Get out of love addiction.
They can not live without their loved ones, suffering, literally go crazy. In search of deliverance from this torment, some turn to a specialist. About how love addiction develops, and how to get rid of it, says family psychotherapist Valentina Moskalenko.
Svetlana came for counseling to get rid of their addiction. She is 40 years old, she does not drink or take drugs, but she feels like a real addict. “I can’t imagine even a day without Vadim. He has to go away for a weekend to meet the children from his first marriage, and I’m already crying, I feel like no one needs me… And I’m constantly calling him. Such passion I do not wish anyone.
If even the absence of a loved one is hard to bear, then the thought that he can fall out of love is unbearable for an addicted person, and the departure of a partner becomes a disaster. Love becomes a force that cannot be controlled. “I want him to love me to death,” declares 34-year-old Olga, “otherwise let him die better.
Love addiction, like other addictions, makes a person strive for the object of passion, forgetting about himself. A person obsessed with love is often unable to take care of himself: poorly eating, poorly sleeping, does not pay attention to his health.
He neglects himself and spends all his energy on his partner … thereby making him suffer. All attention, all thoughts and feelings are focused on him and him alone, everything else seems meaningless and boring.
“Dependent people can not define the boundaries of personality, they capture the loved one, leaving him no free space,” says Valentina Moskalenko. – When love turns into complete control over the partner, it prevents the development of a full-fledged sexual and love union.”
It’s not uncommon to encounter dependence on a partner who treats the lover poorly. Contrary to popular belief, everyone is at risk of becoming a victim of such passion: men and women, young and mature, rich and poor.
Another case is when violent emotions in general become the meaning of existence. Such a person literally “falls” into love. This leap is often caused by the need to dampen the sense of meaninglessness of life.
“We seek in romantic love not only earthly love and human relationships. We are looking in it religious experiences and a passionate desire to comprehend his inner world,” said the American Jungian psychoanalyst Robert Johnson.
According to him, passionate love, like a strong faith, can temporarily free us from contradictions and doubts and, like a beacon, illuminate our life, giving it integrity and certainty, giving us the opportunity to rise above the level of everyday life.
Everything that belongs to everyday life becomes unbearable,” says Valentina Moskalenko. – One lives only for this leap.” These two situations have a common denominator: the suffering generated by addiction.
The lust for sacrifice
It’s not just tender, loving relationships that get people into addiction. The opposite and no less common case is addiction to an abusive, rude partner.
Marina covers her bruises with foundation before work and thinks: “Of course, with my figure… But he’s actually good…”. Anatoly habitually slouches at his wife’s next shouting, sighing to himself: “Of course, with my salary…”
To live in an intolerable relationship, to endure humiliation and even beatings, but at the same time to blame himself – this behavior is typical of those who in childhood suffered from the coldness and harshness of parents.
“If a person is driven by a desire to fill that long-standing spiritual void, no amount of abuse, not even cruel treatment is able to sober him up,” says Valentina Moskalenko. – His feelings (as if through the mouths of his parents) tell him, “You deserve it, you’re to blame yourself.”
“Those who fall into dependence on the ‘sacrificial’ position unwittingly choose aggressive partners, provoking them in parallel to humiliating, cruel behavior,” adds transactional analyst Vadim Petrovsky. – In order to free oneself from this dependence, one must first become aware of one’s own childhood desire for suffering so as to stop communicating with one’s partner from the position of victim.
Steps to liberation
Psychotherapy of too much love applies the principle of the medieval doctor and alchemist Paracelsus: everything is a poison, everything is a cure, both are determined by the dose. In other words, moderate consumption is beneficial, but abuse causes disastrous consequences.
“As paradoxical as it sounds, you should not love too much,” says Valentina Moskalenko. – Pay attention to love songs: many lyrics extol the model of an addictive relationship. For example, the classic “The world has come to a standstill on you. To understand that this perception of love and this relationship to the loved one is destructive for both, to recognize their own dependence on the partner – difficult but necessary first step to recovery.
