Breaking free of love addiction

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Some abuse is not physical. Abuse does not have to be physical. There’s emotional abuse, psychological abuse and spiritual abuse. Iyanla Vanzant

Last week we looked at the different types of love addicts, this week Happiness Weekly is looking at how you can break free of the love addiction cycle. This blog includes information about:
– What is a love addict/love avoidant?
– Why do they attract each other?
– Signs you’re a love addict/love avoidant
– The cycle of love addiction with a love avoidant
– How to escape the cycle
– Quick tips on overcoming addictive relationships
– How you can tell someone is addicted to love and needs help

First we’re going to define two types of addicts who we will be referring to I this blog.

What is a love addict?

Love addiction is when people become addicted to the feeling of being in love. They generally have unfulfilled emotional needs that they seek to satisfy with romance or relationships. Unfortunately they tend to form relationships with individuals who are love avoidant.

What is a love avoidant?

Love avoidance is the systematic putting up of walls in a relationship to prevent feeling emotionally overwhelmed by another person. Consequently, it prevents true intimacy. It can be described as a form of emotional anorexia. The love avoidant perceives love as being an obligation or duty, so relationships are experienced as an emotional drain. The love avoidant tends to become involved with love addicts, and puts up walls to decrease the intensity within the relationship. However, the more the avoidant distances, the more the love addict pursues. The avoidant often responds by a pattern of deprivation within the primary relationship, while acting in ways that create intensity outside of that relationship (e.g., work, pursuing other relationships or sexual encounters, addictions, etc.).

They’re opposite problems so why do they attract each other?

A love avoidant is a person who gains a sense of control in a relationship by avoiding intimacy and withholding love. Together they engage in a dysfunctional relationship pattern called the ‘distancer-pursuer’ relationship – the love addict’s primary emotional fear is of abandonment, she or he is typically the pursuer in an established relationship, while the love avoidant, whose primary fear is of intimacy, responds by distancing. Because both of these partners suffer from a form of attachment disorder, a healthy relationship is going to be difficult to maintain without concentrated awareness and effort.

In this addictively toxic relationship both parties are getting some of their needs met which is why it can be more difficult to leave. Co-dependents trying to help a wounded person feel good about themselves and they get a false sense of self-esteem because their sacrificing. Unfortunately co-dependency is about giving more than you get, so it’s an unhealthy need that is being met.

 

Signs you’re a love addict

These signs will be similar to what drug addicts, alcoholics, gamblers and other addicts struggle with. It’s very similar with love addicts.

The “fix” – Addictive relationships always start out wonderfully. If they were not as magical as described, they wouldn’t work as a fix. That’s right – just like the fix a drug addict gets. Addictions, be they to drugs, alcohol, gambling or people, are transformative. This mean they are a fix for negative feelings such as anxiety, depression, grief, self-doubt, rage, despair, fear of abandonment etc. The only problem is that, like with drugs, the fix doesn’t last.

Dependency – The dependency on another person as the fix is reflected in the obsession that goes into maintaining the connection, approval or fantasised attachment to the other person. The ability to trust is absent in addictive relating. Anxiety is shaded by jealousy and paranoid fears. Endless texts, phone calls and messages are sent to lower anxiety and ensure that the other has not turned from loving to unloving.

Loss of control – The constant and inconsistent demands for reassurance ultimately incite rejection, rage and threatened disconnect in the partner. This invites efforts to repair, repent and a willingness to tolerate anything to re-connect again. There is often co-dependency with a partner who on some level needs the adoration and control being offered even at the cost of their own emotional freedom.

Loss of self – Addictive relating results in an increasingly devalued view of self and an idealised version of the other person which makes the need to depend greater and the stakes are higher.

Loss of connections – The obsession and dramatic cycles that underscore addictive relating jeopardise the connection with family and friends. Family and friends often feel pushed aside as activities are given up and responsibilities neglected in pursuit of the fix.

Loss of functioning – Despite all negative consequences, the pattern of addictive relating involves more and more dependence with less and less fulfilment. The cost can affect all spheres of a person’s life.

Love addiction expert Pia Mellody came up with this checklist to help you discover if you are a love addict.

