Do you find that you often choose the wrong person? Have you ignored or rationalized warning signs that suggest a particular relationship would not meet your needs? Do you pursue partners despite their not meeting your standards or sharing core values? Are you a people-pleaser, trying to get into the good graces of others so that they will treat you well or at least not cause you harm? Do you feel unsafe or mistrusting in your relationship, but cling to it because of fear of being alone? These are some indicators of love, romance, or relationship addiction.
There are many reasons why people allow themselves to remain in relationships where they feel unseen, unappreciated, misunderstood, criticized and/or devalued: fear of abandonment; fear of rejection; or even fear of actually getting what is wanted. Love and loyalty, criticism and support, are all aspects of a healthy relationship. But most love addicts are not familiar with healthy relationships because they did not grow up in sufficiently healthy families (often due to parents being alcoholics or otherwise self-centered and unavailable).
It is common for love addicts to be given the message that their parents need them but that they never do it right. This makes for adults who have low self esteem, feel they don’t deserve to be loved, or need confirmation that they are lovable by seeking one relationship after another. Relationships that are the product of love addiction are often without real intimacy or trust. Love addicts learn to not allow themselves to be honest about their flaws because they cannot allow themselves to be vulnerable to another person.
Love addicts do whatever they can to prevent themselves from being abandoned or “suffocated.” They have a tendency to have fantasy beliefs of perfect lovers, to think in a black or white manner, to focus on the future and miss out on the present, and to turn ordinary events into dramas. Once sure of the attachment of a partner, a love addict may experience boredom and begin to seek validation from a new partner.
Just as love addicts fear being alone, they paradoxically have exaggerated fears of being in any relationship which requires commitment and loyalty. They are plagued by jealousy and an inability to express needs. These are people who settle for a high level of dissatisfaction, dishonesty, poor communication and weak boundaries. They often don’t know themselves and may over-function, telling themselves “it’s fine,” while building unconscious resentment.
Fortunately, recovery is possible. However, recovery requires that the addict acknowledge that his or her feelings and behaviors have played a significant role in the couple’s problems. It also requires a willingness to change.
If you, a partner, or a family member are struggling with difficult relationships, love addiction, lack of trust and vulnerability, please contact me to discuss an appropriate path to recovery.
To see books I recommend on love addiction please go here.