I’ve always been fascinated by romantic relationships. The earliest memory I have as it pertains to romance is watching a high school couple make out on a family sitcom when I was around six years-old. I was pulled in to the screen. It wasn’t particularly about the suspense of what follows steamy lip-locking…I was just very interested in what brings two people together to form a unit. I imagined being older and having a boyfriend to make out with.

In eighth grade I sat behind two dad chaperones during a busride on a school field trip. They were talking about their wives, joking that their old ladies drove them nuts and it must be because they both had the same first name. I took the light-hearted conversation as an opportunity to chime in and ask, “Do you look at your wives the same way you did when you first got married?” They both answered, “Yes!” and “Absolutely!” unequivocally. It gave me hope. Maybe one day I’d have a man who’d have unwavering love for me. While my classmates occupied themselves with iPods, movies, and magazines, I analyzed their parents’ marriages.

In high school I talked to my journalism teacher Mrs. Sargento* about marriage too. I told her whenever I was married I wanted to always look good for my husband. She laughed in my face. “It’s not realistic,” she told me. “You’ll drive yourself crazy with that mindset.” She divulged a lot of information, like she met her husband at a night club when she was 21, they bonded over fitness, and the night he proposed she was in bed with a cold.

One day she shared with me a pre-marital picture of them on Halloween. She was dressed as a genie and she looked smoking hot. She was super fit and blonde. I wondered how Mr. Sargento felt about the change in her looks since his wife gave birth to their only child. My teacher stopped bleaching her hair and had gained and kept on a considerable amount of weight. I was very intrigued by what her home life was like. At the end of the school year I heard a rumor that her husband was having an affair. I believe they’re divorced now.

Learning the facts of my teacher’s situation made me leery of marriage and opened my eyes to the precariousness of romantic unions. It compounded the list of things that influenced my view on sex and relationships. I really enjoyed getting firsthand accounts of real-life adult relationships. Years later I’m able to reflect back and see parallels in the conversations I now have at work with my customers. I still have that same curiosity.

My hyper-sexuality combined with my insatiable enchantment with love has led me to have a range of experiences and is what inspires me to write. I’ve gotten into relationships for the wrong reasons, settled for the wrong partners, stumbled down an unconventional career path, and probably made countless other subconscious decisions as a result.

It didn’t occur to me until earlier this year that there’s a name for people like me: love and sex addicts. Love and sex addicts are people with intimacy disorders. The effects of intimacy disorders span from impulsive behavior to uncomfortable anxiety around dating. On the scale of severity I’d say I’m on the lower end. I’m not running around seeking sex, but I am preoccupied with illusions of what my ideal relationship looks like. I tend to put too much emphasis on sex when I’m involved with someone.

I’m still working out what all this means for me personally and where it stems from. I’m moving forward by reading a lot about “healthy sex acts”, which are everyday acts outside of actual sex that help build positive behaviors in both platonic and romantic relationships. Writing about dating, love, and sex is cathartic as well. I know there’s a future for me that includes a normal, healthy relationship and I look forward to applying to it everything I’m learning along my journey.

*name’s been changed

Blogger: Ashleigh Grey

Blog: mindbodysex.com

IG: @4Ashleigh