I am writing because I’m in a funk. I have a wonderful marriage of almost four years. We are extremely open-minded and fun-loving individuals and through the years I have involved myself with others sexually (as well as some emotionally) while with my husband. He knows of a few and seems to have been past that for some time. We talk openly about “certain people” but he definitely does not know all my exploits.
My predicament is my sexual nature and my need and desire to have variety and thrills constantly. (By the way, our sex life does not lack.) So I try to figure out what it is … my self-esteem is definitely lifted when I get myself involved with the newness of anyone I “play around” with or communicate with … I think it’s partly the want for extra attention but also how good I feel knowing I am pleasing or being desired by others …
There is a lot embedded in this letter (if you pardon the pun).
Let me start by asking you this, Why are you married? I ask because my guess is that there is something either about a relationship with your husband or the concept of monogamy that you cherish. I invite you to meditate on what that is/was because surely, if you continue on the path you are on, you risk losing it.
One of the definitions of Integrity, besides the concept of adhering to your values, is “a state of being complete or undivided.” My sense from your letter is that your discomfort is exactly that, a sense of being divided, hence out of integrity.
I know the word “exploits” is just sort of slang for “affairs,” but it is an interesting choice of words. The dictionary defines “exploit” the verb it as “to take selfish or unfair advantage of a person or situation, usually for personal gain.” Whether that is exploiting your husband or your lovers or even your own spirit essence, the choices you are making are causing a division—internally and externally—that is eventually going to backfire, on everyone.
I encourage you to do some values clarification and prioritization, and figure out what matters to you most, and then choose behaviors that will protect what you care about. If what you value is your sexual exploration outside of your marriage, then I suggest you either talk to your husband and make a clear agreement, or get out of the marriage. Doing both is only going to cause a lot of pain and may end in the same result, although unintentionally.
Now, let’s talk about self-esteem. Self-esteem does not get uplifted in an act that is out of integrity, ego does.
Let me explain the difference. True self-esteem is akin to our spirit essence. It gets enhanced from “esteemable acts.” These are actions that make us feel 100 percent good, whole, complete, and in alignment—not partially satisfied, partially shamed or fragmented. There is a false sense of self-esteem evoked from actions that make our ego feel good. Ego thrives on attention, approval and control—all misguided attempts to love and be loved. All are also illusions, as you cannot get true approval when you are not authentic or out of integrity, and you cannot really control another person. Control and approval are the ego’s version of love when in actuality true love is about acceptance of self and others.
So, consider the possibility that it is your ego that is thriving on the attention you are getting from your sexual “exploits.” While it may feel good in the moment, or satisfying in some ways, the fragmentation and sense of discomfort is a clear sign that you are serving the wrong “master.”
I invite you instead to do some real “soul-searching.” Find your Spirit Essence and figure out what would make you feel whole and complete. Explore either having an open-marriage agreement with your husband, recognizing that you are not yet ready to embrace marriage or, making new choices to honor your agreements.
In any case, I suggest you consider a full-on investment in self-esteem enhancement.
1. Identify your values, prioritize them and devote yourself to aligning your behavior with your values. This will create esteemable-acts that help you gain access to your sense of true-self. Part of this is clearly deciding who you are and who you want to be. If you don’t know, you will behave like a sailboat without a rudder, a victim to external forces.
2. Become self-observant of what you do, say and think and identify when you are operating out of a need for approval (ego’s attempt to get love), a need for control (ego’s attempt to give love) or authenticity (a true state of love). When you notice that you are not in alignment with your true essence, take a deep breath and make a new choice. You may have to do this a thousand times in a day, but eventually it will become automatic and simple. Apply this also to what you say to yourself internally. Your beliefs impact what you do, so choose to manage—or change—your beliefs.
Self-esteem is an inside job. It isn’t something you can get from outside of you; it is something already inside of you that you have to access. No one can give it to you—hence the word “self” in self-esteem. Any sense of self-esteem that comes from outside is ego-generated, not spirit-generated, and thus, not real. When you are dependent on the external world for your sense of self, it is fleeting, an illusion and leaves you powerless. I invite you to dive deeply into a study of self and seek that which is real, ever-lasting and internally-generated. This will make you powerful, whole and complete. It is here that love with another begins.
Intellectual Foreplay Questions: Who are you? Who do you want to be? What do you value?
Eve’s Love Tip: In the realm of relationships, two halves don’t make a whole; they make a hole that cannot be filled. Bring your whole essence to the table and meet heart to heart.