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WHEN BEING IN LOVE, MEANS BEING IN PAIN... This group is to help women through the journey of realizing they can love themselves. To help realize that they are capable of having a happy, healthy, whole relationship and break the cycle of abuse and heartache from loving emotionally unavailable men.

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Love Addiction

Typical Kinds of Love Addicts

By Susan Peabody

In the last decade, a lot has changed in the world of love addiction. Not that love addiction itself has changed. It is pretty much the same insidious disorder it always has been. What has changed is how the world looks at it. Twenty years ago, our understanding of love addiction was still emerging out of our understanding of codependency. Therefore, love addiction and codependency seemed to be one in the same. However, today we understand that this is not true. Love addiction stands alone, and codependency is only one of several underlying personality disorders. To make it perfectly clear how one love addict differs from another LAA has prepared the following list:

Obsessed Love Addicts (OLAs) cannot let go, even if their partners are:

Unavailable emotionally or sexually; afraid to commit; cannot communicate;unloving;distant; abusive; controlling and dictatorial; ego-centric; selfish; or addicted to something outside the relationship (hobbies, drugs, alcohol, sex, someone else, gambling, shopping etc.)

Codependent Love Addicts (CLAs) are the most widely recognized. They fit a pretty standard profile. Most of them suffer from low self-esteem and have a certain predictable way of thinking, feeling and behaving. This means that from a place of insecurity and low self-esteem, they try desperately to hold on to the people they are addicted to using codependent behavior. This includes enabling, rescuing, caretaking, passive-aggressive controlling, and accepting neglect or abuse. In general, CLAs will do anything to “take care” of their partners in the hope that they will not leave—or that someday they will reciprocate.

Relationship Addicts (RAs), unlike other love addicts, are no longer in love with their partners but they cannot let go. Usually, they are so unhappy that the relationship is usually affecting their health, spirit and emotional well being. Even if their partner batters them, and they are in danger, they cannot let go. They are afraid of being alone. They are afraid of change. They do not want to hurt or abandon their partners. This can be described as “I hate you don’t leave me.”

Narcissistic Love Addicts (NLAs) use dominance, seduction and withholding to control their partners. Unlike codependents, who accept a lot of discomfort, narcissists won’t put up with anything that interferes with their happiness. They are self-absorbed and their low self-esteem is masked by their grandiosity. Furthermore, rather than seeming to obsess about the relationship, NLAs appear aloof and unconcerned. They do not appear to be addicted at all. Rarely do you even know that NLAs are hooked until you try to leave them. Then they will no longer be aloof and uncaring. They will panic and use anything at their disposal to hold on to the relationship—including violence. Many professionals have rejected the idea that narcissists can be love addicts. This may be because they rarely come in for treatment. However, if you have ever seen how some narcissists react to perceived or real abandonment, you will see that they are indeed “hooked.”

Ambivalent Love Addicts (ALAs suffer) from avoidant personality disorder—or what SLAA calls emotional anorexia. They don’t have a hard time letting go, they have a hard time moving forward. They desperately crave love, but at the same time they are terrified of intimacy. This combination is agonizing. ALAs come in different forms too. They are listed below.

Torch Bearers are ALAs who obsess about someone who is unavailable. This can be done without acting out (suffering in silence) or by pursuing the person they are in love with. Some torch bearers are more addicted than others. This kind of addiction feeds on fantasies and illusions. It is also known as unrequited love.

Saboteurs are ALAs who destroy relationships when they start to get serious or at whatever point their fear of intimacy comes up. This can be anytime—before the first date, after the first date, after sex, after the subject of commitment comes up—whenever.

Seductive Withholders are ALAs who always come on to you when they want sex or companionship. When they become frightened, or feel unsafe, they begin withholding companionship, sex, affection—anything that makes them feel anxious. If they leave the relationship when they become frightened, they are just Saboteurs. If they keep repeating the pattern of being available/unavailable, they are seductive withholders.

Romance Addicts are ALA who are addicted to multiple partners. Unlike sex addicts, who are trying to avoid bonding altogether, romance addicts bond with each of their partners—to one degree or another— even if the romantic liaisons are short-lived or happening simultaneously. By “romance” I mean sexual passion and pseudo emotional intimacy. Please note that while romance addicts bond with each of their partners to a degree, their goal (besides getting high off of romance and drama) is to avoid commitment or bonding on a deeper level with one partner. Often romance addicts are confused with sex addicts.

