What You Seek From Love
Thomas P Seager, PhD
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Hi (again) Thomas P Seager, PhD!

Interesting and thought-provoking piece. I recognize that my relationship need for leadership isn’t a popular, or well-understood, concept. I appreciate you taking the time to delve a little deeper into my work. A few of your statements inspired commentary, and they are necessarily about my personal perspective and experience, so forgive me if my response seems a little, um, masturbatory.

Kay discovered that she could only maintain a long-term sexual attraction to a man who is a stronger leader than she.

There’s a really important point in there. I will not compromise sexual attraction in my relationship needs. If I want a roommate, I’ll get a roommate. If I want a best friend, I’ll get a best friend. The thing that makes a romantic relationship unique to me is the sexual attraction. It’s not something I can feign or force. It’s a drive that keeps me interested and attentive. It makes me a better partner and a better woman. A pair bond without deep sexual attraction doesn’t work for me and I have learned that I only experience and maintain that attraction with a man who is a strong leader. The adjective is important because I am a leader, also. His leadership has to be stronger than mine. There more to this (and you have inspired me to write a separate post on it…I’ll tag you when I do) but, for now, let the point stand that I am not willing to sacrifice sexual attraction in a pair bond, and that sexual attraction is not something I control. I learned both of those lessons the hard way in my own marriage.

Thus, she is (literally) attempting to rewrite her sexuality to fit her learned, intellectualized defense mechanisms, rather than change the more malleable part of her mind (intellect) to accommodate the less malleable (sexual instincts).

This is a really interesting point (although you wrote it about Gage, I can relate). I have known a lot of women, myself included, who wanted to be with a “good guy” (because we don’t trust ourselves with the immoral assholes — hence the defense mechanisms) and have tried to talk our bodies into wanting them in exchange for being in an emotionally comfortable, coddling, relationship. I have yet to see it end in any way other than misery/lack of fulfillment or cheating/getting the attraction dope from somewhere else. I would rather, as you stated, re-work the defense mechanisms and hone my ability to find a worthy leader than try to fabricate desire for a man I’m not attracted to. Frankly, desire isn’t something you can wish into existence. It’s deep and, as you said, instinctual.

My impression is that she suffers from a independence that may be pathological

Idk if this is the case for Kris, but if so, she and I have that in common. I’m working on letting it go.

When we start thinking we suck at life, it is an admission that there are things about ourselves we don’t understand, that aren’t working, and that we don’t know how to fix by ourselves.

This resonates with me in a profound way. It’s probably the root of 95% of my dysfunction. When I feel hopeless and trapped by my own ineptitude, this is why, and it took me a long time to realize it.

When our friends or our parents see us fall headlong into the intoxication of Love only to have our hearts ripped open, they feel an empathetic connection to our pain and they want us to stop.

This is less clear. I don’t think that its the “intoxication of Love” that family and friends recoil from. In fact, we revel in seeing our loved ones in love. It’s beautiful. It’s when they return, especially over and over, to dysfunctional/co-dependent/abusive relationships without any awareness of why they are doing it or how to stop — That’s when “No contact” becomes the advice. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. While I agree that working out whatever dysfunction drives them to want an unhealthy relationship is important, if they aren’t self-aware enough to start working through the underlying trauma that led them there, the only way to limit/stop the abuse is to completely withdraw.

She craves the submissive role of the 51/49 partnership… but does she have the wisdom to discern the Leader who has her best interests at heart from the man who will sacrifice her well-being in the exclusive service of his own? And, given that we are all disappointed, traumatized, or hurt by our imperfect parents, could any such Leader who gives us the Love we never found as children even exist?

Welcome to the current dilemma of my life, although I’m closer to an answer than I have been in the past. What I have come up with so far is to ask myself the following questions about my leader,

  • “How’s his presence in your life working out for you?
  • Are you better off now than when you started dating him?
  • Is he abusive? As in, does he cause you pain to make himself feel better?
  • Have you grown as a person?
  • Does he want you to keep growing or does your growth threaten him?
  • Is it about power or leadership?”

It has to be about leadership. Someone who wants better for me and from me, and has the wisdom and expertise to lead me there. It can’t simply be about control.

I can’t ask for a perfect leader because I am not a perfect follower. I’m working on listening. I’m working on my pathological independence. I’m working on being okay with my “crazy”, among many other things.

In the meantime, the sex is fantastic! :)

Thanks again for the mention. Great piece!