In my experience as a counselor for many years, I have found that love addiction and approval addiction are far more prevalent than any other substance or process addictions. We live in a love-addicted, approval-addicted society.
What does it mean to be love/approval addicted? Below is a checklist for you to see if you are addicted to love and/or approval. Believing any of these may indicate love or approval addiction.
I believe that:
- My happiness and wellbeing are dependent upon getting love from another person.
- My adequacy, lovability, and feelings of self-worth and self-esteem come from others liking me and approving of me.
- Others disapproval or rejection mean that I'm not good enough.
- I can't make myself happy.
- I can't make myself as happy as someone else can.
- My best feelings come from outside myself, from how other people or a particular other person sees me and treats me.
- Others are responsible for my feelings. Therefore, if someone cares about me, he or she will never do anything that hurts or upsets me.
- I can't be alone. I feel like I'll die if I'm alone.
- When I'm upset, it's someone else's fault.
- It's up to other people to make me feel good about myself by approving of me.
- I'm not responsible for my feelings. Other people make me feel happy, sad, angry, frustrated, shut down, guilty, shamed or depressed - and they are responsible for fixing my feelings.
- I'm not responsible for my behavior. Other people make me yell, act crazy, get sick, laugh, cry, get violent, leave, or fail.
- Others are selfish if they do what they want instead of what I want or need.
- If I'm not connected to someone, I will die.
- I can't handle the pain of disapproval, rejection, abandonment, of being shut out - the pain of loneliness and heartbreak.
Living as a love or approval addict is a very hard way to live. You have to constantly make sure you say the right thing, do right, and look right in order to get the needed love and approval. Your feelings are on a roller coaster - from feeling the wonderful feelings that come from getting your love or approval "fix" to feeling the despair that comes when your "supply" - the source of your love and approval - shuts down, gets angry or judgmental, or goes away.
The Underlying Cause of Love and Approval Addiction
Love and approval addiction is rooted in self-abandonment. Imagine the feeling part of you as a child - your inner child. When you are love or approval addicted, you have handed your inner child away for adoption. Instead of learning to take responsibility for your own sense of worth and wellbeing by loving and approving of yourself, you have handed your inner child away to others for love and approval - making others responsible for your feelings. This inner self-abandonment will always cause the deep pain of low self-worth, making you dependent upon others for your self-worth.