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I have never heard of this term before until I presented to a Men’s Relationship Think Tank last Friday night. After years of reading every book there is on relationships, researching my book and blogging about dating, I thought I had heard every term out there. Though, this one was new to me. So of course it piqued my interested and I had to research it until I found out every last detail.
Wikipedia’s definition is: Like other addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, work, etc), the dependency to a person (their object- drug of choice) allows love addicts to feel alive, a sense of purpose and to gain a sense of meaning and self-worth in the world. They are driven by a fantasy hope that the drug of choice – a person – will complete them.
Most love addicts start out attempting to meet some known or unknown emotional need and then become dependent on the intoxicating feelings of being in love itself. Unfortunately, as in the case of drug addicts, “love addicts”, too, may become incapable of getting the desired satisfaction, which in turn increases their addiction. They often feel a burning, passionate love that gives and gives, destroying their sense of humanity when they lose the person they’ve given to, sometimes causing them to feel and act out in a vengeful way. The love addict suffers a lack of bonding as they did in childhood, including an inability to give and receive affection, self-destructive behavior, problems with control, and lack of healthy long term relationships.
Love addicts commonly and repeatedly form an addictive relationship with emotionally unavailable Avoidant partners. The Avoidant partner is compulsively counter-dependent – they fear being engulfed/drowned/smothered by their love addict partner. Love addicts enter relationships with emotionally closed-off individuals who will let nothing and no one in, which makes intimate relationships impossible. Behind their emotional walls, hides low self-esteem and feel if they become truly known (display emotional intimacy) – no one would ever love, accept, and value who they are. Avoidants are attracted to people who have difficulty thinking for themselves, having healthy emotional boundaries, or taking care of themselves in healthy manners- the love addict.
Love addicts and Avoidants form relationships that inevitably lead to unhealthy patterns of dependency, distance, chaos, and often abuse. Nevertheless, however unsatisfactory the relationship, ‘love addicts hang on and on, because it is what they know’. Familiarity is the central engine of their relationship. Each is attracted to the other specifically because of the familiar traits that the other exhibits, and although painful, come from childhood.
This cycle encompasses a push-pull dance full of emotional highs and many lows where the one is on the chase (love addict) while the avoidant is on the run. They both engage in counterfeit emotional involvement. Healthy emotional intimacy is replaced with melodrama and negative intensity- ironically creating the illusion of true love, intimacy, and connection – usually on an unconscious level. As a result, their relationships, although seemingly dramatic in their intensity, are actually extremely shallow.
Do you think you are a love addict? Read my next blog and take the quiz to find out.