A Note about ALAs: Not all avoidants are love addicts. If you accept your fear of intimacy and social situations, and do not get hooked on unavailable people, or just keep your social circle small and unthreatening you are not necessarily an ALA. But if you eat your heart out over some unavailable person year after year, or sabotage one relationship after another, or have serial romantic affairs, or only feel close when you are with another avoidant, you may be an Ambivalent Love Addict.

Combinations: You may find that you have more than one type of love addiction. Many of these types overlap and combine themselves with other behavioral problems. For instance, you may be a codependent, alcoholic love addict. Or a love/relationship addict. The important thing is to identify your own personal profile so you know what you are dealing with.

Robert was a love addict, relationship addict, romance addict and sex addict. He was married but did not want to divorce his wife of twenty years even though he was not in love with her (relationship addiction) His hobby was masturbating to pornography when his wife was not home (sex addiction). He had affairs with several other women simultaneously without his wife finding out. He really cared about each of these women (romance addict). One day he met Jennifer and fell in love with her. It did not take long before he was obsessed with her. She did not want to be with him because he was married, so he began stalking and harassing her (love addict). Robert finally got into recovery, divorced his wife, gave up the pornography and affairs and married the woman he was obsessed with. At first his jealousy was out of control, but after a few years of therapy and 12-Step meetings he began to trust his new wife. Because she was mature, well-grounded and had high self esteem, the relationship began to normalize. Today, all of Robert’s addictions are in remission.

Narcissists and Codependents: It is very common for love addicts to end up in relationships with other love addicts. The most common kind of love-addicted couple is, as you might have guessed, the codependent and the narcissist. In the beginning, narcissists are often seductive. After they have hooked their codependent partners, however, they change. Here is an example of a narcissist/codependent relationship.

Nancy and James met at a bar and were instantly attracted to one another. Within days, Nancy (the codependent) had fallen madly in love with James (the narcissist). From the beginning, she was helpful, nurturing, attentive and went out of her way to make him happy. James, on the other hand, appeared to be able to take or leave the relationship after they made love. He canceled dates, neglected to return phone calls, saw other women, became very domineering and for the most part seemed aloof and detached. Still, six months later, Nancy married James because she was in love with him and secretly hoped that he would change.

After Nancy and James were married, the pattern of neglect continued—especially his affairs with other women. When Nancy objected, James bullied her until she stopped nagging him about it. This went on for years. Nancy tried to save her marriage by placating James in every way she could think of, but he continued to do what he wanted. Eventually, Nancy stopped loving James and thought about leaving him, but she just couldn't bring herself to face the loneliness of being single again. This was better than nothing she thought. So she continued her codependent behavior, always trying to keep James happy and comfortable even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness in the process. Eventually, Nancy sought counseling and within a year she felt strong enough to leave James. He had other ideas. The first time Nancy brought up the subject of divorce he laughed at her. Then he threatened her verbally. The day she presented him with divorce papers, he beat her so badly she had to go to the hospital. It seems that despite his lack of love and respect for Nancy, James was addicted to her and the relationship they shared. He also felt that if he couldn't have her, nobody else could.

Eventually, Nancy got away from James even though he stalked her for months—threatening to kill her if she didn't come back. Thankfully, he eventually let go. However, you only have to read the newspapers to realize that such a lethal combination of codependency and narcissism can lead to homicide.

Switch-hitting: Many love addicts switch-hit because they have more than one underlying personality disorder. For instance, a relationship addict may play the role of a codependent for years, then finally get out of the relationship and fall in love with someone who is unavailable. Suddenly, our relationship addict is an obsessed love addict or a torchbearer. Even narcissists switch-hit—believe it or not. For years they be in one relationship after another playing the role of the dominant, uncaring partner. However, if they ever fall hard, they can easily turn into a torchbearer or obsessed love addict. If they fall in love with another narcissist then they have no choice but to become the codependent love addict in the relationship because the narcissist will not stand for anything else. Even ambivalent love addicts will start obsessing instead of running away when they are addicted.

Love addicts switch-hit because of separation anxiety. If another form of behavior is necessary to placate a partner and to hold on the him or her, the love addict will adopt that behavior. Is it an act? Sometimes . . . but if the love addict has weak personality boundaries, they may actually become the other person while under the spell of the addiction.. The point here is not to identify all the kinds of switch-hitting going on, or to even explain it, but o point it out and learn from it.

