OBSESSIVE LOVE & DEPENDENCY IN RELATIONSHIPS
Love Addiction (some call it relationship addiction) is a compulsive, detrimental dependency in relationships that negatively affects both the love addict and love avoidant – denial, fantasy and impaired expectations fuel love addiction. These relationships are played out by toxic patterns, push-pull, love-hate dynamics; and drama/intensity. By definition, an addiction or dependence is a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific behavior or activity, despite harmful consequences to the individuals health, mental state, or social life. People fall into many categories of addictions (alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, etc.) — love addiction is one of the categories- and is a big one!
Most people know about addictions to substance’s like alcohol and drugs, but not many people understand that love addiction is just as real and just as destructive– and often more painful, as other addictions. Because this addiction is not well known, it often goes untreated for a long time.
In the addiction to so called “love”, there lays a toxic, obsessive, and unhealthy dependency to another person.
A Love Addict becomes overly dependent and reliant to any person- a friend, parent, acquaintance, coworker, child, celebrities- just so long as the person/ object helps to provide an emotional escape from reality– just as a alcohol, cocaine, or any other addiction would for an addict. Most commonly- love addiction occurs in interpersonal or romantic love relationships.
The dysfunctional dependency to a person results in unhealthy behavior’s, compulsion’s, and obsessions. If a love addict had any sense of purpose and self worth before becoming ‘hooked’, it dissolves once his or her obsession kicks in (the object- drug of choice) — which allows the love addict to feel alive; gain a sense of purpose; gain a sense of value; and help to increase a sense of self worth.
Like a heroin addict, love addicts abandon themselves as all their energy becomes preoccupied on their drug of choice; a fabricated love relationship.
Dispelling the falsehood that one actually becomes addicted to love, the truth is love addiction is not an addiction to real love. While a love addict may look as if they are pursuing real love, they are in fact running away from real intimacy. To the love-addicted, this truth can be quite astonishing. Why is this?
Because a love addict often feels there is love actually happening in an addictive relationship– it appears (or feel) to have some level of intimacy, but in fact addictive relationships have very little, if any, love and intimacy going on. Real love is never addictive; and addiction is never love.
Love addiction is a compulsive, obsessive, and dysfunctional dependency to a person in a relationship.
The addiction to love is in reality an addiction to a fantasy of another person in the relationship. The fantasy feeds the obsession and powerful denial of the other person- and creating the illusion of true love, intimacy, and closeness. Healthy love in relationships has characteristic’s of genuine intimacy (emotional and physical), honesty, flexibility, trust, respect, safety, and authentic commitment- just to name a few.
In all addictions, there are warning signs- and all addicts deny these warning signs. In their addiction, love addicts ignore and deny warning signs of their partner, (Love Avoidant , who is also unhealthy) in order to keep up the addictive pleasure-inducing rewards (pleasure inducing rewards are brought about by the reward center of the brain that enhances certain brain chemicals, such as dopamine and endorphin).
The romantic “high” when a relationship begins, is created by the love addicts delusion and fabrication they “make up” about who their partner is and ignore who their partner really is– this is what they become addicted to- their drug of choice. In the love addicts delusion of love- their partner or potential partner becomes- “too good to be true”- their “Prince or Princess”- “the one I always dreamed about”- “soul mates”- “magical”- “perfect”. In their deep infatuation, the love addict never notices who their partner truly is.
Love addiction is an addiction to a pseudo love / false love — in essence, an addiction is to a FANTASY. YES IT’S TRUE.
A Love addict idealizes their relationship partner and places them high up on a pedestal- believing they have the power to fulfill their intense desire for love and acceptance. They fantasize about how the relationship is, how it will be, and how it can be. They believe they are in love, when in fact; they are in “hooked” on a fantasy. Preoccupation, obsession, and infatuation in an addictive relationship become the love addicts identity, their sole purpose in life–, and eventually their demise.
When we look at the nature of other addictions, it is easy to realize a a parallel pattern in relation to love addiction. For example, the following pattern generally fits all Addiction/Dependency Patterns:
Altered State of Reality:
Addiction used as an emotional escape; feel alive; Creates an altered state- fantasy, high, euphoria, and relief
Diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of behavior, activity, love/attention (person in relationship), substance/drug, etc.; Increased use of dependency/addiction to keep or recapture euphoria, intoxication or desired positive effect
Preoccupation; Pursuing Behavior:
A great deal of focus and time acquired to attain/keep hold of- behavior, activity, love/attention (person in relationship), substance/drug, etc
Interests, goals, important social, recreational, or outside activities are diminished, ignored, or stopped completely
The addiction is continued despite ongoing persistent problems from behavior, activity, love/attention (person in relationship), substance/drug, etc- inability to stop acting out (i.e., letting go of unhealthy/bad relationship)
Despair: Physical and/or Psychological withdrawal symptoms occurs when addiction is stopped suddenly; or when addiction is no longer available (i.e., obsession, fear, panic, anxiety, depression, etc.)
Some people are surprised to hear that people can in fact become painfully addicted to a person in relationships in the same way they become addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other compulsive behavior’s.
The truth is Love Addiction is recognized and treated as a serious addiction that causes undue turmoil, confusion, emotional pain, and chaos in life and relationships. What makes love addiction so pervasive is that far too many people do not even recognize the obsessive toxic symptoms of love addiction as dysfunctional. And if they do, too often there is nowhere to turn for exceptional help, answers, and support.
In society, we get bombarded (through media, commercials, magazines, movies, music, etc.) with toxic messages of what love, relationships and intimacy are suppose to look like– deceiving too many of us with the sick message that the obsessive nature of love addiction is somehow normal. When so many of us have bought into these destructive messages, it unfortunately fuels the false hope that another person will make one feel complete and fill an inner void.
Although we have been socialized to think of these obsessions as love, the compelling allure of obsessive attraction lacks real love and the quality of true caring. Those at high risk for relationship addiction include recovering alcoholics/addicts who use relationships as a form of substitution, and/or individuals who grows up in alcoholic/dysfunctional family systems.
As human beings, we all need relationships. We all need to feel love; and to be loved. Nevertheless, when we rely or “need” someone in a relationship solely to feel alive, gain acceptance, a sense of self worth and validation— this creates a powerful dependency/addiction leading to ongoing negative consequences; eventually painful relationships, a destroyed sense of self and unhappiness in life.
If you are dealing with an addictive love relationship – do you ever ask yourself:
“Do I want to continue relationships in love addiction for years to come, or do I truly want to learn a new way of loving; a way of loving that works, that is healthy, real, and authentic, brings me fulfillment and allows me to be me”? Knowing if you do not do something different; that if you do not start making healthy choices as an adult to better take care of yourself- “this unfulfilled path I’ve been walking will continue on and on and on and on!”
The behavioral and emotional patterns of love addiction are emotionally ingrained — you cannot will it away, wish it away; but you do have the power to make positive changes by what choices you make from today onward. As an adult, you have ownership of every choice you make and you are in charge of your power for change, healing, and recovery. Anyone who truly wants it, can overcome and break these toxic patterns!
Which way do you want to go?
Love addiction is real- to make a solid break from it involves real experienced help and support to heal, recover and gain the power to change the way you love in relationships (and the way you love yourself). The goal of treatment is to help you understand the thinking, feeling, and behavior’s which has caused your love addiction, patterns and to learn how to develop satisfying, loving and healthy relationships in the future.
Continue reading about Love Addiction:
Love Addicts Anonymous http://www.loveaddicts.org/
Codependents Anonymous http://www.coda.org/
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous http://www.slaafws.org/