  • Your partner seemed too good or perfect to be true when you first met.
  • He or she seemed like the person you had always dreamed of.
  • Your partner seemed unusually charming and thoughtful when you first met, almost as if he or she could read your mind.
  • Within days of meeting your partner you felt like the two of you had been spiritually connected for years.
  • You were convinced you and your new partner were ‘soul mates.’?
  • Your partner’s interests and hobbies seem more important to him or her than you are.
  • You’ve started cutting activities and people out of your life because you don’t want to make your partner jealous.
  • You have been so obsessed with another person before that you gave up everything (e.g., job, friends, family, etc.) to be with that person.
  • You have put your partner on a pedestal before.
  • Your partner went from being romantic to cold and distant.
  • You have said to friends before, ‘He/She was so charming and thoughtful in the beginning; I don’t understand why he/she changed’?
  • You have tried unsuccessfully to be romantic and make things like they were in the beginning.
  • Your partner seems to spend less and less time with you.
  • You have been with a partner who was verbally or physically abusive.
  • You have blamed yourself or made excuses for your partner’s abuse.
  • -After long periods of unhappiness and progressively worse abuse, you still hang onto the belief that one day things will change.
  • You believe if you just hang in there long enough, you can love your partner into being who he or she really is.
  • You have been asked by a family member or close friend why you stay.
  • You feel abandoned when a relationship breaks up, even if you were the one who ended the relationship.
  • You have been in so much pain after an unhappy, troubled relationship has ended that you go back when your partner promises to change.
  • After a relationship has ended, your feelings of abandonment, pain, and fear seem so severe that you think you might die.
  • When you were a child, you often felt as though you were invisible.
  • A parent or major caregiver died, moved away or got divorced when you were a child.
  • As a child, you thought your parents or major caregivers didn’t really know what was happening to you or what was going on inside of you.
  • You feel like your father neglected and/or abandoned you during your childhood.
  • You feel like your mother neglected and/or abandoned you during your childhood.

 

Signs you’re a love avoidant

Pia Mellody also put together this checklist to help you discover if you are a love avoidant.

  • You think taking care of your partner is sufficient proof that you love him or her.
  • You find yourself often critical of your partner.
  • You believe it is your duty to take care of your partner.
  • You have a secret life away from your partner.
  • You keep important information about your thoughts or feelings from your partner.
  • You withhold information about yourself (at work or play) so that your partner will not get upset.
  • You find yourself needing to manage and be in control of the relationship.
  • You have frequently done things for your partner and then later had the sense that no matter what you did it was never enough for your partner.
  • You feel frustrated because your partner doesn’t understand that you’ve spent time with him or her and now you need time for yourself.
  • You feel smothered by your partner when he or she wants to have you around so much.
  • Your partner complains that he or she doesn’t really know you.
  • You find yourself overly critical of your partner.
  • You withhold praise or appreciation from your partner.
  • You feel resentful of your partner’s neediness.
  • You have had one or more relationships in which you felt smothered and needed to escape.
  • You find yourself needing to control your partner because you know better what should and shouldn’t be done.
  • You control your primary relationship by silence and anger.
  • When you’re with your partner you feel like you’re not getting your needs met.
  • You feel your partner doesn’t appreciate all that you do for him or her.
  • You frequently feel the need to escape the relationship.
  • You often feel the need to go some place where you can get attention without always having to assure the other person that you love them.
  • You are spending more time at work in order to be away from you partner.
  • You stay so busy that you have little to no relational time for your partner.
  • You feel a sense of relief when you leave the house.
  • Your drinking, drug use, or other addictive behaviors increase while you are in a primary relationship.
  • You’ve had an affair or one-night-stand in order to get away from your relationship, have some fun, and get some attention.
  • You use porn to escape from the pressure in your relationship.
  • You withhold sex from your partner.
  • You have become involved in relationships because you couldn’t say “no” or you didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
  • You have stayed in relationships longer than you wanted because you would have felt guilty if you ended it.
  • Your relationships have often begun with you rescuing your partner from another bad relationship, poor health, financial difficulties, emotional distress, legal problems or some other difficulty.
  • It is important to you that your partner thinks of you as her ‘Knight in Shining Armor’ or his ‘Wonder Woman.’
  • As a child, you sometimes thought you were taking care of mom or dad more than they were parenting you.
  • As a child, you felt like mom or dad was smothering.

