Despite the sappy love stories in Hollywood movies or the sickeningly sweet nothings dripping from Hallmark cards, relationships aren’t always so, well…perfect.
Believe it or not, love – or the idea of being in love – can actually be addictive. Thousands of people are hooked on the notion of love and desperate to find (or keep) that “special someone.” But before we dig into the heart of the matter (no pun intended), let’s take a quick inventory.
Ask yourself the following five questions and take a good look at your answers – they’ll help you begin to figure out whether or not you are addicted to love:
- What is the longest period of time you have remained single?
- Are the movies, books, music and TV shows you enjoy all centered on romance?
- Do you fear being alone?
- Have you ever stayed with someone simply because you’d rather be with them than no one?
- Is your self-worth based on whether or not you are in a romantic relationship and how that person views you?
What Love Addiction Looks Like
If you are caught in a cycle of relationship dependency, like other addictions, it can be hard to break. An alcoholic seeks solace in drinking. A meth addict turns to her drug of choice when life gets difficult. A love addict seeks out relationship after relationship, despite how unhealthy they may be, to try to fill a void.
The motivation is often fear. Fear of being alone, feeling empty, abandonment, losing security, not being enough, rejection, insignificance or disconnectedness. Fear is the one ingredient that keeps the cycle of relationship dependency churning.
Often, emotional abuse is a factor in creating this cycle. When our sense of self is warped by repetitive words or actions that make us feel unworthy, small and incompetent, we are more likely to become a dependent person, constantly seeking love to make us feel worthy and validated.
Breaking the Cycle
In order to break free from love addiction, we have to stop the dependency. We have to find a way to deal with life in a manner that does not rely on validity or self-significance falsely sought through a relationship. And the recovery process can begin with the following steps:
Take a look at your behavior patterns. Be honest about what you see. Review your relationships and admit if you are addicted to love and have developed a cycle of relationship dependency.
Once you notice the pattern, break it with a break. If you are not currently in a committed relationship, for the next six months, do not date anyone. Don’t use dating sites. Don’t let friends hook you up. No emails, texts, or phone calls that would potentially involve romantic connections.
Now that you aren’t reviewing your dating profiles, looking for matches or going out on dates, take this extra time to reflect. Review the patterns you see in your relationships. Look for similarities with your childhood experiences. Gain insights into what may have shaped your behavior. Buy yourself a journal and write about it; getting all those feelings out can help to lift the ridiculously heavy burden of love addiction.
As you evaluate your experiences, consider seeking professional help. A counselor can provide additional insight and assist you with breaking this cycle of love addiction.
Envision your life free of relationship dependency. What does it look like? How would you feel if you accepted yourself as whole without someone else? What would it be like if you were responsible for your own happiness? If you truly loved yourself?
Love yourself. Put a great big “AS IS” sign over yourself and start to love you just as you are. Accept your imperfections. Don’t seek someone else to fill those cracks. Move forward in your life with a new sense of acceptance and love that will stop you from spinning up the old cycle of relationship dependency.
Additional Reading: Exposing the Shocking Truth About “13th Stepping”
Image Source: iStock