by Jim Hall MS (a summary by Pat Evert)
Love addicts rely on someone outside of themself to fill an inner void – sabotaging relationships. When a person goes to another with the aim of filling an inner void, the relationship quickly becomes the center of their life. They idealize the other, believing the other to be the only one that can bring happiness. Love addiction, is not truly an addiction to love – it is a delusion of love. Love addiction is an extremely painful relational pattern of loving that leads to the loss of self, compulsive need.
What the love addict really becomes addicted to is the fantasy of the person they fall in love with. They try to get closer and closer to their partner resulting in enmeshment and smothering their partner. This causes their partners to distance even further – which triggers the love addict’s fear of abandonment. They have difficulty in taking care of themselves in healthy ways.
The Fear of Abandonment and being alone is the love addict’s greatest fear. Love addicts have difficulty knowing their inherent worth and feeling inner worthlessness. Emotional intimacy is allowing another to see into us, to know whom we truly are. When emotional intimacy is lacking in relationships – real love can rarely be present. They feel they have no power, they give up power to their partner, and say yes to almost everything.
Unrealistic expectations that one person will meet all of their needs. They expect more from a relationship than any relationship can deliver. It is important to value and accept our partners and friends for who they are. They have great difficulty identifying where their needs and emotions begin and where their partner’s end. Enmeshment comes when we use an individual for our identity and sense of worth. Without learning the powerful concept of healthy personal boundaries, addictive love progresses and further diminishes self worth.
Love Avoidants are counter-dependent, they fear displaying dependence, and a far-reaching need for independence. Avoidants have an extreme fear of intimacy (more so than typical love addicts do). They are controlling and critical when helping their partner, but then pull away when their partners need support or comfort. Engulfment correlates to the fear of being used, controlled, and taken advantage of. They fear having one’s independence taken way. Avoidants use emotional walls or rigid boundaries to keep others at a distance. Sexual withdrawl is common.
They feel superior when the love addicted partner is needy and they thrive on the power it gives them. But, in due course – the avoidant grows distressed and resentful of all the ‘work.’ They like a dependency to be admired and the center of attention. They lack empathy for their partner; while having a dependency on others to look up to them. In relationships, avoidants will come off as being “better than.” The love addict feeds this belief since they see themselves as “less than.” Classically they display a pseudo superior attitude towards others. They will hold you to a high standard and exhibit disdain for what they consider weakness or vulnerability – especially when the love addict’s clingy behaviors crop up. Emotionally they are unavailable. They distance from their partner by focusing outside of relationship.
The avoidant is just as wounded emotionally as the love addict is, dependent on their partner looking up to them as omnipotent and supreme. He or she strives to be autonomous and emotionally self-sufficient. They seek to overcome their weaknesses by projecting an image of control and self-sufficiency. The contempt and resentment they develop in a relationship is the masked contempt they feel for themselves. Their behaviors of abuse, rejection, or controlling tactics are NOT ABOUT YOU.
The Typical Love Addict is obsessed with the perfect person who will make life meaningful. Essentially their identity is formed only through their relationship with their partner. They become clingy and smother their partners. But, no one can satisfy their unrealistic, insatiable desires.
- Avoidant Love Addicts become dependent on their partner’s neediness. Being wanted, needed, and worshiped is their drug.
- Sexual fantasy is what the Sex love addict uses to validate the ‘self’ and escape emotional pain. They are highly preoccupied with sexual fantasies with only ONE particular person, usually a romantic partner.
- Parental Love Addicts become enmeshed in their children’s daily lives. Sometimes suffering from connection with their husband, wife or lover.
The primary root cause – typically Addictive lovers had some level of abandonment and inner wounding. When a child’s expression of his thoughts and feelings is not heard, they experience being invalidated, invisible, resulting in an internal sense of shame and inadequacy. They become the “nice one,” or “the people pleaser” and learn to be clingy and needy in order to win some love and attention.
In the avoidant lover the abandonment is by role reversals from a parent. They “use” the child for their benefit; therefore the avoidant child becomes the “little adult,” developing a false sense of self, based on performance. In essence, the child becomes responsible for meeting the needs of the parent. The child experiencing feelings of being smothered and engulfed by the parent.
There are thousands, if not millions of men and women suffering in silence from love addiction. Men keep emotionally isolated, hidden, and unwilling to risk reaching out.
To love and honor yourself is the most prominent component for a healthy relationship to occur. Knowing oneself is how to take care of self without “needing” someone to experience internal worth. When we are secure in our knowledge of ourselves— we are unafraid of communicating to our partners the truth of who we are. Then you’ll experience freedom:
- The freedom to ask for what one wants, instead of always waiting for permission.
- The freedom to take risks in one’s own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not “rocking the boat.”
You will realize that becoming friends is as important as becoming lovers, without NEEDING him/her. You and your significant other will share similar core values and desires, a long-term relationship where two are growing together. Addictive love is demanding and wants immediate gratification. You’ll be able to give to a relationship without losing yourself. You’ll allow a life outside of the relationship because of your love and individual respect for each other.
In a healthy relationship—a couple cycles between engaging in intimate closeness and then mutually withdrawing to integrate into their respective senses of self. It’s the natural ebb and flow of partnership. Healthy couples are able to be vulnerable, to risk exposing inner selves to each other. Because healthy couples don’t have a fear of being abandoned. Take ownership of the right to share, express, and communicate to the other. In healthy relationship, partners are happy with one another much more than unhappy. Genuine love has ingredients of openness, trust, and freedom to be you without fear of rejection.
Given the chance, recovery will grant you a paradigm shift of improved healthy relationships, a discerning realization of your intrinsic value and self worth. I learned to love and appreciate all of myself.
Recovery = Awakening. Recovery is the process of rediscovering the right to love yourself for the authentic human being you are. Your emotional state is not dependent on others. The large part of recovering from love addiction is not about looking outside, but within. Recovery takes patience and persistence.