I was recently told a statistic that didn’t really surprise me, but was kind of an eye-opener nonetheless: Married individuals daydream about being single at least once a day. Well, I’d argue that single people dream about being in a relationship once in a while, too. The point is that the grass is always greener.
The other point is that there is some truth to the statistic, and people should be aware of what is happening biologically. The chemicals in our brains when we meet someone, start dating and “fall in love” are akin to being on a cocaine high. Dr. Helen Fisher, author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, coined this the “lust” and “romance” phases of love—when things are exciting, albeit chaotic. This is not a sustainable way of living. Most people want to fall in love so they can settle down. A friend once said to me, “But isn’t doing your laundry on a Saturday with your partner what it’s all about?” Yes, a long-term relationship is comfortable, secure, stable, and, well, biologically speaking, perfect for raising children. You wouldn’t want to raise kids in a chaotic state of mind, would you?
Now, this final phase of love, which Dr. Fisher calls “the attachment phase,” is not that exciting, perhaps, but it really isn’t supposed to be. I think a lot of people get disillusioned by messages in the media, romance in films, and passionate sex in movies. It seems that if you want something exciting, you have to keep jumping from one relationship to another. And, trust me, many people do. Although many use the term serial monogamy, this can be a sign of a love addiction—people finding themselves addicted to the rush of romance.
Love addiction also has a flip side to it: It might cause you to stay in an abusive relationship. Love addicts often are afraid of being alone, and don’t like their own company. Love addiction can take over and cause people to make bad choices, fail to see red flags, and continue down a path with someone despite the obvious. Many love addicts have more than one partner.
We all have the tendency to be love addicts because, in the end, we all want love and connections with people, for that is how we grow, but a true love addiction is compulsive and obsessive in nature. A love addict may feel that true love will solve everything. A love addict may consume his or her mind with all things relationship-oriented. A love addict may fantasize about someone who is unavailable, believe he or she just can’t find the right one, or, once the early passion fades, fear he or she is no longer “in love.” Some may jump from one relationship to another in search of that excitement, while others stay in their current situation despite feelings of dissatisfaction, fantasies about leaving, or affairs both emotional and physical, and are prone to blame their partner(s) instead of addressing the matters at hand.
So how do we start to address a possible love addiction? Here are some guidelines I’ve come up with, for starters:
- Stop blaming the other person. If you are in a relationship, take a close look at what is going on. Are you being fair? Are you being honest? Are you being clingy? A love addict may expect the other person to treat him or her special, make everything, and fix things for him or her. If you are single, stop blaming the ex, take a break from dating, stop interacting with the ex, get into therapy, and talk to someone.
- Accept your feelings of sadness, fear, anxiety, and loneliness on a daily basis. These are common feelings that everyone feels, but a love addict may try to fight them by finding a relationship. Recognize that you will feel these feelings and it is OK.
- Take responsibility for your life. This means your happiness and your successes. Take charge of your life, make healthy choices, and spend time doing the things you love.
- Learn to accept yourself. Accepting your partner, if in a relationship, is key, too. In the end, without acceptance we are continuously searching, and that is at the root of any addiction.
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