“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
How do you REALLY know if you are in a love relationship with your man or If you are addicted to him?
It is possible to be addicted to someone or to even to the mere idea of being in love. Like any addiction whether it be drugs, alcohol, food or relationships, there is dysfunction and co-dependency in the way we relate or connect ourselves to the other.
This can happen in any relationship and we come by this pattern honestly from what we learned about attachment and bonding in our childhoods.
I won’t go into detail about attachment here but getting to know your attachment style is something I use with clients regularly as an extremely insightful tool to understanding your patterns in relationship.
Another helpful tool I have clients use is to write what they believe to be red flags vs. green flags in a relationship.
We then review these beliefs together. This helps me as their therapist learn about what was considered normal in their childhood experience that might be healthy or unhealthy. It also helps them to learn about themselves, their patterns and expectations.
Below find some good examples of what addiction might look or sound like in a relationship as compared to a healthy romantic relationship:
Addiction looks like:
- Idealizing the other person, putting him on a pedestal
- Changing yourself for him in an extreme way. Things such as changing your:
- Core Values
- Friends/Who you spend time with
- How you talk/interact with people when with him
- Feeling very shy, anxious, nervous, on edge when you are with him
- Extreme fear of rejection from him because you value his approval/love over anything
- Fantasizing about the relationship & Euphoric responses when the love is reciprocated
- Making excuses for his problematic behavior
- Overthinking & Obsessing about every interaction- or lack of interaction-no matter how big or small
Healthy looks like:
- Balancing the needs of the relationship with your own needs and self-care
- Being yourself with and without him
- Feeling comfortable and at ease with him
- Valuing your own opinion AND his
- Each of you taking personal responsibility for your actions
- Having hobbies, interests, activities outside of the relationship
- Appreciating each other & both making effort to regularly connect with each other
There is a Buddhist saying that goes with a lot of these signs listed above.
The saying goes, “If you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your soulmate you’ll feel calm. No anxiety. No agitation.”
If you feel curious and want to explore more about your patterns in relationships, counseling is a safe place to talk and find the tools you need.
Samantha Murphy, LPC – www.westhartfordholisticcounseling.com
Falling in love shares a lot of the euphoric feelings of exhilaration and thrill that alcohol and many drugs provide.
In fact, our bio-physio responses can often be nearly the same.
So, it can be confusing to know when love—which is a natural human need and response—moves over into the territory of being addictive. How can you tell when it’s no longer love, but addiction?
The early stages of love really are a lot like addiction.
Excitement, glorious floods of well-being, feelings of warmth, even flushing and trembling occur. You find yourself obsessively thinking about the other person, idealizing him, losing your concentration, going over and over every interaction you’ve had together, have trouble sleeping or even eating.
Then you alternate to feelings of anxiety, fear that your feelings won’t be reciprocated, yearning, impatience, and a sense of craving to be with him.
All this helps create a strong connection.
Whether it is the right relationship for you, however, requires awareness of your long-term needs and a lot of thoughtful consideration.
Moving from that early thrill to a solid, secure, realistic relationship needs time, experience, and commitment.
Long-term, mature love certainly has a continued sense of desire and enjoyment of the other person, but it has an underlying calmness, contentment, and security as well.
When two people become an enduring, loving couple they share in the well-being of each other.
They care about the feelings of the other person, make adjustment to include each other, share a sense of protectiveness of each other’s need, and at the same time maintain their own well-being, enjoy separate activities and interests, and don’t feel a constant need to control the other person. They both feel a sense of balance in the relationship.
Love becomes addictive when the negatives outweigh the positives, but you still have a strong emotional dependence, neediness, and an obsessive attachment despite not getting your own needs met.
I work mostly with people who are trying hard to love someone with narcissistic or borderline personality qualities. They pour more and more love onto their partner, give more, compromise more, forgive over and over, and desperately try to fix the relationship despite not receiving the same consideration from their partner.
Over time they may give up their friends, move away from family and friends to please the other person, put up with infidelity, and slip into ongoing anxiety or depression.
They become preoccupied with how to please their partner, how to avoid getting him angry, how to help him feel better and totally forget the fact they, themselves, are miserable and not getting from the relationship what they deserve.
They think that if they can just make their partner happy, then he will be finally able to think about and care for them. This is a clear picture of love addiction.