 

The cycle of love addiction with a love avoidant

Understanding the cycle love addicts go through, to help you recognise certain patterns and behaviours you may have, is key in the recovery process.

Phase 1 – Obsession

During this phase, the love addict is consumed by thoughts of romantic intrigue to the point of shattered concentration and impaired judgement. It feels like an instant and overwhelming attraction to another person. The relationally dependent person becomes “hooked” on a romantic interest usually resulting from the slightest bit of attention from the other person they are attracted to.

Thoughts will include “This is the only man who ever understood me” or “This is the kind of woman I have dreamed of being with my whole life”.

Their obsessive thinking can be triggered by anything: meeting someone attractive, passing someone on the street, seeing a picture on a billboard, experiencing an emotional low point of self-pity and depression, or even just passing through a location where the obsession was previously triggered.

In this phase the love avoidant feels compelled to take care of needy people and the love addict appears particularly vulnerable.

In the beginning people who are addicted to love and avoidance are attracted – the love addicted is attracted to what appears to be a devoted and powerful person, while the love avoidant is attracted to the neediness the love addict displays. They need to feel needed because getting attention is one of the most ideal forms of love for an avoidant.

Characteristics of this phase include:

  • An instant attraction to romantic interest, usually occurring within the first few minutes of meeting
  • An immediate urge to rush into a relationship – regardless of compatibility
  • Becoming “hooked” on the look of another, focusing on the person’s physical characteristics while ignoring personality differences
  • Unrealistic fantasies about a relationship with a love interest assigning “magical” qualities to an object of affection
  • The beginnings of obsessive, controlling behaviours begin to manifest.

 

Phase 2 – The Hunt

The person is driven to follow through with the obsessive thoughts, inevitably seeking out someone who will satisfy that craving. The stronger the obsession the more diligent the hunt.

At this point interference with normal life becomes noticeable, often resulting in time away from work or home responsibilities. Only one of two things will stop the hunt – finding the object sought or being caught looking.

The avoidant begins to slowly put up walls in this phase, to keep the love addict from getting to close. At the same time, to satisfy the love addict, the avoidant acts seductive and adoring hiding behind a wall of romance and seduction to satisfy the needs of the partner while avoiding being vulnerable or feeling controlled. This behaviour triggers a fanciful mirage of the future for the love addict and serves as a “high” while they are falling in love with an image because the avoidant will not let the love addict get to know who they really are.

Phase 3 – Recruitment

Romance addicts become remarkably skilful at enlisting other people to play the necessary role to complete their romantic fantasy, which can be a non-sexual seduction.

The adrenalin rush that accompanies the danger of being caught or found out further propels the addictive cycle.

Phase 4 – Gratification

When the addict succeeds at realising their romantic fantasy, by whatever means, they get a great sense of gratification.

It is when – at this point – things start to build into a relationship that the mirages start to crack and crumble. The love addict hides behind denial, excuses and justifications to help them hold onto their fantasy of being rescued and living happily ever after with the avoidant soul mate. Meanwhile the avoidant, who fears intimacy and simultaneously abandonment, begins to feel resentful of the love addict. They feel like the love addict’s attempts to be intimate are suspicious and being to view intimacy as a chore or duty. Ultimately the avoidant’s resentment turns to anger – expressed in a passive-aggressive way or with over the top outbursts – which is then used to control the love addict, who fears that if their partner is angry and unhappy, they will leave them. The love addict rationalises that they need to change to stop the avoidant being so angry and so they will stick around and rescue them. The love avoidant continues to communicate anger in either a passive-aggressive or overtly aggressive way and will generally use this anger to justify a break from relationship duties.

 

Phase 5 – Return to normal

The immediate effect of gratification is a break in the obsessive thinking – and from the pain that fuelled it. This means there’s a return to what feels normal for a while. However, the pressures of life build up again and sometimes trigger a new cycle to begin.

