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Relationship Cycle for Love Addict and Avoidant

By Jim Hall MS, Recovery and Relationship Specialist

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 “high's” for love addicts are noticeably 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 if the love addict enters love withdrawal

What causes the love addiction cycle?

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 a love avoidant senses the love addicts desire for closeness and intimate connection, it triggers their strong fear of intimacy-- for intimacy and closeness is equal to being engulfed, stifled, and controlled.

* Note: Avoidants also have an underlying fear of abandonment; while Love Addicts also have an underlying fear of intimacy. 

These core fears drive the repellent forces of each partner, thus creating the toxic love addiction cycle (below).


What the Love Addiction Relationship Cycle Looks Like:


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; 
dealizes-- "He/she is perfect", Magical
“Prince”or “Princess “; sees other as
strong, more powerful. 

2. Relationship progresses- intensity decrease for Lav; Obsession increase for La

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), 
relationship intensity.

4. Push-pull /drama dance in full force; La- pursuing desperately; Lav- walls increase

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.

With a crumb of attention, 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,

alcohol, etc.)

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 ...  Love Addict leaves 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. ...

If a love addict’s fantasy is triggered all over again-- then the relationship cycle is repeated.

Healthy / Secure -vs.- the Addictive / Insecure Relationship Cycle


Addictive relationships are insecure and unhealthy-- since both partners are insecurely attached. Together, they become repellants to one another.

In a healthy/secure relationship— a couple cycles between engaging in intimate closeness and mutually withdrawing to integrate into their respective senses of self.

Put another way-- a couple in secure relationships engage in healthy equilibrium through periods of connection, disconnection, and re-connection resembling a healthy dance. It’s the natural ebb and flow of secure and loving partnerships... it is a healthy dance.

Whereas an addictive-insecure relationship-- both partners being insecurely attached become asynchronous in closeness and distance and thus create a toxic and distressing dance.

The cycle between the two is polarized in opposite roles and repeatedly creating a drama-filled, toxic pattern... a 'toxic dance'. Both eventually become dissatisfied and come to feel like they are losing themselves, but they don't know why.

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 - unless one or both step into an effective recovery and healing process.

People can go through their whole lives repeating this cycle in romantic relationships.

Breaking the Obsessive Relationship 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 and self-loving adult who no longer gets sucked into unhealthy relational cycles, but instead embraces real intimacy and mutual connection.

Learn much more detail about this Relationship Cycle and how love addicts and avoidants operate in addicted relationships,  it's all in my book and you can read it now The Love Addict in Love Addiction.


Talk to the Love Addiction Specialist and Start Recovering Today - Love Addiction Recovery





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