This guest article from Psychcentral is written by Alexandra Katehakis, MFT, CST, CSAT.
While people may admit to having struggles in their relationships, including difficulty with intimacy, it is sometimes hard to admit that you struggle with love addiction. But what if you have come to terms with love addiction, and realized that you are struggling with behaviors that are a source of upset and unmanageability in your life? What if you want change, and you want to do things differently so that you don't fall back on unhealthy behaviors that can sabotage your well-being and happiness?
Recognizing co-addicted behaviors and unrealistic expectations is one of the first steps toward acknowledging that you struggle with love addiction. Recognizing that you expect unconditional positive regard from your partner at all times can be a very powerful discovery.
- Are there ways that you have abandoned self-care, or devalued yourself in a relationship with another person?
- Have you ever found yourself addicted to someone who was addicted to a drugs or alcohol?
- Have you found yourself in a series of relationships marked by constant highs and lows, with no middle ground?
- Have you ever realized that you were addicted to a fantasy of someone, not acknowledging the reality of who that person truly is?
After making a decision to work on love-addicted behaviors, and to leave these behaviors behind, you can usually expect to experience a withdrawal period. This can include cycling through feelings of emptiness, pain, fear, and anger. The withdrawal period can last from a few months to a year, and usually includes a grieving process. It gets better over time, as you work through abandonment issues with your therapist or in a 12-step program, such as SLAA (Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous).
Recovering from love addiction can include working on developing self-esteem, good boundaries with others, learning to take care of your own needs, and choosing to walk away from situations where your feelings and personal reality are not being considered or respected. Some benefits of this work can include no longer using negative control over others, no longer holding toxic resentments toward others, and not using addiction to deny reality.
Additionally, it can be very helpful to examine the ways that needs were or were not met for you in your family of origin. Learning to value yourself can empower you to move away from unhealthy relationships, and into healthy intimacy. In recovery, others may disagree with you about what is right for you. But because you have developed positive self-regard, you learn to tolerate differences of opinion, while holding our own boundary.
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