Conclusion: The Importance of All This: If all this seems complicated it is. And, to be honest, the only reason it is important is because it makes a difference when it comes to treatment. Codependent love addicts, for instance, need a boost in self-esteem and self-acceptance. They must learn to think better of themselves. Narcissistic love addicts, on the other hand, use grandiosity to bolster their low self-esteem and need to come down to earth. They need to learn some humility and how to become “unselfish.” Ambivalent Love Addicts need to find a healthy relationship and stay engaged it even when their fear threatens to overwhelm them. Most of all, understanding as much as you can about love addiction will form the basis of your Fourth Step Inventory in LAA or lay the groundwork for professional therapy.

Replies

lassie1958
lassie1958

Wow! Great article....though I must say, I felt like crying after reading all this....strange reaction? It all just feels so hopeless....how does one ever meet a NORMAL man??!!!....And of course, I am not squeaky clean, either. I recognise myself in some of these addictions too.

I suppose knowledge and awareness is better than ignorance...and that way there is hope for a healthy relationship eventually....

Just got me on a bad day when I am (once again) longing for a "normal" life in the run up to Christmas...
rayvyn
rayvyn

Lassie1958, It is not hopeless. I had all the traits of being obsessed, co-dependent, and a relationship addict. Knowing is half the battle. Instead of focusing on finding someone, you need to focus on healing yourself only then will you be truly ready to find and maintain a healthy relationship. Give yourself the best Christmas gift this year, focus on you, for just one year. If you live to be 100, that one year is only 1% of your life that you dedicated to just you. You are a remarkable woman and you are worth it!!!
lassie1958
lassie1958

Thanks Rayvyn, was thinking while I was doing the dishes just now (!)...this thing with addiction. If you smoke, you stop buying cigarettes, if you drink you dont allow yourself to drink alcohol. There is something "concrete" one can do with such additions...yer? So, how in practice does one "give up" these type of addictions?
Ok, if one is addicted to a particular man, one can leave him and be on ones own....but I know myself that the addiction problem is STILL there!!!! And becos of that...there is a risk I will rush headlong into yet another disastrous, unhealthy relationship!! Is not being in a relationship the only "cure" ?
How can I heal myself...? Practical things I can do? Therapy? Anything else?

I am SOOOO tired of this addiction thing now, I loooong to be happy and healthy.....that should be motivation in itself eh?
lassie1958
lassie1958

Was just reading the WWLTM recovery steps again....which SusyP just posted
in the thread Living without the companionship or sex---from the WWLTM book.....are they the answer?

Though do they really help kick addiction?
deleted_user
deleted_user

Great post!

If you want to explore this subject in DEPTH, I highly recommend these 2 books:

Escape from Intimacy Anne Wilson Schaef
Facing Love Addiction Pia Mellody

I learned in Escape from Intimacy that I am a total relationship addict. xn was a sex addict. These 2 like to come together. The sex addict pretends that he wants to be in a relationship to have a steady stream of sex. The RA addicts overlooks dozens of flaws in the relationship in order to desperately cling to the relationship because ANY relationship is better then being alone.

Or at least that is what I thought. Now I would much rather be alone then stay in a great deal of pain.
deleted_user
deleted_user

OMG SusyP it soiund slike me and Ed - interesting I will have to get the book and read it.
rayvyn
rayvyn

Here are some steps that helped me in my journey...maybe they will help you too!!

1) Abstain from a love relationship for one year.

2) Get a support system and begin to learn how to relate in healthy, non sexual ways. This group is a good place to start.

3) You will go through withdrawal. Do not enter into another relationship to mask your pain. This is so very important

4) Address the feelings from your childhood that you need to resolve. You can't heal what you don't feel. Allow yourself to feel the pain, the anger the resentment, the shame.

5) Find a therapist who is trained in helping you do the trauma work you need to do to resolve these feelings that are from your past and from your present.

6) Connect to your inner child, the part of you that was enmeshed, abandoned and/or abused in childhood. It's important to develop empathy for child feeling reality that you experiened back then.

7) Develop a Loving Parent inside who can connect to, nurture, protect and love the "true you" unconditionally.

8) Get a Higher Power - everyone needs to believe in something.

9) Identify the types of unhealthy people you are attracted to. Completely and thoroughly understand the red flags and what you need to do to avoid those types of people.

10. Transform your thinking. With all these resources in place, your life can be transformed. You truly can become a positive, powerful and optimistic person.....

