Love Addiction

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Love Addiction

Post  oldersister on Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:39 pm

Before I get into this let me say that it is my belief that EVERYONE becomes somewhat addicted to things that are familiar and habitual in their lives. For instance, if every morning you drank a glass of orange juice immediately upon rising, and then one morning you found you were out of orange juice, you may mourn the absence of it. Habit. When a habit is removed our sense of stability, one of our life's rituals, has been removed–upsetting our balance. Very common. I believe every one of us goes through some kind of withdrawal after the end of a relationship. After all, the relationship has become a customary way of life for us and it would only be natural to have symptoms of withdrawal. But for others the relationship, the love, or the object of their love, has actually became an addiction to them. They are physically, emotionally, and mentally dependent on this relationship, love, or object of love in their lives to function normally. The addiction far surpasses simple habit. It takes on a life's ambition all its own.

And what is a habit? A habit is simply a learned behavior that we acquire through repetition. If we enjoy the ongoing occurrence we develop an urge or a craving for it, to the point where we repeat the experience out of need to feel in balance. It becomes habit. And habits are hard to break. But they can be broken through perseverance and acknowledgement of the habit.

Did you know that you can actually become addicted–physically, emotionally, and mentally–to your mates, to love, and to your relationship? YEP! And did you know that sometimes we have to go through a withdrawal when relationships end? YEP! But, if you're not aware of this how can you learn to work through it, right? So I'm here to explain to you the different 'love' addictions and what you can expect. I'm not going to try and explain to you why you are addicted (I suppose it stems from our childhood [that nasty subconscious Angel again]–I mean doesn't everything stem from our childhood?!?!)

Have you ever heard the phrase "it's chemistry". Well, guess what, it could be! When people fall in love their brains create the chemical phenylethylamine (PEA). The chemical is released from the brain and enters the body (gives a whole new meaning to the expression "pea-brained", doesn't it?). The more in love you get–the more chemical your body receives. The chemical is responsible for that thrill and energy we feel when we fall in love. As the chemical levels rise we feel an intensified excitement and euphoria. The more we feel the increase in excitement the more chemical we release. Oh argh! What a vicious cycle!

Some psychological signs of a sudden drop in this chemical would be preoccupation with the person, or the relationship, that created the release of this chemical; obsessive compulsion to regain this person or relationship back into our lives; and increasing despair, guilt, or shame over our inability to stop wanting or needing this person or relationship.

Some symptoms of physical withdrawal:

sweating or rapid pulse
increased hand tremor
nausea or vomiting
physical agitation / irritability or easily excited
anxiety / panic
chills and sweating / clammy skin
loss of appetite
cramps and nausea
feeling of jumpiness or nervousness
feeling of shakiness
emotional volatility, rapid emotional changes
difficulty with thinking clearly
sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)

Love creates and evokes many different emotions in us. Basically the love of another makes us feel safe, protected from the world, trusted, full of joy, and complete. For the love addict these feelings create a feeling of "high". It alters their moods, creates in them an euphoria, makes them feel on top of the world. It far surpasses simple comfort but becomes a security blanket. It surpasses joyfulness and becomes a feeling of intoxification. When these feelings are removed the "addict" will go to any length to get them back. The addiction is transferred to the thing that gave it to them, the ex, the relationship, sex, or being in love itself. Life without this person, relationship, etc., is not worth living (at least from the addict's point of view). It doesn't matter to them that their "fix" is participating or not, they desperately need to regain the love. The need of regaining this love precludes any other need. The addict is often obsessed with finding the world in one lover. They quickly attach themselves to the object of their love, often taking on the identity of their romance interest.

Some common characteristics of love/people/relationship addiction:

*Consuming or obsessive thoughts of the object of your love
*Avoidance of the loss of this love
*Seeking to avoid rejection or abandonment at all cost
*Manipulation to regain this love
*Extreme dependency on this love
*Perceives love and relationship as a basic human need
*Sense of worthlessness without a relationship or partner
*Feelings of not being whole outside of a relationship
*Extremely accepting of abuse, often putting rational explanations to irrational treatment from another
*Defining "wants" as "needs"
*Refusal to acknowledge these as a problem

Extremely fearful of change in–or the loss of–their addictive fix, the love addict will go to any level to regain their lost love. This desperate need for a fix consumes the addict's every moment, shaking their security, creating obsessive thoughts of their love, and creating emotional scheming on the part of the addict.

For most individuals after the loss of a relationship they go through a period of mourning but eventually resume normal lives and form new bonds. However, for the love addict, the issues take on pathological variations of the grieving process, and making future bonding more difficult. An anxious type of attachment to a relationship or person, and a history of compulsive care-taking of that relationship or person may result in chronic grief when facing the loss of that attachment. Love addicts often turn into stalkers, or resort to extreme measures of suicidal thoughts or threats.

If you discover that any of this rings true to you then I strongly urge you to seek professional assistance.

What is an addiction? An addiction is any activity or substance we repeatedly crave to experience. Any fixation for which we are willing to pay any price necessary to receive. People have sacrificed everything for their addictions. Pride, dignity, families, jobs, friends, home, and even their own lives. I lost a mate to his addiction–he lost his life to it. Love and relationship addicts continue their obsessive need for the relationship long after it is clear that the relationship is over and that the price they are paying for their obsession is that of themselves and their families own happiness and health. An individual who has lost sleep, jobs, friends, personal freedom, health, life's meaning, joyfulness, happiness, contentment, and a sense of self-worth because of the removal of a relationship, or love object, from their lives, but is unwilling to accept their addiction, or unwilling to change, should seek professional help.

