“Love addicts often pick partners who are emotionally unavailable because deep down, they don’t feel worthy of having a healthy, loving relationship. A love addict craves and obsesses about becoming enmeshed or ‘one’ with another human being at all costs, even if it means putting themselves in potential danger.”
~ Christopher Dines
Are you addicted to love?
The first step to exploring this question is being more aware of your own fantasies about love.
What images do you have about romantic love? Do they come from fairytale stories or are they based on real life examples?
The answers to these questions will reveal some interesting insights into your hidden expectations and motivations for being in a relationship.
Are you more interested in the idea of love, or are you willing to invest the time and energy it takes to love another person?
If you are simply chasing a feeling or a particular fantasy based on a movie or television series, you may be disillusioned. The truth is that a relationship is a moment by moment experience and the feeling of love can come and go and you go through deeper layers of the relationship.
The next step is to check in with your own feelings of self-respect and self-worth.
Have you accepted all parts of yourself? Can you appreciate yourself?
Many people with love addictions feel empty or incomplete inside, and cannot tolerate unpleasant feelings so they look to another person to fill this void. This is how many addictions start in the first place.
The following practices may assist you in addressing a love addiction.
1. Take a non-judgmental look at your relationship patterns.
What do you notice? Why did those relationship end?
2. Check your expectations.
Do you expect your potential partner to be a certain way, or behave in a certain way, or provide in a certain way?
3. Know your own love language.
According to Gary Chapman, there are five primary love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
4. Can you tolerate being alone?
Can you feel good about yourself even when you are not in a relationship or do you need to be in a relationship in order to feel good about yourself?
5. Slow it down.
So many people get caught up in the feeling of love and rush into the relationship. Take your time to really get to know your potential partner. Is this someone you can continue to respect if the feelings of love ebbs and flows. People who are addicted to love usually just want the feeling of love, and not the person or the relationship.
Be gentle with yourself as you go through this brief checklist.
If you believe that you are addicted to love, then reach out for support and work through the addiction before committing to a relationship. Doing so will set you up for greater success and enjoyment of your relationship.
Dr. Shannon Tran – www.shannontranphd.com
Sadly, many women don’t know what love is. They model their relationships after how their parents or relatives interacted with each other or how these people interacted with them.
Many of these dysfunctional relationships were filled with fear of dependence and vulnerability, power struggles, patterns of emotional wounding and making up without understanding the dynamics going on, and interpersonal problems which were never resolved and sometimes never even addressed.
No wonder women who were raised in these kinds of households are confused about what love is and become habituated to sub-standard relationships that they often fail to realize don’t measure up.
If you want to find a truly loving relationship, rather than simply copy what your parents had between them, you will want to know what makes for a healthy partnership.
You will also want to avoid seeking out a relationship that is the exact opposite of what your parents had, assuming that this will make for romantic bliss.
Here are five ideas to consider so that you don’t become involved with the wrong person or, if you do, you’ll know why it’s time to disengage.
1. First and foremost, rather than focus on what you want in a partner.
Become an emotionally healthy person who will naturally attract partners who are mature and have good love potential.
2. Understand that mature love is more than physical attraction, infatuation, and being the apple of someone’s eye.
Mature love may occur only when the strengths of these feelings subside and you take off the blinders and see your partner more realistically.
3. Notice your patterns.
Fill in the blank of “I always fall for someone who___?” Do you go gaga over a certain physical type, only flip for romantics, swoon over lovers who are aloof and maintain a distance between you and them, or can’t resist the ones who always keep you guessing how they feel about you?
4. Recognize and acknowledge when you are unhappy in a relationship, rather than try to brush the feeling away.
Know exactly what derails happiness and be attuned what the unhealthy patterns are with you and your partner. If they’re happening often now, they’re probably going to continue happening down the road.
5. If you have questions about whether a relationship is healthy for you, don’t be afraid to talk to a therapist and get an objective perspective.
Friends can be a great support, but they can’t always tell you what’s right for you. With a therapist, at best, you may be saved from making a terrible love mistake. At the least, you will learn more about yourself in relation to love, loving and being loved.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
- Are you jumping from relationship to relationship?
