Love addiction is not about the love, it is about addiction to the fantasy of love.
Written by Oksana Pusechel – Senior Therapist at Find Reason Therapy
“Then I drop to my knees because I can’t find a decent enough reason not to because reluctance rarely stands a chance against repeated behaviour.”
What is Love Addiction
Hello, my name is Oksana and I am in recovery… In recovery from many things; recovery from shame and guilt for my mistakes and things I did, mostly unintentionally, but damaging and hurtful to myself and others whilst in active love addiction and pursuit of so-called “love”.
Love addiction can usually lead to other addictions to help you “medicate” the pain of yet another unsuccessful relationship or another heartache. Poor little heart, it has been broken too many times. Looking back at my own journey of love addiction I have few words to describe it – pain, despair, loneliness, the fantasy that this time will be different, I just need to work harder, pretend better, be more available, be less available, internal emptiness and zero relationship with self. Desperate attempts to be seen a certain way and maintain this image with all my energy, what if they will see the real me, the horror of this discovery will make them abandon me, shame me or see me for who I really am and leave me…
But who am I? Really?
- Feelings of pathological loneliness if not in a relationship
- Attracted to unavailable people to feel the “intensity of love or sex when they needed me” (gee writing this makes me sick)
- Going out with people who didn’t share my values (did I have any? I forgot about them the minute he paid attention to me or was interested in me).
- It was never a question “Is he good for me?” It was almost always a question “Am I good enough for him”
- I neglected the most important relationship in my life with my son, just to be in some sort of “promising” relationship, fantasising that they will relieve me from the pain of being ME.
- Eventually, I had a “very successful history of very unsuccessful relationships”.
Where does Love Addiction Come From?
Usually love addiction stems from unmet childhood needs of safety, inclusiveness, love and validation, healthy boundaries, guidance and directions from your parents, which can cause attachment trauma, and unhealthy attachment styles to anyone paying you attention (for maybe a change of those needs being met). Anxious attachment causes us to obsess over whether someone wants us, is texting us, or is just thinking about us. But when they don’t… We resent them, we believe we are worthless, unloved and unwanted. The negative feelings take over and spiral out of control into shame, leaving us paralysed and unable to engage normally in life. It feels very difficult to navigate life with emptiness inside and without “someone special” who will fill up our cup of emptiness. You start changing the way you look, the ins and outs of your personality, or blaming your unfortunate life situation with only one in mind.
“Please love me, don’t leave me”.
What to do about it?
Why was it so hard to just find love… such a basic human need?
I was looking for love and connection outside of myself without having love and connection within.
Eventually, I had enough; enough of hurting myself, other people and feeling anxious about my next move in life alone. I had to make some significant changes. It all began with a decision. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life feeling like this. I craved real connection, authenticity for myself, transparency in my relationship, equality of commitment and responsibilities, and anxiety-free time alone without obsessing about what my partner might be doing when I’m not around. I was over this exhausting way of living my life.
Does any of these sound familiar? if so, the good news is there is hope, it is possible to have a healthy, equal relationship… but it starts with yourself.
It’s no surprise that culturally and socially we have been trained to be addicted to “love”. The sad or promising love songs, the jealousy-provoking ads for romantic getaways and the desire to be cherished by a special someone will always remain appealing to us. For some individuals, this poses a significant problem, the infatuation and massive appetite for love create a desperation or starvation that they will do anything to find love and ultimately land in emotionally abusive or cold and distant addictive relationships over and over again causing them incredibly emotional pain.
Break free from the chains of addictive relationships that sabotage happiness and self-respect. Don’t confuse longing and obsession with true love. We can begin to work through relationship difficulties by increasing our awareness of the ways that we express love and how we start to enter our romantic relationships.
Love addicts often pick partners who are emotionally unavailable because deep down, they don’t feel worthy of having a healthy, loving relationship. A love addict craves and obsesses about becoming enmeshed or ‘one’ with another human being at all costs, even if it means putting themselves in potential danger.
The breaking free process is not a simple one, it is rarely a short one and it is definitely a challenging one. Despite what you might have been told or what you might believe, this does not mean we do this alone. There is a strong need to heal together but with safe and healthy people. Group work or individual therapy/coaching can help you to break free from painful addictive relationships and find love within. There are also recovery groups and support groups that bring like-minded people to heal. Having a big inventory of resources and practical tools in recovery to navigate through life will help you to move along the path to living a life where intimacy is possible. You will have the opportunity to begin “connecting the dots” in your own relationship patterns by hearing the stories of other brave and daring people that have experienced emotional pain. the way through is together with HOPE. hope stands for Hearing Other People’s Experiences.
If you are interested in connecting back to yourself and starting to understand how to enter into a strong recovery and love from within, please reach out.