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#65526 - 03/07/05 07:19 PM Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
I remain feeling somewhat stumped with regard to the many intimacy issues that seem to afflict relationships in which one or both partners have suffered SA. It can all feel so utterly exhausting and crazy-making much of the time. In my relationship, at least, it is the number one source of conflict, heartache, resentment, distrust, and so forth these days.

For the first few months after our recent reunion it had seemed that all of the passion and at least some of sexual openness/connection had returned to our relationship at last, just like in the early days of our initial courtship, but over the past while it has largely disappeared again.

In our case, sometimes it seems to me that the main problem is really quite simple to understand/identify: Given that as a child my partner was sexually abused by his father--and for years--it's not hard to see how being sexually intimate with someone he loves, trusts, and should naturally feel safe with feels anything but "safe" or "right." I mean, the two most important people in his life when he was a boy--the ones he should have felt safest and most trusting with, most loved and protected by--proved to be anything but safe, affirming, loving and trustworthy. His father sexually abused and violated him, repeatedly, while his mother seems to have pretended not to suspect/know what was going on...and she's certainly never talked about it with him, even after all these years. Moreover, from what I gather, his was not at all a demonstrative family when it came to affection...things like hugs or even just verbal expressions of affection were not commonplace at all--certainly not from his mother, who remains (IMO) a rather critical, judgemental, and nervous/tense woman, who lives mostly as an isolate (outside of her phone calls and visits with her three sons) and with whom none of them ever discuss much of a personal nature.

Indeed, she does not know many important things about her own sons--substance abuse problems, and run-ins with the law, for example--though I've no doubt that at some level she suspects more than she lets on. In addition, her sons are adamant that she not know about such things, as they say she "couldn't handle it" (personally I don't agree at all, but it is not for me to make that call). If nothing else, it is clear that there is much about themselves and their respective lives that they do not wish her to know. Nobody really talks much with her about anything outside of politics/current affairs, their work, or maybe the tap she needs them to fix. They are very devoted to and protective of her though, especially my guy (the eldest son) and her youngest: the two with long-standing histories of alcohol & substance abuse (which has caused each of them problems with the law on more than one or two occasions and gained them both criminal records); the ones with recurrent financial crises/problems; sporadic, dysfunctional, short-lived and unstable relationships with women; the ones who have fathered children but never had custody of those children, etc. (Though both now in their 40's, neither of them has ever married, nor lived with anyone longer than a couple of years, and both have gone for periods of years w/o any steady partner at all.)

Except for my partner--and him only once or twice a year, very briefly, by phone or email--no one in the family has had any contact with their father for 10 or 20 years now. His two brothers (who suffered the same SA he did) refuse to even acknowledge the man's existence and he is never talked about.

Anyway, my guy and his youngest brother in particular seem to put their mother (who is 75) on some kind of pedestal, and live somewhat at her beck and call--ensuring that she has plenty of firewood split, stacked and ready for her fireplace, and responding to frequent calls from her to repair various things around her house, take her shopping (though she is quite capable of driving herself, has her own car, and is actually quite an independent, healthy woman), and so forth.

I used to be impressed with how devoted my guy was to his mother, with how he was so conscientious about ensuring that she had whatever she needed to live comfortably, etc. But after three+ years, I have come to see an underlying dynamic in his relationship with her that I find quite disturbing. Especially when I consider the possibility that the problems with intimacy in our relationship are eerily reminescent of what some call "The Madonna-Whore Syndrome [or Complex]."

For those not familiar with this syndrome, it refers to a complex some men seem to have about women: That women are either of the "good girl" variety (sweet, honest, dependable, respectable, marriageable), or of the "bad girl" type...sexy and exciting, perhaps even irresistably so, the kind you'd happily ball, but would never feel emotionally devoted/close to.

Men with the M-W Syndrome generally feel very emotionally connected and devoted to their significant other, but do not find her of much interest sexually; at least, not once the relationship was become a committed, emotionally close one for them. And this is something that creates much confusion, hurt, and loss of esteem for their significant other. Typically, these men habitually seek out sexual liasons with other women with whom they are not emotionally attached, usually in secret, while remaining emotionally devoted to their primary partner. Most (if not all) efforts on the part of their primary partner to rekindle sexual passion--especially if the effort is blatently sexual--are rebuked by these men at best, denigrated and judged "whorish," etc, at worst.

The theory is, at least in part, that these men have unresolved issues with their mother stemming from unmet needs for emotional intimacy from/with her during childhood. They tend to put their mother on a pedestal, just as they do their primary partner in adulthood, but this kills/precludes being able to experience or sustain any sexual passion for their partner; after all, who wants to f**k their mother?

So my question is: Does the M-W Syndrome seem to be particularly common in relationships like mine, where my man was sexually abused as a child?
I am reluctant to diagnose or label, but the shoe does seem to fit in many ways. Does any of what I've written here ring a familiar bell for partners/survivors on this site?

Stride

(edited to add trigger warning to topic)

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65527 - 03/07/05 08:11 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
Hello, stride,

There was a really frank movie by this title made in the '70s. French, of course, it was called 'La Mere et La Pu***n' ('The Mother and the Whore').

I saw that movie as a young man and that's about all I know about this syndrome/complex.

However, I do know that men who have been sexually abused, and particularly those with whom a parent committed incest, suffer from all manner of dysfunction, sexual and otherwise.

It sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the part of the equation about your partner and his family.

I guess my response to you would be somewhat of a challenge, if I may?

Where do you fit in with this bunch of misfits?

It must be a very difficult place to be for you; the scenario sounds very unpleasant, to say the least.

I seem to have been in a similar relationship as a gay man and had the same sort of reaction. At first, putting the best face on it, I admired my partners devotion to his mother.

After meeting her and experiencing what a vicious shrew she was, it very much lessened my opinion of him.

My partner had been molested by his step-father, usually in the guise of enemas, with his mother standing by. Yet he continued to cherish the memory of his deceased step-father and to cater to his demanding, abusive, alcoholic mother's needs.

I sort of gave up on trying to figure out what was wrong with him and all those people. With good advice and professional help, I did what was best for me.

It was difficult to leave him, this was 4 years ago, but in retrospect it was an impossible situation for anyone to be in.

I did get out of the relationship and stayed out for good. As far as I know they are still locked in their cynical, dysfunctional embrace.

What I found out was that for me, I cannot exist in a relationship with someone who cannot or will not attempt to recover from sexual abuse.

Even with a man who is attempting to recover, there are many, many difficulties to try to pass through.

But when the hermetically sealed family dynamic of abuse is allowed to fester indefinitely, then I would conclude that there is absolutely no hope of a positive result.

I discovered about myself that I was seeking to rescue my man; perhaps to prove to myself that i was stronger than the abuse. It was a losing struggle.

I hope some of my experience may be of help to you.

Also I hope that you will take extra care to be very kind and nurturing to yourself. You seem to be in a particularly difficult spot now and it makes sense that you will need extra loving attention. It doesn't sound like you can expect it from your partner or his family.

Making plans to get the love, attention and caring that I need is much more productive that wondering why I cannot get it from those closest to me.

When I began really taking care of myself, for example refusing to go and visit the abusive mother, that act of self-care began the rupture in my relationship. I also insisted on going to as many therapy sessions, AA and Al-Anon meetings and talks with friends, as I needed.

That also pissed both of them off.

As a friend of mine often observes (usually when I am busy analysing a situation), "If we understand things, they are just as they are. If we don't understand them, they are the same."

In any case, be good to yourself. It's good that you are asking questions about them.

They may lead you to some answers about yourself.

Regards,

_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#65528 - 03/07/05 09:07 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
My husband is a wonderful man (wonderful husband, father and provider for his family) with intimacy issues stemming from childhood SA that involved his oldest brother (hubby is youngest of 4 boys).
His mother is an incredible woman that is honest, independant, opinionated and warm. She has no idea of the abuse my husband was subjected to.
His father is my husband's hero. He was an involved man who took time to teach my husband how to be a good father and husband.
My husband seems to have the characteristics of this sydrome also...although not to the extreme measures I have read about.
We went from a very hot, passionate relationship...to what I feel became almost non-existant for a period of time. As we have slowly worked on his SA issues, he is beginning to recogize the dysfunction in intimacy issues.
However, there is a part of him buried so deep it seems he almost cant grasp one relationship with both emotion and sex involved. It seems to be one or the other.

I actually pulled up a link to the M/H syndrome, and had him read it....his expression said everything.

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65529 - 03/07/05 11:58 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
Hi Stride !

I can tell you that I have been trapped in the rôle of Madonna and what happened next was that V got into a relationship with a Whore type of girl who was much more sexy than me, very liberated in terms of sexual flirting and I guess with the rest. Having a lot issues myself because of the incest this betrayal has been devastating for me. It still hurts so bad. I have been thinking he has done that because of my sexual problems (since I told him about them) and because he needed someone he could enjoy sex with and not really bother about possible problems. It has been terrible for me because he had done it after I had the courage to trust him, speaking openly about my darkest secrets and fears. After he went on having this affair, I was left with no confidence whatsoever.
I have read somewhere that in the normal sexual development of guys, they go through a phase of making love to girls they just fancy as a way of geeting over "mummy". After that phase they slowly learn to develop and enjoy intimacy and love in their relationship and love making.
Knowing that V has his issues, obviously linked to madonna/whore syndrome, it is nevertheless a matter of fact that I wasn't good enough and he had to turn to someone else. I am so hurt but I have to accept the fact that sexually I am left with the scars of my abuse. I hope someday someone will be there for me all the way despite all the issues.
Thank you for bringing this on the board. I am crying now so I guess it was important to share this with you. Blessings
Caro

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#65530 - 03/08/05 12:58 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
Hi Danny,

First, thank you for the heads-up on the (French) movie. I'm going to see if I can't get a hold of a copy.

Quote:
I guess my response to you would be somewhat of a challenge, if I may?

Where do you fit in with this bunch of misfits?
Quote:
Ahhh...an incisive and telling question for me, and one for which I have any number of responses to, depending on my viewpoint at the time. In the first place, I too was sexually abused as a child. I was molested once at age 5 by a friend of my father's and then raped at age 14 by another associate of his--events that I made both of my parents aware of almost immediately. Their response, however, was anything but supportive.

In the first instance, they insisted I keep my mouth shut about it and, in fact, had the perp over for dinner the very next night, despite knowing full well what had happened (a 5 yr old simply doesn't come up with the kind of details I did on his/her own!). Moreover, they continued their association with him for a good long while afterwards, insisting that I be polite and gracious towards him at all times, and basically pretend that what had happened hadn't happened.

In the 2nd case, an acquaintance of my father who he had arranged to house & care for me while my father was out-of-town for 3 months, got drunk and raped me on my last night there. I told my parents (who had just reunited after their most recent break-up) about it the next day. Their response? That if I didn't act "so provocatively" and didn't "dress like a french whore," it never would have happened. Aside from that, the subject was to be dropped. Period. In other words, *I* was the problem and it was my fault.

Add to that the fact that while my father never physically sexually abused me, he had sexualized his relationship with me from a very early age...always going on about sex, sexy women, women with "great asses" who gave great head, etc, and often confiding to me about his many affairs, as well as complaining to me that my mother was "frigid" and a "prude." I worshipped my father in those early years, so the message I got from him, in part, was that being a sexy woman and good in bed was of paramount importance.

But as I said, my parents' 26 year marriage was punctuated by very frequent break-ups (usually as a result of his infidelity and his chronic, vicious psychological abuse of both my mom and all 4 of us kids--I'm the oldest--as well as the occasional bout of violence). My father was also very much a "playboy" in his own right: Good looking, a real charmer of women, always driving some sexy little sports car (while we kids wore hand-me-downs, often shared mattresses on the floor out of necessity and did our laundry at laundromats), and regularly experimenting with/indulging in "recreational" drugs, as well as spending considerable amounts of time/money out with his friends at local pubs--friends who were usually a lot younger than himself, I might add. (Funny, but most of my guy's friends are also many years younger than we are.)

Also, while I was clearly my father's "favourite" child and the only one with whom he would spend any time, such times were never long-lived and he repeatedly abandoned me when the latest (adult) "love of his life" appeared on the horizon. Yet whenever the latest "love of his life" affair ended, as they invariably did, it was me he would turn to, tears, confessions, intimate revelations, n' all, whether I was 6 or 14.

So part of my answer to your "challenge" is that my own primary relationships from a very early age, were pretty unhealthy and very unstable/insecure, especially with men. That, and highly sexualized in a pretty twisted way. I cannot recall a time in my life--especially during the first 30 years--when I wasn't highly preoccupied with sex. And while I feel I've had a much better handle on my own abandonment and boundary issues over the past several years, I am aware that they've not completely left me; especially the stuff around maintaining boundaries. Anyway, it makes sense that I would be attracted to men who share some fundamental things in common with my father, and with whom I seem endlessly seeking, however unconsciously at times, to realize a "happy ending" with.

Quote:
It must be a very difficult place to be for you; the scenario sounds very unpleasant, to say the least.
Quote:
Yes, it certainly can be. But then again, I think deep down it is simply what I know. It is familiar territory in so many ways. Unpleasant? Quite often--even devastatingly so at times; particularly when it comes to matters of trust and sexual intimacy. In a very real sense you could say that being involved with a man who has some serious issues and inner conflicts around sexual intimacy, provides me with a vehicle by which I am forced to sort out and confront my own baggage. Make sense?

I wouldn't say that my guy's mother is a "vicious shrew" like your ex's apparently was, but she's certainly not warm, social or embracing either. Moreover, she seems somewhat jealous or suspicious of her sons' g/fs, most often refusing to attend social/family functions of which the g/fs will be a part, etc, and sometimes even making very uninformed, unfair, negative comments about them (the g/fs) to her sons. (Tonight, as another example of how things are with her, she has asked my SO to stop in on his way home from work to move some furniture for her and stay for supper. Though she knows that this is my day off, I was not invited, as she says "having a 'female' over for dinner would make [his mom] feel like [she'd] have to make a fuss about things and [she] doesn't want to have to do that." Whatever the case, I find it rather offensive that she will invite him for supper but not me, and never seems to give any thought to what other plans we may have already had in place. I can make an issue of it with him, but rarely do as her "suppers" don't come up more than once or twice a month and, let's face it, one must choose their battles.)

More telling, in my view, was the following: When I moved out of our place the last time, my guy's mother never asked him (and certainly did not ask me!)what the issues were between us, nor encouraged him in any way to consider whether it might be worth trying to work things out. Indeed, her only response was apparently to tell him she thought he was probably just like her and "not cut out for anything but living alone and single." That he'd probably be happier to remain a bachelor for the rest of his life. What kind of a mother encourages or wants her son to live a life without anyone special in it to love and share with him??? What the hell kind of message is that??? (rhetorical questions)

Quote:
I sort of gave up on trying to figure out what was wrong with him and all those people. With good advice and professional help, I did what was best for me.
Quote:
Good call! I've 'been there and done that' before for various periods, and always seem to flourish once the worst of the grieving period had abated. Just don't seem fully committed to "staying with the program" over the long haul, I guess. Especially once there seems evidence of positive change and things start looking like they might just work out after all. Many have called me a "hopeless romantic," but since when did pragmatism have much bearing on matters of the heart? I'm a smart woman and not one most would consider gullible, but when it comes to my relationship history, I'm probably a textbook example of "Smart Woman, Foolish Choices" (paraphrased). Still, isn't love and commitment about sticking it out through the hard times and being there for each other instead of just throwing in the towel when things get tough? (Yeh, yeh, I know, it's the mutuality of "for each other" that's key here...and in certain key areas, the part that's missing from our life together--most especially in bed.)

