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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).


Love Addict and Love Avoidant Relationship Cycle




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; 
dealizes-- "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 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- a dramatic increase in evading intimate contact, push a partner away (walls); increased focus away/outside
the relationship.  



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), 
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; 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,

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 the failure of a relationship.



OR ...  

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.




Healthy 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— couples cycles between engaging in intimate closeness and mutually withdrawing to integrate into their respective senses of self.

Put another way-- couples 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.

How to Stop a 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 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 Recovery Coach, and Author of 3 Books on Love Addiction and Recovering. As a leading expert, Through his writings and online recovery practice, Jim offers much hope for those struggling with love addiction- to discover a healthy and solid path to break free from obsessive love patterns as well support and guidance to overcome the acute discomfort of breakup love withdrawal.

Learn more about this Toxic Relationship Cycle  in my book on love addiction: The Love Addict in Love Addiction.


You're probably wondering:

How can I stop this love addiction cycle?

Consider getting a good therapist who specializes in love addiction - Or - Learn about my online coaching services
 Love Addiction Recovery





You may be interested in:

Love Withdrawal and Grief

Stopping Obsessing Shaming Thoughts

Steps to Overcoming a Breakup

Ground rules for Love Addicts

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