Are you a love addict?
Love addicts live in emotional chaos where they obsess about their romantic relationships. They fear being alone or being rejected and search endlessly for that special someone – the person that will make the addict feel whole.
Ironically, love addicts often have many opportunities to begin an intimate experience but they are much more strongly attracted to the intense experience of “falling in love” than they are to the peaceful intimacy of healthy relationships. As a result, they spend much of their time hunting for “the one.” They base nearly all of their life choices on the desire and search for this perfect relationship – everything from wardrobe choices to endless hours at the gym, to engaging in hobbies and other activities that may or may not interest them, to the ways in which they involve others in conversations and social interactions.
Characteristics of love addicts
1) They spend a large amount of their time and attention on relationships. Far more than the average person. Love addicts think about their partners obsessively. They often put their partner on a pedestal.
2) Love addicts have unrealistic expectations about how their partner should respond to them. They expect constant love from their partner and are highly sensitive when they don’t receive this. They often live in an unrealistic fantasy world and become angry when reality doesn’t match up.
3) Love addicts may neglect themselves in a relationship. They can become dependent on their partners and put their partners needs and wishes ahead of their own to a point that is no longer healthy.
You may be a love addict if you fear being alone and harbour underlying insecurities about your worth. Love addicts do all they can to avoid the unpleasant feelings often associated with relationships. Feelings that we all go through – rejection and failure to loss of a loved relationship. When a love addict becomes brave and allows these feelings to be experienced they will be on the road to healing this dysfunctional behavioural pattern.
Love addicts often fear abandonment and have an underlying belief that their partner will love them less and not reciprocate the same level of feeling and emotion. Combatting this involves making themselves a little vulnerable in order to test their beliefs. Small baby steps initially are a good idea.
The causes of love addiction are fairly easy to identify: inadequate or inconsistent nurturing, low self esteem, absence of positive role models for committed relationships and indoctrination with cultural images of perfect romantic love and happily ever after endings.
Breaking the pattern of love addiction
1. Stop and think. Find some perspective and look at your patterns of behaviour. Make a list of your dysfunctional pattern in your current and past relationships. Be honest without blaming anyone else for your choices. Unless you are in a committed relationship, do not engage in any potentially romantic interactions for at least 6 months. That includes no texting, emailing, online dating sites, hook ups, introductions by well intentioned friends and family.
2. As you do your list look for the common themes in your relationships. Does there appear to be a similarity between your childhood experiences and your choices as an adult? If so, it is no coincidence.
3. If you are not in a relationship right now, consider getting professional help with your self evaluation before you begin your search again. If you are in a relationship, unless you are being abused, don’t make any decisions or demands until you look at yourself honestly.
4. Ask yourself how life would be if you took responsibility for your own happiness, successes and failures and loved yourself the way you want to be loved.
5. Make a plan and follow through on a daily basis. You will be lonely, sad and frustrated at times but in the end you will have the most valuable gift of all. You will know and love yourself. Only then can you choose well and have the real, albeit imperfect relationship you deserve.
6. As an act of love that will last a life time, accept yourself and the one you love AS IS. It may not come with a big red bow but it is one thing you can be sure everyone wants.