Quote:
What I found out was that for me, I cannot exist in a relationship with someone who cannot or will not attempt to recover from sexual abuse.
Quote:
I strive to be so resolute, but I'm not there yet. Nonetheless I am acutely aware of the wisdom you're espousing here.

Quote:
I was seeking to rescue my man....It was a losing struggle.
Quote:
I have considered this possibility in myself countless times throughout most of my long-term relationships (I've had 4 serious, long-term relationships in my life, inlcuding my current one), though I am loathe to think that I may be "a rescuer." I certainly do not start off feeling any need to "rescue" anyone. In fact, WRT my current relationship, one of the things that appealed to me in the first place was that he seemed pretty grown-up, responsible, conscientious and so forth. He also seemed pretty comfortable with his own sexuality and sex in general, and was very communicative on a personal level during the first few months that we dated, even telling me, however briefly, about his SA history. A good listener, considerate, interested and open to getting to know me better, etc. He did not seem at all is if he wanted nor was in need of a rescuer. Hmmm...the Great Pretend? Still, I can't say that there weren't some important red flags raised for me even then, which I, regrettably, chose to ignore.

As far as nurturing and caring for myself goes, I do struggle with this from time-to-time, but continue to make a conscientious effort to do just that, to the best of my ability, one day at a time. However, things can get so damned confusing with all the mixed messages sometimes that I become unsure of what exactly self-care would look like. I mean, when is it self-care and when is it being unduly unsupportive and/or unfair to my partner? Clearly, I continue to have some difficulties with matters of boundaries as well...

Quote:
Making plans to get the love, attention and caring that I need is much more productive that wondering why I cannot get it from those closest to me.
Quote:
Once again, very well stated. A most pointed and appreciated reminder: Thank you! :p

I have not refused all of my guy's requests that I stop in with him to see his mother, though I rarely do go with him at those times. If it's a spontaneous drop-in and expected to be brief, I will often just remain in the car, though it's clear that he's rather bothered by/uncomfortable with this, and finds it rather rude of me. As for spending time with friends, counsellors or similar sources of support (including visiting this site) in trying to get help for myself, it does tend to piss him off and/or cause conflicts for us, at least so long as he suspects it has anything to do with him (which it almost always does). As far as he's concerned, the only person I should be discussing problems in our relationship with is him...it our "private business" and not at all an appropriate topic of discussion to be having with others.

Blah, blah, blah.

Quote:
As a friend of mine often observes (usually when I am busy analysing a situation), "If we understand things, they are just as they are. If we don't understand them, they are the same."
Quote:
GREAT quote!!! And so true.

Thank you for the holding up the mirror, Danny.
I do appreciate it more than you know. Interesting stuff, this, hmmmm?

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65531 - 03/08/05 01:23 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Stride

Quote:
For those not familiar with this syndrome, it refers to a complex some men seem to have about women: That women are either of the "good girl" variety (sweet, honest, dependable, respectable, marriageable), or of the "bad girl" type...sexy and exciting, perhaps even irresistably so, the kind you'd happily ball, but would never feel emotionally devoted/close to.

Men with the M-W Syndrome generally feel very emotionally connected and devoted to their significant other, but do not find her of much interest sexually; at least, not once the relationship was become a committed, emotionally close one for them. And this is something that creates much confusion, hurt, and loss of esteem for their significant other.
That's something I kinda knew was going on, but never thought about that much, until I read that.

It describes something I've done up until fairly recently, find myself attracted to the 'slappers' in a purely sexual way.

I've never acted out with other women since I met my wife, 33 years ago. But that attraction has always been there, and I have exploited it sometimes. But nothing more than flirting.

The cleaner at work is a woman I've known longer than my wife, and although she's married I know at least 6 or 7 other guys she's had flings with. And a while back she came after me.
She's got dyed blonde hair with roots, and is not what even the charitable would call good looking, and she's as dumb as a box of hair!
But the sexual attraction was undeniable.

Maybe it was flattery, because I'm no oil painting :rolleyes: But the thought of uncomplicated sex with a more than willing partner did have some appeal. I know, from the other guys experiences, that she wasn't after everlasting love, just sex.
So maybe the attraction came down to the thought of sex without emotions involved?
That's a very powerful attraction for people like me who can't seem to seperate the powerful, and wrong, emotions that we now have around sex.

It's why so many survivors masturbate instead of having sex with the partner they love dearly, we can't stand the emotional overload.
And a woman offering uncomplicated sex is just one step up from masturbation ( in 'our' view )

In all the many topics I've seem on this forum about men betraying their wives and partners with other women, I can't recall any that say their men went off on an 'emotional and loving' relationship.
( but if there are any, I think it will be a minority ) It seems to be more about seperation of sex and emotion for us that wanting a whole new emotional relationship.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65532 - 03/08/05 02:39 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Dave, Stride and all,
Quote:

So maybe the attraction came down to the thought of sex without emotions involved?
That's a very powerful attraction for people like me who can't seem to seperate the powerful, and wrong, emotions that we now have around sex.
I wonder if some of this attraction has less to do with a willing, or "sexy," partner and more to do with an inferior partner.

If a survivor feels that sex is disrespectful or linked to power, or not something that happens between equals, it makes sense that he might choose life partners, or sex partners, who'll make it easy for him to figure out where the power is.
This could mean sexual attraction to women who fall into the "inferior to me" category-- whether the reasons behind that have to do with sexual morality, intellect, looks, or life circumstances I think it's sort of the same result.

It occurs to me that this thinking could also result in men choosing partners they see as superior to them in some way-- stronger or smarter or more fully recovered-- and then later resenting the role they've given themselves of "inferior partner."

I see some of that in my relationship-- my boyfriend would back out of "intellectual" conversations, ignore any attempt to bring him into the discussion, then get angry about being left out. He has a hard time accepting compliments about his intelligence or believing that I think he's as smart as I am-- and I also think he chose the dumbest acting-out partner he could find.

Framed in terms of power like this, I can understand this way of thinking, and I can see how sexual expression/morality could be a sticking point for some the way intelligence was for my boyfriend.

But I have to be honest, when the sexual part of this is overemphasized and turned into a "syndrome", it seems like a lot of excuse-making and labeling for what is some pretty immature macho crap about what women are supposed to be like and how men are supposed to treat them. If I saw this going on with a guy I knew I think my first question would be why he's so susceptible to bogus societal ideas of masculinity rather than what his unmet needs are.


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#65533 - 03/08/05 03:12 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
CAUTION: ***********TRIGGERS!**********

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your input.

Quote:
It's why so many survivors masturbate instead of having sex with the partner they love dearly, we can't stand the emotional overload.
Quote:
This is an area also most difficult for me. I think my guy masterbates quite a bit...something I would normally see as quite normal and natural. In and of itself, I would not find it threatening or upsetting (it's a regluar part of my own autoerotic life, always has been, and is certainly no threat to my relationship--anything but, in fact!). In fact, (TRIGGERS) in past relationships I have found that say, waking up to my partner masterbating in the middle of the night, or watching him pleasure himself can be both a real turn-on and instructive besides. (END TRIGGERS)

The problem with us is, he absolutely will not masterbate around me--it's all so very secret--and I am painfully aware of the fact that his fantasies rarely, if ever, revolve around me/us. Actually, more to the point, he will often reject any sexual advances I may make--sometimes going for days or even weeks without being sexual with me--when I am aware that he will masterbate when I'm not around. In other words, it feels that he most often prefers his own private fantasies, porn and/or own hands to sex with me. And believe me, after awhile my awareness of that is devastating to my sense of self-esteem and my need to feel attractive, desired, enjoyed by and safe with my partner.

I understand having occasional erotic fantasies about people outside of one's own relationship, even when that relationship is happy, healthy and sexually fulfilling. I have such fantasies too from time-to-time, but normally this does not in any way reflect a dissatisfaction with my partner. Still, most of my own fantasy life revolves around images/scenarios--remembered from times we've shared or strictly imagined--involving US. In our case though, most involve imagined scenarios that I know I'll likely never experience with him...even the most run-of-the-mill variety. And my awareness of the fact that so much of what I want/need from him will likely remain in the realm of fantasy for me has made my self-pleasuring something which ultimately just punctuates the often lonely, sad and very discouraging reality of our love life.

(TRIGGERS)
It's timely that you should mention this now, as the issue came up for me in a new way just last night. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that I was awakened from a sound sleep last night to my partner's sudden pressing of his erection against me. Though very groggy from sleep, I nonetheless tried to wake up enough to give a positive response, already starting to feel excited by his obvious condition. Unfortunately, he seemed only interested in just "doing it" right then and there, without so much as a kiss or caress or even a moment or two for me wake up/catch up. Through my body language, I gave a very subtle hint that I wasn't quite ready yet. No doubt he interpreted this (correctly) to mean that I might need at least a minute or two of attention or time before actually going there. (And no, we're not talking about needing 20' worth of foreplay here, a quick and sleepy session would've been just fine with me...something he was also no doubt aware of.) Well, at that point he stopped touching me altogether, wordlessly rolled onto his side (facing away from me and not touching me at all), and lay still. The vibes were anything but warm or inviting. In the moment I felt so utterly disregarded, hurt, angry and resentful, that I got up, pillows in tow, and went out to the couch to sleep, rather than blow up at him, as I feared I might. He didn't try to stop me.
(END TRIGGERS)

What you wrote about the "emotional overload," sadly, seems to fit very well in our case. Sometimes all I want from my guy is flat-out, carnal "uncomplicated sex," and sometimes I want that tender, languid, ever-so-intensely emotional/spiritual/psychological and highly personal lovemaking one can only know with the person they're most familiar and closest to.

Still, in the former instance, he just doesn't seem to feel that way about me, to have those carnal desires in which I can be/am the source of his excitement: Madonna-Whore Complex? This is something I find extremely painful and damaging to my sense of self-esteem and attractiveness. In the latter instance, he just can't seem to go there or even understand what the hell I'm talking about when I try to express/describe/pursue that exquisitely, intensely personal and euphoric experience of real and meaningful lovemaking.

Yet I know he loves me deeply.

Sometimes I think I'm just stubbornly trying to "work the unworkable" and foolishly squandering my life and energies on a futile enterprise. I am an attractive, vibrant, and passionate woman who other men often seem to fall all over themselves to try to catch my eye. And yet here I am, living with and loving a very sweet, intelligent, talented, sexy, and good-looking man who shows much deep and obvious affection for me, but so very little real sexual attraction, if any.
I frequently find myself thinking I should just leave him for good--either that or give him an ultimatum that he either actively and tangibly works with me on this stuff or we split. But then other times he does take a chance and do something emotionally or sexually that I know is a huge and scary step for him and I think, "hey, it was something he finally risked trying in my presence, so the last thing I want to do is shit on him for how it turned out."

Oh Gawd. What tangled webs we weave!

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65534 - 03/08/05 04:10 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
SAR,

Interesting perspective. I suspect that you're onto something here as well...sexuality & relationships being such multi-facted and complex phenomena. Must say that I'm glad to have raised this whole topic as I, for one, am sure getting a lot out of the posted replies! Thanks to everyone for their input.

Cheers,

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65535 - 03/08/05 01:41 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
SAR

Quote:
If a survivor feels that sex is disrespectful or linked to power, or not something that happens between equals, it makes sense that he might choose life partners, or sex partners, who'll make it easy for him to figure out where the power is.
This could mean sexual attraction to women who fall into the "inferior to me" category-- whether the reasons behind that have to do with sexual morality, intellect, looks, or life circumstances I think it's sort of the same result.
This makes sense, and is surely an extension ( for me anyway ) of what I said earlier.
All my girlfriends up until I me my wife were, not to put too fine a point on it, 'dumb but great looking'. Eventually I figured out that 'dumb' wasn't for me - not a concious decision though.

My wife is smart, and although not supermodel slim is exceptionally pretty and young looking. She's actually older than me.
I think this choice was something to do with me being able to negate all my responsibilities from that point on. Which is what I did.
She handled all our money, paid bills, arranged everything and generally spoon fed me, and this went on for over 25 years!

During this time however sex was alright, not exceptional if you believe the crap written in glossy magazines. But we made love often and enjoyed it.
Then I got my head together through therapy, and with that came responsibility again. I began to do some of the things that I should have been doing for all those years. I found a new sense of trusting myself to not balls everything up.
In one sense our relationship has benefited because we are now equals, not just in our sharing of what has to be done, but intellectually as well.

So why has 'my' sexual desire gone down the pan?
You describe a partner that is "inferior to me" - but I think it can work the other way as well.
All those years ago I sought out a partner that was "superior" to me in many respects, education, career, sense of responsibility, capable of getting things done, and a desisive, sensible woman. Not the scruffy, laid back party animal that I was.

A lot of our problems arise as one person changes and the doesn't. And that's not saying anything bad about the other partner, perhaps they don't need to change. I'm sure my wife already had the ability to cope with my revelations and problems before I disclosed to her. She has 'made' changes for sure, but that's a slightly different thing, maybe 'adapted' is a better word?
So our relationship is a new one to a great degree, it's now based upon different precepts and expectations.

My early sexual experiences were ALL based on submission to power. At the end of the 4 year, almost daily with multiple abusers, sex that I experienced I was not just participating but actively seeking sex from my abusers and actually suggesting different things to try. I now realise that my 'willingness' was a defensive acceptance of my position, they were still in charge.
But it was obviously a powerful conditioning experience, I associated sex with submission to someone more powerful, and I still do. So does raising myself up to equality with my wife contradicts that conditioning? I think it might.

Which also explains to an extent the 'desire' for the woman at work. Although she's a 'dumb tart'(and I mean that in the nicest possible way, but you get the picture.) she's sexually aggressive, which puts me in the submissive position. Which is how I've seen her in fantasy sometimes, coming on strong and taking control.
I wouldn't ever have an affair of any sort with her, and I make a point of keeping out of her way for the short time we're both at work together.
But the day about three years ago when she whispered in my ear that she wanted to give me oral sex right there and then blew me away. ( she was a bit more 'graphic' that that though )
I was stunned, and managed to joke my way out of it. But the feeling that was left was powerful.
Not one of temptation, but one of affirmation (?) that this was "my kind of sex" - very much like my acting out with other men where I had to have the submissive role. The moment that was lost I was gone. I ended up fighting with a guy who asked me "what do you want to do?" - that gave me power over him which I couldn't cope with so I went to leave, but he wanted me to stay. I left !

Sex and power, what a mixture?

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65536 - 03/08/05 03:28 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Thought I would share a link that seems to explain this M/W deal fairly well.

http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/sexualproblems/a/madonna.htm

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65537 - 03/08/05 06:17 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
Lloydy et al,

I have to leave for work here shortly, but couldn't let Lloydy's post go without a quick "I know this one!"

