Identifying types of love addicts
In my story you’re the villain. But in my heart, you’re still the reigning King. Coco J. Ginger
When you can stop you don’t want to, and when you want to stop, you can’t… Luke Davies
I am not your victim because you are not a predator any more than a bottle of scotch stalks an alcoholic. Sue William Silverman
One of my most well received posts has been ‘All about toxic relationships and how to let go‘ and this week Happiness Weekly is looking at Love Addiction – one of the fastest growing addictions in the world as people cling to love for their happiness.
It’s important that I note upfront that this blog is not about how to break love addiction. That may come later, but at this stage, I don’t have the answers. All I can recommend is that if you are finding yourself addicted to love, or a person, then to join a support group such as SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) to try to help understand and cope with it.
There are no statistics on love addiction, when I asked one of Sydney’s top psychologists about it, the response was that we are all love addicts to some extent.
Obsessed love addicts – can’t let go of someone they love, even if that person has moved on, is distant or abusive, or has their own addiction to something unrelated such as drugs or alcohol.
Co-dependant love addicts – have low self-esteem. They are desperately holding onto people they are addicted to through co-dependant behaviour (enabling, rescuing, caretaking, passive-aggressive controlling or accepting neglect or abuse). They will do anything to “take care” of their partners in the hope they will not leave or one day they’ll reciprocate.
Relationship addicts – aren’t in love with their partner but still can’t let go e.g. “I hate you but please don’t leave me!” Sounds twisted, but relationship addicts are so unhappy that their health, spirit and emotional wellbeing are affected. They are afraid of being alone and they don’t like change.
Narcissistic love addicts – use dominance, seduction and withholding to control their partners. They are self-absorbed and won’t put up with anything that interferes with their happiness. These love addicts are only revealed when they are left, often appearing aloof and uncaring, they switch to panic and will use anything to hold onto the relationship – including violence.
Ambivalent love addicts – have a hard time moving forward, although they can let go. They desperately crave love but are terrified of intimacy.
Ambivalent love addicts can come in different forms such as:
* Torch bearers – obsess about someone who is unavailable. Feeds on fantasies and illusions. The ultimate in unrequited love.
* Saboteurs – destroy relationships when they start to get serious. Fear of intimacy.
* Seductive withholders – come onto you when they want sex or companionship but withhold when frightened or feel unsafe. They generally repeat a pattern of being available/unavailable.
* Romance addicts – addicted to multiple partners with multiple bonds, sexual passion and pseudo-intimacy with each. Their goal is to get high off romance and drama and avoid commitment or bonding on a deeper level with any partner.
Some love addicts have a combination of these various types. If you’re thinking “Oh my gosh, I’m all of them!” and are about to lose hope, you’re not alone. The SLAA website brings a comforting tale about the types of love addiction overlapping, this content was originally produced by Susan Peabody for Love Addicts Anonymous (2):
“Robert was a love addict, relationship addict, romance addict and sex addict. He was married but did not want to divorce his wife of twenty years even though he was not in love with her (relationship addiction) His hobby was masturbating to pornography when his wife was not home (sex addiction). He had affairs with several other women simultaneously without his wife finding out. He really cared about each of these women (romance addict). One day he met Jennifer and fell in love with her. It did not take long before he was obsessed with her. She did not want to be with him because he was married, so he began stalking and harassing her (love addict). Robert finally got into recovery, divorced his wife, gave up the pornography and affairs and married the woman he was obsessed with. At first his jealousy was out of control, but after a few years of therapy and 12-Step meetings he began to trust his new wife. Because she was mature, well-grounded and had high self-esteem, the relationship began to normalize. Today, all of Robert’s addictions are in remission.”
It’s nice to see a happy ending is possible in what may feel like a useless situation.
It’s important that we can distinguish between the types of love addicts because the treatment is dependent on the behaviour and addiction – for example co-dependent love addicts need a boost in self-esteem and self-acceptance, narcissistic love addicts need to learn to be selfless towards others, and ambivalent love addicts need to find a healthy relationship and stay engaged in it even when their fears arise.
If you’re looking for any further information about love addiction, please look at anything by Susan Peabody. She is an expert in this field who has helped many, many people. And has recently released a workbook about love addicts and love avoidants that could help you called: Recovering Workbook for Love Addicts and Love Avoidants.
Stay tuned! Next week Happiness Weekly will tell you how you can break free of your ties to love addiction…
1. Susan Peabody, Typical Kinds of Love Addicts, Love Addicts Anonymous.
2. Susan Peabody, Typical Kinds of Love Addicts, Love Addicts Anonymous.