Are you in a love addictive / avoidant relationship ?
Are you experiencing a toxic relationship ?
Do you feel uncomfortable in your present (or past) relationships ?
Are you getting mixed signals from your partner ?
Get that feeling your partner is trying to avoid intimacy ?
Do you feel suffocated in your relationship ?
Find it difficult to avoid relationships that make you feel less worthy ?
Would you rather stay with your partner then having to face being alone ?
The root of the matter
Throughout ones childhood certain behaviors can be consciously or sub-consciously extended into adulthood depending on one's functional (or dysfunctional) family upbringing.
Although these may initially be avoided or "blocked" by the child throughout their younger life (usually up to late teens) these behaviors can take on a very subtle dysfunction in their adult relationships. Many have reassured themselves that they will not make the same mistakes in their adult relationships as their parents had made with each other....and recent studies have found that in fact it is not as simple as that. In fact studies have brought forward proof that adult children of dysfunctional families actually choose partners that offer the same chaos or dysfunction that they are used to in their childhood.
For instance, a child whose parents were alcoholic or addicted to the many addictions one may choose to mention will ultimately find attraction in an addictive personality. Seen as "challenging" or "exciting" the relationship usually starts with a bang of intensified feelings and after a short period of time becomes "toxic" or dysfunctional to both parties, partly because of rejection or abandonment issues formed from their childhood
A more subtle addiction parents may tend to pass on to their children is that of perfection. A father or mother who insists on good results and behavior in a child or young adult will inevitably always leave the child with reduced self-esteem, and will later on in life show a wish to "please" (or people please).
Love avoidant personalities suffer significantly from abandonment issues (primarily) and low self-esteem
Love addictive personalities suffer significantly from low self esteem (primarily) and abandonment issues.
Relationship with Co dependency issues
It would be ideal at this stage to also mention that co-dependency issues may also be present and which further complicate relationship dynamics. These issues are formed in the early stages of a child's development and lead to dysfunction in all kinds of relationships in further life.
Basically a co-dependent personality is one that finds it fearful to be alone or in their own company for any length of time and finds their identity through a partner or friends (even family members). This reinforces their insecurity in a relationship and they tend to be very needy or anxious about being abandoned in relationships.
In their anxiety to feel accepted and needed, the co-dependent personality impulsively find themselves trying to "people please" or wishing to help others by "fixing" them. They are attracted to addictive or love avoidant personalities and of course vice versa.
Symptoms of Love Avoidants
Love avoidant (male or female) behavior attracts love addictive personalities and may include :-
- Having unhealthy boundaries (or walls) - To protect their autonomy, love avoidants make sure their space is not invaded, and feel safest in their own comfort zones (for instance their own homes, with their own family members or children, or anywhere where there is least social communication)to keep distance in the form of physical or emotional boundaries, including withholding important information from their partners
- Finding it uncomfortable sharing their true feelings - Due to a need to be self-reliant the love avoidant will find it necessary to withhold feelings which allow them to keep emotionally distant from their partners.
- Idealizes past relationships, or fantasizes meeting "the one" - In their uncomfortable state of mind avoidant personalities tend to re align their feelings with past relationships not out of any true feelings but as an excuse to deny the commitment with their new partner.
- Pulls away when intimacy nears - At the start of the relationship enough love, care and attention is given to supporting their partner and initially feel comfortable with commitment, only later to find themselves making as many excuses as possible to pull away.
- Finding it hard to be intimate and prefers casual sex - Casual sex enables the love avoidant to be non intimate and at the same time fulfill their physical needs. In some cases it would be easy for an avoidant to keep sex as a tool for manipulating their partner to "settle" for this lack of intimacy.
- Thinking about their own interests and disregards your feelings - After the first couple of months of enticing the love addict and offering support and interest in their well-being, a love avoidant believes the relationship to be a more like a business relationship and ingore those feelings that may bring them to have to use empathy in the relationship. When the avoidant is confronted with this insensitive behavior the love addict is accused of being over sensitive, of overreacting or too needy.
- Wanting to be with you when apart, but feel indifferent when together - When together the avoidant tends to have feelings of being trapped in a relationship, however the avoidant still has a longing for being needed and feeling attachment, and feel more comfortable having these feelings when apart from their partner.
- Sending mixed signals - a manipulative technique to ensure that the love addict is always guessing at how he can be more supportive of the love avoidant, and will appear to be sensitive yet distant.
- Looking down at their partner's neediness - An especially painful situation for the love addict, the love avoidant will look down on their partner's neediness bringing down their self esteem and placing value on their apparent independence.
- Fear of commitment - Due to abusive childhood experiences the love avoidant has difficulty with trust issues and are weighed down with thoughts of being "trapped". As soon as their partner shows reluctance to stay in the relationship they will immediately look for a replacement love addict and in a short space of time, abandon the relationship without any feelings.