Quote:
My wife is smart, and although not supermodel slim is exceptionally pretty and young looking. She's actually older than me.
I think this choice was something to do with me being able to negate all my responsibilities from that point on. Which is what I did.
She handled all our money, paid bills, arranged everything and generally spoon fed me, and this went on for over 25 years!
Quote:
This is another aspect of my relationship that I've tried to address in various ways since our early days together, though w/o much success. As far as looks go, we're both quite fit, slim, and physically attractive individuals...the kind quite used to the attentions and invitations of the opposite sex. But beyond that, I am far better educated than he is; make more money than he does; am financially responsible (while he is anything but) and so, manage all of our bills and money (if for no other reason than to leave his end of things with that with him has proven, repeatedly, to get us both into much hot water financially); am the one with good rental references, etc; my friends have mostly been academics and professionals who own their own homes and are financially secure, while most of his are uneducated, chronically broke, often in financial trouble, and many are cocaine addicts and alcoholics living the "sex, drugs, and rock n' roll lifestyle," etc. The apartment, phone, utilities bills, etc, we have are all in my name (he can't get a phone acct, etc, due to his poor track record w/ those companies); the furniture is mine; etc. You get the picture.

This does not, in my view, make me "superior" to him, but it certainly makes for a glaring disparity of power between us...one which likely only furthers any sense of inadequacy he may have buried within himself. I would prefer that we were on much more equal footing as far as such fundamental matters go. If nothing else, it only reinforces the subtextual dynamic of "mother/son." Not attractive to me at all, and while he says he's most happy to let me "manage things," freely admitting that he's "not very good at it," I have always worried that it puts me into a role that's rather maternal and thus, anything but sexy. I also have remained hopeful that, with time, this dynamic will change and in some ways he seems to have "stepped up to the plate" with that since our reunion last fall.

And yes, the women he seems most turned on by around here, including the one he had the fling with last May/June after we split, are generally not very bright or at least, not very together/stable, but have reputations as coming on strong sexually...fast n' easy. They're almost all quite attractive though.

Anyway, must run, but if the shoe fits here too, I figured I'd best admit as much.

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65538 - 03/08/05 11:07 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Stride

Quote:
This does not, in my view, make me "superior" to him, but it certainly makes for a glaring disparity of power between us...one which likely only furthers any sense of inadequacy he may have buried within himself.
I don't use 'superior & inferior' in any kind of nasty way, I use those terms to describe what you describe far more eloquently as a "glaring disparity of power".
That was a powerful thing for me nearly 36 years ago. I'd just failed a load of exams, well failed 4 and got thrown out of 2 courses I was taking, I couldn't find work, and was living a life of drink, drugs and illegal cars. Suddenly this intelligent and pretty girl was going out with me, and that suited me just fine.

Here was someone who looked after me, made me get a legal car, stopped me driving it when stoned, read the job adverts and sent off for application forms on my behalf. Al I had to do was sit there and lap it up.

That's my old perception of it.
My new one is slightly different.

This situation didn't just allow me to sit back, it also allowed me to sink further into my already huge sense of inadequacy.
It's certainly not my wifes fault, I would never lay any kind of blame at her feet. Because she didn't know anything, I knew nothing about 'why' I was the way I was, I hadn't got that far back then.
So together we mudddled along, both thinking that I just couldn't do responsible things.

It's impossible to say how I would have fared with a bimbo for a wife, or maybe someone with similar problems. I just can't begin to imagine it.

I wouldn't change my wife for the world, not even a new Range Rover ;\) and I know I can't change the past we've shared together.
But the future's different, "WE" can change that, as equals.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65539 - 03/09/05 12:45 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Dave,
Out of curiosity.....what helped you most in seeing this and deciding to work on resolving these issues?

Thanks,

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65540 - 03/09/05 05:07 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
Dave,

1) What bfd said? ;-)
2) Any suggestions for me with regard to the power stuff?

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

Top
#65541 - 03/09/05 12:54 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Quote:
Dave,
Out of curiosity.....what helped you most in seeing this and deciding to work on resolving these issues?
Well, the truth is it was this whole topic that got me thinking about this.

When Stride wrote this -

Quote:
Men with the M-W Syndrome generally feel very emotionally connected and devoted to their significant other, but do not find her of much interest sexually; at least, not once the relationship was become a committed, emotionally close one for them. And this is something that creates much confusion, hurt, and loss of esteem for their significant other.
I thought "ooohhh shit!"
It looked like a duck, quacked like a duck, yes, it was the duck!

The loss of intimacy is the biggest problem I still face. I can deal with the occassional use of porn, the fact that fantasy will almost certainly remain as a part of any sex life I have and all these other issues.
I no longer feel guilty about what happened to me as a boy, and I don't feel guilty about using porn on an occassional basis either. I've had a belly-full of guilt and shame in my life so I don't want any more. I'm quite prepared to live my life as it is now and enjoy it.
But I know I'd enjoy it more with my - our - sex life back.

I knew that the process of healing had altered the way I think about and relate to my wife, and that was probably the basis for the change in my desire for sex with her. But nothing else made sense.
I couldn't figure out the WAY our relationship had altered, I knew it had though.

So I have to say 'thanks' to you ladies, this discussion has allowed me to think outside my usual box. And you have provided the perfect place to bounce some ideas around.
It's only by being challenged that we come up with new ideas, and this topic has certainly thrown down some challenges.

The next one is to do something about these new ideas. Share them with my wife for a start.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65542 - 03/09/05 05:12 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
Hey Dave,

If something we have written here opens new doors for you and your wife--or anyone --I'm all for that! This invaluable forum has certainly given me much to chew on over the past coupl'a years and I can only hope that perhaps someday my guy will get to where you are, with or without me.

Cheers,

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

Top
#65543 - 03/09/05 11:57 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Stride
I came here first in early 2002, and this place never ceases to amaze me.
There is so much we can all gain from each others experiences, it really is the best Survivors site I've seen. And I keep a close eye on the competition as well.

I don't think there's any subject we haven't touched here, and that's a sure sign that MS is a place where trust between the members is fostered, and maintained.
Sure, we get people who have abused that trust and we always will. But there's a core of regular users who stick around and rebuild it every time it gets knocked down. That way new people join the core, and learn that trust is what makes the difference.

I also hope your guy makes it here, because in a partnership it does take both people to do the work. And that's all about trust as well.
I hope he finds the level of trust in himself to come to a place like this.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65544 - 03/10/05 03:49 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Emerald Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 21
Loc: here
I don't have much to add to this discussion, but I think it's deserves some more thought. There are a lot of different strands here that go off in various directions.

About the superior/inferior thing. I called it a one up or one down feeling. It really had little to do with status. It was more about how I was made to feel by my SO. Around him I felt one up at the beginning and one down at the end. I didn't really feel like there was a time we were equals. This was very subtle and I don't think I iniated these feelings ... well, maybe the one down at the end feeling.

My SO was emotionally incested and possibly physically incested, as well, by his mother. Sex was great. Then it stopped.

Emerald


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#65545 - 03/10/05 07:20 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
exploding thread! \:D

What Dave said:
Quote:
I don't use 'superior & inferior' in any kind of nasty way, I use those terms to describe what you describe far more eloquently as a "glaring disparity of power".
Disparity of power is certainly a better term for what I was getting at, if only because "superior/inferior" is unclear-- I don't think most of us "more functional" partners actually believe ourselves to be superior to our scruffy, party animal, unregistered car driving ( :rolleyes: ) partners-- but I do think that the whole situation is as Dave described it:
Quote:
it also allowed me to sink further into my already huge sense of inadequacy.
It's another way for a survivor to reinforce the feelings of inadequacy and inferiority that are already there.

I think this kind of relationship can read as "familiar" or "affirming" too-- it's vicious because caring actions get twisted by hidden meanings-- If my boyfriend says, "Will you do "X" for me," and he's silently adding, "...because I am not good at that/smart enough for that/trustworthy enough for that"-- There is no way for me to say "Yes" to the request without him also hearing "yes" to all of what he's not saying."

Does this mean I should say "no" instead? For me, it did. When I could see the submission through the request, I said no, and I said why. This kind of message, the "You need me to do this for you" message, is really about saying "You need me." It got put into my boyfriend's head in the first place by people who NEEDED HIM TO NEED THEM. It's a false message; it's to make him believe that his being there filling THEIR needs is really all about him and what HE needs. His needs have nothing to do with it; he can meet his needs without them, but if he figures that out the game is up.

Not every partner wants to be needed this way; some of us just say yes to those requests, thinking of ourselves as giving while really we are grabbing huge chunks of power in the relationship every time we do for our partners what they believe they can't do for themselves.

But once we see this going on, I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our partners to put a stop to it. That means say no... which is really saying "yes"... yes I trust you, yes you are smart enough, yes you can do this.. and Yes I will still love you even if you try and fail.

I have done this twice with "big things" since my boyfriend really started healing... the first was right at the beginning, we had to move and he picked out our new place. The second was his therapy. I wanted him to feel that he'd done it for himself. It took him months to go to therapy on his own, some of those months I wanted to jump in and take control of his recovery, set deadlines, make him read articles, find docs for him, etc... but I never did any of that, and he worked it out in his own time, better than if I'd been involved in it I'm sure.


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#65546 - 03/10/05 05:56 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Emerald

Quote:
Around him I felt one up at the beginning and one down at the end. I didn't really feel like there was a time we were equals. This was very subtle and I don't think I iniated these feelings
That's a great de>
_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65547 - 03/10/05 09:03 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
"And this reminds me of another aspect of this issue.
When I was "one down" and didn't want to be there, I would use sabotage to get "one up"
With practice I found it remarkably easy to manipulate situations so that we ended up disagreeing, or upset. But it was 'never' my fault!"

Thanks Dave ! This is IT and it feels good to hear this from a male survivor ! It kind of helped me to realize I was not crazy.
My love got "us" in trouble just like this. It is interesting to point that I was always the indirect victim of this behaviour until he actually accused me of inventing stuff (like his feelings for me in the first place).
The first victim of this sabotage was our relationship. I can even precise my thoughts: the real victim was the sense of trust we had managed to establish beyond all our fears (being both survivors, these fears are sometimes overwhelming and stopped us from talking to each other). Yes, the sabotage was specifically directed to our mutual trust. And, of course every time my love ended up the sabotage saying it was all my fault. If I apologized and, in a healthier way, asked him suggestions so we could try to sort out our problems the crazy cycle was up again (obviously because it triggered him and he felt even more like a failure with me).
I am stuck now in a nowhere break up land full of mines. I froze, and I am still freezing !!! ;\)
Yes it's a kind of dark humour. ;\) My only solution right now: work on MY issues and... I have taken up kundalini yoga so as to help me stop the vicious cycle, well at least on a karmic level ! \:D

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#65548 - 03/11/05 01:03 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Hi all,
This thread has really been beneficial to me. Thank you all for being so open and honest. This forum is an amazing tool.
I am just wondering where or when the point comes that it is "okay" to blend sex with emotion for a survivor.

xo

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65549 - 03/11/05 01:43 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Quote:
I am just wondering where or when the point comes that it is "okay" to blend sex with emotion for a survivor.
If someone finds it, I'll sell it. We'll all be rich.

Dave \:\(

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65550 - 03/11/05 02:03 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
SAR wrote:

Quote:
But once we see this going on, I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our partners to put a stop to it.
That 'responsibility' word is not exactly the one that I am apt to choose as my first option in relationships with significant others. Who wants to be responsible? Especially if there is someone very nearby who is willing to allow us to escape lifes responsibilities?

I know today that in order to become the loving person I seek to be, I must assume what is my responsibility and also allow others the dignity to accept theirs.

Unless I am dealing with children I try very hard to NOT do for others what they can do for themselves.

I do not always succeed in this and most times trouble is the result.

It is so easy to say, "There's nothing wrong with doing nice things for the person I love.".

But in a relationship where one or more have been damaged by sexual abuse; which is really an abuse of power and trust, then yes, there IS something wrong with me doing nice things for the person I love--especially things that they can, should and will do for themselves if I would only stay out of the way.

Some of us like me get so used to having our dignity and self-respect taken from us, as it was in the sexually abusive relationship, that I went through life looking for others to rob me of those same things. It is the familiar, no matter how painful it is, it is what I knew best.

Guess what? I always found them. Some of them were very nice and kind. Some were not. But the result was the same.

Today I know that when I treat adults in my life like they were children needing me to 'fix' or 'direct' or 'control' them, what I am doing is stealing from them. Stealing their dignity to make myself feel needed and more powerful.

Someone else expressed it this way:


"For people like me the golden rule is not enough. I need the "silver rule", which is that I do not do for others what they can do for themselves."

This is really a tough one to follow through on, no matter which side of the equation I am on.

As for the question of sexual relations, it is my experience that what shows up in the bedroom is what is most prevalent in the rest of my life.

It was folly for me to imagine I could change the way I was sexually without first changing the overall pattern of how I related to people.

Doing things for others in order to get them to like me or take care of me or be responsible for me, is what the sexual abuse in my life was all about.

No wonder I continued for so many years to replicate that dynamic.

I'm not sure if I am able to express myself clearly on this subject, but I do know that I must be very careful when I find it necessary to violate my "silver rule".

Thanks all, for sharing.

Regards,

_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#65551 - 03/11/05 03:02 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Danny,
I do "get" what you are saying. You always have such wise things to say. I think however, the one common thread for the partners in this type of relationship is that we feel helpless to the one fact that if we do nothing except to make a clear and easy path for change/recovery in this area for our MS generally we get that same result. NOTHING. So, now we sit trying to balance the push/pull dance. When I do push, at least he understands I am hurt/frustrated. Yet, this always seems to lead to internal personal injury to both the heart and soul...who can come out feeling good after having to pose questions involving your attractiveness/desire quotient to your partner?
So, yes.....there is a line. I want more than anything to abide by the SILVER RULE. I just cant seem to find/figure out what it is! I think this is the same frustration of both the survivors AND their partners.

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65552 - 03/11/05 08:23 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Danny,

I agree with you entirely.

I do think of myself as having responsibilities where others are concerned-- although perhaps the responsibility to myself and my partner would be better described as my responsibility to our relationship.
Quote:
there IS something wrong with me doing nice things for the person I love--especially things that they can, should and will do for themselves if I would only stay out of the way.
This "staying out of the way" is exactly what I was saying I have a responsibility to do.

I have that responsibility because I hold myself responsible when it comes to doing something that would hurt someone I love-- as it would hurt my boyfriend to keep playing this game of submission and twisted needs and inadequacy-- or something that would diminish me-- as it would diminish me to choose control over trust.

I am the one who must draw the line, and say, no, I am not going to get you out of this-- I will love you and respect you even when I don't agree with your decisions, and I will listen and share with you, but I will not tell you what to do, I will not help you because I know that helping you is hurting you, and I will not let you hurt me. I think I am accountable for my decision to say that or not to say it, and for the consequences to my relationship and my life. That's what I mean by my responsibility.


beautifuldisaster and all,

I can only speak for myself and my boyfriend, I know it hurts to wait for change.
Quote:
if we do nothing except to make a clear and easy path for change/recovery in this area for our MS generally we get that same result. NOTHING.
I did not get a result of nothing.

I vented and gritted my teeth on this forum for months about how much I wanted my boyfriend to hurry up and be better already-- which is probably a good thing because I kept it away from him. I was AFRAID it would all come to nothing--or worse.

He went into therapy almost a year after he disclosed-- and he didn't disclose until months after I found out he'd been acting out online-- and I didn't find out about that until a year or so after he realized that he needed to make some changes, and stopped doing it.

Two, maybe closer to three years, to finally seek help getting out of the mess that he'd lived in for ten times that long. Really it's not such a long time.

