Addiction is defined by Psychology Today like this:
Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health.
I’m currently posting a 4-part series on Addictive vs. Healthy Love and it occurred to me that I should explain a bit about why love would ever be compared to addiction. In the current discussion of domestic violence, I am not saying that a woman stays in her relationship because of addiction to being abused. Quite the contrary.
At the very base of addiction is the user’s tendency to return to the substance or the compulsive activity in an effort to separate themselves from something. Quite often, the effort is to separate from pain.
After escaping a relationship where there is abuse, the pain comes from doing the work required to change your perspective from this:
When it all comes down to it honest, healthy love is empowering and helps you become a better version of yourself.
Addictive love is exhausting.
This is because the addictive type of love seeks to find something else to fill up empty spaces. Do you feel alone, empty and like you need someone else to fulfill you? Then you are an excellent candidate for finding a partner with whom you can create an addictive love relationship.
In my work with victims, this becomes most evident after leaving the relationship. It is away from the relationship that you need to grieve the loss of what you dreamed could have been. It’s time to let go of the compulsive need to have someone give something to you that they don’t have to give.
Think about this . . . .
Remaining in or returning to relationship with someone who does not have the emotional tools to nurture a healthy love relationship is like asking an indigent for financial support. It isn’t there to give.
How do you know if the person you are with doesn’t have the emotional tools to support a nurturing, healthy love relationship?
Ask yourself these question:
- Does the relationship exhaust you?
- Is loving this person hard work?
- Are you learning how to endure and keep loving through the hard times in hopes that someday your love will be returned in the way you need it?
Have you successfully left an abusive relationship only to find you cannot stop thinking about your former partner?
All of these things are indicators that you would do yourself a favor by turning your attention away from trying to figure out how to get someone to love you and turning toward healing.
© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2015 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.