Love and Relationship Addiction

Many adults have experienced the joy and contentment of being in love. Some people can also admit that when their romantic relationship ends that joy turns into outright panic and terror at the thought of losing him or her.  Are you feeling panic and deep seated dread with the loss of a breakup? Do you continue the cycle of destructive “breakup and makeup” just to avoid feeling desperation and “alone” feelings that are triggered when the relationship ends?Preoccupied Attachment

The fear of losing a loved one is a natural and healthy reaction.  It is human to experience grief, loss, depression or severe depression for an amount of time following the end of a relationship. What is less healthy and potentially problematic is when the loss of that relationship threatens your core sense of self or reason to live. In that case what follows is a pattern of obsessional thinking and behavior in order to win back your partner.

For example, if the thought of losing (or having lost) your romantic partner or relationship causes you to change your values, friends, or beliefs in order to keep the person or relationship, then you are likely struggling with love and relationship addiction.

As with alcohol to the alcoholic, drugs to the drug addict or sex to the sex addict, love and relationships can be compulsive and addictive. This occurs because there is an unhealthy over identification with another’s affection or attention and we use that focus to fill a void or a lack of self worth within.

Below is a list of characteristics as defined by Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.

Characteristics of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous:

  1. Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.
  2. Fearing abandonment and loneliness, we stay in and return to painful, destructive relationships, concealing our dependency needs from ourselves and others, growing more isolated and alienated from friends and loved ones, ourselves, and God.
  3. Fearing emotional and/or sexual deprivation, we compulsively pursue and involve ourselves in one relationship after another, sometimes having more than one sexual or emotional liaison at a time.
  4. We confuse love with neediness, physical and sexual attraction, pity and/or the need to rescue or be rescued.
  5. We feel empty and incomplete when we are alone. Even though we fear intimacy and commitment, we continually search for relationships and sexual contacts.
  6. We sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care, and support.
  7. We use sex and emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.
  8. We become immobilized or seriously distracted by romantic or sexual obsessions or fantasies.
  9. We avoid responsibility for ourselves by attaching ourselves to people who are emotionally unavailable.
  10. We stay enslaved to emotional dependency, romantic intrigue, or compulsive sexual activities.
  11. To avoid feeling vulnerable, we may retreat from all intimate involvement, mistaking sexual and emotional anorexia for recovery.
  12. We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.

The Augustine Fellowship of S.L.A.A., Fellowship-Wide Services, Inc. © 1990.

Contact Debra L. Kaplan for help with Sex and Love addiction. Debra will help you work through the underlying fears and unresolved life experiences that keep you trapped in a cycle of destructive and painful relationships.