Phase 6 – Justification

Having “resolved” these problems by resorting to romantic fantasy or acting out frequently brings its own feelings of guilt and remorse. The addict then begins to justify their behaviour. They convince themselves that what they did wasn’t so bad, everyone does it and it’s normal or at least understandable for someone with similar unique circumstances and special needs.

The addict rationalises gratification even if it involved someone else, depersonalising the episode. In their mind the other person wasn’t real or a person at all, it was just a component in the staging of a complex romantic drama.

In time the avoidant rationalises cheating, using pornography, drugs, alcohol etc. on their “burdensome” partner. However it’s their fear of abandonment that makes them feel trapped. They see themselves as a victim of relationship partner and rationalise seeking intensity outside of a primary relationship, for example overworking, drugs, alcohol, compulsive eating, sexually acting out, taking financial risks, thrill seeking etc.

Phase 7 – Anxiety

Known as the “anxious phase” because it’s a relational turning point when both parties have committed. Sometimes the relationally dependant person will enter into this phase without the presence of a commitment which happens when the afflicted person creates the illusion of intimacy regardless of the other person’s true feelings.

It includes:

  • Unfounded thoughts of infidelity on the part of a partner and demanding accountability for normal daily activities
  • An overwhelming fear of abandonment, including baseless thought of a partner walking out on the relationship in favour of another person
  • The need to constantly be in contact with a love interest via the phone, email or in person
  • Strong feelings of mistrust begin to emerge causing depression, resentment and relational tension.
  • The continuation and escalation of obsessive, controlling behaviours.

Phase 7 – Blame

Most addicts cannot successfully rationalise their behaviour without blaming someone for it. The addict will blame their parents, spouse, someone from the past who let them down, and lay their underlying pain at their feet. Fundamentally, they refuse to take responsibility for their situation but blame others for driving the decisions they made.

The love addict’s bubble is popped at this point and reality comes crashing in. They experience emotional abandonment by the avoidant. At this point it may not appear that the avoidant is addicted to the relationship at all as they do everything in their power to push it away, but if the love addict leaves, the avoidant will do everything in their power to win them back. The avoidant’s addiction is truly is a case of “can’t live with them, can’t live without them”.

At this point the love addict may use any number of strategies to try to win back the avoidant. Denial and self-medication are the only things they are likely to gain. Some love addicts even lash out with revenge, for example starting their own affair. Their attempts to win back the avoidant are only seen as controlling nuisances by the avoidant.

The avoidant begins to feel like a prisoner in the relationship, regardless of whether the partner is actually manipulating them or not. This feeling prompts them to spend more time away from home or avoiding the love addict, for example working more hours, seeing friends or just not being home.

Some characteristics that may also be associated with this phase include:

  • The onset of “tunnel vision” meaning the relationally dependent person cannot stop thinking about a love interest and required his or her constant attention
  • Neurotic, compulsive behaviours, including rapid telephone calls to love interst’s place of residence or work
  • Unfounded accusations of “cheating” due to extreme anxiety
  • “Drive-bys” around a love interest’s home or play of employment, with the goal of assuring that the person is at where he or she is supposed to be
  • Physical or electronic monitoring activities, following a love interest’s whereabouts throughout the course of a day to discover daily activities
  • Extreme control tactics, including questioning a love interest’s commitment to the relationship (such as guilt trips) with the goal of manipulating a love interest into providing more attention.

Phase 8 – Shame

Invariably the love addict carries a residual awareness of what they have done and what their actions say about the kind of person they must be. Generally they feel a lot of guilt, even when it’s not showing on the surface.

Phase 9 – Despair

The experience of careening from high excitement at the outset of the cycle to shames and guilt at its conclusions, and the awareness that the cycle is unstoppable, produces hopelessness. Those agonies get worse with every trip through the cycle, which is why it’s important to break it early.

Phase 10 – Promises

Because the pain is so great, the addict will always swear they will never do it again. They know it’s only a matter of time because the obsessive thoughts start to crowd in again and they will be cause in the addictive cycle again.

