Love Addiction

Love Addiction

Love addiction can be a crippling emotional affliction. It is not chemically based, as are drug and alcohol addictions, but it can still detract from the quality of a person's life in severe ways. Love addiction is classified as such because it is driven by destructive thought, belief, and behavior patterns. It creates a sense of loss of control, and sufferers may be unable to behave in their own best interests.

Love addiction can have a negative impact on ones self esteem, affect his or her ability to move forward to new relationships, and can create a sense of mental paralysis. It can keep one in unsatisfying, unhappy relationships for years. As detrimental as the relationship is, the pain of separation is far worse than the typical unhappiness it brings. Staying in the relationship makes the addict feel bad, unfulfilled, discouraged, and empty. Severing the relationship brings on feelings of intolerable pain, panic, and the compulsive need to reconnect.

At some point, it becomes difficult to decide which state of negativity is preferable. Sufferers may find themselves bouncing back and forth between being in the relationship and being out of it. Doing so prevents them from having to experience both the unhappiness of the relationship and the agony of separation from it for extended periods of time. If a person flip flops between being in and out of the relationship, the degree of pain changes, therefore making the experience more bearable.

Withdrawal from a love interest can be excruciating. It can result in one's inability to work, compromise one's self control, result in restraining orders, lead to suicide attempts, and decrease overall functionality. This can have detrimental effects on a person's self esteem, as well as their self respect. The effects of losing self esteem and self respect can fuel the addiction and lead to other types of problems. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Often the only thing that allows a sufferer to move forward is finding a substitute for the addiction. Only then do the pain and feelings of emotional amputation subside. If the connection with the new interest is strong enough, the elimination of pain can be immediate. The new love interest acts as an instant band-aid, immediately filling the unbearable void that this type of loss creates.

The causes of developing this addiction can be numerous and complicated. Although the loss feels like a simple inability to tolerate certain types of emotional pain, there's often extremely low self esteem present. Many psychological issues are rooted in the sub-conscious, and may require substantial digging. A person may not consciously feel that they have these issues, as the addiction can mask them.

Another possible cause is a predisposition to addiction in one's personality. Some people have natural addictive tendencies. Others have what is known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD is a personality disorder marked by difficulty in interpersonal relationships, inconsistent behavior and mood, and a distorted self-image. Having such a personality makeup can make a personal vulnerable to other psychological conditions, such as addiction.

Not having developed a full sense of self is also often a contributor. Lacking the ability to self-sooth, enjoy one's own company, and fill time constructively can be present. Fear of not being able to function alone can motivate a person to stay in an unhealthy situation. It's likely that the sufferer develops other unhealthy attachments to people, such as their parents or friends.

Love addiction often takes the form of compulsive phone calling, showing up at a former love interest's house or job, or otherwise stalking. The overwhelming need to connect can manifest as a feeling of debilitating emptiness that ultimately leads to panic and a feeling of mentally drowning. The compulsive panic can come over a person in waves, causing rapid heart rate, labored breathing, and a feeling of choking. Added to that is the fear of being reprimanded legally, which can further drive feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and fear.

As with other addictions, there are solutions to overcoming love addiction. A beginning can be recognizing the addiction for what it is. Often an acknowledgement of a problem can provide some relief, as the mystery of what's causing one's misery is finally uncovered. In addition, discovering and examining the source of the addiction is paramount. Understanding what drives the addiction can help unravel it. This is where talk therapy with goal setting comes in. It should be noted, however, that talk therapy can become counterproductive if one keeps talking in circles without taking action. When the benefits and goals of talk therapy have been reached, it might be time for a more action oriented therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy might be the answer. Cognitive therapy is designed to interrupt destructive thought patterns. The goal is to diminish symptoms by correcting distorted thinking based on inaccurate perceptions. Cognitive behavioral therapists have this type of training, often times specializing in addiction.

Another resource is groups such as Codependence Anonymous (CODA). CODA is a twelve-step program where people who become inappropriately enmeshed with others set realistic goals for themselves based on the twelve-step principles of recovery. They share with the group, but do not receive verbal feedback. The benefit of this type of therapy is that it allows a person to express him or herself, and forces one to search for answers from within. Doing this in a group setting makes a person accountable for processing and expressing the thoughts to active listeners.

There are many types of addiction. Such include shopping, gambling, sex, love, or other compulsive behaviors that interfere with and diminish quality of life. Whatever the addiction, the suggestions in this article can be of help. Recovery comprises acknowledgement, analysis, interruption of, and redirection of these destructive thoughts and behaviors.

Comments (1)

This article needs to define 'love addiction' at the outset, and then proceed.

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