Love & Relationship Addiction Cycle
When a Love Addict and Love Avoidant come together to form a romantic relationship--- a common and predictable cycle is ignited. It is an addictive process I call the Love Addiction Relationship Cycle.
As you'll see, this cycle demonstrates how the love addict and avoidant begin, then move through the phases of an addictive relationship together. It's a toxic cycle which encompasses a distressful 'push-pull dance' full of emotional highs mixed with many lows, where the Love Addict is on the chase and the Love Avoidant is on the run.
The exhilarating “highs” in this cycle is most prominent in the beginning of an addictive relationship.
As this Addictive Relationship Cycle progresses, anxiety over the level of closeness or distance drives both the pursuer (love addict) and distancer (avoidant) in a 'crazy making yo-yo dance'-- sooner or later, resulting in both partners feeling distressed, depressed, and miserable in the relationship, particularly the love addict if withdrawal occurs.
What drives this toxic relationship cycle between a love addict and avoidant?
The short answer: this cycle is driven by the love addicts strong fear of abandonment, which clashes with a love avoidants strong fear of intimacy.
When the love avoidant senses the love addicts desire for closeness and intimate connection, it triggers their strong fear of intimacy-- for an avoidant, intimacy is equal to being engulfed, stifled, and controlled. * Note: Love avoidants also have an underlying fear of abandonment. And Love Addicts have an underlying fear of intimacy.
These core fears drive the repellent forces of each partner, thus creating the toxic love addiction cycle (below).
Relationship Cycle Between a Love Addict and Avoidant
|1. Attraction- high intensity ("chemistry"); immediate urge to rush.
Comes on strong; facade of availability & strength, connects with emotional walls; seductive, charming, flattering; says things to make other feel special/unique; may make promises; idealizes; gets “high” from others neediness, vulnerability.
Adores attention; feels important, validated
& special from attention given; fantasy
triggered- intoxicating “high”; obsession
triggered; denies reality- ignores red-flags;
idealizes-- "He/she is perfect", Magical
“Prince”or “Princess “; sees other as
strong, more powerful.
|2. The relationship progresses- inevitably, energy/intensity decrease; early phase of push-pull dynamics.
Still engaged, but less idealizing; "high" dissipates; less attention/focus; begins to feel discomfort from partners attempts to create more connection and closeness; slowly begins pulling away with subtle distancing tactics to avoid
Completely preoccupied and obsessed; and
“hooked”; obsession and fantasy intensifies;
dependency skyrockets; abandons outside
interests, goals, friends/family; increases
attempts to keep intensity, “high” maintained;
denies emotional partners unavailability/walls.
|3. Push-pull dance significantly increases (drama triangle also begins here).
Feelings of engulfment/suffocation by partners attempts to connect intensifies- dramatic increase in evading intimate contact, push partner away (walls); increased focus away/outside
Begins more and more to notice partners walls,
distancing behaviors; anxiety and discomfort arise.
Obsession and denial deepen; escalates attempts
to connect- may manipulate, demand, control in
attempts to re-capture “high” (attention),
|4. Push-pull /drama dance in full force; La- pursuing desperately; Av- pulling away desperately
Avoidance/walls, distancing behaviors at its height- evading intimacy through tactics of resentment, anger, deflection, blame; looks down on partner, perceives as “weak”,
"needy", "sensitive" as partner seeks intimate contact; ; becomes more critical, abusive; may increase use of compulsive behaviors/addiction outside relationship for intensity/”high”.
Denial of partner breaking- fantasy crumbling;
sense of shock, disbelief of partners walls;
triggered feelings of rejection, panic, depression; intense rise of obsession; bargains, blames self
for partners behaviors; placates more, tolerates
more, gives and does more, to attain fantasy
and get back relationship, "the way it use to be”.
|5. Various scenarios occur at this point of the cycle
Avoidant may occasionally give attention/focus to love addict partner desires (recreating intensity)-- this is often done out of guilt and/or fear partner will leave. However, turning toward their partner is shortlived.
Eventually avoidant (again) fears of intimacy are triggered, feels engulfed from partners desire for closeness-- pushes partner away by utilizing common distancing tactics.
Love addict feels “high”/ relieved from avoidants
momentary attention/focus to relationship;
fantasy/hopes reignited, fuels further denial of
reality of the avoidant partner.
When love addict (again) notices avoidant
disengage-- fantasy crumbles; triggered feelings of distress, anxiety, panic, abandonment; attempts to
regain fantasy/attention from partner; the tight grip
of denial continues.
Avoidant leaves relationship (blames partner for relationship failure), moves on
to repeat the same cycle with another love addict; and/or engages in addiction/compulsion
(sex, gambling, drugs,
Love addict enters withdrawal-- quickly seeks out
another relationship and repeats the same cycle with another love avoidant; or medicates with another addiction to escape emotional pain-- at the same
time craving and obsession of ex-partner continues;
in addition to owning all responsibility for failure of relationship.
OR... at some point:
Love Addict may leave relationship
A love addict may leave the relationship as they become so burned out from chasing their partner; and tired of the pain and “craziness” of the relationship. Still, because of the loss of the fantasy (the real drug), withdrawal will occur; and again, the love addict may quickly seek another relationship to repeat the same cycle, or medicate with another addiction. * And for the lucky ones, decide to get help, enter recovery to change their relationship patterns, the way they love, and who they love (encouraged!)
Avoidant may try returning
In response to the Love addict leaving, the Avoidant may experience withdrawal- triggering pain/abandonment-- and decide to seduce, charm, and convince the love addict to return to him/her ...
They may revert back to "the person they were in the beginning", by ‘giving’ loads of attention, compliments, making new promises, apologizing for wrongs, etc. ...
This often invigorates the love addict’s fantasy, all over again-- Love Addict returns to
CYCLE CONTINUES ALL OVER AGAIN.
Secure vs. Insecure Relationship Cycle
In a healthy/secure relationship— a couple cycles between engaging in intimate closeness and then mutually withdrawing to integrate into their respective senses of self. Put another way-- they engage in healthy equilibrium through periods of connection, disconnection, and reconnection resembling a healthy dance. It’s the natural ebb and flow of secure and loving partnerships... it is a healthy dance.
In comparison-- in the insecure/toxic love-addicted relationship with a love addict and avoidant, the couple becomes asynchronous in closeness and distance, and the cycle between the two partners become polarized in opposite roles, repeatedly creating the drama-filled, toxic cycle... or 'toxic dance'.
This poisonous dependency cycle is a perpetuating roller coaster ride for both partners-- and can go back and forth for months, years, or decades. And it's important to keep in mind, even if the relationship cycle ends with one partner, the love addict and avoidant will move on to find another romantic relationship to repeat the cycle with. People can go through their whole lives repeating this cycle in romantic relationships.
How to Break Free from the Love Addiction Cycle
With solid recovery work and specific treatment of love addiction, unhealthy-dysfunctional relationship patterns can change. Dealing with the core underlying issues that drive love addiction, you can make profound changes in the way you love.
And step by step, you can grow into a secure, self-loving, mature adult who no longer gets sucked into unhealthy relational cycles, but instead allows love and intimacy and mutual connection that you deserve.