About two years ago we went to a show together-- and about halfway through I was startled to hear a strange man's laughter very close to me... it was my boyfriend laughing. I had been with him for almost six years and I didn't recognize the sound of him laughing.

If you'd told me that day that two years later he'd laugh all the time I don't know if I'd have believed it. I certainly wouldn't have believed that he'd be driving a clean (registered!) car, taking care of his health, enjoying his work, going to church, standing up to his parents, getting enough sleep, seeing a therapist...

If a year ago, you told me that he'd be that way in a year, I might have believed you but I would have wanted it all right away. ;\)

Good things take time to grow. Bad things take time to outgrow.

After everything that's changed, our sex life is still the most complicated, emotional thing we deal with as a couple. It is hurtful for both of us. But waiting for my boyfriend to come to healing in his own time has resulted in the best things thus far, I am willing to wait for this too.


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#65553 - 03/11/05 04:58 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
I don't know who wrote this, or if I can remember it correctly-

"Don't walk in front of me, I might not follow. Don't walk behind me, I might not lead. Just walk alongside me and be my friend."

It makes a lot of sense to me, I want to be equal; not better or worse.
I've had a belly-full of worse, and I hope that I would never think of myself as 'better' than someone else. I don't like people who think they're 'better' than me either.

But this also reflects what Danny said, and I agree 100% Danny, we should actively try to avoid interfering with someone who is trying to correct some kind of emotional and cognitive problem.
Support and talk about all you want, but I think I can say in all honesty that nobody ever told me what to do, not my therapist, wife or any friends or family. I guess I was lucky.

But I also know that I would have reacted badly to someone telling me what to do. For two reasons.
Firstly I'd reacted badly to 'authority' for over 30 years, that wasn't going to go away overnight.
Secondly, I think I knew instinctively that it was 'my deal'. Again, maybe I was lucky in that the people around me didn't start offering advice and instructions, maybe I would have given in and let them do all the thinking, as again, I had done for over 30 years.

My wife usually say's something like "what can I do to help?" - "Do you want to talk?". It's always questions that allow me to decide on the level of 'help' I need at the time. I know I'm lucky there, I've seen her at work with students, most of whom come to her when somethings wrong. And she's exactly the same, her questions place the responsibility for any decisions back with them. She gives, advice, support and facts, but not instructions.

I came with my own set of instructions, they just got lost.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65554 - 03/11/05 07:54 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
SAR,

Your very articulate and most recent post has been very helpful in pinpointing the key points to remember here. I'd like to say that it was an encouraging post for me as well (e.g. to correct & stay the course), yet must confess to an all too pervasive sense of "my guy's not like your guy": In other words, I am terribly afraid that just 'staying out of his way'and letting him resume responsibility for things like managing his own money/bills will prove disasterous, at least for me.

What the hell does that tell me? I know that he's capable of being financially responsible for himself--there's certainly no reason why he couldn't be--but he's never demonstrated any serious commitment to that: Not for all the years before we got together; not prior to my moving out in Nov. '03; not in all the months that we lived and were apart after that (12 months living apart and a cumulative total of 7 months split up); and not since we've been living together again.

He's quite a hard worker and when there's not much/enough work in his regular occupation, he will always hustle up something else to fill in the gaps. It's how he manages (or doesn't manage) his money that creates problems.

For example, he doesn't keep an eye on his account to ensure he's left enough money in there for his automatic debit payments. He "forgets" about upcoming bills, "doesn't realize" that it's already the first of the month and the rent's due, "needs" to keep $100 to get a much-needed part for his vehicle, etc. (WRT the latter, he drives a 31 year old vehicle that is forever breaking down [or on the verge of breaking down], guzzles gas like a fiend, is entirely impractical, and parts are not only exceptionally expensive to get for it but all but impossible to find anyway--new or used--and there is no local supplier. Yet he insists on both keeping/driving it, insisting that it is totally practical [though it only has two seats, so when his daughter's with us we don't go anywhere as a threesome] and just as reliable as any other vehicle, and argues that it's worth far more than it, in actuality, is. DENIAL.)

And when he runs into a financial crisis (which he does as a matter of routine, it seems)? He takes out loans from private lenders at exorbitant rates (i.e. 32.99%), borrows money from his mom, etc. When I found out he was both dealing coke and still using, his argument was that he needed the extra income to help pay his living expenses. All it was really doing was helping him support his own habit, but you couldn't tell him that, and he seemed genuinely surprised after he quit that he owed his connection a substantial amount of money.

His financial troubles became so utterly (And chronically) unmanageable that he recently (after much argument from me) filed bankruptcy. He seems to feel good about that decision, but I've already agreed to keep track of his receipts and fill out the expense forms for his trustee each month. All he had to do was just make the decision, sign the papers, and voila! most of his debts are gone and I'm doing the on-going paperwork for him.

Anyway, I make enough to pay all of the rent and utility bills if need be, but neither of us want that for so long as he's living here. Yet history has shown over and over again that if I entrust him to have his share of things ready as they become due, he won't have it. ("Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me"?) Either that or he'll give me the money for such things, then be borrowing money from me for things like groceries and gas to get him through to his next payday. In effect, still not being responsible for managing his own money.

So, yes, I "enable" him in these ways. And yes, I understand how this actually undermines and impedes his ability to be more responsible for these things himself. Which is not what I want for either of us at all. Truthfully, I have become aware of a growing regret on my part for letting him move in with me again so fast, but here we are.

So this is MY work and MY responsibility to address: I am painfully aware of a distinct lack of faith in him...something which helps him not at all and is, I suppose, offensive to us both. Certainly offensive towards him. My lack of trust that if I give his financial "stuff" back to him to manage, things will fall apart just the same as they always have. My HUGE fear that if I ask him to move out, I will worry about what he's up to when I'm not around (porn, the possibility of other women, etc). My awareness that if I asked him to move out, he'd probably go stay at his mom's, at least for a few months, who will let him live there for free. And the most likely candidates for him to choose as roommates? His youngest brother (who is just as much a financial disaster as he is, a pothead and a partier), or his single musician friends who for the most part are still living the "sex, drugs n' rock & roll" lifestyle.

Oh man, this is so SCARY! Do I have such a low opinion of the man I say I love so much? Of a man I want to show respect for? Am I that much of a control freak, trying to disguise myself as a loving, supportive partner? Nevermind him, my own abandonment and related issues are heckling me from all sides when I look at this closely.

And the financial end of things is only one aspect of this. SAR, did you ever see these things in yourself during your current relationship?

I believe that love is a choice. Perhaps my greatest fear is that my choice to love him in a more healthy and respectful way (i.e. getting out of his way and allowing him to assume full responsibility for himself) will result in the demise of our relationship for good. The question that arises here for myself, and perhaps other partners as well is: Whose interests am I/we really serving here? Whose deep-seated fears are just as much a concern and contributor to the relationship's problems as the survivors? Is there any hope for such unions?

Oh Gawd. I've been aware of these dynamics at varying levels all along, but this may be the first time I've ever really owned MY end of responsibility for our troubles.

Oh Gawd.

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65555 - 03/11/05 09:16 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Quote:
Whose interests am I/we really serving here? Whose deep-seated fears are just as much a concern and contributor to the relationship's problems as the survivors? Is there any hope for such unions?
I must have seen some of what you describe in myself, stride, because those are the same questions I found myself asking. ;\)

I'll have to get back to this later.


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#65556 - 03/11/05 09:40 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
After posting in response to SARs mention of 'responsibility', it hit me that being responsibe for others is what 'mothers' do for their children (fathers, too).

So that really takes it back to the initial topic of the thread 'Mother/Whore Syndrome'.

The idea of having sex with one's mother or father is so disturbing to society that it remains one of the last great taboos--incest.

Even with that remaining social charge, there are still hundreds of web sites featuring incest as their theme; chatroooms; magazines, private clubs etc.

So when I want to act like a mother or father to the person I want to have sex with, that's something that disturbs me...eventually. At first, it seems like a good idea. Take care of them and hey, they'll take care of me, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

For me, I do not see any escape clause in the general rule that I must treat the adults in my life as adults. Not as children, because treating them as my children and then expecting them to have sex with me is a really powerful trigger for the entire population of the world.

The man who sexually abused me took me in, gave me shelter, food and emotional support; much like a parent. He also had sex with me. He was 55 when it started and I was 15.

The knowledge of the inverse relationship existent between love and power is one that is well known. I used to have the quote from Jung at the end of my signature.

In mother/child relationships the dialectic of power is natural and good, assuming that the parent is 'normal'.

But in adult sexual relationships that mother/child dynamic is just really sick. I know. I have lived with it for a long time. As I have said, I once was a victim. Then I became a volunteer.

I no longer wish to volunteer.

I remember how powerful the adult feelings were that I had to try to carry as a young adolescent.

Feeling sexual jealousy at the age of 15 because the man who was acting as my parent was out screwing some other young guy. Or so I suspected.

No wonder I kept having those 'nervous breakdowns'. Those emotions were not appropriate for a sexually immature young man to have.

In a parallel way, the caretaking and responsibility assuming of an adult sexual partner is very inappropriate, even though many adults may welcome such attention, and seem incapable of surviving without it.

I cannot speak for others. Perhaps they are stronger or more resourceful than me. But for me that type of relationship has been toxic. It killed me inside. Stunted my emotional and spiritual growth and has made it so that I must at the age of 50 learn all that stuff that I might have learned as a teenager had I not been sexually exploited.

In a way what happened to me was like incest. I had no father. My mother was killed the year after the molestation began. I had gone home to see her and brought the papers necessary for me to enroll at a junior college.

My mom was killed while I was there visiting. I had been having thoughts of returning to her home. I had been having second thoughts about life with my sexual partner of 56 (I had turned 16).

When we looked in my mom's purse after the car accident that killed her, the papers for me to go to junior college were in there. They had a small amount of her blood on them.

I took those papers back to Chicago with me. The man, Sam Jackson, who was sexually abusing me signed those papers.

Under his signature he wrote the latin phrase,

"In loco parentis". Translated, "In place of parents".

The day I got back to him after my mom's death, he comforted me, by having sex with me.

I say all of this for my sake. So that I will remember how it happened and how it felt. I lived alone with all of this for so many years. Only in my 40s was I able to speak the truth about it all.

So I am not one to set a timetable or deadline for anyone to begin or continue their recovery.
It took me as long as it took....not one moment sooner or later would I have been ready.

While I cannot be responsible for another's recovery, I can be responsible for staying out of the way. Acting as a mother or father while in a sexual relationship with a survivor of incest is a perfect recipe for a disastrous relationship.

I know, because I have been in so many of them.

I hope you will know that I am not sharing this to be mean or discouraging. This is just my experience.

I try to focus on the things I can change, i.e. myself. And leave the things I cannot change or control, i.e. other people, especially those I love, to the care of a loving power that I believe exists in this universe.

It ain't easy. If it was so goddamned easy we would have all been doing it and a long time ago.

But it is a way that I have found to live comfortably with myself. I live alone. I do not have a partner. And I believe that it is the way it is supposed to be for today.

Thanks all for reading this and allowing me this detour into my past. It helps me to refocus my attention.

I appreciate you all for your candor, honesty, patience and tolerance.

Regards,

_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#65557 - 03/13/05 12:47 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
Before the Carpenters, there was Jung. Carl Jung.

Quote:
“Where loves rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. One is the shadow of the other.” Carl Jung


_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#65558 - 03/14/05 06:25 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
Just stopping to say I am in awe of this wonderful thread ! I have been away due to the cleansing effect of my first kundalini yoga session \:\( . Got overwhelmed by a tsunami of body memory. Horrible ! I am feeling better today. I have been away skiing this week end in the Alps \:D , I look great but could not walk much today ! ;\)
Love and hugs to all

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#65559 - 03/14/05 10:47 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
I was talking this morning with my therapist about the 'parental' element that has always entered into/been present in my sexual relationships.

How I had been on both sides of the equation; seeking to take care of others so that they would do as I wanted (ie support me, keep me around, pay my rent etc) or trying to get others to take care of me (playing the incompetent child figure, the hurt, injured man needing support of all sorts and willing to have sex with you to get it).

These are just the barest sketches of what I do in relationships with adults in my life. Sex with other men is always the first thing I consider--how it will serve me and how I must serve them in order to get what I need.

Being aware of this type of dynamic is only a start for me. I have found that my awareness is not enough to prevent me from lapsing back into the 'I'll screw you if you'll pay my rent' syndrome.

I observed to R., my T, that it seemed that this type of relationship was widespread. That it seemed to work at some level for lots of people, but that for me, as a survivor of sexual abuse, it was not helpful and often destructive.

I went on to observe the incestuous overtones in the sexual abuse that happened to me at the hands of my older, male provider/authority figure. And how I tend to replicate that dynamic in my adult life.

I wanted to be reassure myself, I suppose, and others, that I did not consider this type of thing a 'moral failure' or some big lapse of humanity like a sin or other transgression.

But that for me and people like me, it simply did not work. The quid pro quo manner of conducting adult relations, particularly those of an intimate or sexual nature, just really messed me up.

In trying to NOT do the same thing over and over again, I find myself alone again and again. Evidently it is very hard for me to imagine doing things any differently than what I have learned and practiced over the years.

It seems easier to me to have quick anonymous sex that to develop an in depth friendship leading to intimacy.

I simply do not know what that type of adult relationship based on mutuality looks like.

He concurred that it did not work for me to be in those 'mother/whore' type of arrangements.

He went on to say something that I have retained, considered and wished to share in the context of this thread.

He said that acting in the unequal, parental/child, demi-incestuous, quid pro quo style of relational behavior did not work because it prevented me from fulfilling my needs at a deeper level.

Being prevented from fulfilling my needs at a deeper level, sounds to me like what I have often thought, that being sexually abused as I was, left me stuck in some more primitive stage of development. Like a child relating to a parent, but in a sexual way.

Sometimes the roles are reversed and I seek the other side of the coin, providing for and doing for other adults as a way of relating sexually.

And I and often the other have been unsatisfied and discontent in these relations, even though in the beginning they have seemed like just what I wanted.

They seem to soothe some superficial longing that I carry with me as a scar or patterning from my youth, but lack the depth and maturity to satisfy at a deeper level the adult, grown up needs and desires that I feel inside me.

Somehow I thought it was important enough for me to come here and write about.

It's not about being bad, or being sinful, or incompetent, or any of that stuff. For me the type of relating I learned in the abusive situation is what prevents me from finding the fulfilment I yearn for as an adult.

It is really hard to not do what I have always done. The alternative looks like a big unknown and that makes me very uneasy. Easier to go back to old habits, that, while disappointing, have the advantage of being known.

Guess that's why I come here and do the other work I do. In the hope of finding the courage and the strength to do differently and to be different.

Hope this makes some sense, it's all just come out in a rush.

Thanks,

_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#65560 - 03/15/05 01:12 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Danny

Quote:
It seems easier to me to have quick anonymous sex that to develop an in depth friendship leading to intimacy.

I simply do not know what that type of adult relationship based on mutuality looks like.
I can see how this affects survivors and their partners, the sex we learned - our 'sex ed'- was all wrong, it was the "quick anonymous sex" that you speak of; even if it carried on for a long period with a constant 'partner' ( abuser ) Much like mine did at school.

There are to the untrained eye elements of 'relationships', but I certainly discovered through some deep self searching in therapy that it was nothing like a 'relationship'
The truth was it was nothing more than basic lust on their part, it was just dressed up to appear like "true friendship"
The day my abusers left the school was the end of both the abuse, and my ill perceived friendship / relationship. I was cast aside with no further thought.

