Many love relationships depicted in the media are really love addicted relationships.
A person first learns how to love and what to expect in romantic relationships through experiencing and observing love as children. If parents exhibit indifference and avoidance, children grow up unconsciously expecting to experience, on some level, the same from those they love in adulthood. The brain leaves childhood with a rough draft for how it expects love to proceed– comforting and loving or guarded and emotionally unavailable or some variation of these poles– and it creates shortcuts by filling in the blanks to repeat this love scenario in adult relationships.
If early in life loving one or both of your caretakers left you feeling rejected, dismissed or undervalued, then these are the feelings you will implicitly call up when you experience love in your adult relationships and you will likely be drawn to people who treat you similarly. In some cases, love addiction can be a dysfunctional way to offset some of the losses one experienced at the hands of caretakers in childhood. Even though a person may partner with an unhealthy prospect, this relationship may seem to offer a chance to triumph over past hurt.
Signs and Characteristics of Love Addiction:
- Lack of nurturing and attention when young
- Feeling isolated, detached from parents and family
- Compartmentalization of relationships from other areas of life
- Outer facade of “having it all together” to hide internal disintegration
- Mistake intensity for intimacy (drama driven relationships)
- Hidden Pain
- Seek to avoid rejection and abandonment at any cost
- Afraid to trust anyone in a relationship
- Inner rage over lack of nurturing, early abandonment
- Highly manipulative and controlling of others
- Perceive attraction, attachment, and sex as basic human needs, on a par with food and water
- Sense of worthlessness without a relationship or partner
- Feelings that a relationship makes one whole, or more of a man or woman
- Escalating tolerance for high-risk behavior
- Intense need to control self, others, circumstances
- Presence of other addictive or compulsive problems
- Insatiable appetite in area of difficulty (sex, love or attachment / need.)
- Using others, sex & relationships to alter mood or relieve emotional pain
- Continual questioning of values and lifestyle
- Driven, desperate, frantic personality
- Confusion of sexual attraction with love (“Love” at first sight.)
- Tendency to trade sexual activity for “love” or attachment
- Existence of a secret “double life”
- Refusal to acknowledge existence of problem
- Defining out-of-control behavior as normal
- Defining “wants” as “needs”
- Tendency to leave one relationship for another. (Inability to be without a relationship.)
Attempts to replace lost relationships with a new one immediately
A love addict has a fear of change. They will attach themselves to another person as to obtain that person’s identity for themselves. Having a very low self-esteem and lacking self-identity.
. Unrealistic hopes and dreams tend to shatter their relationships quickly and because of this pattern of disappointment, fear and dependency are resident emotions. As soon as possible after a breakup, the addict will find another partner to avoid self-dependence; or they may dwell in the remains of a lost relationship even to the point of stalking the person that left. Instead of honesty and self-integrity, the addict is destructive to a loving partnership.
Psychological imbalances and childhood problems that are magnified to a point of self-destruction need professional counseling. It is necessary to free the addict to love in a healthy relationship.
So what would a normal relationship be like? A normal, healthy relationship would be built upon being comfortable around each other, trusting and relaxed; where all involved parties can be themselves without pretending or worrying what the other person might think about them.There’s no fear either. It’s a relaxed co-existence.
Overcoming love addiction:
Take stock of your past history with love, start with your early experiences in your family and then move through your romantic relationship history. As you become more fully aware of your love history and how your needs went met or unmet, you will develop a greater ability to see others as they really are. Ask yourself if in your adult relationships you are playing the same role you did as a child? Have you adopted the role of one of your parents or even the role you played in a previous romantic relationship? Become fully aware of who you are choosing to become romantic with and assess whether they remind you of a dysfunctional relationship from your past. Learn to take time to get to know people who treat you well and make you feel good. Surround yourself with people who are compassionate and kind toward you. Transcending addicted love means consciously attaching to healthy partners.
Recommended reading: https://www.amazon.com/Having-Sex-Wanting-Intimacy-Relationships/dp/1442220201