The next step is to awaken feelings and establish a relationship with herself. “During therapy, I felt like a refrigerator that had finally defrosted,” says 36-year-old Anastasia. – Suddenly I looked up and saw: there were people around!”
“Psychotherapy helps people realize who they are, where they are going in life, and who they need as a companion,” explains Valentina Moskalenko. – After all, an addicted person often lives as if under anesthesia, all his feelings are suppressed because they are too painful.
How to get rid of love addiction?
In this article I will talk about love addiction. What it is based on. And how it differs from healthy attachment.
I will tell you what scenarios are used to build addictive relationships, including relationships with “love predators”. Who and why can deliberately provoke us into becoming dependent on them.
How a love addict experiences “withdrawal” when he or she decides to break up with the object of their addiction, or when he or she becomes estranged.
And most importantly – I will tell you how to get rid of love addiction, if you are in it. And learn how to build a healthy relationship with a man based not on dependence and suffering, but on healthy attachment.
The important thing about love addiction. What is it based on?
1) Your love addiction to another person is based on hoping your inner child hopes the other person will change, behave differently, and give you what you need.
And also on the inability to satisfy this necessary need (which you are trying to achieve in a dependent relationship), to assimilate.
Therefore, those people who are able to give you what you hope to get from the object of dependence do not arouse much interest and desire to build a relationship with them.
Such hope originates in childhood in relationships with parents. What we do not receive in that relationship, we try to receive in adulthood from the addict.
But at the same time we completely recreate the same scenario that we had in childhood. That is, we try to get it from a person who, just like our parent or parents, can’t give it to us.
In addition, we don’t have the skill to meet these needs if we didn’t learn how to do so in childhood. There is only the skill of striving and hoping to get it, but no experience where we actually get it.
2) Another thing addiction holds on to is illusions, denial and other ways of not seeing reality.
First of all, love addiction does not arise out of nothing. It is usually preceded by other problems (external and internal) that a person had before he met his partner. And which he does not want to solve.
And in order to hide from these problems and somehow distract himself, he rushes headlong into love addiction.
Secondly, it is very difficult to maintain such a toxic, painful relationship while in a sober mind and solid memory. So some kind of protection is needed to make such a relationship more bearable.
And all kinds of illusions can act as such protections, for example, that your partner will change, you just have to wait. Or that you will be able to change him, heal him, “fix him,” etc.
Or that in reality things are not as bad as they really are. Or that your partner really loves you and his rejection, coldness, cheating or abuse is just because he is going through a “bad patch” in his life.
3) Also the love addiction holds on to the hope to return to that pleasant state which was in the beginning. When the person first got “hooked” on the relationship.
Addicted relationships usually begin with a state of extraordinary euphoria, joy appears, life seems to take on meaning.
But then the euphoria is replaced by despair, and the relationship that recently gave a feeling of bliss is already causing the strongest pain.
And on these “swings” such relationships hold – if he called, it’s a delight, life is beautiful. And if he does not call, it is a terribly painful state of abandonment, rejection, and hatred.
Healthy relationships, more often than not, do not evoke very strong feelings, neither frantic euphoria nor the deepest despair. They are generally quite calm, because there is no drama in mutuality and respect for each other. And therein lies their “health.”
And where there is violence, unpredictability of the partner, periodic rejection, cheating and so on, that’s where the drama unfolds. Which is often sustained, hoping that the relationship will someday be as “happy” as it was in the beginning.
But it’s the same mechanism for other addictions, such as drug addiction.
And whether it’s worth paying such a huge price for the sake of some momentary temporary pleasures is up to you to decide. But in my opinion, a healthy relationship brings much more pleasure and high (even if not as intense) than an addiction, even at the very beginning.
Relationship Scenarios in Love Addiction
Love addiction often looks like undivided “love.” Where the “love addict” is tormented in his relationship with his partner precisely because his feelings are unrequited.
Also, such relationships often look like “catch-up” relationships, where one partner runs away while the other tries to catch up with him, win him over, and talk him into being closer.
Dependent relationships are held together by a failed love scenario. When people instead of taking risks and really building a close relationship. Instead of being real to their partner, they build the relationship according to a certain script where everyone has a role to play.
