A woman whose brand of love quickly becomes suffocating, had been divorced three times and left at the altar once. She finally seeks help for love addiction.
Maura cried to her therapist that she was the woman who always got left; everyone she’d ever loved had abandoned her. She only wanted a relationship that could be strong and committed—but no one else seemed to want that. Men just used Maura for sex, she believed, or for the ways she liked to care for her partners: cooking meals, buying little gifts, handling bills and laundry.
Men were such terrible users! she cried, but to this her therapist asked if the problem wasn’t perhaps more centered around the type of men Maura had been choosing. She seemed to always go for unavailable men and the “bad boy” types she believed she could help—men she thought needed her nurturing and undivided attention in order to change.
Jealousy And Pain Early On With Maura’s Relationships
But Maura had been told more than once that her brand of love quickly became suffocating, and that her jealousy and insecurities were maddening. If a boyfriend wasn’t right beside her, she tended to text, and call and text.
She never felt satisfied with the answers she received and never believed the love a man claimed to have for her was authentic. “You don’t really love me. Why are you even with me?” was something she’d said to more than one man.
By the time Maura acknowledged that she might be suffering from the symptoms of love addiction (it explained so many of her behaviors and so much of her unhappiness), she had been divorced three times and left at the altar once. She was 28. She longed for a new partner, for the quickening buzz of new love, but everything in her knew that she’d only be facing more destruction if she put herself out there. She knew she needed help.
Aspects Of Love Addiction
As Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist, researcher, author and speaker, has explained, love can feel like a kind of madness for all humans, or even like a kind of drug. Neurologically speaking, the rush of a new romantic entanglement floods the brain with dopamine, that chemical that made waiting for Christmas morning so spectacular (and so brutal) as a child. Dopamine is the same neurochemical reward experienced by drug users, gamblers and overeaters. It makes us want and causes us to delight in what we want, even if what we want is bad for us.
A person with love addiction spends his or her time in an unceasing state of obsession over a love object. This obsessive cycle revolves around romance, intrigue or fantasy, and leads to the pursuit of frequently unhealthy relationships, dynamics that can often be toxic for both parties. As a result of repeated unrequited love, high conflict relationships or unattuned relationships, the addict fails to experience authentic emotional intimacy—either with him/herself, or with a partner. As with sex addiction, disordered intimacy is the root of love addiction.
Cause Of Love Addiction
Love addiction, like alcohol dependency or any other addiction, appears to have no singular cause, but a large percentage of those who come forward for treatment share stories of childhood trauma or experiences of abandonment or neglect. These traumas do not have to be severe; even benign neglect (parent’s taking care of a child, but paying little attention to him/her), can create this kind of wound. Many love addicts grow into adults who are still looking for the emotional soothing and attentive comfort that should have come to them long ago, from the parents they were born to.
Like gambling and disordered eating, love addiction is a process addiction—one exhibited by obsessive/compulsive thoughts and behaviors. Many love addicts do not know they have a problem, or simply lack a label for it, while others feel too stigmatized to seek help. The consequences of love addiction can be life-ruining and, in some circumstances, fatal. Crimes of passion have sometimes occurred by or to love addicts as a result of extreme obsession. The psychological and emotional pain needs healing so that the addict can find a stable sense of self and begin to build a life of security and peace.
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