Relationship Cycle for Love Addict and Avoidant
By Jim Hall MS, Recovery and Relationship Specialist
In this article, you will learn about a prevalent relationship pattern where a couple becomes attached and the anxiety over the level of closeness and distance drives both the pursuer (obsessive love addict) and the distancer (distancing love avoidant).
When a Love Addict and Love Avoidant come together to form an addictive type relationship--- a common and predictable cycle is ignited. It is an unhealthy attachment relationship pattern I call the Love Addiction Cycle.
As you'll see, this cycle demonstrates how the love addict and avoidant begin and how they progress through their relationship. It's an unhealthy, toxic cycle that 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 at 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 addict's 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).
Love Addiction Relationship Cycle
|LOVE AVOIDANT (Lav)
||LOVE ADDICT (La)
1. Attraction- high intensity ("chemistry"); immediate urge to rush.
Comes on strong; the facade of availability & strength, connects with emotional walls; seductive, charming, flattering; says things to make you feel special/unique; may make promises; idealizes; gets a “high” from others neediness, vulnerability.
Adores attention; feels important, validated
& special from the attention given; fantasy
triggered- intoxicating “high”; obsession
triggered; denies reality- ignores red-flags;
idealizes-- "He/she is perfect", Magical
“Prince” or “Princess “; see other as
strong, more powerful.
2. The 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 intimacy/vulnerability.
Completely preoccupied and obsessed; and
“hooked”; obsession and fantasy intensifies;
dependency skyrockets; abandon outside
interests, goals, friends/family; increases
attempts to keep the intensity, “high” maintained;
denies the emotional partner's unavailability/walls.
3. Push-Pull dance significantly increases (drama triangle also begins here).
Feelings of engulfment/suffocation by partners attempt to connect intensifies- a dramatic increase in evading intimate contact, push a partner away (walls); increased focus away/outside
Begins more and more to notice partners walls,
distancing behaviors; anxiety and discomfort arises.
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; 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; the 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 uses 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 a partner away by utilizing common distancing tactics.
With a crumb of attention, Love addict feels “high”/ relieved from avoidants
momentary attention/focus to the relationship;
fantasy/hopes reignited, fuels further denial of
the 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 a partner; the tight grip
of denial continues.
Avoidant leaves relationship (blames a 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 the failure of a relationship.
Love Addict leaves the 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), the 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.
Addictive Relationship Pattern vs Healthy Relationship Pattern
Addictive relationships are insecure and unhealthy-- since both partners are insecurely attached. Together, they become repellants to one another.
In a healthy/secure relationship— couples cycles between engaging in intimate closeness and mutually withdrawing to integrate into their respective senses of self.
Put another way-- couples in a secure relationship 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.
How to Stop the Love Addiction Cycle
Recovery over love addiction can lead to unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship patterns changing over time.
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.
About Author: Jim Hall MS, is a Love Addiction Specialist, Online Relationship Coach, and Author of 3 Books on Love Addiction and Recovering. As a leading relationship expert, Jim gives hope to those struggling with love addiction and insecure attachment styles- offering quality guidance towards a healthy path to break obsessive love patterns and healing from love withdrawal caused by a breakup. - more about Jim
Learn more about this Toxic Relationship Cycle in my book on love addiction: The Love Addict in Love Addiction.
Want to break free from the love addiction cycle?
Consider working with a therapist or counselor who specializes in love addiction
Learn about my online recovery services
Love Addiction Recovery