Love Addiction & the Media
" From the bondage of sorrow, the captives dream dreams." Jim Manley in Spirit
There are many psychological reasons we become love addicts, but there are some contributing factors as well, and while they play a lesser role in the addiction process, they are worth mentioning.
Love Songs and Myths About Romantic Love:
One of these contributing factors is the perpetuation by the media of distorted notions about romantic love. By "media" I mean romantic novels, movies, television shows, and music.
Of course, the biggest culprit when it comes to spreading misconceptions about romance is the love song. It is from listening to love songs over and over again that we are saturated with the message that life is not worth living without romantic love, and that we are nobody until somebody loves us. Love songs also tell us that love is an endless aching need and that it is all right to go crazy when we fall in love. As long as I can remember I have been hearing that love is magic, that the first time you meet someone the sun should rise in their eyes, and that it is all right to dream your life away.
Love songs also reinforce the idea that it is all right to suffer for love. I have heard songs that say in essence do what you want to me but don't let me be lonely. There is also a multitude of songs about heartache and standing by your partner even if your partner is a liar and a cheat. Other songs glorify needing to be needed in conjunction with suffering in the name of love. They repeat the same message─as long as I am needed, I will be true and hang in there no matter what.
My favorite songs are about the person who will do anything to lure the loved into their lives and anything to hold on to them. (In case you've missed my point, these songs are about controlling, not loving.)
Of course, love songs don't always give the wrong messages. After all, I have heard some great lyrics about enough is enough or sometimes love just ain't enough. Still, while many love songs are just harmless melodies about how hard it is to break up, others perpetuate serious misconceptions or myths about romantic love. They reinforce the idea that:
1. Love happens overnight:
2. Falling in love is like drinking a magic potion and you should allow yourself to be drawn into this experience despite the consequences. (In other words it is all right to be irresponsible when it comes to love.)
3. Romantic love is the most important experience in life; it is the only fulfilling experience worth having; and other forms of love (platonic, familial, brotherly, spiritual, etc.) are worthless substitutes.
4. It is all right to do anything in the name of love. (All's fair in love and war.)
5. It is romantic to suffer (or even die) for the sake of love.
Unfortunately, in almost every society known to "man," women are ultimately taught that their primary identity is linked to their relationship with a man, while men are taught that their primary identity is linked to their work. As a result, most women tend to feel deprived or devalued when there is no man in their lives. Of course, potential love addicts are especially susceptible to this notion, and (as usual) take it one step further. Not only do they have misgivings about being single, this role horrifies them. It is a fate worse than death.
Inadequate Role Models:
Not only are children who have had a dysfunctional childhood deprived of love and guidance, they are given poor examples to follow. Therefore, a love addict with an emotionally unhealthy parent will often see addictive (or neurotic) behavior as normal. This makes it especially difficult to recognize and change obsessive behavior─but not impossible.
Put romantic love into perspective. Don't let the poets tell you how to think about love. Love is not something you are powerless over. It is not the most important experience in life. It is not all right to do anything in the name of love, and it is not romantic to suffer.
Don't follow the example set by your parents if you recognize their behavior as being obsessive, addictive, or unhealthy in terms of today's standards. For instance, you don't have to be a martyr just because your mother was.
For those who now recognize their parents as poor or inadequate role models, consider beginning a process of "cutting loose." Find new role-models, and begin forming your own "adult" values. Also, learn to replace inappropriate behavior, based on old ideas, with healthy behavior based on your newly formed values. Consider creating your own personal values regarding the importance of being in an intimate relationship. (Don't think like a needy, addictive person.) Try not to be influenced by the hidden messages of the media and literature. Laugh at them, ignore them, or get angry and protest them, but don't buy into them. Read Why Do I Think I'm Nothing Without a Man, by Penelope Russianoff.
Keep a clear head when it comes to romantic love. It can be addictive.
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Excerpt from Addiction to Love.