I began reading the article Ashley Madison Turns Loneliness into a Cash Cow and I had good expectations when I read the first few lines... but then the author and her wild assumptions completely lost me. She seems to have an outdated understanding of love, desire, and relationships. I agree with her sadness about people seeking out connection secretly and outside of their relationship. Unfortunately, she does a poor job at supporting her ideas and then runs amok with outdated assumptions.
Yes, love is not a mystery. Yes, therapists and counselors can help couples ignite their passion and desire toward each other. But no, love of others is not our greatest resource. Your greatest resource is love for yourself. We do not HAVE to have love of others in order to be successful at our life goals. It is nice to have love, it is important to be connected, but we can survive by loving our self and caring for our own needs. In fact, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, sex is at the bottom, the most important, and love is further up in the hierarchy.
The author continues on with stating that ALL evidence shows that humans are hard-wired to mate with one partner. Humans are socially wired to mate with one partner, not biologically wired. All over the world there are couples that seek out connection, sex, and intimacy with more than one partner. Dossie and Janet, the authors of the book Ethical Slut, do a wonderful job writing about being in relationships with more than one partner. The book Sex at Dawn by Ryan and Jethá, highlights historical and current communities that do not subscribe to the social norm of being with only one mate. This is not about advocating for open relationships, polyamory, or alternative life-styles. It is about clearly highlighting that we are not biologically hard wired; we are socially hard wired.
Jack Morin, in his book The Erotic Mind, speaks about the need for space in order to create erotic desire. “After all, passion is all about erotic play and we play best when we feel safe and connected to others (Ashley Madison Turns Loneliness into a Cash Cow).” Jack Morin and Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity would take issue with the above statement. Passion is ignited when there is emotional or physical space between the partners, and passion dies when partners over identify or are enmeshed. Morin labeled this experience, “the desire of longing and anticipation.” Perhaps for some, the best erotic play happens when they feel loved and connected. But, what about the couples who have passionate makeup sex after a fight? Where would they fit in?
Again, I take issue with the statements Dr. Sue Johnson so blatantly throws out there and the very clear research bias that she has. The flaw she makes is that sex and connection must always be one. As she clearly says “...research studies say that if we emotionally shut down and separate sex from our emotional life, we end up actually enjoying sex less!” Many sexually active people would disagree with this. Often, people will be concerned about their “emotionless” sex because of their irrational belief that everyone’s sexual experience MUST be the same and the ONLY way to enjoy “true” sex is if you are in-love. And for that, I would suggest the book Sex without Guilt in the 21st Century by Albert Ellis.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, MHC-LP, CASAC is a psychotherapist in New York City where she practices individual therapy, couples counseling, and sex counseling. You can contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC