Just like an alcoholic, your journey to sobriety starts with admitting to yourself, “I have love addiction”. You must recognize that you are indeed hooked.
When my husband and I were still dating, I was addicted to his scent, be it his perfume or his shower gel and shampoo. We only got to meet twice a year, expensively at that, because he lived in Europe and I in Asia.
Whenever he visited me, his scent reminded me that there´s a good man by my side, someone whom I can rely on, someone who will do everything to keep me safe. It was addicting.
Every love relationship has some kind of addictive element, which is not necessary bad, and which can add strength and delight to a relationship.
You´re probably addicted to his humor, his happy company, his deep thoughts, his masculinity, his “you´re beautiful” praises, or even his assuring hug—sweet little addictions which make good relationship bliss.
If you want him to love you, learn how to capture his heart and love you forever.
Unless you´re so complete, so “matured”, so healthy, so self-contained, and so perfect, you´re probably going to feel good about yourself better through a close tie to another person. It did to me.
But love addiction goes beyond that. Love addiction throws everything off balance, removes you from the circulation and evolves your entire world around the other person. The result is unhealthy, self-destructive and painful relationship.
What is Love Addiction?
Love addiction happens when the harmless “I need you” addictive element of a good, healthy relationship turns into a controlling force in your attachment.
It becomes an inner compulsion which deprives you of several freedoms—the freedom to be your best self in the relationship, the freedom to love the other person through choice and caring commitment instead of being compelled by co-dependence, and the freedom to choose whether to stay in the relationship or leave.
If you want to understand why you´re addicted to a person and how to break free, read Howard M. Halpern´s, How to Break Your Addiction to a Person.
The Five Signs of Love Addiction
These five signs will help you to quickly identify if what you have is an unhealthy addiction to a person.
1. Even though your effective judgment (and the effective judgment of your family and friends) tells you that this is a bad relationship and a dead end, you do nothing to break with it.
I was once a victim of love addiction. When an engaged man pursued me during the time when I was most vulnerable, some of my close friends were against of him.
They told me that he´s a risky, non-trustworthy person to invest my love for, who will betray me in the end just like he betrayed his fiancée, but I was already too blind and too addicted to listen to them. As a result, I avoided those friends who genuinely cared for me.
2. You give yourself reasons for staying in your addictive relationship that aren´t really sensible enough to balance the negatives in the relationship.
Do you wonder why some girlfriends stick to a boyfriend who physically abuse them, and beat them for petty reasons?
That´s because after the guy beats them, he says “sorry, becomes very sweet, tells them that it´s their fault they got beaten, and they believe all those lies.
After a physical abuse, for example, a woman would think, “I made him mad that´s why he hit me, but he really cares for me. It´s my fault.”
They use these reasons that do not hold water to justify their decision to stay in a bad relationship.
3. When you think about ending a relationship, you feel dread, even terror, and you cling to it even harder.
It´s like a psychological disorder. Just the mere thought of breaking up with him makes you panic and sick. You believe that losing him means death.
4. When you take steps to end it, you experience acute withdrawal symptoms, including physical distress that can only be relieved by re-establishing contact.
You experience the same withdrawal syndrome like drug addicts, smokers and alcoholics do.
You may suffer from panic attack, difficulty breathing, allergic reactions, a momentary suspension of your world, and before you know it, you´re already calling or emailing the other person begging for his love one more time.
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During my love addiction to the engaged guy, we did try to break up several times, only to find ourselves in each other´s arms yet again. We both experienced love addiction towards each other. He lost so much weight while I had a very bad acne outbreak.
Although I did not have panic attacks, I felt unbearable pain after our break-up that I would find myself texting him with “I want you back.”
When finally I came to my senses and took steps to end our relationship so he could go back to his fiancée who was still waiting, my close friends took initiative to help me overcome my withdrawal syndromes.
We went shopping and became occupied with our personal style, and went to see opera performances and movies. My friends made me move close to their place so I wouldn´t be alone. And in order to divert my attention, I started to blog.
5. When the relationship is really over (or you fantasize that it has ended), you feel emptiness and aloneness, followed by a sense of liberation.
Once the break up is sealed, you will feel unfathomable pain just like anyone who experiences a broken heart. You´ll feel empty, and once your friends are not around, you´ll feel so alone. But these feelings will gradually turn into a sense of freedom and liberation, as opposed to a non-addicted broken-hearted person who will go through a sad acceptance.
If most of these signs are true to you, then you´re most likely suffering from love addiction. It has become a stronger, bigger force than you can handle so that it controls and destroys your capability to direct your own life.
The first step to freedom is to admit that you´re addicted. This will lead you to understanding the basis of your love addiction, how it works, and what to do with it.