Everything I ever learned about sex I learned from my abusers, which when the truth dawned on me ( subconciously maybe, many years ago ? )was that "I was only good for "quick anonymous sex"
Which is why I can't relate sex to love and intimacy with a loving partner. I still see sex as an act all on it's own and totaly remote from my marriage. Perhaps I still see sex as something dirty and disgusting as well? Something for me and my therapist to discuss I think.

On a slightly broader note, I also think that the way people rush into sex, and seem to expect sex within a very few dates with a new partner, is not that far removed from our experience.
Again it instills the notion that sex isn't a part of the complete, loving, relationship.

For those of us that were teenagers at the end of the 60's and still young and single in the 70's sex was just about compulsory, relationships were secondary. Remember, at that time AIDS hadn't started, and we all believed that all STD's could be cured with a dose of antibiotics!

So not only did our abuse seperate us from the best reasons to have a sexual relationship, so did the climate we lived in.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65561 - 03/15/05 04:03 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Hello Lloyd ....am I picking up that you basically look to your partner as the "security blanket" away from what is hurtful and dirty "sex", even though you may have never realized you were doing that. Yet, somehow in a vary strong manner trying to keep them as separate as possible?
You associate sex with someone who doesnt deserve your admiration and love....which is exactally what you want to give your wife.
This may sound silly....but do you indeed enjoy sex, or do you see it more as a release of some sort?

Thanks for being so open guys!

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65562 - 03/15/05 08:18 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
This is great stuff Danny, and I believe it.
Quote:
acting in the unequal, parental/child, demi-incestuous, quid pro quo style of relational behavior did not work because it prevented me from fulfilling my needs at a deeper level.

Being prevented from fulfilling my needs at a deeper level, sounds to me like what I have often thought, that being sexually abused as I was, left me stuck in some more primitive stage of development. Like a child relating to a parent, but in a sexual way.

*snip*

And I and often the other have been unsatisfied and discontent in these relations, even though in the beginning they have seemed like just what I wanted.
I hope this is not too personal an observation, and maybe it is bit off-topic, but as a parent I find the de>

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#65563 - 03/15/05 01:25 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Quote:
This may sound silly....but do you indeed enjoy sex, or do you see it more as a release of some sort?
Now we're getting down to the difficult questions!

Do I enjoy sex?
I have done. And here I am talking about straight sex with my wife, and some previous girlfriends although it's so long ago my memory has probably raised my status from boyfriend to superstud. \:o
Yes, sex has been good, indeed wondeful at times. But as I grew older and the widely recognised problem of getting used to your partner crept in the enjoyment of sex diminished.

Instead of doing the right thing and spicing up our sex life mutually I used fantasy on my own.
Tat backfired, big time. My fantasy became based upon my abuse, and the need to re-create it. There are other issues surrounding our 'need' to re-create our abuse but I'll stick with this one for now.
To a certain degree the fantasy helped, but inextricably linked to fantasy is guilt and shame.
When I was using fantasy I would suddenly be overcome by the guilt and shame to the extent that I went soft and sex was over.
It was classic "Catch 22", the fantasy got me erect, the guilt and shame took it away.

More fantasy, stronger fantasy - you know what comes next....

Do I enjoy the prospect of sex?
I have the capability to wind myself up over days on end with the prospect of "the ultimate sexual experience". It's something I don't do now, but I recognise the signs so it's still there lurking.
But when I was acting out this was a huge part of my life.
The thought of this 'ultimate sex act' that I would be doing with some unknown person at some stinking toilet in a few days time ( because I knew I'd be in a certain place at that time )was huge, I was out of control on adreniline by the time I got there.
The 'best' that happened? A 2 minute, fumbled BJ, the worst, a fight with some other guy or solo masturbation. There isn't any "ultimate sexual experience" - not that we can plan anyway. Have you ever seen the movie about Annabel Chong, the woman who set a record of having sex with 251 men in 10 hours ? It's a good movie, not sexual and certainly not erotic. Just very sad.
What the whole premise of this 'Worlds gang-bang record' is based on is the same thing, the perception of this 'ultimate sex act'. The reality never matches expectations.

Also, many survivors had our expectations set when we were too young to process them correctly.
What I did when I was 11 to 15 years old was set in the world of pornographic fantasy, although I didn't know that of course.
I "enjoyed" giving BJ's to a line of older boys when I was about 12yo, I actually suggested it.
I "enjoyed" the fantasy / memory of that afternoon for over 30 years, it's going to take some shifting now.

So my world of sex is rooted in all these different influences spread over 40 years, and more actually. I generally only talk about my abuse at school, but I can remember a stranger putting my hand inside his trousers when I was about 3 or 4yo.
One of the things I've discussed at great length in therapy is the issue of sexual orientation. I can't deny that gay sex acts appeal to me, but I'm not not gay in the sense that I fancy other men, I don't. I fancy women and love one dearly. I look at the gorgeous women on the streets and feel sexual, I think about my wife in sexual ways. But contact is another thing.

Touch just reminds me of what happened as a boy, and I either process that as a fantasy, or as a flashback. The result's the same anyway.

I'm sure a lot of this is also tied into the dynamics of the relationship as well, the 'power' thing we touched on earlier.
It's an incredibly complex problem for us, and one that isn't easily fixed by just going though the motions, because not only does our body rebel, our heads do as well.

That's why, sadly, masturbation is safer.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65564 - 03/16/05 10:09 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
stride

For me the questions of interest/fear came back to power.

I can give you a long list of the reasons I didn't leave when things got bad-- some of those reasons I'm proud of, some I'm not.

But the bottom line is, I would have left if I'd ever felt powerless or out of control-- I was miserable, unable to change things, unfulfilled, sure-- but I knew that as scared as I'd be to go it alone, I'd be better at it than him-- and that kept him from leaving me. I knew that I was the responsible parent (I mean actual parent to the actual kids), the responsible bill-payer, the one who got things done, the one who knew how to say things, and that for those reasons it would cost him more than he was willing to pay for him to leave me entirely. His lack of power was my safety net.

NO WONDER that was a miserable relationship! No wonder that doesn't end up being satisfying for anyone! How could I ever trust in his love when my whole understanding of the relationship was based on him being with me out of something other than love? And no wonder that my first and biggest fear after he started healing was that he would "heal past" me and move on to healthier things!

And no, I don't believe there was any hope for THAT relationship. Luckily the one we have today is very different.

With every minute that I thought about the amount of power I had in our mutual lives, the more it made me sick, honestly. I didn't want it. I wanted the day to come when he could get up and walk away without looking back, and be just fine. Not that I wanted him to leave-- but I wanted to know he was choosing to be a whole, independent person, and THEN choosing me.

Obviously that's very scary. But I was being realistic too, whether he was going to heal in three months (the way I wanted) or three decades (the way he seemed to be headed), things had started changing. And however slowly they changed, at some point he would be able to choose healthy relationships for himself and I wanted our relationship to be an option.

My boyfriend very much resented--even fought-- some of the responsibility I let go. Any expenses or problems that I could give to him without hurting myself or our kids, I did-- that meant he was on his own paying for his loans/personal stuff, getting back his license, etc. I bit my tongue-- hard-- about his bad eating/sleeping/personal habits. In fact I looked the other way so hard in this area, that when he started making these changes I was slow to notice. He was quietly resentful about my NOT pushing him into therapy, and only much later admitted both that he had wanted me to do it for him and that he was now grateful that I hadn't.

It's not about how we use or don't use the control we have-- it's just the fact of our having it. You can't hold on to the control and just decide to be more benevolent or trusting in your application of it. That's how it was for me anyway.

SAR


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#65565 - 03/17/05 01:18 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Quote:
In fact I looked the other way so hard in this area, that when he started making these changes I was slow to notice. He was quietly resentful about my NOT pushing him into therapy, and only much later admitted both that he had wanted me to do it for him and that he was now grateful that I hadn't.
Oh yes, "quietly resentful" - I remember that one.
I had, how can I describe this? 'created' or should that be 'become' someone who was reliant on others, mainly my wife, but I had jobs where someone else always had the responsibility as well.
That's a very comfortable position to be in. And I now know that I exploited that persona totaly.
I didn't just exploit it, I cultivated it and revelled in it.
How hard was that to escape from? very hard. Because even when I was getting therapy and making changes to my life I was still seen by all my 'mates' as "Lloydy, so f*****g laid back he's horizontal"
People started talking about me when I cut my rock-star hair, trimmed the beard ( I looked like a ZZ Top refugee for so long :rolleyes: ) and started to 'behave'. I drove legal cars, didn't do drugs anymore. I even went to college! My reputation was in tatters!

That's how hard it is to change, the whole range of ( probably )dysfunctional behaviours that our abuse caused are reflected in the 'personality' we have taken on. We've lived like this for many years, we know it, we trust it. We might not like it, but I bet we have convinced ourselves we do.

That's why I think so many people in relationships with a Survivor that's healing feel this way -

Quote:
And no, I don't believe there was any hope for THAT relationship. Luckily the one we have today is very different.
I think many of change so much that we're different people. Certainly some people who I know well, cousins and friends who live and work away, have often commented ( usually to my wife ) that they can't believe the way I've changed, not just my appearance either.
I can recognise many changes myself, hopefully for the better. But people who last saw me in the mid 90's do notice big changes.

Luckily my wife kept pace. ;\) \:D

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65566 - 03/18/05 07:00 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
SAR,

As a result of much musing over this thread about "control/power" (and your posts in particular), I broached the subject with my guy last Friday...particularly WRT our current financial arrangement. Not surprisingly, he grew very irritated with me (said I read too many books) and insisted that there was nothing wrong with my continuing to manage all the money. I tried to explain how I see this as diminishing/undermining him (and me), as well as making the (your) very astute point about this being one way in which I've been choosing control over trust. He wasn't buying it.

Quote:
My boyfriend very much resented--even fought-- some of the responsibility I let go. Any expenses or problems that I could give to him without hurting myself or our kids, I did-- that meant he was on his own paying for his loans/personal stuff, getting back his license, etc. I bit my tongue-- hard-- about his bad eating/sleeping/personal habits. In fact I looked the other way so hard in this area, that when he started making these changes I was slow to notice.
For the moment, I am still tending to our general bills, etc, but have been giving responsibility back to him for related, smaller concerns. My tongue's already bleeding, but I know this is the right path. Some things are much more difficult to get clear on, but I'm working on sorting those out for myself, if not for him.

It is also true that over the past several months he has made a number of positive changes in most areas--including sex--and of his own initiative. These changes are often very subtle, but they're there and I'm aware of them. Still, after 3+ years, I seem to have become hypervigilant (fearful) about any little thing in those areas that might suggest he's slipping back into old patterns of behaviour and/or the things that it seems will never improve. I am quick to notice what hasn't changed, which sometimes makes it hard for me to keep the faith. It is also no doubt discouraging/frustrating for him to realize that despite the changes he has made/is making, I'm still distrustful of the overall picture. And yeh, when the old stuff comes up, it can be hard for me keep the whole process/big picture in perspective. When the old stuff comes up, what changes he has made can feel pretty insignificant to me.

But those changes are not. In fact, they're huge. I know that. And the growth, etc, between us is certainly not an overnight thing, much as I might wish it were.

Thank you for reinforcing things for me, SAR et al. Thank you for strengthening my faith and hope, as well as for helping me to learn how to love him in a more respectful, appreciative and affirming way.

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65567 - 03/23/05 05:22 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
sabbfann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 3
Loc: USA
I am pretty sure that I have the Madonna/Whore Complex and am seeking professional help to try and get through it(starting tomorrow actually)... Not only do I wish to have a sucessful "long term" relationship or marriage with a woman, but I really dig this girl (who I belive would be a good partner). I do NOT want to put her through what I have other girlfriends with reagrds to my eventual lack of interest in sex with them, etc... I want to know if anyone out there has been able to work through this... If yes, please post with your experiences and what worked for you. Thanks.

_________________________
"We're gonna need a bigger boat..."

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#65568 - 03/23/05 05:51 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Hi sabbfann,

Welcome to MS. Hope your therapy today was okay for you.

You sound like a caring person, to want to get a handle on your problems before getting involved with someone.

My boyfriend and I have been together for 8 years, and he only disclosed his SA to me about 18 months ago. Our relationship has improved in several ways but sex has certainly been the most complicated area of improvement. Some other changes had to happen before we could really work on this... and don't get me wrong, we are still working on it.

The power/inequality stuff that a few of the posters in this thread have been discussing was a big part of what had to change. The guilt and self-esteem stuff is a big part of what we're still working on.

Recently my boyfriend and I have been able to talk a bit about what sex "means" to us in the context of our relationship, and how it's meant other things in the past. These were hard, emotionally draining conversations-- partly because we have some unhappy history together as a couple, partly because of the sexual abuse, partly because it requires a sort of honesty and compassion that people don't always bring to their conversations. This has been helpful to us, but again not something either of us could have handled before.

I'd suggest that you start discussing this stuff with your partner while you're talking about long-term committment, instead of years later when it becomes a problem. Since you're working on these issues now, you'll probably be in a better position to do that than most of us on this forum were.

Good luck,
SAR


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#65569 - 03/23/05 08:11 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
sabbfann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 3
Loc: USA
Thank SAR for your response. The therapy session went great today and it seems as if we will work well together. Yes, I am trying to be a little more pro-active on breaking this cycle before I enter into another relationship exclusively. I cannot imagine putting someone through this again... And I really appreciate how honest you and your partner have been with one another with regards to sex and SA, etc. - I will take this advice into my partnerships. I wish you all the best in your relationship and if you have anymore insights into the M/W complex and how to break this pattern, I will be most grateful!

Peace.

_________________________
"We're gonna need a bigger boat..."

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#65570 - 03/24/05 02:57 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
sabbfann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 3
Loc: USA
Does anyone know of any specific books written on the subject of the Madonna-Whore Complex?!?

_________________________
"We're gonna need a bigger boat..."

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#65571 - 03/24/05 05:22 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
Hi sabbfann,

I don't know of any books dedicated solely to the topic. I've only seen this syndrome referred to (and just in brief--basically just a de>
_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65572 - 03/28/05 05:08 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
ex-insider Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/28/05
Posts: 3
Loc: Austin,TX
Hi-I am new here. I actually found this forum by accident while doing a web search on the madonna/whore complex. I became so enthralled by the thread that I ended up reading all the posts and had to register so I could join in. This is one of the most enlightening and intelligent forums I have ever been exposed to (and I have read and participated in many). Most everything I have read, has been very valuable and much of it has opened my eyes to things that I otherwise would not have recognized. I am very impressed and encouraged.
As for me, I am a survivor myself, and have had expereince in relationships with male survivors. I am recovering from one such relationship in which the man had such an inflamed madonna/whore complex that it became nearly psychopathic. Toward the end of our relationship, I found the courage to complain about the lack of affection/respect in our relationship and he replied, "I just cant see being all lovey dovey with you. All I want to do is abuse you and treat you like a slut." Although this man and I were together off and on for almost 2 years, I can count on one hand the times he kissed me, held me or said anything to me in an affectionate or supportive manner. It became more and more abusive and degrading as time wore on and yet I stayed. What on earth did this say about me? It said simply, that I hadn't dealt deeply enough with my childhood sexual abuse issues. (VERY simply-haha)--Although this breakup occurred over 2 years ago, I am still recovering from it and its effect on my self esteem and psyche. Thankfully, it served as a huge wake-up call for me and I am now approaching dating, sex and relationships within an entirely different frame of mind. However, it is a constant struggle not to fall into old patterns or to even be aware when they crop up-as I'm sure you all know. It is an ongoing, more than likely life-long process of self discovery and self awareness. However, I am finally learning how to reclaim my personal power and take more control over my destiny and relationships. I have found that taking responsibilty for everything that happens in my adulthood, has been the first step in that process. Responsibilty=power. I used to beleive I was too helpless to control my life, so I never took responsibilty for much that occured in it. It felt like life just "happened" to me, and I was not even a real participant. Just kinda along for the ride, one might say. I am aware now that this probably stems from my lack of power over controlling my abuse as a child.