Then and only then slowly enter a love relationship......
lassie1958
lassie1958

Thnx...really something to work with! Great list!
deleted_user
deleted_user

Wow! This is good information! Yep - codependent married to the narcissist! My sister lives out the relationship addict. It is scary to think, now that I'm out, if I could become a sabateur or torch bearer :( I want to address this! I'll print it out for my therapist. Thanks!
deleted_user
deleted_user

Very relevant to all of us here! Thanks for your list of steps towards recovery. I'm in month 4 of NC with no intention of breaking it. Having clear aims at this point instead of wallowing in misery is helping me get through the day. This forum is my anchor. X
deleted_user
deleted_user

WoW Excellent post...I will save this and the list...this is some great information. Something I needed to read, I can see myself in some of these like: ambivalent, torch bearer, and saboteurs. Also codependent. Ravvyn when you post the recovery list it ensure me that I am heading in the right direction by taking a time off from dating/relationships and work on me. Thank you...Hugs!!
deleted_user
deleted_user

I have been struggling with the typical Holiday Blues we all face when we are still dealing with the aftermath of a Pathological relationship. It's been 2 years (well, 10 months since the last attempt), I'm just warming up after 4 months to a really healthy, validating relationship with a wonderful, honest, man whos nuts about me and shows it in sweet, appropriate ways, and yet somehow my thoughts have dwelt on the XN, and each day have experienced some weepiness to my dismay. I finally read It's called A Breakup because it's Broken, by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt, the authors of He's just not that into you. (They were once married to each other!) Yes, it's in that same wacko, mod, irreverent style of writing., but it really opened my eyes to the bottom line truths I know but seem to forget so easily - by the time they actually break it off, they have been dealing with the end of your relationship and well on the way to their own recovery LONG before the "break-up", if it was REALLY meant to be, they would make that happen, being men they would still be open to bootycalls even if they no longer want anything else to do with you, once they have revealed their intent to leave NOTHING you can do will likely change their mind, and IF they do return, your relationship can never be the same, the innosence has been destroyed, and the sooner you accept these truths (no, you were NOT the exception, YES he's hot on the trail of one or more replacements, NO he is not suffering like you are,despite his deceptive actions to the contrary, YES, he does think i'ts all your fault, blah,blah,blah......), and your only self respecting choices are these: 1) accept it with grace and go NC...2) get all the help you need elsewhere to cope, learn and heal 3) seek and cherish the help of your friends, vent, cry, learn, .....and know when to stop dumping on them and get a grip 4) nourish and pamper yourself in healthy, growing, constructive ways 5) remove all reminder of him from your vision and vacinity, throw out, pack up, put away.....6) don't wear your break-up on your face, don't back-slide in a weak moment, bet a break-up buddy who will support you when you're weakening. 7) try new things: hobbies, styles, activities, movies, foods, massage, vacation, hair cut, friends, .....enlarge your circle of enriching experiences. Don't bad-mouth, (except to your closest confidants, accept that His friends and family are HIS, sad but true, and evolve into the vibrant, confident, accomplished woman you were meant to be!!! Best of luck and Blessings..........
deleted_user
deleted_user

Also, remember that with a psychologically healthy, emotionally available man of integrity and honesty, who at some point had actually bonded with you in some significant degree,there MIGHT be a chance of real, lasting reconciliation, with counseling, honesty, motivation,time and effort on BOTH sides. But with a Pathological, there is only inevitible damage, they cannot make the three necessary changes that Susy prints over and over in her posts. Therefore, there can BE NO CHANCE of any real, lasting honest reconciliation. " Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, actions speak louder than words, if you do what you always did, you will get what you always got, once a cheater, always a cheater, a leopard never changes his spots, and last but not least - NC RULES!!!!!! Blessings
Blueshoes2
Blueshoes2

That to me is the saddest thing...we never will get validation for what we went through. All those years of trying to get someone you thought loved you and that you loved to see what they are doing to you and your relationship, family, etc. It never comes to fruition. Only pain, rejection, and more use. That is why No contact is the only answer. You can not get something that never actually existed, only an illusion existed. That is what is so hard to grasp, we thought it was REAL! WE have to give up the fantasy that he will ever make it right. Only God can make it right. This is why belief in a higher power is so important. Faith, have faith that justice with be done and that you will come out better than before. God will see to it. Just thinking outloud!
ladytruee
ladytruee

Can you be all of the first 3 ?
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