Do you tend to get involved quickly? Do you have relationship addiction? Have you gone from relationship to relationship? Are you like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride where you don’t know how you like “your own eggs?” Do you find yourself in a relationship before actually getting to know someone?
People who are addicted to love end up projecting an ideal onto a relationship and often being disappointed when the reality of the relationship does’nt match witth the idealized version. The media does not help. Romantic movies give unrealistic messages and encourage idealized relationships where couples meet, become enmeshed and immediately end up happy together. Love songs which use language such as “I can’t live without you” or “My world is empty without you, babe”
basically describe and romanticize obsessive love.
In a normal relationship, some of this does happen. Of course in the beginning, it is very exciting and “infatuation” can seem like love. it IS possible that real love can develop from something that starts out as infatuation but the difference is, that time is allotted so that it can develop. Real bonding needs time to develop.
Romance or love addicts are loathe to spend the time slowly getting to know the other person because they refuse to give up the “high” of romantic love, lust or infatuation.
As with many addictions, denial is often at work. Many women report being frustrated with friends who seek advice from them about relationships. They say things like, “I don’t understand it, in all other areas, she proves to be intelligent and reasonable. At work, with fitness and health and with her friendships, but with this one issue, this very “pulled together” woman ends up acting like a teenager, over and over. She knows no logic.
Sometimes, people get “hooked” on the feeling of what they think is “being in love” when in fact, as in other addictions, this process is actually being used to avoid other issues. It could be anxiety about developing a relationship, fear of true intimacy and a sense of hopelessness about connecting in a healthy way.
These men and women who are caught up in this addiction have often not seen models of healthy relationships in their early years. in normal development, children get to see that in functional relationships, that is not perfect or exciting all the time. They get to see a healthy model of compromise and negotiation as well as commitment. They also get to see that good relationships take a lot of work and although love is important, that it is not the only element and certainly not the one that keeps people committed in a functional way. It is maturity, accepting that there will be things that you don’t like about your partner, that your roles may change from time to time and that commitment and flexibility are very important.
“Love Addicts” have typically either only seen terribly dysfunctional relationshps or social isolation. They may have seen violence or abuse whether physical or emotional and they may have an idealized version of a “perfect relationship” that will heal the effects of a difficult childhood. The problem is that at first, the infatuation appears to “fix it all”, but unfortunately it doesn’t last. So the beginning of a relationship fuels the “feel good” brain chemistry and they are off!
Individual treatment for people who become aware that they have this issue can be helpful. There are also 12 step programs such as SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous). So, if you are finding that you have a pattern of getting involved in these sorts of relationships, think about getting some professional help and beginning a better relationship with yourself first. As Whitney Houston said in one of her hit songs, you can learn to have “The Greatest Love of All”!