- Do you fall in love right away, before you really get to know someone?
- Do you obsess or fantasize over romantic movies, music, films, and gestures?
- Are you afraid of being single?
- Are you picturing the wedding after the first date? Or before the first date?
These could be some signs of love addiction.
The first step to breaking any addiction is recognizing you have a problem, and making a decision to stop engaging in addictive behaviors is extraordinarily hard.
So, like any addict, get some support! Friends, family, online support groups, or any resources you can seek out, you should try to find. Have your coping skills ready to go.
When you feel like diving back into your love addiction, take deep breathes, paint, color, take a bath, go out to dinner with friends. Do things to keep yourself engaged with the non-romantic world.
Stay away from your triggers. Avoid entertainment, magazines or social media that focus on love.
There are entire genres unrelated to romance…go explore those! Or better yet, get involved with something totally unrelated to love at all…go hiking, running, swimming or any type of exercise.
Boost your feel good endorphins, especially because our brains on love are similar to brains on drugs and therefore withdrawal symptoms may feel very real.
Spend some significant time alone!
This is a tough one, but necessary. One of my favorite scenes in a movie is in Runaway Bride when she takes a break from love and finally discovers how she likes her eggs, instead of liking whatever it is her boyfriend likes.
Taking time to be alone, discover your own interests, joys, and pleasures not only helps to feel self-fulfilled and self-reliant, but makes you a more interesting person to be around.
Love is about seeing and appreciating another person. How can someone love and appreciate you if you don’t even know yourself.
Take time off and travel, go to dinner with friends, or a movie alone. Begin to enjoy your own company and value yourself, so that you can choose a next partner deserving of you, not just any person willing to be with you.
Last, but definitely not least, find a therapist or counselor you can talk to and explore why you’re addicted to love in the first place.
Talking with a professional can help you identify motivations for your love addiction, and help you identify motivators to end it!
Amanda Harmon, MSW, LCSW – www.aharmonlcsw.com
The first step is to notice the patterns of behavior and the seeking of love and naming it “addiction” or “codependent.”
The reason it is important to name it, is to be able to observe it and the patterns one might find themselves doing to engage it.
What I have found helpful is for individuals to build a healthy support group and system to help with triggers to engage in addictive patterns of love addiction.
Love Addiction Meetings can be helpful along with a sponsor and perhaps CODA (Co-Dependents Anonymous). In addition, to these meetings, the value of individual psychotherapy can be very helpful, to learn how to strengthen and create “self love” versus looking to another or others for love and acceptance.
This is a process and exploration of learning how to take care of oneself and experience the “emptiness” that may be felt or experienced without a relationship.
To deal with love addiction, one generally has to experience not being in a relationship with another person(s) for an extended period of time (case by case due to marriages and other variables) in order to practice “self love” and “self esteem” skills.
Some areas to keep in mind are the tendencies to “cross addict” meaning if one gives up love addictive behaviors, they might find themselves in another addictive pattern of behavior, for example over exercising, substances, eating issues, or shopping, etc.
Keeping an eye on the addictive behaviors and tendencies is important when addressing any addictive pattern and it is a process of being able to identify the “love/addict mind.”
There is a balance of what we call Harm Reduction patterns and Abstinence of behaviors. Abstinence does not mean no relationship forever, it means no love addictive patterns of behaviors.
This is an ongoing life long process of engaging healthy tools and needs to be practiced daily. Addiction is an insidious behavior that can creep up on one if they are not aware and practicing the tools of self love, self care, self growth and building self esteem daily. No vacations. The value is the individual can experience commitment, spiritual love, and balance.
Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT – www.lisabahar.com
We are independent, professional women who may hold higher degrees, fulfilling careers, mortgages, expensive car loans and take fancy vacations. We’ve got it together. Almost. By day we are wonder women.
By night we are Cinderella browsing on Match, e-harmony, Our Time and Zoosk for our “prince.” We are looking for that soul mate. That special someone who is meant for you and only you, and he will make you whole, and you will live happily ever after.
