Dear Dr. Elia,
You have written a lot of articles on sexual addiction over the years. As an expert, would you say that Congressman Weiner is a sex addict and that’s why he’s seeking “treatment” for his actions? As a woman, all this sounds like an excuse men make for their inexcusable behavior.
Congressman Anthony Weiner is the latest in a long list of politicians, celebrities and sports stars who have been caught doing something illicit. Just recently, former California governor and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock with a woman who for years had worked in his own home. His wife, Maria Shriver, has now filed for divorce, and one of his children has changed his last name to Shriver.
Former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards also fathered a child out of wedlock with a videographer. All this while his wife was battling with cancer, which eventually took her life. Several others, including Louisiana Sen. David Ritter and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, hired escort services, a euphemistic way of saying they hired prostitutes. Former Nevada Sen. John Ensign had an extramarital affair with the wife of a member of his own staff: a double betrayal. The list of such examples is endless, so suffice it to say your question has a lot of merit.
First of all, what do all these men have in common? They are each highly educated, intelligent, successful in their careers, charismatic and powerful. These are their positive characteristics. They are also self-absorbed and arrogant to the point where they believe the normal rules of engagement and conduct do not apply to them. With today’s instant access to information with electronic technology at its peak, it seems naive and foolish to believe these types of behavior will not become public.
As I have been following the latest scandal surrounding Congressman Weiner, I’ve asked myself the following question: Why would a man in his mid-40s be following a 21-year-old coed on Twitter to begin with? Never mind the fact that he sent lewd pictures of himself and engaged in inappropriate activities with half a dozen women while he was married. The only difference between his behaviors and those others mentioned above is that he didn’t have any physical contact with these women.
So if he didn’t have sex outside of marriage, is he still a sex addict? I have worked with hundreds of men who have behaved in a similar manner without ever engaging in extramarital relationships. It seems like the term “sexual addict” feels like an excuse to you for their inappropriate behavior. Perhaps you are correct because in the old days it was called “fooling around” or “having an affair” and so on. I know of many other women who feel similar to you; however, if it’s not sex, then it is certainly a “lust addiction.” All these behaviors that I’ve described have taken place because of lust. There’s no love involved, and that’s why none of these men are still in a relationship with any of the women. Whether they paid for services or not, all of these are based on lust.
When lust becomes out of control, it produces behaviors that can be characterized as a sexual addiction. If Congressman Weiner does indeed seek treatment for his inappropriate behaviors, I hope the focus is on lust versus sex. Only when his lust is cured will he be free of his personal demons. Only by learning to love, respect, honor and cherish women rather than viewing them as mere objects to satisfy his lustful desires will he be able to move on.
There will be more of these scandals in the future, I promise you, but hopefully some lessons can be learned from another person’s mistakes.
Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.