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The Love Addict: Anxiously Attached 'In Love'

By Jim Hall MS, Love Addiction Specialist | Relationship Coach

 

Love addicts can look and act quite a bit like addicts addicted to drugs. The main difference is that love addicts obsession is not on a substance but on one specific person, usually with whom they become romantically involved. They experience euphoric “highs” induced through a fantasy of the person with whom they get romantically attached.


In relationships, they tend to become anxiously attached with emotionally unavailable individuals with an insecure-avoidant attachment style, love avoidants. They also frequently form relationships with avoidant narcissists individuals. 
Once a romantic relationship is established the love addict is in constant pursuit to get closer and closer to their avoidant partner and get continuously triggered by their partner's indifference and distancing tactics.



 

The Love addict - Key points:
 

  • Relationship/Romance fantasies used to soothe/comfort self through the obsession with one “magical” person.
  • Prone to cling to love relationships even if toxic; has difficulty letting go.
     
  • Dependency pattern used to seek external validation; attempt to compensate, soothe, and regulate emotions; escape unpleasant feelings.
  • Focus/obsession is on one significant relationship/person- ultimate bonding important; prone to stay in a toxic relationship.
     
  • Compulsive cycle manifested around seeking and/or keeping one relationship; avoiding abandonment/rejection, a fantasy of person.
  • Shame/despair—intensified when rejected/abandoned/relationship loss (“See, I really am a bad, unlovable person”).

Root Cause of a Love Addicts Obsession: Carried Shame-Based Messages, Beliefs, Distortions from Childhood


Most experts agree that the root cause of relationship addiction can be traced back to one's childhood. In childhood, most love addicts may have experienced a variety of dysfunctional family environments such as chemical dependency, chronic mental illness, chronic physical illness, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, divorce, hypercritical or non-loving environment, or loss of loved one through death, etc.

 

Love addicts tend to carry unhealthy learned-adaptations and abandonment issues into their adult lives and relationships. Moreover, they tend to carry from childhood shame-based messages and distorted beliefs from one or more parents that that leaves them feeling a deep sense of being unlovable and worthless. As a result, they feel they need a person in a romantic relationship to feel alive, valued, and worthy.


Feeling 'In Love' and Obsessed to the Point of Compulsions


When most people first begin a romantic relationship and fall in love, it is normal to feel some passion, euphoria, and excitement. There is that glitter in the eye, that new smile, and the hope of a happy future with the new person.

Chemicals in the brain are enhanced when love is new--these are our "happy chemicals"-- the dopamine neurotransmitter. In a normal healthy process of falling in love, there is a core component of "reality".

When a love addict falls in love, the euphoric feelings are greatly intensified & falsely mistaken for true love, blocking out the reality that really exists. "If the chemistry is great, it must be true love, my soul mate", the love addict believes. 

In their fantasy, the reality is greatly distorted when an attachment to another person occurs. They disconnect all logic rational and replace it with distortions and denial.

Reality is thrown out and delusion is thrown in. The romantic "high" they feel when falling for another is created by a fantasy of their partner and what the future will bring with their new "King Savior" or "Princess-Wonder Woman".

Obsessed and infatuated, a love addict never notices who their partner truly is. They'll 'make-up' who they want their partner to be, and ignore who their partner really is.

The obsession with a person (their object- drug of choice) allows them to feel alive, have a sense of purpose, and gain a sense of meaning and self-worth in the world. If the love addict had any purpose or sense of self before the relationship, it is lost in the dependency to the fantasy.


Fantasy - Denial of Reality - Ignoring Red Flags


Red flags--negative behavior, addictions, disrespect, and emotional walls by another person--go unnoticed, are denied or minimized. They idealize their partner and put them high up on a pedestal believing they have the power to fulfill the intense desire for love and acceptance.  

They view their partner as being better than-- "the strong and independent person who has it all together"--and/or will make up in their fantasy that "he/she has so much potential as a person", which will often hook the love addict in becoming their savior.

As the relationship continues on and reality starts setting in, love addicts become angry and resentful because of their partner's failure to meet expectations (expectations that are impossible for any person to meet).  

The partner's unavailability and increased avoidance trigger anxiety and feelings of abandonment which causes them to smother and demand more and more as they try to get that euphoric feeling back (or a feeling of normalcy) and the toxic dance begins between the two.

As a love addict desperately tries to get a partner's attention and get intimacy needs met, their partner further creates distance by focusing outside the relationship (other addictions or compulsive behaviors for the avoidant addict are common), and the love addicts denial slowly begins to crumble.

It is like the cocaine addict losing his supply of the drug--withdrawal symptoms begin to set in, and reality becomes more present. But even when it becomes crystal clear that the relationship is going nowhere, the love addict will fight with every nook and cranny to avoid the inevitable reality of their partner's disengagement and often intolerable behaviors


Even if the love addicts partner becomes verbally abusive, manipulative, blaming, and controlling, the love addict will often continue the extreme denial to avoid losing the relationship.

A love addict will tolerate more and more intolerable behaviors because being with this person would be better than being alone.

They will give more and do more (and lose more of his/her identity) in the relationship while receiving less and less.  They will take the blame for things that he/she wasn't responsible for and blame him/herself for the avoidant partner's unhappiness.

"Anything" but losing the relationship will do. If a love addict does leave, the fantasy and denial will get transferred on to the next "one" who will make them feel special, and the destructive pattern repeats itself once again.


In effect, each romantic connection brings a fleeting sense of safety and aliveness. The fantasy and delusion they create hold a false promise of emotional security driving away from the gnawing emptiness, anxiety, and loneliness--if only for a moment. Their relational patterns are compulsive, out of control, and continue in spite of adverse effects on their relationships and their lives.


Treating Love Addiction

For love addicts to recover from this problem involves the treatment of the core issues. For example, healing the shame and low self-worth, unhealthy boundaries, breaking the toxic relationship patterns; and changing unhealthy beliefs about what relationships are really supposed to look like. Seek help from a helping professional who specializes in helping people with love addiction.


 

Author: Jim Hall MS, is a Master trained therapist, Love Addiction Specialist, and online recovery expert who helps those struggling with love addiction discover a healthy path to overcome obsessive dependency patterns, develop the skills, self-love, and self-assurance to have healthy, happy relationships.


For a personal consultation- advice, and/or relationship and recovery support – go to this page, Online Love Addiction Coaching.


 

Learn much more about the Love Addict and unravel the crazy-making dynamics of an addictive relationship between the love addict and love avoidant, in my book... The LOVE ADDICT in Love Addiction

 

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