I Didn’t Know
It was true 30 years ago and it’s still true today. The first time I was told, “Your badge will get you sex (he used the “p” word), and sex will get your badge,” was in the police academy. I kinda smiled because honestly, I didn’t have a clue what the sergeant meant.
I wasn’t naïve, but it was a new world, and assimilating into the cop culture exerted constant pressure to fit in. It’s tough to go against the flow with an all-for-one fraternity.
After decades on the job, I was curious to understand the powerful allure, and how it transformed everyone from high school dropouts to college grads to military crossovers into a blue sea of homogeneity.
The doctoral research for my PhD was based on the organizational culture of law enforcement. Because I spent 12 years working undercover and 16 years in SWAT, I focused on the SOG subcultures, but used the entirety of policing as a baseline for comparison.
I discovered that occupational socialization (fitting in) is equal to desires of promotion, assignment and pay. If we give it an honest consideration, there are examples of times we hung out to late, listened to the same old war stories, drank ten too many, or tried something dumb just to kick it with the crew.
What does this have to do with sex addictions and policing? First off, most cops scoff at the idea that they may have addictive tendencies, although activities such as binge drinking, prescription drugs and sex outside of marriage is a common part of the culture.
Physical sex is a powerful, but very temporary antidote for sadness, powerlessness, loneliness, disappointment and so many other emotions that fall off center. Sex releases chemical responses in the body that serve as soothers to medicate personal pains.
Endorphins give you a sense of euphoria. Oxytocin sensitizes nerves so you feel a closeness to an anonymous lover. Finally, prolactin detaches your obsession with sexual preoccupation. If after your illicit romp, your mind begins to race with what you’ve got to get done that day, then that is the effect of prolactin.
Sounds great right? It’s only a temporary fix that soon gets overwhelmed by the persistent problems that drove you into the bedroom in the first place.
Officers, whether married or not, who seek out sexual partners to satisfy feelings beyond a carnal, sexual desire will experience an intense physical response during sex, but an immediate regret, guilt or oath-making to stop acting out.
This is part of the binge-purge cycle. Most who say they’ll stop engaging in illicit sex because the risk gets too high or have been burned by the consequences will indeed stop for a period of time. But, because they’ve established an imprint for sex in medicating their respective pain, they return to sex.
This is where the reality of addiction grabs you by the kahunas. The usual reasons for stopping the acting out is if you’re found out by a spouse or fiancée, there is the potential for administrative action through the agency, unintentional pregnancy, or a severe crisis of conviction.
But guess what?
You might have the will to stop but you don’t have the way. Why? Because you’re acting out is not about romance or exercising your sexual prowess. There’s a deeper, darker prompting that demands you medicate it with something. Your “drug” of choice is flesh.
Willing to Test It?
I know the responses. I went through the same stuff. We want to think of sex addiction as the trench-coat perv offering candy, but the reality is, physical sexual addiction is common among regular people of both genders. I work with Brothers struggling to overcome this curse. The harder they try to untangle the mess, the more ensnared they become.
Lies, denials, hiding, and buddy alibis only lead you deeper down the path of desperation. Denying it to yourself is one of the biggest indicators that you have an issue. So if you’re sure you’re not in an addictive cycle, then total commitment through transparency is on the opposite, positive side of it. There should be no problem doing the following if you’re married or in a committed relationship.
- Delete all contact information of the person you are currently sexting/communicating with, whether you’ve had sex with them yet or not.
- Share your phone’s password/screen unlock code with your spouse.
- Provide a form with all of your personal computer usernames and passwords for email accounts and social media profiles to your spouse.
- Take this free and confidential sexual addiction survey.
- Have a full panel STD test taken. If you are infected, then total disclosure to your spouse.
I know, that last one stung. It sort of takes the macho allure off of sleeping around, doesn’t it? But if you’re not in an addictive pattern, and illicit, consensual sex is not your way of coating the personal pain you may be fighting, then none of these challenges should be an issue.
Now, if you are, then you and your spouse deserve to know if y’all are at physical risk from disease. Even if you’re single, you still need to know why you are acting out sexually and whether your health has been compromised.
My research shows the culture of law enforcement esteems itself as society’s moral entrepreneur. It’s our duty to make things right. Often, the conflict of making things right for others, while doing wrong for ourselves causes an increase in the conflict you may be medicating. If that’s the case, then give yourself a break. You don’t have to save the world.
I’ll share with you a lesson I learned during my years promoting from a parish patrol deputy to a city chief of police. You don’t always have to fit in with the crowd to succeed on the job.