Love and addiction: a breakdown in order

Love and addiction: a breakdown in order

Chapter 1 Till death do us part

Chapter 2 What is addiction, and how does it relate to drugs

Chapter 3 The general theory of addiction

Chapter 4 “Love” as an addiction

Chapter 5 Addictive lovers together

Chapter 6 Childhood and adolescence of the addict

Chapter 7 Addictive Society

Chapter 8 Addictive lovers separately

Chapter 9 Society and Personal Growth

Chapter 10 Getting Fit

Chapter 11 From Addiction to Love

Addiction is an unstable state of being, marked by a compulsive urge to deny who you are and who you have been, for the sake of some new and ecstatic experience. While it is true that strong attraction is a beautiful thing, passing it off as love is foolish and dangerous. The resolution of addiction is in accepting and affirming the strengths of the relationship while at the same time addressing and correcting the weaknesses. Love, in addition to the immediate emotion, also requires time, shared experiences and feelings, and a prolonged moderate bond between two people.

There are more powerful charms than your mediocre magicians have ever dreamed of.

Joseph Conrad “Victory.”

Archie and I would especially like to thank two people whose involvement with this book was actually as profound and lasting as our own. Mary Arnold contributed with precise editorial suggestions, participated in our internal and external life, and helped create an atmosphere in which we were able to try to realize the ideals of the book. Donna Gertler worked with us on many, many versions of the manuscript, researched and traveled with us, and shared in the successes and failures of our attempts.

We also appreciate the sympathetic and helpful comments made by several other readers of the manuscript, Barbara DuBois, Ruth Carey, Stanley Sagow, and Julia Vellacott, as well as readers of individual chapters, which are too numerous to be included in this list. There are also two friends who supported our work with their hospitality, practical help, and advice: Michael Gross and Stanley Morse. Time, space, and structure were provided for us by Fred’s Firm, Inc. consulting firm.

Finally, we owe much to our publisher, Terry Taplinger, and our editor, Bobs Pinkerton. Their faith and contributions to this book helped shape it and say what we wanted it to say. It’s here.

“Love” and “addiction”: the juxtaposition seems odd. And yet, there is nothing strange about it, for addiction has as much to do with love as it does with drugs. Many of us are addicts, but we don’t know it. We reach out to each other based on the same needs that drive some people to drink and others to use heroin. And this type of addiction is just as destructive and far more common than the others.

In the mind, love and addiction have nothing in common at all. They are polar opposites. Nothing is so far removed from true love–understood as a commitment to mutual growth and fulfillment–as desperate self-interested dependence, which, in the case of drugs, we call addiction. In practice, however, we tend to confuse the two. We often say “love” when in reality we mean and play off addiction as a sterile, frozen dependent relationship with another person who acts as the object of our need for security. This interpersonal dependence is not like addiction, nor is it analogous to it; it is addiction. It is addiction in the same way that addiction is addiction.

This book is somewhat personal. I began writing it when I observed the destructive psychological and moral consequences of many love relationships. I came to the conclusion that such relationships did not conform either to the ideal of love proclaimed by their participants or to the way I understood love. As the boundaries of consideration expanded, I developed the theme, as far as possible, in the form of psychological descriptions. These are fictional stories, generated not so much by clinical observation as by ordinary experience. Despite the fictitiousness of the characters in these stories, they are, in a sense, familiar to all of us. As complex descriptions of commonly observed patterns of behavior, they do not portray actual individuals, but they are images of people trapped in addictive relationships and personalities who have matured enough to love out of strength rather than need.

These stories reflect the experiences of young people in postwar (meaning World War II) America. They are about how the isolated lives of our childhood families – along with the mania for friends and girlfriends and husbands and wives of our era – lead us to depend on other people. Such is the fate of most Americans. It is true that poverty can be a cause of addiction, but we see from middle-class youth that material comfort can also contribute to it. Addiction can be inevitable when one rejects the means and opportunities to solve one’s problems. It can also arise from the protection from reality provided by an overly supportive environment. So it is no coincidence that many of the stories in these pages are about relatively privileged people whose maturation has been delayed by long years of study. As much as possible, this book is precisely about growing up.

In today’s volatile world, there are many people with experiences of unreasonable or desperate love. And there are plenty of people who can identify with experiences of aimlessness of their existence and insecurity, fear and flight from life. For some readers, this expanded understanding of addiction may provide a concrete way to interpret their experiences. And in this sense, Love and Addiction is also a personal book, the significance of which can only be determined by the individual himself.

This is a book about addiction focusing on interpersonal relationships. Its main purpose is to explore what addiction really is–psychologically, socially, and culturally. This task is carried out in two ways – first by showing what really happens when one becomes addicted (or resists addiction) to drugs; then by demonstrating how the same process can go on in other areas of our daily lives, especially in relationships with those we are most deeply involved with.

