all they ever needed… not so much a push as a hand that will hold theirs while they walk into the enlightening realization that sex and intimacy come AFTER relationship.