Sunday, 19 December 2010

Are You a Love Addict?


I recommend you read my other post The Chemistry of Love first if you haven't already done so to learn more about the psychology of falling in and out of love.

Let's start with some questions; and please be honest:
  • Are you too needy when it comes to relationships?
  • Do you fall in love too easily or too quickly?
  • Do you lower your standards or settle for less than you deserve/want for the sake of "companionship"?
  • Have you been involved with people who could not commit and you were convinced you would make them change?
  • When you're attracted to someone, do you ignore all the warning signs that he/she isn't good for you?
  • Initial attraction is more important to you than anything else when it comes to falling in love and choosing a partner?
  • You thought/think if someone loved you that "special way" you would be eternally happy?
  • Romantic movies and songs solely define love for you?
  • You take more than your share of responsibility for the survival of a relationship?
  • In some of your relationships, you were the only one in love?
  • You feel terribly lonely and depressed if you're not in love or a relationship?
  • You can't stand being alone and don't enjoy your own company?
  • You're scared of not finding someone to love or marry?
  • Your mind has almost always been occupied with romantic fantasies?
  • You fantasize about love or marriage almost the entire time, thinking of someone you used to love or the "perfect partner" who is going to walk into your life one day and make it amazing?
  • You were part of a love triangle before... and you didn't walk away?
  • You could pursue someone you're in love with even if he/she is with someone else?
  • You have no control over yourself when you're in love?
  • When you're in love, you're too jealous and/or possessive?
  • You don't mind chasing after someone who has clearly rejected you and desperately try to change their minds?
  • You have stayed with an abusive person or in an abusive relationship longer than you should?
  • You have a very high tolerance for suffering in relationships; you are willing to suffer neglect, depression, loneliness, dishonesty—even abuse—to avoid the pain of separation?
  • You try very hard to be WHO your partner wants you to be, doing anything to please him/her (even sacrifice your own needs or values)?
  • You can't say "no" to your partner if he/she threatens to leave you?
  • You feel "incomplete" if you're not in a relationship?
  • You have been with the "wrong person" before to avoid being lonely?
  • You have idolized a love interest and then blamed that person for not living up to your expectations?

If you have answered "yes" to several questions, then you're possibly a Love Addict. And if you can recognize several of these things in your partner or someone you know, then he/she is a love addict.

A Love Addict is addicted to the "high" of being in love. Love addiction is much like any other addiction; it is focused on love as the solution to inner pain, loneliness and emptiness; and the relationship or the need for love/romance is all consuming. You may think it's a better type of addiction; but it's very dangerous and painful to both the person and their partner(s). The dire consequences of love addiction include: job loss, depression and self-destructive behaviours.

What has made matters worse is the fact that the media has glorified love-addicted relationships as great love stories and love addicts as the greatest lovers. And sadly many societies are love and relationship addicted. Pressure to be in a relationship or get married; isn't that love addiction by definition? Since a very young age, how many of us (women) have been told that marriage is the ultimate award or "destination"? How many single women are looked down upon (no matter what their personal and academic achievements or personalities are) because they're not married yet? How many women are blamed on a daily basis for the breakdown of a marriage or relationship because she could not keep her husband/partner... and if only she had been more patient/loving/caring/whatever? How many are blamed for being single and that they should "lower" their standards to be in relationships or get married?

There are many examples. We need to become aware of our own cultural patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour that keep us addicted to love and/or relationships.

The are several types of Love Addicts; the two more common types are:
  • Narcissistic Love Addicts
They had a tough childhood where there was no or little attention/love given to them (causing inner rage and pain that often surface). They are rather detached from parents and family. Thus later in life they seek acceptance and safety which they did not get as children. The strange thing is narcissistic love addicts are charmers most of the time even though they usually suffer from depression and feel worthless without a partner or relationship. They need love or sex to relieve their hidden pain. They line up the next relationship before leaving their current one. This is also one of the reasons they're usually part of love triangles (they subconsciously seek drama). They keep looking for that "magical" feeling... that "magical" someone who will heal all their wounds and take care of them. Most of the time they're attracted to "very hot" people as they seek partners for validation. Fantasy is triggered and the he/she feels high. "It's karma, destiny, fate... we're soul mates" before they even get to know their (future) partner well.

