In part 2 of the Love Addiction series we explore the different types of love addict, and stages of recovery for women suffering from love addiction. In part 1 we looked at the main symptoms of love addiction. However, there are different variations of love addiction, with slightly different characteristics, that are useful to be aware of:
Types of Love Addict
Typical Love Addict - They become obsessed with gaining and keeping a perfect person who will make their life meaningful and solve all their issues. Their identity will merge with their partner, and they will show clingy and smothering behavior, putting all focus on trying to earn their partner's love.
Codependent Love Addict - They desperately hold on to people they are addicted to by using codependent behaviors. This could be care-taking, rescuing, enabling, passive-aggressive controlling and accepting bad behavior. They are addicted to taking care of a partner and quite often will be in a relationship with someone suffering from an alcohol or substance dependency.
Romantic Love Addict - They compulsively jump from one relationship to another, often in the initial stages. At first they feel like they are in love, but as soon as the initial fantasies and rush of hormones fade, they will bounce to the next relationship as a way of avoiding deep bonding with a partner.
Anorexic Love Addict - They compulsively avoid intimacy. They feel like a relationship means being betrayed, rejected and abandoned, so will shut down to this possibility for long periods of time. They are however, still love addicts who will swing from one extreme to another in between the anorexic period. They will be either desperate for love or desperate to keep away love.
Avoidant Love Addict - The typical love addict will often be drawn to this type. They are dependent on a partners neediness and are only attracted to people that they can control. They use dominance, withholding and seduction to control their partners. They have low self-esteem, therefore being worshipped and wanted gives them self-worth.
Ambivalent Love Addict - They desperately crave love but are also terrified of intimacy. They come in different forms, they may be a torchbearer who will obsess over an unavailable person or a saboteur who will saboteur the relationship as soon as it gets more intimate.
Some love addicts are a combination of the types or may switch from one type to another to suit which partner they are with.
Ideally, if you are not in a relationship try 6 months of non-romantic contact. This means no dating sites, no texting the on and off guy, no actively seeking dates in any form. If in a relationship, you can do this process by stopping all attempts to change, help, control or blame your partner. Next, go for help, this could be through the use of relevant books or therapy sessions. Part of this involves accepting that this is a disease that will not go away on its own, and that you need help to beat it. Make your recovery the first priority in your life, commit to spending time and money on this process. If you are uncomfortable with this think of all the time and money you have wasted in pain over a relationship, spending money to try and look better, going out to distract yourself etc. Use this time to examine your past relationships with men and what patterns have occurred. Then look at your childhood, what was the emotional care like that you received as a child. What coping strategies did you use to deal with the care. What was your parents' relationship like, what are the characteristics of your parents when it comes to relationships. Look at any similarities between your childhood and your past relationships with men. A qualified therapist can provide you with a safe space to explore these issues.
Find a support group - Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, for example, have free regular groups all over the world. You may also find that there is a local group in your area specifically for love addiction. If you have other addictions like alcohol or drugs, or have a partner with an addiction, go to the relevant support group too. Don't give up on a support group to soon, it may take a couple of months to settle into the group and try groups on other days of the week as you may find a better fit with a different group of people. Try to attend regularly and be as honest as possible. Listening to other peoples stories will help unblock your own stories and feelings as they will trigger you to remember. The process of listening to others secrets and flaws and still accepting them for who they are will help you learn to accept and love yourself flaws and all. Sharing your own experiences will help you become more honest, open and vulnerable. Being with others that you can relate to honestly will bring a new sense of safety and belonging that you will have mostly not experienced in childhood.
Develop your spirituality or acceptance of a higher good -Spirituality does not have to be religious and can evolve, just the use of daily meditation or getting out into nature more often clears the mind. The key benefit of this in recovery, is that it encourages you to let go of your need to make things happen the way you believe they should happen. In other words the need to control your environment or others. It will help you let go of fear and accept that you may not know what is best for yourself or others in any given situation. It will help you learn to slow down and wait for guidance, avoiding panicking and rushing situations or decisions. Spirituality gives you freedom as your happiness is less vulnerable to the actions of others.
Stop trying to control, manage and manipulate partners - Do not try and solve his problems, make appointments for him etc. Do not praise and encourage him if the purpose is to raise his self-esteem or encourage him to keep doing something, this is manipulation. It will feel like pressure to him and you are dangerously close to a mothering role. Move towards appreciation, if he does something that is good or makes you happy, express your appreciation as this is genuine and will enhance the relationship. Pay less attention to your partners life, let them take full responsibility for their problems and actions. This is giving your partner the space to find their own way and grow as a person. Most importantly learn to say and do less, this will be hard as you are learning to let go of control. You will then learn how to be happy without waiting for someone to change. Remember the only thing you have control over is yourself. This helps to avoid game playing in relationships. Do not react or respond to an attempt at game paying, shut it down straight away. Develop ways of honestly expressing feelings and emotions rather than resorting to games. Value sex as a by-product of commitment, sharing and co-operation, not a way to get someone to like you or do as you wish.
Work on your own personal growth - Consider what you want to develop in your life, this could be career, money or interests. You need activities that are not related to men, and learning something new will increase your self-esteem. Do something that you have been putting off every day, stretch yourself and learn what activities bring you happiness. Developing your potential stops you blaming external factors from getting on with the life that you want to live. You learn to become responsible for your happiness and life, which in turn makes you a more attractive, healthy partner. You will start attracting healthier people who are more balanced and able to nurture you as you nurture yourself. When healthier relationship partners approach you, learn to be comfortable with stability and reliability. You may tell yourself it is boring but this is likely just your addiction searching for the familiar anxiety pull that you have come to associate with love. Let the scenario unfold naturally and enjoy slowly getting to know someone.
Remember to work on these principles regularly, this will keep you in permanent recovery.
You can purchase Robin Norwood's book here
You can find a local support group here: Sex and Love Addicts Annonymous UK, https://www.slaauk.org/
Robin Norwood, Women Who Love Too Much - Arrow Books, 1984