An addict doesn't succumb to the addiction for any other reason than the intense craving for it. It is not the source of their addiction that they need, it's the satisfying of the intense cravings that motivates him.

The compulsive urges or craving for their lost relationships can create chaos, tension, anticipation and anxiety in their everyday lives. The pleasures of a fix can be diverse. The love, relationship, or object of their love can create a positive mood or disguise a negative one. They feel that only through love will they not feel stressed, anxious, angry, unwanted, unloved, unneeded, undesirable, unworthy, depressed, bored, lonely, afraid, etc.

If you are obsessing over the loss of a relationship and it is causing you loss of your every day joy, pleasure, and happiness, you may be addicted. If you are preoccupied with an ex, a relationship, or finding and feeling love, you may be addicted. If this loss has made you feel without self-respect, or if you tend to minimize its effect or hold on you, you may be an addict in denial.

Failure to see that a problem exists can be just as devastating as the addiction. When we are in denial we are blind to the extent, or severity, that the addiction wreaks on our every day life. We fail to see the connection between the addiction and our pain and suffering and we don't seek the help we need. If any of this rang true to you while you were reading it chances are you could be addicted. Denial can be very damaging! It impairs our judgment resulting in self-delusion. Denial prevents us from understanding the implications and consequences associated with our addiction. Some people use denial in every situation in their lives. "I didn't see anything wrong with the relationship, and then one day he just decided to end it!" This is one form of denial. The sad thing about denial is it can mirror itself. When denial sees denial, it denies it. That's why getting past denial is requires tons of willingness, mountains of openmindedness, and shiploads of humility. If you feel defensive in me questioning your denial then you must be hearing something threatening in my statement. What could that be? This is denial.

As explained in the beginning of this section "simple addiction to habits are very common". If your work is nearby a Chinese restaurant, and every day for years you go there on your lunch break and order Chicken Chow Mein–that becomes habit. However, one afternoon you go in there and the waiter says, "sorry, but we haven't any chicken today," what would you do? You may get a little 'put out'. Maybe anxious, or feel somewhat unsettled–even possibly out of balance. But, even through these emotions, you still have to eat–so you order Beef Chop Suey instead. And it tastes good–in fact, you might even enjoy the Beef Chop Suey better! The Beef Chop Suey creates this great, new, taste sensation that you've never experienced before! So what is happening to you now? You are receiving two mixed signals. One is the sorrow and displacement of your 'typical' day by the loss of your customary plate of Chicken Chow Mein, creating a feeling of being out of balance or even anxious–you may even feel guilty about giving up your trusted Chicken Chow Mein. But, too, you may feel another contradicting euphoric promise of discovering this new and exciting food. Ah, the Beef Chop Suey! Who would have guessed it could be so inviting! However, if you go back there the next day (and you will), even though you enjoyed the Beef Chop Suey better, you may still be tempted to order the Chicken Chow Mein. Why? Habit! And habits are hard to break. Even if it's just to Chicken Chow Mein!

Below are some suggestions to help you break a habit:

List all the gains and pains you received from your habit (your habit being your day-to-day relationship with your ex). Example:

Gains of My Addiction:

What negative emotions did being with my ex lessen? For example: depression, boredom, loneliness, fear.
What positive emotions did my ex bring out in me: For example: feelings of being loved, needed, wanted, worthy, intelligent, pretty, funny, witty, desirable, safe, secure, comfortable, belonging.
To what extent did these emotional fixes effect my every day life? For instance: My job performance improved, my confidence improved, my outlook was more optimistic, I formed better friendships, I became more in tune to my own wants, needs, and desires.
How did my relationship improve the quality of my life? For instance: I felt encouragement to continue my education, support in career change, more socially accepted.
How much did my relationship make me feel normal and accepted by others?
How did my relationship help me improve or grow? For instance: Better education, more patience and tolerance, higher self-esteem, increase in compassion and empathy, more rewarding relationship with my family and friends.

Pains of My Addiction:

What did I dislike about the relationship in general? For instance: loss of freedom, arguments, feelings of neglect, sacrifices, being unappreciated, giving more than I received.
How much better would my life be if I were to stop my compulsive longing to reconcile? For instance: better daily joy, personal contentment, increased job performance, open to new relationships, regaining sense of self worth, self-respect, loss of anxiety, restfulness, better health, personal freedom, loss of feelings of shame, increased self-dignity, reclaiming my pride.
How much would my energy, stamina, and performance levels increase if I were to stop my compulsive longing to reconcile?
How much guilt would I be able to let go of?
How would my outlook on life improve?
Could I avoid legal problems (fighting a divorce, harassment charges)?
How would my physical appearance improve? For instance: no more dark circles under my eyes, clearer complexion, lilt in my walk, healthier diet, better personal hygiene, more natural smile.
What pleasures could I experience that it is difficult to experience now? For instance: dating and new relationships, freedom, ability to come and go as I please, joining singles groups and activities, satisfaction in feeling my accomplishments.

If you study your answers you'll see that it is possible to experience what you listed in your "gains" outside of the relationship. It is also possible to feel the promise of a better life that you listed in your "pains" when you see what you will gain by letting go of the habit. This should be your motivation to break the habit. For many though, the problem is not in motivation, but in fighting the urges, and cravings, to give in to the habit. If you understand the urges and cravings are merely a means for you to regain a certain feeling (as in our "gains" list) and once you understand you can create those same positive effects outside of the relationship, it should be easier to fight the urges.

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