I have mused over the amount of romantic dramas and comedies that saturate our culture.
How could I not want to make acquiring that ultimate love a focus in between my day to day activities?
I have fallen prey to the desire to understand and apply the techniques to earn and hold on to that love we see in the movies, read about in books, and look for among couples in our society. When did this start?
Was it when I was a little girl playing dress up as a bride with my friends? We would practice and fantasize about what our weddings would look like. We would talk about our Prince Charmings. We grew older. With the teenage years came more serious talks of boyfriends, marrying our high school sweethearts, and what “forever” meant. In our early twenties talk seemed to shift to the things we would find in a mate that would correct the errors we saw in our parent’s marriages and the effects those “flaws” had on us. Again, we would cite movies, books, and culture as the template of aspired perfection. My friends and I were consumed by the topic as is our society.
I believe this may have been the fatal path to love addiction.
How is love addiction characterized? Psychology Today agrees with almost every other cite I researched in their definition:
“Love addicts go through life with desperate hopes and constant fears. Fearing rejection, pain, unfamiliar experiences, and having little faith in their ability or right to inspire love, they wait and wish for love, perhaps their least familiar real experience…addicts lack the ability to control or postpone sexual feelings and actions, with the need for arousal often replacing the need for intimacy…Addiction is characterized by the repeated, compulsive seeking or use of a substance or activity despite negative social, psychological and/or physical consequences. It is often (but not always) accompanied by physical dependence, withdrawal syndrome and tolerance…(read full article)“
As I read over several definitions that were in agreement, I contemplated the vast amount of focus our society puts on love addiction, justifying it as a natural human desire. It is a quest that we all embark on in an effort for intimacy. I was having a difficult time figuring out how something that seemed so unhealthy was being glorified as natural and healthy to the human experience. Have I been in relationships that were based on addictive love instead of healthy love? I feverishly scoured credible sources to discover what the symptoms were.
Fortunately, once again, article after article, opinion and scholarly paper agreed on the symptoms. You may be a love addict if love means:
- Is all consuming and obsessive
- Is inhibited
- Avoids risk or change
- Lacks true intimacy
- Is manipulative, strikes deals
- Is dependent and parasitic
- Demands the loved one’s devotion
Wow. What a reality check. Even if I wasn’t expressing these symptoms myself, or could be characterized by the definition, I was most definitely a partner in it. I facilitated addicts. I could definitely accept that I was facilitating it. I could also recognize the symptoms in so many movies that encouraged me to believe this is a healthy expression of love. What is the antidote? What is healthy love?
It starts with me. Before I can partner with someone, I must first be a whole, healthy individual. That should have been my quest to begin with. I believe that should be the focus of more of our media and social conditioning. Healthy love will find a healthy person.
To learn more about healthy love and its characteristics listen to Tamara Bess’ ‘Is It Love Or Something Else’.