Over many years, I’ve seen Love Addicts repeat the same patterns time and time again. Some of my clients believe that they just can’t find the right one, or that their love has gone from the relationship. They jump from one to another, always searching for that fix, that high which makes them feel special and whole. They are on a hamster wheel and too frightened to get off, so they keep running around searching, exhausting themselves in the process.
Love addiction is a chronic and compulsive craving in the pursuit of romantic love. They desire security from another without thinking things through rationally. Their need for attachment is to survive and they seek connection, especially that romantic connection, time and time again.
There's nothing dysfunctional wanting love as this is a human condition, but when you forsake yourself for the ill-fitting relationships that you are in repeatedly, your life becomes problematic to you!
Here are 10 questions for you to ask yourself:
1. Have you ever thought if only someone loved you in a wonderful, special and distinctive way? And that if only you had someone like that, you would be happy forever?
2. Were you, or are you, pre-occupied with the notions of love? Do you listen to music and drift away with the notion of it – dreaming of it as you see it unfold in the movies that you watch, or the couples that you see holding hands and laughing together in the streets etc.?
3. Have you ever talked yourself into loving someone, needing them even though you knew they were not right for you? You've not been able to turn away, as the power of being in love is bigger that the reality of difference. You need their LOVE now as it will sooth you, numb you and make you feel whole.
4. Have you stayed with someone because you are not prepared to be alone? Do you panic at the thought of being alone and will return to ex-partners who have treated you badly.
5. Did you ever place scaffolding around your partner, smooth away their own issues to make them seem better to you early in the relationship? Have you felt that doing this to/with someone was much better than accepting the lack of similarities and admitting that you are just not suited.
6. Do you always strive for those ‘whistle and flute’ days? The excitement of being in love is stronger than anything. Your believe you met your soul mate again, you are whole once again, and this time this is the one true love for you!!
7. Since you started dating, how long have you been on your own or unattached to someone? Have you been free from fretting about being attracted to someone, or someone being attracted to you?
8. When you are in a relationship, do you ever wonder off in your head to past relationships and wish they were still in your life. Are you always on alert for that attention from others and thinking there is someone better around the corner – even though you are with someone and committed to them? Does flirting stay with you during these times and the need to feel special from others is as strong as ever?
9. Do you expect your partner to make you feel whole, loved and special all the time? If they are not paying you as much attention as you would like, do you become upset and the need to feel wanted and loved is stronger than ever?
10. Have you ever taken time to heal from a relationship before entering a new one?
I don’t intend to score you on your questionnaire. However, if you’ve answered ‘yes’ to a majority of the questions above, there are ways that you can stop this compulsion and lead a healthier life with healthier relationships. The first step is to forge a better relationship with yourself.
Why not try something different, because your past experiences have not worked for you.
Don’t ever, ever give up! Recovery is possible. If you slip, get right back up – as the old saying goes: “Fall 7 times; get up 8!”
Learn everything you can about your addiction. Stick to your treatment program, even when you don’t feel like it!
Don’t compromise your personal values just to fulfil an urge.
Have a game plan in place for those times when temptation rears its ugly head.
Keep a log of all the times you are successful – this will help keep you motivated during the most difficult times because you’ll see how far you’ve come.
It’s okay to desire “Mr. Right” or “Ms. Right”. BUT, don’t make it your highest priority, or put your life on hold while you’re waiting. The more fully you live your life, the more attractive you will be to that right person for you when he or she comes along.
Don’t try to be someone other than who you really are.
No matter how low you feel, never put yourself down – truly be your own best friend and treat yourself with the same respect you would treat any dear friend.
Learn to forgive yourself and others. Holding grudges takes a lot of energy, and the underlying hurt and anger can be a trigger for giving into urges.
Don’t try to manipulate someone to make them stay with you.
Don’t look to others to validate you – that must come within. The more you believe in yourself and value yourself, the more others will admire and respect you.
Don’t ever settle for Mr. or Ms. Wrong because you’re scared of being alone – you’ll just end up exchanging one type of pain for another.
Don’t dwell on past mistakes or regrets. Accept that you can’t change the past, forgive yourself, and focus on the present and the future.
Don’t make perfection a goal – it will never be attainable. Instead, strive to be excellent.
Surround yourself with trustworthy people who will support you while treating you with the respect you deserve.
Take responsibility for the decisions you have made.
When you’re feeling alone or scared, find opportunities to spend time with others in a healthy environment.
Remember that being alone does not mean you are worthless or undeserving of love. Make time in your life to focus on something you are passionate about, or that gives you a strong sense of purpose. Rid your life of anything or anyone that is toxic or not good for you. This may include bad habits, a relationship with someone toxic, or replacing an old bad habit with a healthy new one. (Note though – don’t try to do this all at once, just focus on one or two things or people at a time.)
Visualise often a life without this addiction. Imagine yourself living that life right now, not some day down the road.
Learn something new that you enjoy. Focusing on a new task or project is a great way to ward off intrusive thoughts.
Make sure that your expectations of yourself as well as others is realistic.
Always stay focused on your goals and be true to your heart.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, it will hopefully help you see the importance of getting treatment for your love addiction.
I offer an assessment that can help you identify what your needs are, and we can begin our work from there. I will use a model that is the right one for you. You are an individual and this needs to
be explored within therapy.
Remember: You do not have to do this alone and it’s hard to combat without the support of others. We will work towards a bespoke treatment plan that caters for your unique life, and unique you!