The other day when I was ending a session with a couple the woman looked at me and said “You know I am the love addict in this relationship. It is because I care more about him that he does me.”
I looked at her and nodded my head. I realized how simplistic her view was of love addiction. I agreed and proceeded to educate her on what love addiction means and how she shows up in her in the relationship.
Love addiction is other based self esteem. It means that you do hold your partner in higher regard and in turn find your self-worth through that relationship. The only problem in that is when your partner is angry or withdrawing from you, you end up in a self esteem crash similar to withdrawal from an addiction. It can feel a little like a morphine drip in the hospital, and when the hose gets crimped, the pain returns and you go through withdrawal symptoms.
Here is the more difficult part, that during the withdrawal you become obsessing and trying to figure out a way to get them back and when that does happen, you find yourself doing whatever you need to do to get that object of love affection back. This is where you shoot yourself in the foot. You abandon yourself, accommodate, put up with anything all in the effort to having someone back. Very dangerous…..
So, this is why the practice of healthy self esteem and learning to hold yourself with compassion and warm regard despite your imperfections is essential. This is a daily practice and at first it will sound only like words….eventually over time (may be months) you will start having the experience of loving the self. Healthy boundaries are important in the self esteem process because they help create and protect the self. These are the foundational practices to help pull anyone out of love addiction.
To learn more about these practices make sure you read Pia Mellody’s, Facing Love Addiction. This book gives an in depth view of both the love addiction side as well as the love avoidant side.