Strong, lasting love relationships, however, are based on still being able to be considerate, compassionate, loving and kind even when there are difficulties and even when things don’t go your way.
If you find yourself trying hard to please your loved one by giving up all your energy and interests, and you still don’t feel your needs and goals in the relationship are being met, then it’s time to ask yourself:
- Are you more stuck in the habit of having a relationship than you are actually in love?
- Are you addicted to the drama, the sex, or the intensity of the relationship?
- Are you working significantly harder at the relationship than your partner is?
- Are you actually getting out of this relationship what you say you have always wanted?
- Are you really happy and content the majority of the time, or only occasionally?
- Are you afraid of being alone?
Look into your heart for the real reasons you’re in your relationship.
Don’t just say, “I’m there because I love him.” Make sure there are really good reasons that match your values, goals, and life path that make this relationship really good for YOU.
Otherwise, you may need to look more deeply at whether or not you’re addicted to love.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
Addiction is always about pain.
Addictive patterns are characterized by cycles of urgent, intense longings and cravings which are relieved by engaging in the addictive pattern, and then that relief is followed by a downward spiral of painful return to longing and craving.
This pattern continues, and while there is definitely pleasure at different points, there is a sense of grasping to those high points that interferes with our ability to enjoy the larger process, and what feels good in the short term undermines well-being in the long term. This is true whether we are talking about substances, behaviors, or relationships.
Addiction is a manifestation of fear.
Love is the opposite of fear; it is about wholeness, freedom, and acceptance.
Love allows us to have room for the entirety of our experience, to provide constancy when difficulty arises as well as to remain open to receiving in the times of pleasure, without contracting into the need to grasp onto those moments for dear life.
On the surface, it would seem that knowing the difference between love and addiction is relatively simple.
However, our “blueprints” for love are set up in our brains and nervous systems by our earliest relationships, before we even have words or explicit memory.
The level of attunement received in those very first relationships with our caregivers determines our body experience of what love feels like. There are many factors that go into that early programming, and none of them have to do with logic. So, we struggle to determine the difference between love and addiction if we try to figure it out in our heads.
By listening to the body’s voice, we have a way to drop below that level of logical (over)thinking to determine a deeper truth.
- Addiction, being based in fear, feels contracting in the body, even with the pleasurable stuff, because there is some fear around losing the good stuff.
- Love, on the other hand, feels expanding, and we have enough space to be able to let go rather than grasping.
Bringing awareness to your inside experience, allow yourself to find the space between the thoughts and feelings, the part of you that can notice the thoughts and feelings rather than being taken over by them.
Check in with your body wisdom as you invite the object of your interest into that awareness. Is there a sense of opening or closing in the body? Therein lies your answer.
Wendy Dingee, MS, LCPC, LCADC, BCC – www.livewellnevada.com
We hear a lot of messages about love:
- “Do not date until you learn to love yourself.”
- “If s/he doesn’t prioritize you then they aren’t worth your time.”
- “You should feel butterflies every time you’re close…”
- “Things should be easy…”
For women, those messages can get even more complex that by the time we find love, we aren’t entirely sure if what we have is even healthy and good for us.
So, maybe you’ve asked yourself: am I addicted to him or is it love?
If you’ve spent time wondering if you have an addictive, infatuated, co-dependent, or too-intense bond, you’re not alone. Many of us get wrapped up in passionate, whirlwind romances – and I don’t blame you, the movies make them look intoxicatingly fulfilling.
How do you tell if you’re in love or addicted to your partner?
Did you know that the Greek language has eight different words to describe the types of love? The Greek language goes leaps and bounds above our English explanation of love….we’ve got one word. One word that is meant to encapsulate our love of brownies and our love felt toward our romantic partner. Not quite the same, right?
Let me review the eight Greek definitions with you real quick:
- Eros = erotic, lustful love
- Philia = affectionate, friendship love
- Storge = unconditional, familial love
- Ludus = playful, flirtatious love
- Mania = obsessive love
- Pragma = enduring, loyal love
- Philautia = self-love
- Agape = self-less, sacrificial love
In reality, we can feel love in a lot of ways. So, it can be particularly confusing to know if we’re in that domain of Mania, or obsessive love…50 Shades anyone?
