Mental Health Healing Man

Gonna have to face it you’re addicted to love

man giving a motivational speech

Over the last couple decades, the way society views love, mental health and addiction has changed drastically. Most evidently in the world of addiction, we now know that you can be addicted to much more than just a chemical stimulant. Not that addiction to love, food, or even stress are new, or have somehow changed. These addictions are the same disorders that we have seen in alcoholics and drug addicts. What has changed is how the world has come to recognize these disorders. Twenty years ago, our understanding of addiction was still emerging and we had not yet come to completely understand how these disorders could be at the heart of codependency. As such, the concept of codependency seemed to be something more akin to an addiction to love. However, today we have come to understand that this is far from true. Love addiction is quite similar to codependency yet is in and of itself a separate affliction. It is in fact one of several underlying personality disorders that are similar to and may even contribute to codependence. In an effort to clear up some of these misconceptions I would like to take a look at what love addiction actually is or can be. As there are several forms of love addiction.

Obsessive addiction to love – these individuals are unable to let go of someone that they love much like the codependent. No matter how distant, controlling, abusive, or addicted to outside stimulus their partner is,

Relationship addicts – individuals who are unable to leave their partner, not because they love them, but because they are addicted to feeling the get just by being in a relationship. As if to be single would destroy their life and remove their identity.

The Torch Bearer – this is the addict who is addicted to the fantasy of a relationship with a person, perhaps a person that they are honestly in a relationship. But most often this is an obsession with a person that they are not in a relationship with romantically. These individuals can be quite dangerous under certain circumstances. While under other circumstances they are simply destined to live a life alone as they are unable to act on their interest in another.

The New love addicts – these are the addicts we see the most often jumping from one relationship to the next. They fear commitment, and live on the thrill of the chase and the excitement of a new and fresh relationship. They may or may not ever outgrow this addiction and are most likely to spend a very unhappy life with many individuals that they claim to be completely in love with.

Sex addicts – these people are not really addicted to love, as they do not wish for anything more than a physical relationship with one or many people. They are often the last to have a relationship in and group of friends. They will spend night after night with a different partner while very rarely seeing one more than a time or two. They get a high from the thrill of the conquest, but are fearful of any form of commitment to another individual at all.

Codependent love addicts – this is the most common form of love addict, and the one we spend the most time here trying to aid in their journey to health and happiness. We know that these individuals suffer from low self-esteem, and often are addicted to the negative behavior of their partner. In the event that they would leave their partner they fear that they would lose themselves completely when in fact the longer they stay the more they lose of themselves.

It really is common for these different addicts to co-mingle within an individual. For example, Brenda has been in a long term relationship with Brad, the “love” is gone. They stay with each other because it’s easier than moving on. But Brenda is obsessed with being part of a couple and afraid of being alone. What she has managed to keep in the closet is that she often goes out with her co-workers after work and has a reputation for hooking up with men when Brad is out of town without his knowledge. She is driven by the attraction to others and gets a high off the conquest to the point that her behavior soon becomes damaging to the relationship she has with Brad. It isn’t until she seeks out help for her addiction to sex with unknown men that she realizes just how damaged her relationship with Brad and herself is by her behavior. Because of her poor self-image she has allowed herself to continue these behaviors in order to try and find some form of happiness, rather than looking at her relationship, seeing its flaws and accepting that she should move on.

All of this seems so complicated, yet when you look at the different types of love addiction and the personalities that cause them it is evident just how they can impact a co-dependent relationship and the manner in which we would want to look at treatment and embrace change that will allow for individuals to heal themselves and their relationships. Codependent love addicts need to boost their self-esteem and learn self-acceptance. They must learn that they are better and deserve more than they all for themselves. Narcissistic love addicts, however use grandiosity behaviors as a way to artificially boost their low self-esteem and need to learn mitigate these behaviors in a way to find a positive image for themselves and still not allow themselves to become more and more negative about their own self-image. They need to learn humility and how to put aside their selfishness for the need of the people that are close to them. Ambivalent Love Addicts on the other hand need to find a way to embrace a healthy relationship and not run in fear of commitment. It is very important to address the root of the relationship, the expectations of the partners and find a way to determine if the relationship can be repaired of if it is healthier for the partners to go their own direction and seek out individual guidance in becoming the healthy individual that we all deserve to be.