And the relationship script in love addiction usually repeats the same one time after time with different partners.
Even if the scenario is severe, painful or violent. Such relationships are still unconsciously perceived by a person as safer. Than a real relationship with a real real other person who does not play the “role” that a person prone to love addiction is accustomed to.
Often the objects of addiction are “love predators”. Who deliberately provoke their “victims” to fall into love dependence on them. They use certain manipulations and tactics to make other people addicted in order to receive certain benefits from them (sex, money, connections, affirmation of their importance, etc.).
Relationships with love predators develop in these stages:
- Meeting an object of addiction who makes serious attempts to get close, hints or outright says he has feelings. Makes various loud promises. Intrudes “into the personal boundaries” of the addict, trying to create a close connection with him or her right away, moving into sexual intimacy or starting a serious relationship. Tanya Tank, in her book “Fear Me, I’m With You,” calls this stage “seduction.”
- The love addict begins to respond to such intense attempts at intimacy, begins to feel reciprocal sympathy, and decides to try to let the “object of addiction” get close to him or her.
- “Ice showers” – the object of addiction suddenly disappears or grows cold. And the love addict tries to understand the reasons for this change in the partner’s attitude toward him, to figure something out, to think about him often. He tries to find the reason for his partner’s behavior in himself. He gets anxiety.
- “Thaw” – the object of addiction returns again. In connection with which the addict is very happy. And the value of this relationship for him greatly increases. And out of fear that he will disappear again – makes the first attempts to please the lover.
- “Turning the screws” – the object of the addiction becomes even more cold, starts neglecting and devaluing the addict, humiliating him and hurting him. Sometimes alternating between this with bouts of tenderness and hints that things might still be okay. The addict continues to look for the cause of the partner’s behavior in himself, and his self-esteem declines as a result.
- The addict’s partner disappears again and comes back again. And the lovingly addicted person begins to cling to him, to catch up, to please, to control, to coax, to humiliate the object of addiction. For the sake of a short buzz from communicating with his partner he begins to adjust to him, to make any concessions. Over time the suffering of the addict becomes more and more intense.
Symptoms of “withdrawal” (withdrawal syndrome) in love addiction:
- Depression, a state of apathy, lack of interest in anything, depression, sadness, tearfulness.
- Suddenly everything painful and hard that was in the relationship is forgotten.
- Idealization of the partner, thoughts about how “good” he was and how good it was with him.
- Appearance of compulsive uncontrollable thoughts about the object of dependence.
- A strong desire to communicate with him, to write him, to call him, to find out how he is and who he is seeing.
- A strong fear that it will be worse without him. And that if you lose “him” you will miss something very valuable.
- Irritability, uncontrollable outbursts of anger.
- Digestive problems, nausea, vomiting.
How to get rid of love addiction?
1) Try to switch from taking care of the “object of dependence” and the relationship with it to taking care of yourself. With all your might, put yourself first for yourself.
2) Determine what needs you are trying to meet in the relationship with the addict. And what your needs were being met by this person at the beginning of the relationship when you felt happy.
Somehow he hinted to you at the beginning of the relationship that your significant needs would be met. So – you need to identify what those needs are? What did he give you at the beginning of the relationship and then stopped giving it to you?
3) Try to separate these needs from the “object of dependence. Accept the idea that other people can do it for you, including yourself. Learn to meet these needs, to accept them from others and yourself, and to assimilate them when they are given to you.
4) Think about what the relationship with this person really gives you? Not what you hope to get from it, but what do you really get? For example, the feeling that I am special, that I can be loved, the opportunity to take care of someone, etc.
Find another way to get that. That is, without that person.
5) Write a list of everything you’re not happy with about the addict and your relationship with him or her. Write as many “bad things” as you can that make you decide to get out of the relationship with him or her.
6) Stop “using” your drug. That is, completely stop all contact with the person you are addicted to.
Including looking at his social media pages, correspondence, talking and thinking about him, meeting for sex, etc. Get rid of all the things that strongly remind you of him. Block him out everywhere you can, so he can’t “show up” and give you hope again.
