Is it Love or Is It Addiction?
If it is love, you are happy most of the time in your relationship; you get along most of the time; there is more good than bad in the relationship If it is addiction, relationships are painful and you are unhappy after the honeymoon is over. Love is unrequited. But you can't let go. You can't stop loving. You can't move on.
Love addiction has its roots in unmet childhood needs. So let’s begin there and see how love addiction progresses. If you identify with any of these stages you may be a love addict.
⋅ Childhood trauma occurs (neglect, abuse, etc.);
⋅ An attachment disorder appears;
⋅ An excessive hunger for love first appears;
⋅ Low self-esteem begins to develop;
⋅ A fear of abandonment and loneliness appear;
⋅ Emotional pain becomes apparent;
⋅ A need for relief increases;
⋅ Unhealthy mood altering experiences are used to relieve anxiety;
⋅ Romantic fantasies become a fix for your loneliness and depression;
⋅ A preoccupation with romance becomes habitual;
⋅ Relationships become a fix for your unhappiness and low self-esteem;
⋅ Unhealthy dependencies on relationships begin to appear;
⋅ An obsession with someone may occur;
⋅ Once you are in love, you can’t let go no matter how bad the relationship is;
⋅ You develop a high level of tolerance for suffering in a relationship;
⋅ You believe the person you are in love with is the only one in the world who can make you happy.
⋅ If a relationship ends, addictive behavior appears: obsession, too much texting and emailing, driving by someone's house to see what they are doing. In some cases stalking and violence..
⋅ Problems develop outside the relationship. Your job may be affected or your relationships with your children, family, and friends may deteriorate. Still, you can’t let go.
⋅ Emotional distress appears;
⋅ Health problems appear;
⋅ Subsidiary addictions continue to progress like drinking, shopping, exercising, or anorexia.
⋅ Dying for Love: As pointed out by Robin Norwood, in her book Women Who Love Too Much, obsessing in a relationship cannot only cause physical and emotional problems, it can kill you. Death may come from stress related disorders (heart failure, strokes, ulcers, etc.), or from the violence that is often a part of an addictive relationship. Death can also come as a result of suicide.
If you recognize yourself in this description of how love addiction progresses, get help.
Susan Peabody is the author of Addiction to Love, The Art of Changing, Workbook for Love Addicts and Love Avoidants, and Where Love Abides. She writes to help people as she was helped when she got sober 37 years ago. Her website is http://brightertomorrow.net/