Love. We all want it. We are hard wired to it. We want to feel connected. We seek and need attachment, especially romantic connections. However, how we go about getting the love we want and need varies.
Some people are able to have healthy relationships, allow for time in between relationships and know how to examine what went wrong or how they grew apart in a healthy way. They do not need love to ‘complete them’ or make them feel whole.
Others take a different approach. Their ability to create and sustain a healthy and long lasting relationship remains elusive. Once the elation and intense feelings start to wane (as they do), they seek out another relationship that will give them the same feelings. They move from one relationship to another, always seeking the completeness, wholeness, and fleeting happiness they feel that another person provides for them. This is because they have not learned how to create that on their own. They remain stuck in a cycle of pain and disappointment not only in others, but themselves. People with low self-esteem, who have a distorted image of romantic love (with happily ever after endings), insecure attachments, and very few, if any, positive role models to emulate, are more inclined to become love addicted.
Love addiction is a chronic craving for the perfect relationship. Fearful of being alone or rejected, love addicts are on a constant pursuit to find the perfect person to make them feel loved and whole. They are attracted to the intense feelings that arise at the beginning of a relationship and seek to continually ‘fall in love.’ They have difficulty tolerating the waning of those intense feelings; when this occurs, feel empty and unloved – again. And so, the cycle starts over. They believe that true love will fix everything.
However, in this perpetual cycle, they miss the most important ingredient – themselves.
Are you addicted to love? Take a moment to answer these questions.
Do you find yourself moving from one relationship to another because you don’t like the feeling of being alone? Do you move on to the dating scene too quickly once a relationship has ended?
Do you believe that relationships should always be joyful and intense? Do you think that the beginning stage of a relationship is how long-term relationships should be? And if they are not, do you believe something is wrong and find yourself ending the relationship to seek out a new one – just so you can feel the same intense feelings?
Do you stay with someone despite knowing – on some level – that he/she is not right for you?
Do you ignore the red flags that are right in front of you and stay in the relationship? Do you talk yourself into staying with this person just so you can be in a relationship?
Do you experience anxiety and fear when the thought of being alone enters your mind?
Do you not like being alone with yourself? Or need the reassurance of another that you are likable, lovable?
Do you depend on your partner to love you and make you feel loved? To feel whole?
Are you preoccupied with the image of getting married and not focusing on having a healthy relationship?
Do you think that if your current partner loved you in the ‘right and special way’ you would be happy for the rest of your life?
Are you preoccupied with the notion of love and how it is expressed on social media, movies, and fiction? Do you believe this is how love should really be?
Do you feel that if you could just find the right person, everything would be perfect and you could happily move forward with your life?
Have you had breaks in between relationships (more than a few weeks)? If not, why not?
Do you find it too painful (and therefore avoid at all costs) to take a look at past relationships and attempt to uncover the real problem?
How many did you answer ‘yes’ to?
Steps to break the cycle of love addiction.
1.) Take inventory. Take a step back and look at your relationships. Take inventory of your relationship history. Sit down and write down each relationship, along with what was good and bad about each. Note why you believed you stayed. Be open and willing to take a hard look at yourself and your choices. Own up to your responsibilities and see where you went wrong in this relationship. Often when we take the time to do and really do it from an honest perspective, we do see patterns emerging. From there, decide how you want to make changes and what those changes would look like.
2.) Walk the walk. Saying you will take your time the next time around and actually doing so are two very different things. When not in a relationship, it is easy to believe we have worked things out and are healthy enough to start a new one. However, once we think that without doing any actual work, we end up in the same type of relationship because we truly have not changed. The person isn’t the problem – we are. Our recurring and unhealthy behaviors are the problem. Take inventory of your relationship history. Often when we take the time to do and truly do it from an honest perspective, we do see patterns emerging. Then decide how you want to make changes and what this would look like.
3.) Take a hiatus from relationships. Yep, seriously. Give yourself 6 months of no dating. This means no hookups, getting off the dating apps and social media, and saying no to blind dates and suggestions from friends. If I had a dollar for every time I suggested this to someone – because I know that taking time off from dating can be a true ‘game changer’ in life, – I would be a wealthy woman. But people don’t listen. They look at me like I have two heads. Soon enough, they come back after another failed relationship.
4.) Connect the dots. You can do this by looking at your history – your family of origin. Do you see a similar pattern? Are there similarities between your upbringing and childhood experiences and your relationship and dating experiences? No doubt, you will see connections.
5.) Seek out professional help – especially before you begin another search for a new relationship. An outside perspective from a qualified person who can help you figure things out will put you on the right path towards healthy relationships.
6.) Take responsibility for your life. No one can make you happy. They can enhance your happiness, but ultimately you, as an individual, are the only one who can truly make you happy. If you continue to look for things and people beyond yourself to create your happiness, you will have to refill your take everyday. Being able to create your own happiness will set you on a path of healthy relationships. Learn to be true to yourself, your values and morals. Honor them.
7.) Learn to ride the roller coaster. In the beginning, it will be difficult to not be in a relationship. After all, if we have traversed from one relationship to another, that’s all we know. Give it time. Enjoy other parts of life. Let the roller coaster take you on an adventure!
Read here for some signs of love addiction.