Anyway, I wanted to express my appreciation to you all for inspiring me to open up on this forum and express myself. It is a most wonderful site and I thank you.

Im sorry but Im not certain if anything I have said here may be triggering so I put the icon on there, just in case. I have difficulty recognizing that sometimes...

_________________________
hummmm...

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#65573 - 03/29/05 12:32 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Ex-insider

Quote:
I am recovering from one such relationship in which the man had such an inflamed madonna/whore complex that it became nearly psychopathic. Toward the end of our relationship, I found the courage to complain about the lack of affection/respect in our relationship and he replied, "I just cant see being all lovey dovey with you. All I want to do is abuse you and treat you like a slut."
In the first of my many replies on this topic I mentioned the cleaner at work who for a while was after my body, and as I said she's basically a tart. I know other guys she's had affairs with although she's been married for about 25 years.
For her there's no question of wanting to leave her husband, it's sex.
Now I do admit to a bit of flirting with her, but not in any way that would lead to me having sex with her. I know that I could if I so desired, but that's not on my plan at all. ( and that's not bragging, she has actually offered me sex without any strings attached )
So I tease her about the roots showing through the dye job, the bright red lip gloss, and all the other attributes that she has that mark her out. ( This is very sexist and judgemental I know, but she does typecast herself in this stereotypical way )
My 'flirting' isn't even that sexual, I just lead her on and wind her up a bit - because "I can"

Why would I do this when it's basically cruel and not in my interests at all?
Because I see her as the 'whore or slut', and therein lies a basic interest, or intrigue. The thought of sex on offer with no emotional involvement does have attractions to me because I can't manage sex with emotion at this time.

Perhaps the way we behave towards each other fulfills a role for each of us? I think it possibly might because she seems to respond in the way I expect. Or perhaps I've constructed my 'whore' image around her and the way she already behaves?

Whatever it is, she's got no chance!
Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65574 - 03/31/05 02:14 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
ex-insider Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/28/05
Posts: 3
Loc: Austin,TX
Perhaps the way we behave towards each other fulfills a role for each of us? I think it possibly might because she seems to respond in the way I expect. Or perhaps I've constructed my 'whore' image around her and the way she already behaves?
--------------------------------------------------
Dave, thanks for your comments. You are expereincing an interesting situation, if you don't mind my saying.
After my expereinces I perceive anyone and everyone who acts out sexually, as a potential and probable survivor of abuse. Now Im not saying this is always true, but in many cases I'm afraid it is--espechially when your dealing with women. What are the stats--one in four? (but thats the US, and I dont know about world stats but I'm sure they are just as shocking) Even one rape or episode of abuse, early on in a persons life can screw up thier sexual health for life, espechially if it's not dealt with. Maybe shifting your perception of her in this way, might help you to find more empathy for her and her obvious inability to "keep sex in it's place". I know from personal expereince as the "whore", that when I was seeking oversexualized relationships, it most definilty stemmed from my abuse issues. (I basically accepted ANY kind of attention be it sexual or otherwise because I felt unworthy and undeserving for my emotional needs to be met). Possibly the same thing is happening to her but shes not aware or able to confront it? Maybe her marriage is abusive and or unfullfilling? Possibly she isnt getting her needs met there, either? We hide so many things from eachother and ourselves, What is on the surface is never the whole story. She may put on a really great act, but deep inside she is suffering, you can count on that. I dont know anybody who use thier body's (or allow others to use them) indiscriminately, that don't have serious issues with self-esteem, self-worth etc.

I'm impressed by your willingness and ability to see that you are unable to have sex with emotion. Acceptance is the first step in recovery and I take my hat off to you and everyone here for being honest, despite the "risks". Just my thoughts....

_________________________
hummmm...

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#65575 - 03/31/05 07:48 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
I would also suspect that her childhood was somewhat 'questionable' knowing some of her family. And her husband is .....well he's hard to describe, but 'dumb' would be a good start. And I've known him for nearly 35 years so I'm not being cruel.
So I would agree that her sexual behaviour is acting out as well, as is the way she dresses etc. I know that when she was a teenager she was a stunner, but now she does the whole slapper thing, and she actually doesn't need to.
It's the old self-esteem thing again.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65576 - 04/10/05 06:17 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Hi all,
My computer blew up and we had to purchase and install a new one. It has been awhile since I have been on and see that this thread has grown quite a bit since.
I see it has gone off in a few different directions....but I do have one question for the survivors in regards to their wives/special other.
My dilemma is being the Madonna side. So, out of frustration and hope and everything that I have ever tried....and believe me in almost 3 years I have tried every angle I can think of....what do you conceive has been the most beneficial position for a partner to be in.
I find if I dont say anything and live as we are then we basically live a very platonic life. If I push the issue I may get short term satisfaction, or we might end up in a fight.
I am to the point I feel like a foreigner in my own relationship....which at one time was very satisfying.
I am so confused I feel I am living in an emotional mine (mind) field.

*side note, he has finally agreed that seeing a therapist may be a good idea ...I just pray I have the strength.

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65577 - 04/10/05 10:14 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
I have come to realize that the madonna-whore syndrome can be view as a whole cycle giving it enough time.
One of my friends (in her 50's) has uncovered a history of incest in her husband's family. She even suspects he was abused by his mother at a very young age. After nearly 30 years of mariage, where apparently she was a "saint", helping him in his work, supporting him...he suddenly started to treat her like shit, even calling her a bitch. She is only conscious now that being considered a saint is as dysfunctional as being considered a whore. Obviously the fact that the relationship changed (because the partner is making the changes) can trigger that syndrome to become more obvious.
The syndrome seems to be a normal phase (around 16-20 in male adolescent psychosexual development in order to make the break from "mommy" (from my reading "Sexoanalysis" by Claude Crépeault) but I guess I am wondering about what's the crucial element that make guys leap from that kind of easy sex relationship to a more mature one based on feelings and trust.
And please don't tell me the answer is love !
As for the statistics on female sexual abuse it is actually 1/3 before the age of 18 (same numbers in England, Ireland, Canada, US). The number goes up to a frightening 80% in Indian reserves Canada.

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#65578 - 04/11/05 12:15 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Wow, a cycle. I dont want to be on either side....just a happy medium would be nice for a change.
I wonder if there are statistics involving therapy on this particular "syndrome".
It seems to hold such STRONG ideas within itself...I just wonder the outcome that generally comes with therapy.

*sigh

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65579 - 04/11/05 12:53 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Quote:
I am wondering about what's the crucial element that make guys leap from that kind of easy sex relationship to a more mature one based on feelings and trust.
And please don't tell me the answer is love !
I think it's exposure to, and practice with, feelings and trust.
You can't build a relationship on something you can't access.

Also I don't think I ever realized how big the gap was between sex and emotion for my boyfriend until he got in touch with his emotions a bit. HE didn't realize that I was connecting sex and emotion-- or that our sex life had an emotional impact on me-- because it didn't even occur to him that those things COULD be connected. I guess he thought all of my impatience and hurt over the "platonic life" had to do with lack of sex... when what I was feeling was lack of love... I told him over and over but until he really became comfortable with himself emotionally, it didn't register. In that context I can understand why he would become so upset at my impatience and hurt. What a terrible cycle. \:\(


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#65580 - 04/11/05 03:09 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
The other night, I was trying so hard to feel "connected" to my husband. It seemed every slight advancement was met with a wall. I finally explained to him that I was just trying to "connect" to him. He asked me so seriously "what do you mean by connect to me?".
I have worked so hard trying to live as an example. Be emotionally available to him. Taking the lead to show him. Honestly we are at a make or break point right now. My frustration along with his frustration are not making life good right now.
I pray to God that therapy is the answer. It is heartbreaking to experience.

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65581 - 04/12/05 08:53 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
"Heartbreaking" is the right word for living with a sexless relationship when both people love each other.

Quote:
Obviously the fact that the relationship changed (because the partner is making the changes) can trigger that syndrome to become more obvious.
Since I disclosed and started healing I have changed a gret deal, and my wife has also changed, maybe not as much.
Effectively we are different people than we were 6 or 7 years ago.
In many ways we are closer, we trust each other, we share our thoughts and feelings, in a way we never did throughout our long marriage.
Surely that must make for a better basis of our sexual relationship? In theory I suppose it must, but in reality it doesn't seem to have worked that way.

I think that for the first 25 years or so I treated sex as barely more than a physical thing. I enjoyed it so I did it.
Now there's an added dimension, and it's one so removed from all my sexual experiences from 11 to 46 years old that I barely understand it.

It's stupid in a way, because I have acknowledged my emotions, I have exchanged so many levels of emotion with my wife, but this sexual emotion is somehow different, and I can't grasp it.

Quote:
HE didn't realize that I was connecting sex and emotion-- or that our sex life had an emotional impact on me-- because it didn't even occur to him that those things COULD be connected.
Which is EXACTLY what SAR says here.
The wrong signals associated with our first sexual behaviours meant we had no emotion, well certainly no genuinly positive emotion, attached to that sexual experience. What we lerned was little more than the pleasure of physical orgasm, and a load of guilt and shame attached to that pleasure.
Pavlov's dog's were trained in the same way.

Unless I've missed something then I know what level of pleasure can be had from most sex acts, and I also know that a significant amount of that pleasure can be had from masturbation, so what's easier?
Yes, I realise that sex between people in love can trancend physical pleasure alone, far above the do it yourself methods.
But this level needs emotional connection, exchanging pleasures with someone else is as much about giving pleasure as it is about receiving it, and we can't do that when emotionally stunted as a direct legacy of our abuse.

Connecting with other emotions is possible for me, I can hold hands, hug, and lie in bed with my wife naked. We talk about anything, including this difficult subject.
So where's the damn switch to connect the last bag of emotions to my sex drive?

Dave \:\(

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65582 - 04/13/05 12:18 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
Hey Dave ! Just wanted to give you a quote about your last desperate question: "the unconscious has its own agenda"
the author of this quote ?
me \:D
I have learnt to accept it in my own sexual healing but it is damn slow !
oki, off to Ireland now !
\:\)

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#65583 - 04/13/05 04:02 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Dave,
It makes me sad for you and the others to have to desire what is suppose to be so natural.
I have learned so much from you, thank you for being so open and honest for us...especially on this thread. I think the spouses/significant others have our own pain and confusion and feel like we are doomed to never be able to connect the dots. You have helped us be able to feel a little bit of control here, and gain some understanding. We really do suffer as a result of this, but putting that on you guys makes it extremely uncomfortable. When we try to understand the one we love, it can be a very painful conversation so we either avoid it or it turns into a fight. Either way, we are being trained to learn to live with this also. I call it training because it really is so out of the ordninary when you dont understand it emotionally.
As to your comment...about the SWITCH, how do therapist/counselors work that angle? I know there are several on this board checking in and out...and I think that would be a wonderful theory/method for them to expound on. Personally when I have spoke to my husband about it- I try to get him to realize that the experience he HAD when he was a small child was not related to what adults have consentually. And that putting them into two different categories in his mind would be a start. One was an act of violence and control and the other love.
It is so frustrating, and very much a turn off to think I would trigger anything in him while making love that would remind him at all of the other situation.
My emotional mind, my sexual mind.....they have changed because of this. Things that used to be so natural and easy have suddenly become a task of great proportions.
*sigh*.....my ordinary every day mind is over whelmed.

God Bless

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65584 - 04/13/05 08:50 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
bfd, Dave, SAR and all,

I remember posting here a coupl'a years ago about my utter heartache and frustration WRT trying to get through the minefield of triggers, etc in our love life, to share an emotional connection with my guy ("Brant") in bed and generally tear down all of these damned barricades to real sexual intimacy/and that exquisite experience of REAL union. Hell, even just the experience of feeling on a relatively frequent basis that his desire is FOR ME/US, that his sexual pleasure is about ME/US, instead of just some purely physical release (especially given that sex can leave him with feelings of guilt, shame, "dirtiness" or whatever...feelings which I can't help but pick up on sometimes). Someone replied that it sounded to her as if a robust, healthy and vibrant sex life with my partner was really important to me (it is) and that, if so, I was doomed to never have that with my current partner due to his SA history.

Well, maybe she was right but I'm not much of a fatalist. (Caetel's signature [Kennedy quote] about asking "Why not? [etc]" comes to mind here.) And like Dave, Brant is often very affectionate, enjoys holding hands, cuddling, etc--it's certainly not as if there's no physical affection or emotional closeness between us. That there's a whole lot of love between us is indisputable. That's part of what keeps me hanging in there. It's also true that the sex has improved in some ways, however subtly, which also gives me hope, if no other reason than I can see he is trying to work on the intimacy stuff with me.

Even if he doesn't really understand what I'm talking about in this area--it's clearly foreign to him--and thus may not even see how there's anything more to work towards beyond trying to satisfy this mysterious upset I have about it, I can see that the effort is there. The feeling of discontent/personal discomfort remains for us both, it's generally palpable during or immediately after we have sex, but at least we can talk about it a little more now without that always having to mean big conflict. Still, it's important to note that it's taken us well over 3 years just to get this far. It's not an easy or quick process, that's for damned sure!

Quote:
...about the SWITCH, how do therapist/counselors work that angle? I know there are several on this board checking in and out...and I think that would be a wonderful theory/method for them to expound on. Personally when I have spoke to my husband about it- I try to get him to realize that the experience he HAD when he was a small child was not related to what adults have consentually. And that putting them into two different categories in his mind would be a start. One was an act of violence and control and the other love.
One (of many) areas that have been difficult for us sexually has been his lack of comfort/willingness to communicate with me in bed. Because his abuser was always talking/describing/verbalizing what was going on for him (his abuser) when he was abusing Brant, having either of us say anything about what we're feeling,thinking, fantasizing about, or what we'd like at the time, etc, is a HUGE trigger for him. Basically, that door is CLOSED!

This has been very frustrating for me (especially given that I can be very verbal and am quite unaccustomed to not being able to give/receive that kind of communication in bed with a lover), so I finally asked a sex therapist acquaintance of mine about it (with Brant's permission) about 3 years ago. She suggested that we try just having me, say, give him non-sexual back massages and have him work towards being able to tell me what feels good, what doesn't, what he'd like more/less of, where he'd like me to massage (upper back, lower, base of neck, whatever), whether he wants kneading, light scratching, gentle rubbing in a given area at a given time, etc. The idea was to work on communicating feelings, desires, etc (and even just becoming more aware of what was going in his body) in a non-sexual (non-threatening) realm and just start with that until he became comfortable with it.

Well, when I told Brant of her suggestion, he said "I'm not going to do that!" Besides, he said, he's not that into back massages (or so he said at the time). She also suggested the book "The New Male Sexuality" for him/us to read. I bought it, read it cover to cover many times, but he's never looked at it to my knowledge.