The avoidant will either return to the relationship out of guilt or fear of abandonment at this point. If they don’t, they will find a replacement relationship and the cycle will continue that way.

When the relationship comes to an end, the couple is separated, typically one of two things happen: they return to each other and start the cycle over again, or they seek other love addicted partners and the cycle starts again.

With each progression through the cycle, the problems become more and more magnified unless one of them seeks help and starts to get healthy. The problems intensify with each pass of a cycle because the feeling of abandonment after each break up grows. AS the number of abandonments increase, so does the desperation to kill the pain left in their wake with a new opiate.

Some of the characteristics found in this destructive phase include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of depression (or feeling “empty” inside)
  • A sudden loss of self-esteem, due to the collapse of the relationship
  • Extreme feelings of self-blame and at times, self-hatred
  • Anger, rage and a desire to seek revenge against a love interest for breaking off the relationship
  • Denial that the relationship has ended and attempting to win a loved one back by making promises to change
  • The use of drugs, alcohol, food or sex to “medicate” the emotional pain.

 

How to escape the cycle

By the time this couple decides to get help, both people are usually exhausted – tired and worn out from the cycle. They need to be prepared to make some changes which sometimes means the relationship gets into counselling and both partners change and grow and their relationship is saved, but it can sometimes mean ending the relationship, cutting your losses and starting from scratch with someone who’s relationship material. Generally if a therapist recommends a love addict or love avoidant leave the relationship, they will never see the person again because they want information to fix them but they don’t want to change the way their think or their values around their relationship. Unfortunately there is no quick fix, the reality is, recovery from love addiction takes a long time – sometimes years!

To find long lasting recovery, you first need to understand the core issues of shame/self-esteem, boundary impairment, unrealistic relational expectations, rescuing and placating, and fear of abandonment and intimacy.

Recovery begins with the end of denial and the recognition of the addiction. This may also mean the end of the relationship but it is for the best. If you do want to keep your relationship both parties need to be involved in the recovery and the couple needs a join wish to change and seek help together or individually. Recovery for a couple can start with the courage of one partner who STOPS the pattern and seeks support. The addictive cycle cannot go without a “fix”.

It involves the wish to change, even when that wish comes from hitting the wall of loss and a lot of pain. It’s about reclaiming self – not another person – which is why it is recommended you don’t date for six months to a year while recovering.

Often professional help is required as a way to connect with self by dealing the regulation of feelings, acceptance of self, improved self-esteem, healing from wounds, dependency issues, self-love, self-forgiveness etc.

Some patterns of love addiction include falling in love too quickly into relationships, ignoring unhealthy behaviours of one’s partner, trying to control our partner’s behaviour so that we feel comfortable, allowing our partner’s mood to bring us down, having unrealistic expectations that a romantic relationship will fill “all” your needs and wants, trying to ‘fix’ whatever problem arises in our partner’s life instead of allowing them to fix it themselves. When we succumb to these inappropriate and harmful behaviours and choices, we lose the connection to ourselves by handing our power over to another. In a love addicted situation, these toxic behavioural patterns become he foundation of a relationship and develop into comfortable, yet unhealthy patterns.

Feeling weak? Concentrate on building on your emotional maturity. Emotional maturity allows us to think before we act and take responsibility for our lives and actions, and respect others independence. Self-identity is also important as it teaches us to be independent or mutually dependant. Two whole individuals support each other and share their life together in a way that allows each to truly, and independently, shine.

Developing healthy boundaries is critical to intimacy, self-esteem development, and what kind of people we allow in our lives. These boundaries allow us to protect and take care of ourselves. It is our responsibility to recognise when we are being disrespected, then communicate clearly that our boundaries are being infringed upon. Everyone has a right to protect and defend themselves and are obliged to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us. With healthy boundaries, we will not allow another’s dysfunctions and insecurities rule our actions and behaviours. We can learn to recognise where and how we can help in way that will empower ourselves and those around us.

Love addicts and love avoidants need to change their belief system about love. They have to change their behaviour and accept that it’s not appropriate when you meet someone to call them ten times a night or every day, or to drive by their house when you’re broken up and take the license plate of any care in their driveway. Any obsessive behaviours like this are irrational and need resolving quickly with professional help.

