For the love addict and codependent, Internet dating sites are the crack cocaine of romantic exploration. Although the love addict consciously wants true and everlasting love, they are drawn to the exhilarating rush of new love like a moth is drawn to a flame. Their dream of being forever in love with a fated soulmate is inexplicably foiled by reasons that never quite make sense to them. Love addicts rarely make it past the 30-day mark in any new relationship. It is as if they have a fuel tank that supplies the gasoline to a race-car engine... but it only has a one-gallon capacity! Here is the story of a 37-year-old love addict named Jake and a 35-year-old codependent named Melissa. Melissa and Jake, like so many codependent/love addict relationships, were oblivious to their psychological afflictions. They felt like "regular" people who just wanted the all-American dream of true love. They were blind to their revolving-door dating pattern, which they simply dismissed as a phenomenon of the modern Internet age of romance. To the Jakes and Melissas of this world, Internet dating is like a virtual candy store with the most tantalizing choices of yummy treats. With so many types of candy and so many opportunities to try them all, who could stop at just one? Analogous to the fantasy candy store, the Internet dating sites -- thousands of them -- guaranteeing perfectly harmonious everlasting love, combined with steamy Hollywood romance. Love addicts hungrily rely on them to actualize their made-for-TV dream of true love. About three months ago, Melissa met Jake on Plenty of Fish, one of the many free Internet dating sites. Not only did their profiles match up perfectly, but the photos they shared with each other sparked deep waves of anticipation and excitement. After exchanging a string of emails, each getting longer and more personally revealing than the last, Melissa and Jake moved "offline" and began speaking on the phone. These were not just regular phone calls, but marathon calls that lasted for hours. The more they talked, the more the waves of excitement and anticipation built. Melissa felt in her soul that Jake was the perfect man, the man she had been looking for her whole life. Jake's masculine and bold voice soothed her. His edgy and commanding nature made her melt inside. She imagined Jake to be a brave and confident man who could light up any room with his charisma and charm. Jake seemed to know exactly what he wanted, and had a story about how he always got what he wanted -- or, as he would say, "grab any bull by the horns and make his life happen." His apparent strength and dominant personality sent shivers up Melissa's spine. It didn't take long before they exhausted the exquisitely detailed telling of their life stories. Almost every topic took on a romantic and mildly sexual tone. Although they never talked directly about sex, the roundabout seductive nature of their discussion opened a flood gate of wanton anticipation. It was as if they were strongly charged magnets whose opposite compelling attraction was building up by the hour. Although neither tried to fight this irresistible magnetic force, they knew if they tried, it would have been futile -- no different than a guppy swimming up a raging river trying to mimic its salmon cousins. Melissa and Jake met at a local Olive Garden.
Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Love is a drug ... in a way. Many studies have found that a bad breakup can have similar effects that withdrawling from cocaine has.
All I know is this: I sure wouldn't want to feel the pain of an actual drug addict overcoming their addiction — sounds excruciatingly painful, in the worst way.
Bringing us to the next point...