Their greatest fear is abandonment or rejection; they can't trust their partners and are emotionally and/or sexually unavailable sooner or later in the relationship. They can't commit or communicate. They're also very manipulative. They become cold, unloving, distant, selfish. They are easily excessively addicted to anything else outside the relationship (drugs, games, sex, alcohol, hobbies, someone else, shopping, etc.). They believe intense attraction and sex are basic human needs. They also confuse sexual attraction or lust with love. Almost always they get attached to people they hardly know. They tend to idealize and obsess about their partner at first. When they enter a relationship it's like being in a fantasy and they get high. Later they blame their partner for not living up to their unrealistic expectations. They want to be cared for and treasured by another and are always disappointed, because no one can satisfy their insatiable desires. They will go to great lengths to get partners to fulfil the big fantasy they have been holding in their minds for so long.

They are very angry and frustrated when their fantasy isn't matched. They are driven to find someone to tell them they are lovable and loved, to find someone who will rescue them from their own inability to care for themselves; rescue them from their loneliness, emptiness, lack of self-love, inability to feel safe in the world without someone to protect them. They look for a relationship to make them feel whole. It's a never-ending cycle.
  • Codependent Love Addicts
They suffer from self-esteem issues and insecurities. They willingly stay in a relationship long after its "expiration date" as I call it. It's very hard for them to let go. Their role in the relationship is that of the rescuer, saver, caregiver, etc. They very gladly accept/put up with emotional/physical abuse and neglect no matter how unbearable it is, all in the hope of their partner not leaving or loving them back one day. They love, protect and are generous to their partners excessively and unreasonably... which is considered by many - if not most of us - the most wonderful type of lover. They're rather silent martyrs and may seek sympathy from others... or encouragement. But the relationship only gets more toxic. And they're often defensive of themselves and/or their partner's behaviours. "Well, he only yelled and slammed the door but didn't hit me"; or, "he/She only slapped me. I don't have any bruises"; or "well, I really made him/her angry. I'm stupid and this is why he/she reacts like that." Remember, if it doesn't feel right, it's wrong.

They can become very unhappy within a relationship and it can affect them mentally, emotionally and psychologically. But they still cannot let go. Their problem is they find it difficult to love or take care of themselves (low self-esteem). They are unable to protect themselves with healthy boundaries. Again Codependent Love Addicts probably faced some sort of abandonment or loss as children which resulted in them feeling worthless and created that sense of exaggerated longing. Their lack of nurturing was/is fuelled by fantasies of being rescued or being the rescuer themselves.

*

Sadly, most love addicts refuse to acknowledge there's a problem at all with them. My advice to you is to not get involved with a love addict because it may devastate you in the end. Seek healthy relationships and people.

If you suspect you're a love addict yourself, then you need to address those serious issues from your childhood and past. STOP being obsessed with finding your prince or princess who will be the one to solve all your problems and give your life meaning. This desperate need of trying to find that person or regain a lost love can create much chaos and threaten life itself when chronic grief turns into suicidal thoughts. Be aware of love addiction support through the ideal of love in movies and songs. Love addicts are very self-delusional; all addictions have an element of denial but in case of love addiction it is more severe. Love addicts often don't see the connection between their pain and suffering and the illusionary love they seek.

The first step would be to recognize love addiction as such and then take the necessary steps to fulfill all those needs that have been delegated to The One. Find out what you can do to be good to yourself; learn to love yourself and to appreciate the good things in your life. Another important step is to accept that you may be single for a long time... and that's okay.

Develop a wide variety of interests and activities and make new friends. With all this, the emptiness and longing will go away. This will also increase your chances of finding a compatible partner. There's always hope if you really want to change and lead a happy, drama-free life. If you need more help, then seek that of a psychiatrist and try to read more about recovering from such an addiction.

With that said, deep down we all seek love. There's nothing wrong with wanting love or being romantic at heart. Being in love with the right person is a wonderful feeling and experience. There's also nothing wrong with grieving or mourning the breakdown of a relationship (but not becoming severely obsessed with the other person, too desperate to get them back no matter what and/or having suicidal thoughts). Letting go should not make you feel guilty or weak; strong people are those capable of properly letting go.

There's a huge difference between wanting love and a compulsive, chronic craving or pursuit of love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person.

Please answer this one-question poll, too:
http://www.learnmyself.com/poll53945x61394592

Almost all the questions were retrieved from loveaddicts.org

Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© Marwa Ayad


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