Still, we may get there yet. I told him about this site when I first discovered it in February of '03, and he didn't want to even *hear* about it, much less check it out. In fact, I recall him being quite upset and angry with me for looking into such things as male SA stuff at all: "Quit trying to analyse me!" he said. The way he said it, I felt like he hated me at the time. Then, out-of-the-blue 3 nights ago he suddenly asked me to show him the site and how to post here. He posted 2 things, logged off, and didn't look at it again until this morning, when he read the guys' replies to his posts. His only comment about their replies was that "everybody really seems to care," but he said this with a very grateful, clearly comforted tone. He still hasn't read anything else here, but volunteered to me today that he's going to be writing the guys again and spending more time here in the future. And I think he will. Again though, it's taken 2 years just to come this far.

Quote:
My emotional mind, my sexual mind.....they have changed because of this. Things that used to be so natural and easy have suddenly become a task of great proportions.
Oh yeh, Sister! I know this one! Believe me I do. The road is a long and rocky one with an unknowable conclusion, but for so long as we're on it, it's truly an incredible gift to have all of us here trying to find our way/s together.

Gotta run. Love you all. I do.

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65585 - 04/13/05 11:03 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
Quick post>
_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65586 - 04/13/05 11:27 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
lots to think about here tonight, so I'll start with this

Quote:
One (of many) areas that have been difficult for us sexually has been his lack of comfort/willingness to communicate with me in bed. Because his abuser was always talking/describing/verbalizing what was going on for him (his abuser) when he was abusing Brant, having either of us say anything about what we're feeling,thinking, fantasizing about, or what we'd like at the time, etc, is a HUGE trigger for him. Basically, that door is CLOSED!
I can't remember EVER asking my wife or any previous girlfriends to 'do' something sexually, either to me or me to them. I just can't communicate when having sex.
I was also groomed to talk during my 4 years of abuse, I would ask them what they wanted to do, ask if I could do something. I ended up suggesting and asking that we tried different positions, asking for group sex. That's not normal for a child, and it's burned into my memory.

Quote:
Either way, we are being trained to learn to live with this also. I call it training because it really is so out of the ordninary when you dont understand it emotionally.
How sad is that statement? 'OUR' abuse reaches out an affects so many others.
Can a partner ever understand it? I haven't got a clue really, some understanding is certainly possible, but the feelings of rejection and the doubts and fears that must surround that are something that I can't understand fully.
'we' have to find a deeper level of communication to make the lack of understanding that we both feel meet up. Difficult, but worth the effort.

Quote:
One was an act of violence and control and the other love.
this is something that although I / we might understand it - logically - we somehow still fail to separate the two.

Quote:
Someone replied that it sounded to her as if a robust, healthy and vibrant sex life with my partner was really important to me (it is) and that, if so, I was doomed to never have that with my current partner due to his SA history.
Why admit defeat?


Quote:
...about the SWITCH, how do therapist/counselors work that angle?
Even though I'm working as a support counsellor and read and learn all I can, this is still a very illusive thing.
I guess it's one of those "aha" moments that depends on the individual, and their therapist.
If I find it, I'll be rich \:D

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65587 - 04/13/05 11:33 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
while looking for something else I came across a very long and very good article that I downloaded some time back.
All of it is worth reading, follow the link to do that, but I'll post a section of it here as it relates to this topic.

This section is quite long as well, but worth reading. The references can be found in the online article.
Dave.

Quote:
http://www.txdirect.net/~dmoore/personal/secret.htm

Telling The Secret: Channels of Communication for the Recovering Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse

A Literature Review

by Don Moore
mailto:dmoore@txdirect.net

COMMUNICATION, INTIMACY, AND SEXUAL ABUSE

Interdependence of Communication and Intimacy

Stewart (4) states that "interpersonal communication can happen between [people] when each of [them] makes available some of what makes [them] persons and when each is aware of some of what makes the other a person too." He defines intimacy as "a process in which [people] attempt to get close to [each other]; to explore similarities (and differences) in the ways [they] both think, feel, and behave" (Stewart 25). This "making available" and "exploration" require, at the very least, a nominal level of openness and vulnerability on the part of each person engaged in communication and striving for intimacy. The violation of both mind and body that survivors have been forced to endure consumes much of the psychic energy needed to establish personal togetherness and blocks many of the pathways that can lead them to sharing their lives with others. Intimacy requires self-awareness, responsibility for one's feelings, and vulnerability-all of which are very difficult for the . . . survivor (Blume 253).

The pathology of the survivor's interpersonal communication may be characterized by the projection of motives onto others (Engel 32) [implicit personality attribution (Stewart 145)]; a hypersensitivity to a breach of trust or forceful (seen as aggressive) behavior (Engel 11,15,60; Bass 36,191; Yudkin 247; Jehu 108-109; Ratican 34); self-doubt (Engel 25,45); avoidance of the exposure of "the secret" (Jehu 155); intensely self-denigrating, angry, and frightened internal monologue (Ratican 34; Engel 12,15,26; Yudkin 248; Jehu 107-108; Schultz 146; Bradshaw 48); the inability to ask for needs to be met (Bass 27,191; Engel 15; Yudkin 249; Ratican 35-36); and explosive anger (Goodwin 66; Ratican 34; Engel 15).

Affected Relationships

A shroud of betrayal and anger is cast over a boundless range of relationships as the result of direct or complicit involvement in sexual abuse. Survivors of child sexual abuse learn at an early stage in life to distance themselves from their emotions to avoid the pain of what is happening to them. This distancing results in a significant internal and external communicative isolation of survivors from themselves and others. Personalities dissociate, repress, even split in response to the violation of trust, shame, fear, and self-blame that are the daily internal reality for sexual abuse survivors. Self may become separated from the body, the emotions, the experience of childhood, even from other internal selves who are conceived of the trauma (Schetky 42-45; Engel 15; Yudkin 248). The bonds between self and other that may have existed or might have formed are severely damaged if not lost completely. These manifestations of and adaptations to the trauma of childhood sexual abuse often result in obtrusive personality characteristics that inhibit social interaction and self-disclosure, consequently seriously restricting communication and the formation of intimate relationships.

Numerous studies have found that survivors have significantly higher levels of difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships than their nonabused counterparts (Ratican 33). "Because [survivors] perceive the entire external world as dangerous and overwhelming, they do not have the autonomy to move toward new objects, and determinedly avoid significant relationships" (Schultz 148). The insidiousness of many sexually abusive behaviors, added to the already covert and repressed nature of the problem, compounds the difficulty of gauging its depth and readily identifying the dynamics of the interplay between the psychology of the abused and his or her style and level of success in the communication process and intimate relationships.

Survivors generally have difficulty trusting others (Engel 15; Bass 36; Yudkin 247; Engel 11; Jehu 108-109; Engel 60; Ratican 34; Bass 191), and they tend to be secretive and evasive (Engel 15; Jehu 107-108,137,155; Bass 108; Ratican 35; Schultz 148; Schetky 47) and to withhold information (Engel 15). In both casual and sustained relationships, survivors tend to remain distant and aloof (Engel 15). They feel isolated and different from others (Engel 15; Jehu 107-108,137; Schultz 148). Survivors find it difficult to give or receive affection (Engel 15), and, what appears to be contradictory, they often oversexualize, putting an emphasis on the physical aspect of relationships (Jehu 133; Blume 216-217).

Many survivors help others to the point of not taking care of themselves (Engel 15), and they have difficulty communicating their desires, thoughts, and feelings to others (Engel 15; Bass 27; Bass 191; Yudkin 249; Ratican 35-36). Despite the possibility that survivors may be selfless "helpers," at the same time, they may have difficulty being empathic (Engel 15).

Many survivors have difficulty with (Engel 15) and feel victimized by authority. This type of relational conflict, as well as many other factors, may induce anger/rage outbursts and/or mood swings (Engel 16) in a surviving sexual child abuse victim.

"Sexual abuse causes children [and, subsequently, adults] to feel like `damaged goods' (Urquiza and Capra 108). They feel dirty, evil, and rotten," (Engel 12) worthy of no one's love and deserving of and expecting rejection (Engel 11). The survivor's self-esteem and self-image are likely to be distorted, causing further damage to relational functioning. Many have reported feeling ugly, worthless, and stupid. They see themselves as failures, losers, and they constantly sabotage their success in all areas of life (Engel 15). A tendency towards self-blame, shame, and self-denigration (Engel 12,15; Jehu 107-108; Schultz 146; Bradswhaw 48; Ratican 34) often manifests itself in survivors repeatedly becoming involved with destructive, abusive people (Engel 15; Jehu 137). Repeated failures in relationships spawn a cycle in which victims turn their anger (deserved by the perpetrator) towards themselves (Engel 11), heaping more fuel on the fires of their self-defeating anger.

Affected Sexual Intimacy

Abuse survivors' potential for enjoyable sexuality is twisted when the perpetrator robs them of their innocence - "introducing them to adult sexuality before they are capable of coping with it" (Engel 11). As children, they are prone to eroticization, causing them to act inappropriately sexual with their peers and adults (Schetky 41-45). This may carry over into sexual promiscuity in adolescence and adulthood. Sex can become "compulsive as a self-destructive behavior, a means of releasing anger, or a bargaining chip to obtain attention, money, or security (Ratican 34-35). As reported by Engel (15), other sexual maladies of which survivors may suffer are lack of sexual desire and/or enjoyment; sexual dysfunction (anorgasmic, impotent, premature ejaculation); attraction to illicit sexual activities; anger/disgust at public affection, sexuality, nudity or partial nudity; the tendency to be sexually manipulative; and addiction to sexual activities (including pornography).

Keystone Inhibitors of Communications and Intimacy

Engel (60) states that sexual abuse is probably the most emotionally loaded inhibitor to communications and the surrounding atmosphere of trust and equality that must exist for intimacy to occur. Amid the psychological aberrations of the survivor's world are two key concepts whose mixture acts as a formidable barrier to successful interpersonal communication and, therefore, intimacy. These bywords for the unconscious dysfunction of the survivor of sexual abuse are trust and secrecy.

The Violation of Trust

The building blocks of intimacy-giving and receiving, trusting and being trustworthy-are learned in childhood. If [a child] was abused, [his/her] natural trust was skewed by adults who misused [his/her] innocence. [They] grew up with confusing messages about the relationship between sex and love, trust, and betrayal (Bass 36,191).

If the abuser was a member of the child's family, a boundary was crossed and a significant bond of trust was broken. Ellen Ziskind, a Brookline, Massachusetts psychotherapist states that, "Without basic trust, you can't have good relationships, you have no self-esteem." (in Yudkin 247). Some experts assert that sexual victimization by teachers, therapists, and doctors, as well as that by fathers, grandfathers, and uncles, involves the same disastrous betrayal of trust as if the abuser were a member of the family (Yudkin 247).

"Survivors have trouble trusting others appropriately and generally have a poor sense of personal boundaries. They may trust too readily, setting themselves up for further abuse, or they may fear intimacy, hold others at arm's length, and become controlling in relationships. They may use hostility to protect themselves from expected rejection by rejecting others first. Survivors may suffer from a conflict between craving intimacy and dependency but needing to control and manipulate to feel safe in relationships" (Ratican 34).


_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65588 - 04/14/05 09:34 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Peaceful Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 23
Well THAT was encouraging!!!

What a heap of issues. Does the rest of the article have some degree of hope?


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#65589 - 04/14/05 06:42 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Peaceful,

To me, the existence of the article is encouraging-- it means people are SEEING what's happening, validating the experiences and feelings of these survivors, even when those experiences paint a disturbing picture-- and it validates me, and my experiences with him-- I can reconcile and accept some of his difficulties, and support him with a greater understanding.

When my boyfriend disclosed, I was so shaken by his grief and vulnerability, and so worried about doing the wrong thing next, that I went looking for answers and found these articles that read like a personal history. I mean, even now my first thought on reading that excerpt is "Who's been looking in my windows?" After so long with no answers-- well the answers you get here aren't easy by any means, but they are what they are. They are tools-- and when you put a tool in my hand, then I have hope.

SAR


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#65590 - 04/14/05 07:26 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
beautiful disaster
Quote:
Personally when I have spoke to my husband about it- I try to get him to realize that the experience he HAD when he was a small child was not related to what adults have consentually.
Stride says many of the same things I have to say. You can only speak this with your actions-- no amount of talking to him is going to get him to realize it-- it's something you get or you don't.

For me and my boyfriend, the most effective thing I could do to send the message that my desire for him did not equal abuse was to make his boundaries my top priority-- to back off when and where he needed me to, to make sure that he got the non-sexual loving touch he needed (this was the hardest part for me), and to "close the door" on some of my own expectations for our intimate life-- sometimes our "wish list" is the elephant in the room if you know what I mean.

Of course it is a lot easier to accept that knowing that my boyfriend does at least recognize that intimacy is a real emotional/self-esteem issue for me rather than a purely physical one-- something he didn't realize before, and again, no amount of talking could get him to understand.

Also in communicating with him, I've realized how much of what I've always perceived as rejection/unwillingness he intends to come across as an act of caring-- in not wanting to disappoint or take advantage, he tends to go overboard withdrawing from me-- however well it's meant, no woman wants to hear "Hi honey, I'm home... and by the way, I don't want to be intimate with you later this evening."-- so we have talked about why he does that and what he could do instead.

If any part of healing is truly a product of the journey itself, I believe it has to be this-- so many of the elements that make sexual intimacy possible are only picked up through healing-- without self-trust, self-esteem, communication skills, healthy boundaries, understanding emotions, etc., you can't even start to deal with any of the issues we're talking about. None of the conversations my boyfriend and I have about sex would have been possible 18 months ago. As partners, we have to trust that things are changing and progressing all the time, just out of our sight.

SAR


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#65591 - 04/14/05 11:52 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Peaceful
I'm glad you read that, and maybe read the full article as well. Even if it doesn't paint a very pretty picture.
And although I suspect that your comment was a bit tongue in cheek, it does raise some interesting questions.

It's not all doom and gloom though, no matter how many dysfunctional things we can pick out of articles such as that, and as SAR says "Who's been looking in my windows?" we also see hope.

That's just how it felt when I started reading everything I could about CSA and the problems we experience as adults, I wondered how they knew so much about me?
But slowly I began to realise that when I did recognise my problems in these learned peoples writings that I was not alone, and that my problems actually had a cause.
If there's a cause, and then an effect, then there's generally a way to reverse the process, or stall the 'cause'.
Whatever way we look at it, finding valididity for the cause - my abuse and upbrining - led me to find ways of halting the cycle that I was locked into, the very rapid cycle of being triggered by the cause and trying vainly to smother the triggering memories by using some king of crude and ineffective coping mechanism.

That process has worked for most of my problems, I don't act out sexually any more, don't even think about it now. My flashbacks and panic attacks have subsided to a state where they are easy to overcome and control. My only remaining problem is being intimate with my wife, and the same process WILL work for that as well.
The reason I still have the problem is that I've only just began to address it seriously, up until now the other problems were more important to me. I had to prioritise them because there was no way I could do it all at once, which is the point SAR makes here.