Then the alarm goes off, and you wake up.
Hopefully. Fairytales are for children or are they? On the surface it is a story of external love. Abused and abandoned pauper girl, who is really a princess, meets prince and goes off into the sunset. But dig deeper, and it is a tale of the internal masculine and feminine energy that need to unite to create a sense of wholeness and joy.
It is a journey of balancing the yin which is intuitive and receptive with the yang which is logical and action oriented.
Both men and women have the masculine and feminine energies, and it is the ultimate challenge of the maturation process to internally marry these parts.
It’s not that you can’t be in relationship with a man and also fulfill the internal work that is our spiritual journey. But it is important to enter relationship with the understanding that he is not out there to fill any unfulfilled parts of yourself.
We tend to attract men that have those parts that we are missing in ourselves. The problem is that puzzle pieces from one puzzle are not interchangeable with puzzles pieces from a another puzzle.
This is why it is so important to heed the advice of Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck. She extols the virtues of the growth mindset.
You must believe that you are capable of being in a healthy relationship and that all good relationships require a commitment to ongoing work.
It is a choice to stay committed. There is no magic and no such thing as a soul mate. On the surface that sounds like bad news. But it is actually exciting. It broadens the playing field and dramatically increases the odds for success.
Margie Ahern, M.Ed. – www.gomindful.net
- Do you feel euphoric and on Cloud 9 when you are with your man?
- Do you feel that you’ve got the world by the tail because you have a man in your life?
- Do you do anything and everything you can do to keep your man happy so that he won’t reject you?
- Do you confuse sex with love in your relationship?
- If you feel that wonderful, euphoria slipping away, as eventually happens in healthy relationships, do you feel lost, let down, sad and disappointed?
- If this does happen, do you leave the relationship in order to find another man to love that gives you that exciting euphoria again?
If this is a pattern in your life, you may be addicted to the notion of love rather than actually being in love.
Women with low self-esteem tend to define themselves by the men the in their life.
- They expect men will bring them happiness, meet all their needs and, in a real sense, complete them as individuals to make them whole.
- They crave external validation and constant reassurance of their men’s love for them.
- They have to be in a relationship so as not to feel alone and lonely.
These women may have come from families where they received very little attention and love, particularly from their fathers. As adults, they are constantly seeking that attention from men.
However, the attention is never enough to satisfy these women. They typically are attracted to men who are not able to be emotionally there for them so their childhood abandonment issues become recreated.
These women will likely end up leaving the relationship to search for other men to fulfill all their needs only to find out that the same disillusionment and disappointment will happen again and again. These women are addicted love.
Women who go from one relationship to another to find love and happiness fail in their pursuit because they are incapable of giving love to others.
They weren’t given love as children and never saw it modeled so they lack this ability in their own personalities. Their obsessive needs and clinginess act to sabotage their relationships and push men away.
What can do these women who are addicted to love do to learn how to love?
First, they must learn how to love themselves.
- They must learn to nurture, self-sooth and validate themselves without expecting others to fulfill all their unrealistic needs.
- They must heal their childhood emotional wounds that bring them pain.
- They must learn how to be a giving spirit without wanting anything back in return.
We, as women, do need others in our lives to form relationships that are rewarding and enhance our personal growth and development as human beings. This, however, has to be a matter of choice, not a demand that needs to be adhered to.
The power to bring us women love and happiness lies within ourselves.
Giving that power to others betrays and destroys our very soul. Let the force be within us and love will come our way.
Dr. Joanne Wendt – www.doctible.com/providers/joanne-wendt
“I liked it. I craved it. I wanted more and I took it. I took it like I needed it, like my life had a limit and if I didn’t get as much of it as I could, I’d quit breathing the next instant.” – Kristen Ashley
Addiction is a serious problem that millions of people struggle with everyday.
It can present itself in many forms, love being one of them. By definition, addiction is a condition that results when a person engages in an activity that can be pleasurable, but can become compulsive, interfering with their daily life.
When people think of addiction, love does not usually come to mind, but it is real, and very much a struggle like any other.