I’m a big believer in the fact that we are created for connection. Friendships, romantic partnerships, professional bonds, siblings, parents, children…all of these connections are crucial to our development and our basic needs being met.
But here are three signs that your love connection is beyond love…instead, your love has transformed into addiction.
Your concentration is strained. If you’re having trouble focusing in life, being productive, or following your daily routine, you might be addicted to love.
While this intense passion is commonly found in new relationships (aka the honeymoon phase), it can also be a sign that the love has become somewhat of a drug. You might find yourself re-arranging your routine or day because you cannot stop thinking about him.
Or, maybe you are spending countless hours on social media looking up every person he’s ever dated.
Love transitions into obsession and mania when you are no longer able to function and be successful independently.
But also keep in mind that every form of addiction has a “functioning addict” so, you may still be addicted even if your concentration hasn’t been strained.
Ask yourself: Am I able to keep up my responsibilities or does this love have me completely and totally wrapped up?
Still not sure? Keep reading!
The love you receive is never enough. You might be addicted to him if you are having trouble feeling sustained by the love you receive.
Typical of any form of addiction, chemical addictions (such as cigarettes) or process addictions (such as gambling), when in an addictive cycle one dose is never enough. I often see clients whose proverbial “cup” is never full.
For example, you might hear I love you and then need to hear it again minutes later. You might have a great date night together and be sad and angry when he wants to hang with friends the next evening. Classic addiction has us feening for more.
Ask yourself: does our love make me feel seen, valued, and connected or am I constantly itching for more proof, time, and affirmation/adoration?
Time apart feels threatening. You find yourself uncomfortable, anxious, and fearful of your time apart.
Healthy couples of all backgrounds and styles benefit from time apart. We cultivate our internal self-love, we develop sustaining hobbies and relationships, and we elevate our awareness and acceptance as a uniquely designed entity.
Don’t get me wrong, quality time and closeness are lovely for a bond but you’ll know you are addicted when any time apart feels like a threat.
You might find yourself questioning what the other is doing and needing to know, like right now, and if he doesn’t answer you are skeptical, upset, and unsettled.
You might catch yourself feeling like you don’t know how to exist without the other person, which is codependency. Or, maybe you’re wondering how to spend your time, what he would is doing, and whether you have purpose outside of him.
Ask yourself: am I comfortable with my own interests and relationships or does every aspect of my life revolve around his interests and relationships and/or us?
Noticing all three? You, my friend, are addicted.
Kendra O’Hora, Ph.D., LCMFT – www.wellnessandco.org
This topic can be very challenging, or yet very easy to distinguish.
If we can release ourselves from the trappings of our minds for just a moment. Most of the time, our minds are usually very mind-less. Producing very random thoughts, dramatic thoughts, irrational thoughts, with logic to bring us back to our reality.
In the realm of relationships, we can get very lost in our minds and lost in the ‘truth’ of the relationship.
“Is this an addiction? Am I playing out old unconscious and subconscious patterns? Perhaps from parents or previous partners? But.. I feel that I really love him?”
Deeper clarity can come to all of these questions by gently observing oneself and the relationship from a neutral standpoint.
In different spiritual teachings and philosophy, they speak of the ‘Holy Relationship’.
The Holy Relationship would be that you know you are with the right person when both people in the relationship are a constant reminder of the extension of “light, love, peace, authenticity etc” that they already naturally are.
To make that simpler, this relationship would work to be free of manipulations, free of judgements, and truly unconditional.
Some questions to ask oneself would be,
- “Do I feel any sense of trying to control or manipulate my partner?”
- “Do I feel that my partner tries to control or manipulate me?”
- “Are there unfair ‘boundaries’ or rules in place that restrict my sense of self expression and freedom?”
- “Does my partner remind me of a parent whom I have had issues healing with?”
- “Do my partner and a parent share similar energies or traits of behavior?”
- “Do I feel as if I am in a cycle, feeling no control to the ‘pattern’ that is playing?”
- “Do I support my partner in their freedom and expansion?”
Remembering at the end of the day, love, true love, is unconditional.
There need be no rules, no limitations, as the love itself will provide the space for the relationship to work effortlessly. However, this effortlessness does not happen in an instant. It takes the commitment to conscious awareness for both partners. As it also takes acceptance and compassion.
Ananda Nelson, MSW – www.anandanelson.com
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