Deep at our very core is a need to feel significant to someone. When we feel significant to someone who is significant to us there’s no feeling like it. Our heart skips a beat when we see the other person. We fantasize about them, we can’t take our eyes off them. We are fixated on the other person. Over a period of time however this soon settles down and we can have a healthy relationship with clear expectations, behaviours, boundaries and appropriate meaningful intimacy. In relationship and love addiction however a person may try to extend or continually pursue these exciting feelings. Often this involves a string of partners.
There are different areas common with love addiction. These include difficulty exercising control and obsessing over new relationships and fantasies. These often lead to negative consequences. Like most addicts though sex/love addicts are often in denial about their behaviors and the consequences of their behaviors. Some of these consequences can include loss of interest in healthy activities and hobbies, social isolation, a decline in emotional health and general well-being. Also, like most addicts the fault usually lies with their ex-partners or the relationship rather than themselves.
The main difference between sex and love addiction is that a sex addict will pursue sex from any source. It’s all about gratification. Love addicts however, often focus on one person at a time and use sex as a way to manipulate or hold onto their partners.
Love and relationship addiction has different kinds of behaviors which manifest in different people. Some even overlap. Here are a few:
- The person who spends a lot of time obsessing about their partner. They may fantasize romantically or sexually. They may obsess quietly and inwardly or pursue them relentlessly. There can be strong feelings of unrequited love that can lead to stalking.
- This is the addict who has one affair after another, never fully bonding with their partner. The intimacy is based on sex and romance rather than genuine closeness. As their partner gets closer they end the relationship but move quickly onto another one as they fear being alone. This string of relationships can be destructive them and their partners.
- The saboteur keeps their partners at a distance. They fear commitment. If the other person gets too close they somehow sabotage it. Maybe by not showing up for a date, having an affair or trying to embarrass their partner. Once the relationship has been destroyed they move onto the next one. Then the process begins again.
- The narcissistic love addict is charming and seductive. They are also self-absorbed, dominant and controlling. Partners are objects there for their own pleasure. The narcissistic addict appears confident and in control but if the partner asserts themselves in any way or tries to leave they can become cold or angry. If they become bored with their partner of find a new object to interest them they discard them saying they never really meant that much to them.
- The co-dependent addict can’t stand the thought of being alone. They are often attracted to partners with difficulties of their own. They thrive on both enabling and trying to rescue and take care of them. Often they use passive aggressiveness to control them. With low self-esteem, low confidence and the need to be needed the co-dependent addict often ends up in neglectful and abusive relationships.
Some common feelings associated with love addiction are mistaking sex for genuine intimacy. Also the fear of being alone, relying on romance as a way to escape uncomfortable feelings and so on.
There are many more types of behaviors and characteristics but as with all addictions it is impossible to change without awareness of how damaging the addiction is to themselves and those around them. As with all addictions there have been experiences of some form of trauma. This could range from abuse, abandonment, neglect, emotionally distant or vacant parenting and so on. This trauma leads to a fear of feeling vulnerable or being alone, but the person lacks the ability to bond with another and form a healthy attachment.
Counselling can help someone understand what lies behind and drives their need to find the latest most perfect relationship. Help them to address underlying fears and attitudes and go on to develop healthier relationships, romantic or otherwise.
#addiction #loveaddiction #relationshipaddiction
This article was written by sentientcounselling