Life Coach and Author, David Maestas, defines it as being, “the desperate need to find a partner that can romantically fill my emotional needs and at the same time make me feel safe because I believe they will never abandon or hurt me.”
Within this addiction, a person subconsciously chooses partners who do not return their affection, and do not add to the relationship.
The major cause of love addiction is due to neglect in some area of your life, more than likely stemming from childhood.
You are constantly in search of something that you missed out on, reciprocal love. Since you didn’t have it, you don’t know what healthy love looks like, therefore, destructive patterns start to arise.
Feelings of loneliness causes people to seek out affection from places where there is a high potential of being rescued from the pain.
You see the person for who you want them to be, rather than seeing them for who they are.
When the “high” of the relationship starts to wear off, and you begin to realize that the person that you are with with is not your knight and shining armor, withdrawal starts to move into place.
You may try to change your partner or suddenly leave them, so the fantasy can continue.
If any of this sounds familiar, don’t worry because you are not alone.
The first step is awareness, so you are halfway there.
Mr. Maestas believes that the pattern of love addiction can be changed by finding and listening to a new voice of maturity within yourself.
The goal is to heal the broken internal dialog that exists and prevents people from moving forward in a healthy way.
They are stuck in what Mr. Maestas calls, their inner child. He says in order to move forward, a person must begin acting in a way that aligns with their longterm goal of having a loving and healthy relationship. It is true, our thoughts control our actions, and our actions control our patterns of behavior.
Mr. Maestas developed a simple formula that people can follow, so they can embark on the path to long lasting change.
People should ask themselves this simple question, how would I act if _____ and I were in a healthy relationship? It’s simple, but powerful, and will cause you to think, as well as create awareness. You hold the key to your desires, your future. Take note and take charge!
Robin Ennis, LCSW, CPC – www.linkedin.com/in/robinennis
In the wild, wild west of the World Wide Web, and fast-fast-fast dating, it can be hard to know the difference sometimes between what is actual love versus a temporary hookup.
This superficial online world of ultrafast dating sites, for example, often skip the steps of actually getting to know each other, in trade for a temporary sense of relationship and belonging, by texting and never meeting, or by the consummation of sex in lieu of conversation.
Sex can become a goal that gives a sense of artificial intimacy without any of the steps of actual intimacy that can leave a woman feeling more alone than ever.
Whether we are actively part of this or not, it is in the air, and we are all affected. It’s in the zeitgeist of our culture right now – a kind of relationship junk food.
One of my very first spiritual teachers bellowed at the group of us one evening, “Marry yourselves!”
We all laughed nervously and looked down, hoping to not make eye contact with him. But I’ll never forget that moment. Because what he was saying in two words was a powerful truth. Because really, if I can’t love me, who can?
Then, years later, one of my very own students said to me about his own love life, “Would I want to be with me?”
What an interesting question.
And the answer, too often, is no, we wouldn’t. We want our partner to complete us. We want them to show us who we are. When it is our job, our prerogative to BE ourselves, ourselves. We need to know that we are worthy. For there is no one else that is you. No one else who can be you, but you.
If we do not feel worthy of love, how can anyone really love us? By the basis of this logic, we are saying we are unlovable. So really, how can someone love us?
Basically, what I’m saying here is that when there is no self-love, then we won’t be able to truly let love in, or even recognize it. It is metaphysical law.
And so, we can get addicted to false love, love that looks like love, but is not. We can get confused by what we think love is, or what love looks like in the magazines, and miss it completely – when it might be right there!
So, here are the 3 Spiritual Rules for Real Lovability
- First, love you. Learn to love yourself and be yourself.
- Second, be open to receive love. Know that you are worthy.
- Finally, be patient. Learning to love your self is a practice. It takes time. Trust that real love will come.
Here is the bottom line:
The degree that we can love ourselves is in exact proportion to how much love we can receive from another.
Love is all around us – all the time. Be open, have fun with it, be ready. The true love of your life can be right around the corner!
Diana Lang, Counselor and Spiritual Teacher – www.dianalang.com
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