The first part of this study is relatively straightforward and straightforward, since much of the work has already been done. Drug researchers such as Isidore Cheyne, Charles Vinick, and Norman Zinberg have shown conclusively that it is not the drugs that make people addicted, but the drugs themselves. Heroin and morphine do not always cause the “physical” symptoms we associate with addiction, while they can and do occur with other drugs, like cigarettes and coffee, and depend on the user’s background, expectations, mood, and emotional needs. Once we have considered this, all that remains is to interpret the addictive process to reveal its applicability to love and other human activities.

If it is known that addiction is not primarily a consequence of the chemical properties of the drug or the body, and if we must therefore expand our concept of addictive objects to include a broader range of substances, then why limit ourselves to substances? Why not look at a whole range of things, actions, and even people that we can and do become addictively dependent on? We have to really do this for the concept of addiction to be viable. Currently, the word “addiction” as a scientific term has fallen out of use because of the mass of conflicting data about drugs and their effects. Since people who use drugs frequently do not become addicted, scientists are beginning to think that addiction does not exist. In passing, however, we find that the concept is used in an increasing number of contexts-“work addiction,” “gambling addiction”-because it describes what really happens to people.

Love and love addiction: how to distinguish one from the other?

There is an opinion that everyone secretly or openly dreams of someday meeting their person and experiencing true love. This is the most normal human desire. Life without love is meaningless, pale and empty. To live for someone to love, care and empathize with is happiness for many people. And it is one of their basic psychological needs.

However, quite often under the mask of love hides something else, such as love addiction. What is this, why this addiction is worth fighting, and what is the role of psychotherapy in this process?

Real love – what is it?

Before identifying the main features of love addiction, it will be useful to think about what distinguishes real, true love:

  1. True love is either mutual, when both people have strong feelings for each other. Or, if the feeling is not divided, the lover is ready to let go of the one to whom he is attached without imposing himself or trying to keep the object of his love near him. Otherwise, the relationship will be extremely complicated and will bring nothing but disappointment, heartache, and a ton of wasted nerves to the couple.
  2. True love gives the right to personal freedom. A person who truly loves will not limit his loved one in his choice of work, friends, leisure time, or entertainment. He will not control his personal time, track his whereabouts, or check the contents of his e-mails and texts. True love is impossible without trust.
  3. True love thinks first and foremost about the needs of the other. It does not tolerate selfishness and self-love. If a person thinks only about himself, you should think about whether he really loves. At the same time, do not go to extremes and believe that the other person must belong to you completely. True love always implies that each partner is able to have a personal, separate from your loved one, time and space.
  4. True love allows you to create a harmonious relationship. In a couple, there should not be a preponderance in one’s favor, because both are equally valuable. Loving people should be like partners and partners. They work together for the good of the relationship and family and have common interests and goals. Each member of a love union will not establish and impose their power on the other, much less use it in any inappropriate way.
  5. True love promotes the personal development of both. In a relationship where love reigns, people develop, become better, more beautiful, kinder and more self-sufficient. In fact, it is love that helps one better understand oneself, find one’s place in life and somehow define oneself. If this does not happen, then something is wrong in the relationship.

These are not all the signs of true love, which gives happiness and joy to people in love. Now let’s talk about its “surrogate” – love addiction.

How does love addiction manifest itself?

Most often in a relationship where there is a dependence, one partner acts as a means and a way to meet the needs of the other (in power, in sex, in unconditional acceptance). At the same time, psychologists know well that every love story, including one involving addiction, is a dance of two. It is impossible to become a victim if there are no psychological problems and internal need to receive confirmation of one’s necessity, support or even a feeling of security in this way. Sometimes it also happens that the relationship is mutually dependent. It is important to discover the signs described below in time to exit the vicious circle of dependence without losing self-respect and the joy of being:

  • Cyclical development of the relationship. Usually the relationship goes in one cycle: affection and acceptance, vows and promises, then panic, rejection, quarrels and a painful connection. At the same time it seems to the partners that their love grows stronger, but in reality they are just walking in a vicious circle of love addiction.
  • Even a brief separation is unbearable. It is not just that loving people miss each other. Even a separation of a few hours (a daily workday, for example) can be very uncomfortable. All thoughts can be focused only on the object of attachment: where he is, what about him, whether he remembers, etc.
  • “Love” generates negative feelings and emotions. As a rule, these are anxiety, desolation, pathological jealousy, doubt, anxiety, fear of losing a loved one, insecurity and inner tension.
  • Mood directly depends on the approval of the partner. An addicted person watches the reaction of his or her partner very carefully, and if the reaction is negative, he or she becomes despondent and depressed. It comes to the fact that he begins to be panically afraid to see displeasure or irritation on the face of his beloved. Therefore, the addicted person often gives up his interests.
  • For a person with a love addiction, the value of the partner is higher than his own. As we said earlier, there may be intolerance of the other person’s negative reaction. And then the lover is willing to do whatever it takes just to avoid facing his partner’s displeasure. Even if this will require certain sacrifices or changes in the whole way of life (the addict may quit his job, stop communicating with friends, etc.).
  • The person does not belong to himself. He watches movies with the person he loves that don’t interest him personally, eats not what he likes, visits the wrong places. It is as if he sacrifices all his desires, pleasures and values in favor of his partner. In his addiction he may abandon his studies and work, becoming a “shadow” of his beloved. And what is more, he is ready to endure humiliation, taking it as a given.
  • Dominance and submission. The relationship of loving people should not be based on the rigid fulfillment of one person’s demands by the other. Especially if there is no discussion or consideration of the opinions and desires of the other party. If there is such a relationship, no matter in what area of life together, it is a very serious wake-up call that should not be ignored.
  • Deterioration on all “fronts.” Being in a dependent love relationship, a person feels oppressed, as a result of which he often stops in his development. All his conversations are about the person he loves and his relationship with him, the rest of the world seems to cease to exist. There are no resources to solve everyday problems, there is no time for loved ones or work, which leads to difficulties in all spheres of life.
  • Psychological problems. Low self-esteem, loss of self-respect and meaning of life, inner crisis, desolation, feeling of isolation and disorientation, and later panic attacks and depression are just some of the problems people get when they are in love addiction.

