The Love Addict’s Cycle

Posted by on 09 19 14 in Romance Addiction | Comments Off on The Love Addict’s Cycle

The Love Addict's CycleLike a lot of couples today, Kelli and Darren met online. They struck up a fun, easy-going email exchange right off the bat and quickly moved into face-to-face territory. Their first date wasn’t a one-on-one coffee or dinner, though; they met in a park with their children. Kelli and Darren were both divorced parents, and this fact seemed to unite them. The children’s presence did nothing to dampen their romantic excitement; the couple fell hard and fast. Soon, they were seeing or speaking to each other daily and spending several nights a week together, kids in tow. Nevertheless, the intensity was intoxicating.

At around the six-month mark, however, Kelli discovered that Darren had never taken down his online dating profile. He hadn’t used it to meet anyone, but he had occasionally chatted with other women. He believed he was really in love with Kelli, and was even ready to marry her, but he couldn’t explain why he’d kept his profile up. Now, Kelli was devastated and distrustful. For months she cried nightly and admonished Darren, certain he’d never felt the same about her as she had for him. He didn’t know what to do to prove otherwise, and simply promised Kelli that he was incredibly sorry; she could call all the shots from there forward.

At the one-year mark, Kelli decided the couple needed a break. During this break, they would not call themselves a couple, and they would not have sex. They would still see one another, though. Neither she nor Darren kept to the terms of the “break” (they continued having sex), and Kelli’s unresolved issues over feeling betrayed showed themselves again and again. Darren continued to let Kelli lead the way, terrified that if he spoke up on his own behalf, the woman he loved might leave. When Kelli called to ask Darren to drop what he was doing and come and visit her, he was there. When Darren called Kelli to ask for some time together, she complained that he was “smothering” her.

Kelli’s father had betrayed her mother and left when she was 9-years-old. Kelli’s relationship with him had been conflicted after that; she loved her dad intensely, but felt responsible for her mother’s heartbreak. Darren’s mother, who was an actress, had rarely been around when he was growing up. Sometimes she’d left him in the care of people who were less than caring, and to this day, his relationship with his mother was strangled by resentment even while he deeply ached for her love and approval. Considering their pasts, it is no wonder that Kelli and Darren engaged the way they did, acting out a pattern of perceived betrayal and the withdrawal of love and affection. The couple continued their unhealthy pattern until Darren, a recovered alcoholic, began to see a pattern of addiction in their relationship and asked Kelli if she would consider going into couple’s therapy with him.

Compulsive Patterns of Loving

Robert Weiss, author and international expect on sex and love addiction, has written, “It can be difficult for healthy individuals to understand how the gifts of love and romance can evolve into destructive, compulsive patterns. Yet for the love addicted, romance, sexuality, and emotional closeness are experiences more often beset with painful emotional highs and lows than gifted with real intimacy or love.” What impels love addicts is the intensity found in looking for a lover and in the initial falling in love experience, and the intensity created in a problem relationship becomes just as intoxicating on an unconscious level. Truly intimate and stable relationships are not appealing to love addicts; they need the fix found in chasing chaotic emotions. These couples frequently engage in the repetition of destructive emotional patterns, particularly patterns that are rooted in their childhood experiences.

Signs of Love Addiction

Some signs of love addiction include:

  • Constantly searching for a romantic relationship or “the one”
  • Mistaking the intensity of sex and new romance for love
  • Using manipulation, seduction or sex to capture and hook the interest of romantic partners
  • Repeatedly breaking promises to yourself not to return to damaging relationships
  • Using the intensity of sex or romantic intrigue to cope with stress or negative feelings
  • Choosing partners who demand caretaking or attention while refusing to meet your emotional or physical needs
  • Desperately fearing abandonment by a partner
  • Using sex or fantasy compulsively when not in a relationship in order to fill a void created by loneliness, longing and unmet needs
  • Finding it difficult to be alone

Addiction is almost never a singularly focused disease, zeroing in on one substance or one set of addictive processes. Rather, addiction is habitual destructive behavior that turns from one substance or set of behaviors to another, or that influences several at the time. When a person behaves addictively with sex, addictive relating (as with romantic love relationships) is often not far to follow. And as with other addictions, social deficits formed as a result of childhood circumstances are frequently found to be the cause.