Living With a Love Addict

Posted by on 10 12 12 in Love Addiction News | Comments Off on Living With a Love Addict

What makes living with a love addict different than living with other types of addicts is that their addictive behaviors directly violate the sanctity of a committed relationship. When a drug addict gets high or a gambling addict blows the rent money at a casino, wedding vows have not specifically been violated. How can you or your relationship best survive a brush with this closeted addiction?

What is Love Addiction?

Love addiction is an obsession with falling in love, romantic partners, or love relationships, depending on the “drug of choice.” The way a drug addict seeks out a favorite drug to erase their problems, get high, and escape reality is how a love addict approaches love.

In Louann Brizendine’s book The Female Brain, she writes:

The brain circuits that are activated when we are in love match those of the drug addict desperately craving the next fix…The classic symptoms of early love are also similar to the initial effects of drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, and opiates like heroin, morphine, and OxyContin… people can become addicted to love.” (p. 66)

A love addict may be what is jokingly referred to as a “serial monogamist” (meaning they go from one committed relationship to another without ever spending any alone time between relationships) or they may be addicted to flirting with multiple people simultaneously, needing to be falling in love with someone constantly. While a love addict may not necessarily be having sex with their “flirting victims,” most of them are cheating on their long-term partners at the very least on an emotional level.

Ssshhhh!

Love addicts, like all addicts, are ashamed of their addictive behaviors. The last thing they probably want to do is hurt a long-term partner, but the siren song of their next romantic rush is too powerful to resist. Therefore, the love addict tries to hide the flirting and inappropriate behavior. Lies begin to stack up. Pretty soon, the love addict may have an entire other world of which the long-term partner may be suspicious but is ultimately unaware.

Life with a Love Addict

“Melissa,” a partner of a love addict, describes her story:

“When I was 9 months pregnant, I discovered some text messages on my boyfriend’s phone to some girl. He said how much he missed her and that he’d just been over to her house to surprise her. He was calling her sweetheart and honey. I confronted him, and he said he was not having sex with or even kissing her-it was just flirting. I broke up with him anyway even though I knew I was the love of his life and that his time with me was the best in his whole life-he’d told me this many times, and I felt the same way. I could not believe he’d throw away our future family, a life that we both agreed was a dream come true, for some cheap fling. Two weeks later, I saw him walking with the girl from the text messages. She was so plain and ordinary and boring. They were walking like four feet apart, which made me think maybe he was telling me the truth-that they weren’t lovers. I was pushing our baby in the stroller at the time, our baby that was very much planned and wanted by both of us. I remembered how he had painted a mural in the nursery for her and how he kissed my belly everyday before going to work. I realized right then and there that his behavior had nothing to do with me or us. He was obviously addicted-there were other signs too. I found out later some pretty strong evidence that they indeed never were intimate, which just confirmed my feelings. He could not resist the attention and affection of this younger girl, to the degree that he threw his dream life in the dumpster. He later apologized saying repeatedly how embarrassed he was. He said he felt like trash and was so ashamed that he said he wanted to move to another country! It was devastating because I could tell he hadn’t meant to hurt me. I still loved him with all my heart and wanted him to be involved in our sons life, but how could I ever trust him again?”

The Golden Rule to Living with a Love Addict

As you can see from Melissa’s account, the partner of a love addict may feel trapped by a mind that feels angry, betrayed, and violated and a heart that is still in love with the addict.

Many websites, articles, and recovery programs will spell out specific tips and techniques for surviving life with an addict, but they all boil down to one simple rule. In doing what is best for you, not only will you be best serving yourself, but the addict will also benefit. In doing what is best for you, you are taking care of yourself and not enabling the self-defeating behaviors of the love addict. Yes, have boundaries (with consequences!), get support, write in a journal, learn about addictive behavior, but, when faced with some of life’s gray areas, remember the golden rule. If you are in the trap of being in love with a love addict, remember that the addict will have no motivation to heal and get healthy if life is comfortable. If you are hoping for any kind of recovery and non-dysfunctional life together, the addict needs to hit rock bottom before finding the motivation to seek help. Will s/he hit rock bottom if you are enabling or ignoring the pink elephant?