Are You Addicted to Love?
People develop addictions to protect themselves from painful and unbearable emotions (anxiety, complexes, insecurity, etc.) By doing this, they avoid contacting their suffering and their pain, and use addiction as their escape route.
Addictions always come with harmful consequences, especially in the beginning phases (although they’re often overlooked).
When a person realizes they have an addiction, they might confront it or ask for help, be it from a family or a professional, although many people remain in denial about their problem.
Love addicts, just like substance or habit addicts, spend a lot of time putting effort into the person they’re addicted to. They value their love for the other person more than themselves, and the focus on their loved one is obsessive.
This behavior causes the person to neglect themselves in different ways, like abandoning important aspects of their lives that link them to other values and activities.
Love addiction doesn’t only take the form of romantic or sexual relationships. It’s possible that a person could be addicted to loving their children, friends, sponsors, leaders or religious figures, and even people they’ve never met, like celebrities.
The powerhouse of a love addict’s fantasy is the expectation that someone else will solve their problems, have positive and unconditional consideration for them at all times, and take care of them. By this, I mean the person expects to be their partner’s center of attention. When this unrealistic need isn’t met, the addict might feel resentful, and create problems in other relationships.
When a love addict is in a relationship, they’re far too engaged in it, to the point of constantly neglecting themselves.
Background check: childhood
Generally, people that become addicted to love are suffering the aftermath of being neglected by their primary caretakers. It’s likely that their need to be valued, loved, and have a relationship relationship with one or both parents, was not fulfilled when they were younger.
This can dramatically affect self-esteem during adulthood. It results in a fear of abandonment and an underlying subconscious fear of intimacy. For a love addict, the intensity of a relationship is often confused with intimacy.
How to recover
As with any addiction, recovery from love addiction involves a process of self-discovery.
The adoption of specific methods is required: breaking through your state of denial and recognizing the addiction; owning up to the harmful consequences of the addiction; and intervening to break the addictive cycle.
Ultimately, love addicts must go through the grieving process to treat the underlying emotional pain that is at the center of the addiction they’re trying to break free from. This means, for example, they might have to explore the experiences of their childhood that caused their addiction to love.
Unlike substance addictions (such as alcohol, cocaine or tobacco) love addictions are particularly difficult because, in truth, we need love to be happy and healthy human beings.
To recover, a love addict must learn the healthy way to give and receive love. Once they learn this, they will be able to fulfill their needs for intimacy without falling into obsessive conduct.
The relationship world isn’t always black and white. So, how can you know if you’re acting like an addict in your relationship or not?
Sobriety is defined by a person’s behavior — the cessation of the addictive conduct — in this case, related to love, day after day, through a series of strategies and resources that can help. For example, making a list of personal, addictive behaviors and activities that they should be ready to confront.
But sobriety may mean something completely different to you. Its definition is personal, based on how the love addiction has affected you. Take the time to define the behaviors and attitudes that put you at risk. When do you starting losing touch with yourself? In what situations are you willing to abandon yourself?
That being said, sobriety, to me, means:
- I attend to my thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
- I pay attention to what I need and want.
- I take care of myself.
- I define and enforce healthy limits.
- I’m in touch with what’s going on at the moment, including my feelings for him/her.
- I accept responsibility for my own happiness, safety, and other needs (which means I also know when to ask for help).
- I recognize and celebrate my strengths, while staying humble in my weaknesses.
- I make reality my own, whether I like it or not.
- I do the aforementioned from a place of love and respect.
If you have a day when your sobriety feels threatened, you can:
- Read something inspirational
- Eat something healthy
- Do yoga
- Go out on the town
Addictions are the activities through which we abandon ourselves. One of the key characteristics of sobriety is getting back in touch with our inner being.