Quote:
If any part of healing is truly a product of the journey itself, I believe it has to be this-- so many of the elements that make sexual intimacy possible are only picked up through healing-- without self-trust, self-esteem, communication skills, healthy boundaries, understanding emotions, etc., you can't even start to deal with any of the issues we're talking about.
Part of the process of getting back to the 'cause' is aquiring the knowledge of the psychological process that my mind has used to arrive at the dysfunctional way I am, I can't change my thought process' without knowing 'why'.

Sometimes the knowledge is difficult, for many reasons. Most of it is written by psychologists for other psychologists, so we have to search hard for accessible knowledge. That article isn't the easiest to read in that respect though.
Also 'we' read this stuff, recognise something, and think "no way, that's just crazy stuff and I'm NOT crazy". So we deny the truth of what we read or hear, and believe me I did a lot of that. I once spent a whole session arguing with my therapist when he told me I had PTSD. I went away angry, and determined to prove him wrong so I read everything I could find on PTSD. The next session I apologised to him, he was right. But I had to prove it to myself and overcome my denial, I learned a valuable lesson from that.

So "yes, there is a great deal of hope" in that article. By reading things like that we're proving that there is hope, we would pass all this knowledge by if there was no hope.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65592 - 04/15/05 10:11 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Peaceful Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/02/05
Posts: 23
Originally posted by Lloydy:
If any part of healing is truly a product of the journey itself, I believe it has to be this-- so many of the elements that make sexual intimacy possible are only picked up through healing-- without self-trust, self-esteem, communication skills, healthy boundaries, understanding emotions, etc., you can't even start to deal with any of the issues we're talking about. [/QUOTE]

My comment was a bit tongue and cheek. GLad you didn't read more into it!

I'm reading this tread perhaps from a different perspective. I have just begun dealing with my own issues of CSA after my oldest son molested my youngest son which is why I came to this site.

I have read many articles too when I say "this describes me!". After so many years of minimizing my SA experiencen and it's effects i.e. "it wasn't such a big deal since it happened only once", I finally had to admit that it was the cause of my problems with sexuality.

Surprisingly, at least for me, I've had more problems the last ten years. Somewhere along the way, things took a turn for the worse, and perhaps it's a cumulative effect. Perhaps it's more relationship issues, but the sexual intimacy issues were there early on.

Here's the link in case there are other female survivors out there on THE EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE ONFEMALE SEXUALITY : A MODEL OFINTERVENTION.

http://www.aic.gov.au/conferences/rvc/marendaz.pdf

The de>

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#65593 - 04/16/05 12:18 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Peaceful
I must admit that I haven't looked deeply into CSA and its effects on adult women, I concentrate on male abuse.
But the little I have read about it shows many similarities, which I suppose is inevitable?

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65594 - 09/09/05 02:40 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Bump for the newbies....this is so helpful to so many!

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65595 - 06/23/06 08:39 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
I havent been on here in quite awhile. My husband is in therapy...and even on the board now.

I just wanted to add something very amazing to this thread that may shed some light.
His T said it is very common to find a man suffering M/W syndrome will have a mother that was molested herself thus being a very 'hands-off' type parent due to her own abuse.
Just thought that was pretty significant and wanted to add it to this thread.

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65596 - 06/24/06 12:44 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
I read this thread very shortly after I first joined but it was too overwhelming for me to wrap my brain around. Today, it still is. I guess that means I have to take some serious time and re-read it and absorb it. So much of it is too familiar and it frightens me.

ROCK ON....Trish

_________________________
If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

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#65597 - 06/28/06 09:01 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
What a surprise to see this topic resurface, and I've just read it all again and realised what a great one it is regarding the relationship between a survivor and partner.

And the latest post from BeautifulDisaster raises an interesting aspect that my friend, a non survivor, and I were talking about only yesterday. How our families influence our lives so much, and how little we realise it. Unless we're pushed into a position where we need to look back at what they did, and how they raised us.

Quote:
I just wanted to add something very amazing to this thread that may shed some light.
His T said it is very common to find a man suffering M/W syndrome will have a mother that was molested herself thus being a very 'hands-off' type parent due to her own abuse.
Just thought that was pretty significant and wanted to add it to this thread.
My mother has always been a very cold and distant woman, she loves me and has always cared and provided for me and my brother, but there's never been any outward display of affection or emotion that either of us can ever remember.

Currently I'm having to deal with all the many cousins and remaining relatives from my mothers side of the family while I sort out a family will that affects us all, and oh boy is this a good way to find out about the family!
My mother has always had a bitter streak in her, there's always been an underlying sense of resentment that I'm coming to recognise as 'something' that has a long history, probably way back to her childhood.

That's something she shares with one other older brother, now dead, and my suspicion based upon family gossip is that 'something' happened between them.

Whatever happened this pair, out of eight, became bitter and resentful for all their lives.
This frame of mind then affects the lives of those around them, especially the children.

Thankfully my uncle had no legitamate kids, but his poisonous influence has affected some of my cousins who he dealt with a lot.
My mothers influence on my brother and I is huge, but it's something we only recognise now as adults, and both of us have been in therapy - for different reasons.

This poem says it all, it's my life in three verses.

Dave

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65598 - 07/09/06 01:02 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
native Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/09/06
Posts: 1
Loc: Michigan
My gosh....sounds like my husband, his family ect. BUT I dont believe he highly esteems his mom. I think there's a lot of love/hate going on.But my problem w/ the whole situation is the hurt and resentment I feel towards him becuz of the sexuall relations we have. It seems the minute he fell in love w/ me his intamacy, sexuall techniques, lust for me, desire for me all waned out. It hurts soooooooo bad and our sex is virtually boring. He even has a hard time kissing me during sexuall relations. What I need to know is how to handle this. I have came rite out and told him, IM NOT YOUR MOM!!! I'm your wife. This has emotionally damaged me. I am trying to be understanding...but as selfish as it sounds, what about me? Am I just to die inside?

_________________________
If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

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#65599 - 07/10/06 06:49 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
Native,

First, my guy and I are no longer together, and over the past several months I have worked hard to return my focus to where it belongs & can do some good: To myself, my own stuff, and developing/maintaining peace of mind. Meanwhile, my ex is back into cocaine, partying, and (as far as I can gather) one night stands with women he meets on the road (he's on tour with a very well known rock band).

From the few exchanges I've had with him over the past few months (generally I've been incommunicado and have refused to reply to the occasional emails/calls I get from him) it has become crystal clear that he is not looking at his own behaviour, learning from his mistakes or growing at all. In fact, even a couple of his longtime friends have observed that he seems boastful, arrogant and "quite full of himself" these days, telling everyone how great his life is now and how happy he is.

What they don't see is the stuff I have, even since we've split: the emails sent at 5 a.m. about his anxiety attacks, nightmares, depression, and sense of feeling totally disconnected from his feelings for others. I saw his Mom in May and she told me she is so happy to see him happy and "doing so well" these days. Denial, denial, DENIAL, all around. Sometimes it all leaves me wanting to just scream, but that's for me to work through.

All of this has finally and irrevocably brought the reality of my own previous state of denial into sharp focus. I am at last in that place where I realize how utterly destructive and futile it is to invest in a relationship with someone who is not seriously working at recovery. In the past all it would take would be a (usually drunken) confession from him about his recognition of his own inner hell to rekindle my hopes that he may be on the verge of committing to doing something about his issues and addictions. But no, within a few hours he invariably reverts right back to the same old same old.

You know, I "told" Brant that I wasn't his Mom (nor his Dad, when it came to our sex life) several times myself, expressed my needs, verbally asserted boundaries, etc. But my actions spoke otherwise. My actions said "no matter what I say or you do, I'll still be loving you and here for you."

Even in bed I had long ago become so fearful of triggering him in any way that I'd just always be game whenever he showed any interest, ever hopeful that it would be better "this time." I was very fearful that if I tried to get more of my own psycho-emotional/sexual needs met there it would only create greater distance between us, a greater sense of inadequacy or disinterest in him, generate conflict, or whatever--much of which I'd learned to expect through my experiences with him whenever I had tried anything in that area. Still, I was so desperately longing to "regain"/have that kind of connection with him (it had been great in the very beginning)--felt so lonely and sexually neglected/abandoned/rejected/confused/unfulfilled/you name it--and my self-esteem/self-image plummeted steadily. And yeh,when we did have sex it was generally very predictable, boring, and much of the time felt emotionally vacant before it was through. It was heartbreaking, but I didn't want to give up hope and tried to be as understanding, patient and supportive as I knew how, given his (unaddressed) years of CSA. For a while there I even tried to resign myself to the possibility that I may NEVER have anything even remotely close to the kind of sexual connection that I needed and wanted with him (face-to-face would have been a welcome start), but I "loved" him so much I even tried to convince myself that a lifetime of sexual loneliness and heartache wouldn't be so bad.

Every once in a while I'd "hit the wall" and just give up. Besides, there were so many other issues, none of which were being addressed (though he did quit using cocaine for about 16 months). Hell, I've lost count of how many times I left him and said that was "it" for me, that I was through with him. For me it was kinda like quitting smoking, I had to "quit" him many times before I finally broke free of my own addiction to him and to the dream of "what could be." I still get the odd craving for him at times, but nothing like I did before.

I'll tell you one thing, returning to this forum today (which I did after being PM'd by someone here), reading some of the posts, etc, has been so reaffirming for me. My heart goes out to you all, survivors and partners alike, and if Brant had been working on his stuff, I'd still be at his side today, impersonal/"boring" sex for the time being or no. But without a JOINT commitment to the recovery/growth process, there just wasn't anything to stick around for and I finally got that.

If anything, what still bothers me at times is my feeling that he no longer values or respects me at all--that through treating myself with such little respect during the course of our relationship (and enabling him in countless ways besides), he seems to feel no loss about us at all. Why that would still matter to me is a question worth exploring in itself, but either way, he doesn't value or respect himself, so how could he possibly truly value or appreciate someone else, other than beyond valuing them for whatever need/desire they might be able to fill *for him* in the moment?

If your husband is tangibly and actively working on things with you, great. If he shows REAL commitment to working his own recovery, to you and to your relationship, great. But either way, what I really get now is that the most appropriate relationship for me to ever work on, above all others, is the one I have with *myself.* And staying in relationships that aren't working with people who may talk about working on them, but don't actually do so in measurable, consistent, and conscientious ways is not just a drain, it's a sewer.

I can do nothing about Brant and/or his family/friends/lifestyle/self-delusions and public masks of happiness. However, I can tell you this: Working on myself and pursuing a life that works *for me* has been far more rewarding than I could possibly have imagined before. Yes, I sleep alone now (by choice), but my bed has become a restful, comfortable and welcome sanctuary for me instead of the lonely, fraught-ridden, self-annihilating place it used to be. Not only that, but there is now room in it for someone new--someone capable of real intimacy--should I meet someone I might choose to share that kind of connection with.

Ditto for my life in general. I've had more fun and positive, enriching experiences in the first few weeks of this summer already than I had in all the 4 summers that I was with Brant combined. I have peace of mind in my home, peace of mind in my relationships with the friends I see now, with my family, my neighbours and my coworkers. I still have my own weaknesses and problems to work out--and am doing so--but I don't feel so messed up anymore (in fact, I am generally feeling pretty good about where I'm at these days). No doubt this is because I'm not spending my life trying to do someone else's work for them, or to inspire them to do that for themselves, nor is my own happiness and life on hold anymore, waiting for someone else to change so that I can be happy:
I mean, how insane is that?

Native, I don't know your story and I'm not advocating that you leave your husband. I'm only sharing where I'm at now and encouraging you, with or without him, to love yourself *first.* My life matters, my needs (sexual and otherwise)matter, my feelings and sense of self matter, and today I treat my life as if it matters RIGHT NOW.

Perhaps that's the biggest change for me thus far, since before I was effectively putting my own needs and happiness on indefinite hold, making such things dependent upon what someone else was or wasn't doing, and hoping that "some day" they'd "get it" and I'd/we'd be happy at last. In my case, it was as much me that needed to "get it" as it was him. I just didn't want to face what I knew inside all along. It was painful--still can be at times--and it has taken a tremendous about of determination and work just to get to where I am right now, but it's certainly been well worth it.

You know, I ran into Brant and a friend of his on the ferry a couple of weeks ago. It was quite an interesting--and affirming--experience for me. We had a polite, friendly, casual chat, but for once I was able to be both engaged in the interaction and at the same time observe it all as if from a "fly on the wall" viewpoint. I realized that he is still the best looking man I know in my eyes, and I was aware of what I'm sure was a mutually felt chemistry/attraction, yet that didn't throw me off balance or leave me feeling any desire to try to rekindle some kind of connection with him. 4 1/2 years of heartache, insanity, loneliness, chaos and painful reality checks have finally out-muscled any romantic fantasies/impulses I may still have about him. "Been there, done that." Life's too short.

Anyway, that's where I'm at now. Hopefully the relationship I had with Brant was very different (overall) from the one you have with your husband. Perhaps if Brant was not also active in his coke and alcohol addictions things would have turned out differently with us, I don't know. It still would have required that we both were actively committed to addressing our respective issues and personal growth, as well as *JOINTLY* committed to making our relationship (including our sex life) work and work FOR BOTH OF US. However, he is where he is. He does what he does. And I have chosen to take a different path.

Hopeful thoughts for your happiness and all the best to you,

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65600 - 07/11/06 09:51 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
TRACYUK Offline
Member

Registered: 09/23/05
Posts: 178
Hi guys

I've not been around for a while and lo and behold a gem of a thread.

Whilst my partner and I have made huge strides in healing and the dynamics of our lives together, our lovelife is almost laughably dificult. For the period of time that wraps around our lovemamkng theres a huge degree of fragility surrounding feelings of safety, desire etc etc..

Its good to hear that others are exersing such a degree of patience and tolerance with this. Thanks for your openness with this topic people.

I shuffle between moments of insecurity when I doubt the strength of our relationship because we don't have a decent sex life and then persuading myself that because we are so OK with the cuddles, hand holding and general physical closeness that the actual sex doesn't matter!!

It is certaintly a hard one and we go through periods of trying very hard to improve it and then we remember its meant to be fun!!

Once or twice we've talked and talked and been really close and then felt turned on. It was a gorgeous glimpse into what real lovemaking could be like.

A pyscosexual T has been a little but not much help.
As my partner says, the wiring is all wrong, sex fear and shame... bound together very tightly and a bugger to undo.

T


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#65601 - 07/12/06 12:47 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
weepywife Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/22/06
Posts: 57
My husband acts fine on the surface. 99% of the time he has no outward signs of being sexually abused. We have a great relationship......except sex. He wishes that I would chose to ignore the whole issue of him being sexually abused. If I bring up the issue he becomes sad and distant. He won't talk and won't go to therapy. I'm torn. I want things to get better and I don't want to ignore the problem....yet anytime I bring up kissing, holding hands, and god forbid...sex....he "clams" up. I don't know what to do. If I leave him alone he is generally happy and fun (at least on the outside) Do I keep bringing this issue up? Every time I bring it up I know he feels like he isn't good enough for me. If I tell him that I am not satisfied he feels guilty and thinks I would be better off with out him. Does anyone have any suggestions? Should I leave him be and naver get any intimacy? Should I keep pushing and make him feel sad? Any help would be appreciated.


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#65602 - 07/12/06 05:50 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Stride

I hope you keep coming around here when you feel okay with it and contributing to the conversations. You have a lot of wisdom and compassion to bring with you.

Even if your ex wants to deny that there was any value in the time/relationship that you shared, it's clear to me that you've taken away some very valuable gifts to yourself.

SAR


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