In case of withdrawal, when you think there is still a chance for your relationship, or when you feel physically ill without him, or if you happen to meet him, or if he writes or dreams to you – reread the list of the “bad things” why you decided to end the relationship with him.
Love and love addiction. How is a healthy relationship different from an addictive, toxic relationship?
A healthy one is not completely self-sufficient and independent, as some people think. There are no absolutely self-sufficient people who don’t need other people at all.
Attachment is completely normal and natural for all of us. And it’s normal for us to have needs for other people.
But healthy relationships, unlike dependent relationships, don’t hold on to self-sacrifice, where one invests a lot to get the other to reciprocate, or to change, or to not be abandoned. And they hold on to a healthy balance between what one gives and what one receives from the other.
Also, in a healthy relationship, “good” is much more common than “bad.” And an addictive relationship is a painful relationship, if you don’t count the beginning, when a state of euphoria comes over you. Which is quickly replaced by misery.
In a healthy attachment, the loss of a relationship with another person also causes unpleasant feelings, causes sadness and grief. But these feelings can be endured. And the fear of these feelings does not prevent one from ending the relationship if it is no longer satisfying.
And when a love addict loses his relationship with the object of his addiction, he feels much worse. He begins to experience a state of “withdrawal. And that is why it is difficult for him to get out of such an unhealthy relationship.
After all, as soon as he takes steps toward his freedom, the so-called “withdrawal syndrome” overwhelms him. He begins to be strongly attracted to the object of his addiction.
Love addiction is not love. And it has nothing to do with true love.
And this realization is one of the important steps in getting rid of love addiction. It is important to understand that it is not love, you do not love the other person in the case of love addiction. And you are using it to hide from your inner emptiness and your other problems.
How do you learn to build a healthy relationship with a man?
Love addiction is special when you compare it to other addictions. Because it is not enough to stop “using” what caused the addiction, as, for example, with smoking or alcoholism.
It is also important to learn how to build healthy, stable, reciprocal relationships. To satisfy your need to give and receive love.
Because if this is not done, when trying to build a new relationship, a person can fall back into a love addiction. Or, in an attempt to avoid it, may choose to be in a distant, cold, counterdependent relationship.
Recommendations on how to learn how to build a healthy relationship:
- Stop choosing “dangerous” partners for yourself. And start paying attention to regular, reliable men with whom you feel at ease. Do not get into a relationship with people to communicate with whom your body begins to react with adrenaline releases.
- Make a decision in their relationships to put themselves, their safety and their well-being as a priority. Not a partner, not a relationship, but yourself. And learn to take care of yourself.
- In an addictive relationship, a person learns specific skills that are completely useless in a healthy relationship. For example, to suppress all their feelings and all their needs for a long time, to devalue the importance of the partner for themselves, to sacrifice themselves and their interests, to manipulate, to try to guess the desires of the other without their words, etc. But in a safe, adequate relationship one may need what a lovingly dependent person cannot do – such as the skill of talking about their feelings and needs, learning to ask, to speak directly about their discontent, to make clear their fantasies, to protect their personal boundaries in the best way, to accept someone else’s support, warmth and caring
- Work through your fear of intimacy and your fear of being alone (better with the help of a psychologist). Behind these fears are often hidden traumas that you received in childhood. With them, too, it is worth dealing to reduce these fears. Learn to enjoy being alone, find things you like to do when you are alone.
- Look for a relationship model you like. Among your acquaintances, in books, in movies. Be with these people as often as you can, or reread or rewatch movies that feature the kind of relationships you like.
- Stop for a while watching movies and listening to the stories of acquaintances, where unhealthy relationships are presented as normal. It is important for you to reconstruct your inner idea of normality in relationships. So it’s important to surround yourself with new information and new people who are in reasonably happy, healthy and safe relationships.
- Get long-term psychotherapy from a psychologist. The relationship with the specialist can become the kind of relationship whose model you can then transfer into your life outside of therapy. That is, through “new experiences” in a relationship with a psychologist, you learn to build your love relationships with people in a different way.
You can read more about love addiction in my article “Love Addiction: Signs, Causes, Stages”.