Relationship addiction (aka love addiction) is characterized by compulsive patterns in romance, sexuality and relationships that have harmful consequences for the addict and their partners. The experience of finding the right partner and falling ‘in love” is one of life’s true joys. It brings a feeling of euphoria, passion, connection, and hope for a happy future. It can lead to a lifetime of loving contentment. Of course, sometimes it lapses and becomes one of our memories, sometimes pleasant and sometimes not. The “high” that comes from this feeling of loving passion, at least for some people, is so compelling that they use it to fill gaps in their lives, much as they might use a drug. Being in love, for them, can resemble an addiction.
The Relationship Addiction Process
Addictive relationships typically go through a process that usually starts with an innocent attraction to someone – and this quickly turns into an infatuation. The relationship addict, who is hungry for love, feels exhilarated and blinded by “love at first sight.” This turns into an excessive preoccupation with the loved one involving hours of fantasy about how the relationship might tum out. (Of course, this happens in normal love relationships also – but the degree to which this happens in an addicted relationship is enormous. This a case in which feelings control one’s life while rational thought is abandoned – and this is not a healthy style of living.) Love addicts then project all of their dreams for eternal happiness onto the loved one (most healthy people, of course, realize that they are ultimately responsible for their own happiness).
Symptoms of Relationship Addiction
- Premature bonding
- Excessive fantasies
- The Need for excitement
- Exaggerated anxiety and jealousy about the relationship
- Ineffective expression of emotions
- Loose personal boundaries
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