It’s important if a love addict or love avoidant admits they require help that you do not discourage them because in some cases the combination can have devastating consequences and sometimes even be fatal.

Quick tips on overcoming addictive relationships

1. Stop what you are doing and observe your behaviour

2. Accept it is not love but a person addiction

3. Take an inventory of your dysfunctional pattern in your current and past relationships. Write it down. Be honest without blaming anyone else for your choices

4. Make your recovery your first priority – commit to it

5. 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

6. Have courage to face your own problems and shortcomings

7. 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.

8. Identify your needs especially those gaps that make you feel undeserving or bad about yourself

9. Look for the common themes in your relationship inventory and understand what is really happening in your relationship. Does there appear to be a similarity between your childhood experiences and your choices as an adult?

10. Focus on your needs instead of controlling others. Once your needs get attention your feelings will change and you’ll discover you no long need others to make you feel good or secure

11. Find out what brings you peace and serenity then practice that task. You can practice meditating or some exercises that will connect you to your core and the greater universe

12. 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.

13. Live your life with consciousness. Be aware of relationship games and traps that can get you “hooked” like trying to “rescue” (helper) someone even when they are capable of handling their problems, prosecutor (blamer) who says someone’s a bad person or is a cheater etc. and “victim” who acts helpless even when they can find ways to address their problem

14. 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.

15. Seek support from friends/family who understand what you are trying to change

16. Share this knowledge and what you have experienced and learned from reading this blog with others

17. Consider getting professional help.

18. 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.

How can you tell someone is addicted and needs help

It would be a useful skill if people surrounding a love addict or love avoidant could recognise the symptoms well enough that they could suggest they receive help for their problem or offer them support. This is a list of common characteristics found in people who suffer from addiction put together by Steve Arterburn.

– Early deprivation – relationship addicts were often rejected or abandoned in childhood and may well have been the victims of physical or psychological abuse

– Feeling unloved or rejected by the world – viewing life through the lens of their own painful experience, addicts assume dysfunction is normal

– Insecure – addicts are full of dear and doubt, overwhelmed by the stresses of daily living, the only way they see to survive is to attach themselves to someone else

– Attempt to earn love – relationship addictions become perfectionists toward themselves, setting standards they can never hope to attain. They believe they have to be “good enough” to be loved by another

– Attempt to fix others – relationship addicts try to repeatedly fix others, usually people who do not want to be fixed but the drive to save someone causes the addict to hang onto a relationship long after others would have left

– Attracted to very needy people – anyone with an obvious need or deficiency becomes a magnet: the needier they are, the less likely they will be to walk away and the more likely they need fixing

– Attracted to abusive or emotionally distant people – addicts are often attracted to people cut from the same mold as their own parents, often in an attempt to symbolically win the parent’s favour and love. By the same token, addicts are often uncomfortable around healthy people who might be strong enough to live without them.

– Move quickly from attraction to attachment – addicts “latch on” to someone with remarkable speed, in hopes of cementing a relationship

–  The main goal of the relationship is to keep it going. It may be a disastrous and destructive relationship, but it seems better to addicts than no relationship at all. As long as it is still alive, there remains hope that it may improve.

–  A striking absence of whole, healthy people in their lives. The roster of past relationships and acquaintances is filled almost exclusively with damaged and needy people, in contrast to whom the addict can appear healthy and normal.

–  Walking on eggshells. Relationship addicts are afraid of rocking the boat. They are excruciatingly cautious about everything they do, in an effort to avoid the wrath of others.

–  Appear to be meeting others’ needs first. But in fact, everything addicts do, even the things that look the most sacrificial, are done to meet their own need to be loved and needed. They appear unselfish, but are in fact willing to let another person spend a lifetime in distress if it guarantees their role as “fixer.”

–  Failure to recognize their own needs. Relationship addicts are unable to see the selfishness of their own motives. They may believe they need to be more assertive, when in fact what they need is to resolve their own selfish need to be needed.