Nikolay went to see a psychologist after a difficult divorce. Relationships were long, first three years of courtship, then four years of life together. At the time of his first appointment the young man was absolutely devastated. He recounted how the relationship with the man he had once loved had gradually turned into something unimaginable.

“The first two years, I felt like I was needed, that I was loved. I saw that my girlfriend shared my interests, we played sports together, we were into skiing, we went out all the time. It was like we were breathing in the same rhythm. Always. Everywhere. How it all ended, I don’t know. Just the last year was an absolute nightmare, I was constantly being told that I was doing everything wrong and in the wrong way. It came to open accusations and insults, it came to the point where my wife compared me to the men she had before me, and the word “sucker” was the mildest in her vocabulary.

While working with the psychologist, Nikolai told me about all kinds of manipulations – hysterics, tears, threats – when something was going wrong. At first, only some important issues (where to go on vacation, whether or not to buy an apartment) were solved in this way, but at the end of family life any attempt by a man to agree on something and defend his opinion was punctuated by his wife’s phrase: “You do not love me and think only of yourself”. Well, and tears, of course, endless tears. Nikolai’s sense of guilt was constant and unbearable: no matter what he did, no matter how he acted, he could not make his wife happy.

At some point the mixture of guilt, dissatisfaction and a sense of his own worthlessness led him to decide to cut the knot, which he was unable to untie.

What contributes to love addiction?

The origins of love addiction

Usually they come from childhood, namely – from parental patterns of behavior. If a girl’s mother has lived her entire life in complete dependence on her husband, then the girl, becoming an adult, will subconsciously strive for exactly this model of relationship.

In addition, the desire to become dependent may have its roots in:

  • childhood traumas (including intimate molestation);
  • Childhood lack of love and lack of warmth;
  • Psychological unpreparedness for a mature relationship (almost always found in early marriages);
  • fear of loneliness;
  • low self-esteem;
  • presence of other, accompanying addictions (for example, alcohol);
  • fear of being rejected;
  • Lack of a sense of security, etc.

Nikolay grew up in a single-parent family, his father never showed interest in his son, and mother, as it often happens in similar situations, worked two jobs and did not always have time for the children, though she loved them and did everything that was within her power. Little Kolya had neither a sense of stability nor security, and he had no one to rely on. As a child he had to go through both teenage bullying and the feeling that he was the worst. The young man grew up insecure and with an unstable self-esteem. He had picked up the image of the ideal man from books and movies, it seemed to him that in true love one must always sacrifice, that it was the man who bore all the responsibility for the relationship and his task was to do everything to make the woman satisfied.

How does psychotherapy help with love addiction?

The key to success is in long, painstaking work on yourself. Our therapist will help you understand yourself and take the following steps:

  • Recognize the detrimental effects of addiction and the need to fight it;
  • change your pattern of behavior;
  • Improve your self-esteem and regain self-respect;
  • find new goals, interests and aspirations;
  • Believe in his own strength and break the vicious circle if his partner does not provide the necessary support and understanding.

When Nicholas went to see him, his self-esteem was shattered and he had difficulty even articulating what kind of person he was. He managed to keep his job, he was successful in his career, but the relationship with almost all of his friends was broken, because communication with them did not suit his ex-wife. It was easier for Nikolai to give up relationships with the people he cared about than to endure his wife’s hours-long tantrums.

In the course of psychotherapy, the man’s perception of himself and his model of building relationships changed. He learned to respect not only others, but also himself and his own value. Nikolai developed constructive ways of asserting himself and resisting manipulation. He is still willing to hear others, but now he tries to negotiate without pushing his opinions and desires “into a distant box. Our hero hopes very much that his next relationship will be different: without manipulation, tantrums, and the vicious circle of addiction.

Since love addiction is often a two-person problem, family psychotherapy courses will be the most effective. Although tangible effects can be achieved even if at least one of the partners wants to change.

The rupture of relations is not always the solution. A psychotherapist will help you make the right decision and learn to build a harmonious partner relationship where there is no place for dependency or repression.

Learn more about our services and make an appointment by calling (812) 640-38-55 or by filling out the form below.

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