It’s not uncommon to idolize romantic partners by putting them on a pedestal. But in the case of love addiction, you may fall head-over-heels to your partner’s detriment. It’s crucial to understand how to break the pattern of love addiction, especially when it involves a partner who is emotionally unresponsive or abusive.
What is love addiction? It is an attachment disorder. It can cause emotional issues, contribute to the breakdown of a relationship, and result in compulsive behaviors.
Common Causes of Love Addiction
People with love addiction often find themselves in unstable relationships, which are sometimes toxic or abusive. Unfortunately, when you have love addiction, it can feel like you’re in a fog. You may not be able to identify the dangers that come with such relationships.
Factors that may contribute to love addiction:
- Low Self-Esteem. Many people with low self-esteem believe that someone else supplies their needs and wants. This belief can contribute to love addiction by becoming overly reliant on your partner for happiness.
- Traumatic Experiences and Childhood Trauma. Those with love addiction might not be emotionally capable of loving someone because of unresolved trauma.
- Unstable Childhood Attachments. If you’ve experienced abandonment wounds from your childhood, then you may crave love. That unmet longing drives your relationships.
- Neglect. When challenged with their attachment wounds, people with love addiction cling to their relationships because they fear abandonment.
Identifying the Pattern of Love Addiction
To break the pattern of love addiction, it’s crucial to understand the common patterns of love-addicted relationships. When you succumb to the harmful behaviors associated with love addiction, you lose control and give power to someone else. These patterns can become the foundation of the relationship.
Patterns of love addiction:
- Attraction Creates Intensity and Fantasy. Those with love addiction often have a fantasy of being rescued. It’s as if the person you desire is the only one in the universe who has the power to take away your pain and make you feel safe, valued, and worthy.
- Increased Connection Leads to Relief. The partner with love addiction becomes enamored with a fantasy. They are blind to flaws in the relationship and their partner.
- Partner’s Withdraw Triggers Neediness and Obsessive Behavior. Sensing their partner’s neediness and insecurity, the avoidant partner starts to resent the relationship. When the avoidant partner pulls away, the partner with love addiction fears abandonment and clings more tightly.
- Acts Out to Get Attention. The partner with love addiction is still holding tight to a fantasy that their partner is perfect or is “going to change.” This belief can be true despite the avoidant partner distancing themself further.
- Partner Returns for Connection. Eventually, the partner with love addiction may recognize their partner’s bad behavior. But because they feel shame about their own behavior, may apologize and return to the fantasy that everything will work out.
- Cycle Repeats. If the partner with love addiction ends the relationship, it’s not uncommon for the avoidant partner do a complete 180 and fight to get the relationship back.
How to Break the Pattern of Love Addiction
Like with any addiction, learning how to break the pattern of love addiction can be challenging. You may experience feelings of withdrawal. With help, you can break the pattern and go on to form truly fulfilling and close intimate relationships.
Acknowledge the Addiction
The first step in breaking the pattern is to recognize it. Denial is the main psychological issue with addiction.
To accept reality:
- Accept that your relationship is unhealthy
- Acknowledge that getting back into the relationship will not solve your problems
- Stop convincing yourself it will be “different” next time
- Accept that the relationship is over
- Stop believing the avoidant partner can be someone different
- Let go of the fantasy you created
Invest in Healthy Relationships
Having a community of support when recovering from an addiction is key. Yet perhaps the most crucial part of the healing process is prioritizing your relationship with yourself. Take care of yourself by doing fun leisure activities, exercising, eating healthy, and surrounding yourself with people who love you. Focus on self-care to enhance the healing process.
Learn About Love Addiction
Knowledge is power. Educate yourself about love addiction. Seek to understand why your idea of love consumes you. A therapist can help you overcome your love addiction and discover new, healthy ways of coping.
Abstain from New Relationships for a Period
Once you start working toward healing, it’s a good idea to abstain from forming a new romantic relationship. You need to heal yourself first. Find satisfaction within yourself versus in another person. Having a partner doesn’t make you complete. You can find meaning, security, and power within yourself in time.
Develop Awareness of Your Triggers
If you focus on your obsession with your former partner, you will feel miserable. When you see a reminder of them, use it as an opportunity to rid yourself of it. Delete their telephone number, remove photos, and store away gifts. Seeing reminders of your former partner will cause more harm than good. What you focus on expands. Choose positivity!
Become Grounded in the Present
It can be easy to get caught in your head. Notice when thoughts about the past or future start to creep in. Grounding yourself in the here-and-now can help you get some space from these thoughts and alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. Stop what you’re doing and focus on what you’re hearing, seeing, and feeling in the present moment.
Address Co-Occurring Addictions
About a third of people with mental health disorders and nearly half of those with severe mental illness have addiction, meaning they have co-occurring disorders. When you have more than one disorder, you need treatment for each of them to become healthy. They often exacerbate each other. Getting treatment for one disorder – and not the others – won’t resolve the issues.
Get Professional Support
Overcoming love addiction on your own can be challenging. It’s best to seek professional help. Treatment will help you identify the causes of your love addiction, learn what triggers your behaviors, and teach you how to cope with any unhealthy thoughts or feelings.
How ILC Can Help
The first step in learning how to break the pattern of love addiction is acknowledging you have it. Once you recognize you have an issue, you can seek help and start your recovery. Contact ILC today to learn about program options to help you recover from love addiction.