Symptoms of Love addicts
Love addictive personalities (male of females) attract love avoidants and may follow one or more of the following behaviors:-
- Very needy when it comes to relationships, and fall in love very easily or too quickly
- Fantasizing future goals together very early in the relationship.
- When looking for a relationship and are lonely, tend to lower your standards and settle for less than you deserve
- Smothering your partner
- Very often you find "unavailable" or persons unable to commit to the relationship hoping that he or she will change
- You ignore the warning signs that the person is not good for you and still can t let go of them.
- You are attracted on an initial attraction (possibly only through physical attraction) and falling in love over a longer period does not appeal to you and is not an option.
- You tend to trust people who are not trustworthy
- When a relationship fails, your reaction is overwhelming and feel your life is over.
- You tend to take more of your fair share in keeping the survival of the relationship, as you feel love and relationships are the most important thing in your life.
- Uncomfortable and with feelings of loneliness when you are not in love or out of a relationship, as you cannot stand being alone and do not enjoy your own company.
- You are terrified of never finding someone to love, and feel inadequate when you are not in a relationship, so find it easy to play along when your partner threatens to leave you.
- Find it easy to sacrifice what you want, need or value to ensure your partner is happy.
- You will do anything to avoid the pain of separation, even if it means abuse, loneliness and loss of identity to please your partner.
- You chase people who have rejected you, as rejection gives you very uncomfortable feelings of abandonment
- You neglect family and friends because of your relationship(s)
- You feel powerless when you fall in love, as if you are held in a spell or under a trance, losing all ability to make wise choices.
Information courtesy of Love Addicts Anonymous (LAA) - www.loveaddicts.org
Is there a solution ? Are you willing to withdraw from these behaviors ?
Be Patient ! - For those of us who have just realised they may have symptoms of love addiction or love avoidance, do not despair ! Be patient with yourself and don t panic ! You are really not alone and although you may have feelings of low self-esteem you will come to understand that these are precisely what needs to be worked on, and to accept your life and who you really are.
Look after No 1.....yourself ! - You have spent too long looking after the interests of others and not enough time loving yourselves, and its time you look into yourself and your needs and find out why and where your behavior is rooted
This is best done on one's own without the pressure of a relationship, so if you re single stay that way for now ! Initially some sessions with a professional therapist may help immensely however good self help books are a better option (see booklist below). A common question asked by therapist early on in sessions is " try to remember some happy moments in your young childhood ". This usually sets of a trigger to enable an affected person to seek the truth.
In a relationship ? - If you re still in a relationship the withdrawal from toxic behavior from your side may take its toll ! Your partner may still be in denial of this personality disorder and we all know how hard it is take the decision to break-up the relationship.
Talk to your partner about what you re going through, ask them to read up about it, give each other time to let it all sink in, but don t have any expectations ! This may lead your partner to pretense or fear of a break-up, which is precisely the strongest root of these addictions. Start to be comfortable with some sort of separation (start of with some hours during the day and on to a few days). If it means leaving your home to live separately for a while understand that trust should easily enable this "away" time to take place in any healthy relationship anyway.
Hope for recovery - Initially this will bring very strong emotional turmoil into your life, but give it several months and you will find that at least you will understand you need to work this out on your own by changing your inner self, and not relying on change in others (especially your partner). You will realize that the "truth" cannot be avoided for long without adverse effects on both partners in a relationship, so a high amount of discretion and truthful communication is imperative.
These effects can include violence, one partner finding love somewhere (or with someone ) else, abandonment of your children's or family's care and welfare, and a list of other negative emotional states.
12 step Group therapy - Possibly the most effective way of finding oneself in this matter, 12 step programs are advisable for love addiction (www.loveaddicts.org) and/or co-dependency (www.coda.org), and in the case of children of alcoholics you can also find Al-Anon information and group meetings close to you (www.al-anon.org)
Spiritual activity - Any sort of spiritual activity to balance or reduce anxiety and an over-active mind will help immensely as well, and it usually takes a change like this to trigger everyone's need for a more spiritual way of living and thinking. Some affirmations include:-
Let go of the past, and the future...you have no say in anything except the present.
Your relationships will always be as healthy as YOU are.
Peace comes from within, don t seek it from without
Sometimes the person you most want is the person you're better off without
Books and literature
These authors have excellent self help literature that have made such an impact on the subject
Pia Melody - One of the foremost authors on the subject of love addiction and avoidance.
Susan Peabody - Excellent self help literature on the subject of overcoming obsession and dependency
Melody Beattie - Author of "The Language of Love" and Co-Dependent no more"
John Bradshaw - This author's literature also covers the subject of overcoming shame, which is also a vital stepping-stone to recovery