–  Outbursts of rage. Relationship addicts try to keep their anger bottled up. But they cannot do so forever. Sooner or later their pent-up anger explodes. Such outbursts are followed by periods of deep remorse and attempts to make things right again – to forestall the dreaded abandonment.

–  Never ask for help. Rather than seek help, addicts prefer to battle their problems alone. They cannot risk being found out – allowing someone else to discern the true nature and extent of their problems.

–  Discomfort at having others do things for them. This only causes the addict more guilt, and greater fear of not “measuring up.”

–  No hope of ever finding a truly loving relationship. Early childhood experience has convinced them that it will never happen.

–  Inordinate patience. Addicts astonish their friends by their ability to “hang in” for years without the faintest glimmer of hope for change in their destructive relationship.

–  Euphoria at the start of any new relationship. Relationship addicts constantly assure themselves and others that this time is going to be different. Overblown hopes and expectations are attached to each new prospect.

–  Feeling responsible for all problems. Addicts assess everything that happens in terms of their own efforts. If anything goes wrong, it must have been their fault.

–  Defensive about everything. Addicts place so much performance pressure on themselves that they are resentful of perceived attempts to add more.

–  Feelings of inadequacy. Relationship addicts never look right, weigh the right amount, or say the right things. They find it impossible to live up to their own expectations.

–  Alienated from others. Addicts feel like outcasts – as if everyone else but them has been given the manual on how to make human life work.

–  Starved for affirmation. Addicts draw what little self-esteem they have from the sense that they are trying hard and doing a good job. They feast on others’ comments about how loyal and patient they are.

–  Sex is despised. Sex is only a means to an end, not a source of joy and pleasure in its own right. It is to be endured, never enjoyed, if that is the price to maintain the relationship.

–  Control is a virtue. Addicts will seek out needy people whom they are able to manipulate and dominate. They may appear to be subservient to a domineering spouse. In reality, however, it is they who have the upper hand.

–  Never-ending search for happiness. Relationship addicts are martyrs. They so accustom themselves to the apparently hopeless pursuit of happiness that they actually resist finding it.

–  Masters of manipulation. Addicts will invest extraordinary amounts of time and energy determining what patterns of behaviour will produce the desired effects in other people. They learn how to elicit attention, how to elicit affection, even how to elicit anger.

–  Frequently depressed. Because of their past rejection and abandonment, relationship addicts have few emotional resources to draw on in times of stress. Instead, they simply shut down.

–  Multiple compulsive behaviours. The emotional turmoil that accompanies relationship addiction cannot lie dormant. Frequently it finds expression in other problems, such as compulsive overeating, spending, or gambling. These compulsive behaviour patterns become increasingly intertwined.

–  Self-doubt. Relationship addicts are plagued by insecurity and are never sure of themselves. They constantly vacillate in even the most routine decisions.

–  See themselves and others as victims. If their partner is a sex addict, it is because others have deviously seduced him. If he is an alcoholic, it is because of the stress others have placed him under.

–  Life is an act of compensation. Relationship addicts try to compensate for what they did not have as a child by manipulating others to get what they want. They compensate for weakness by acting strong. They compensate for selfishness by creating the appearance of selflessness.

–  Mind-reading. Since the way to find acceptance is to please others and meet their expectations, addicts engage in a never-ending mind game: What does someone else really want? To come right out and ask would be to tip their hand.

–  Anger over unmet needs. Addicts never express their own needs. Indeed, they may be largely unaware of them. But they go through life with a vague sense of being “ripped off.”

This research comes from multiple sources including:

http://www.growthtrac.com/relationship-addict/#.UprpmSf4Igo

http://www.cbn.com/family/datingsingles/newlife_loveaddiction.aspx

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/healthy-connections/201012/how-break-the-pattern-love-addiction

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/personal/10/09/end.relationship/

http://drjanicecaudill.com/love-addiction.html

http://applyingatonement.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/more-on-love-avoidance.html

The Lovely Addict posted an 0utstanding post that you can actually find here to help you on the way to a speedy recovery from love addiction. It will be hard, but it will also be worth it. Follow the blog written by The Lovely Addict for more information about love addiction and recovery.

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