In my latest book, The Marriage and Relationship Junkie, I address the very real issues with love addiction. This book is written from both a very personal perspective looking back on my life, as well as in a practical sense that can be used by those struggling with love addiction.
While I work with clients with love addiction, I also coach many people with codependency issues. Sometimes people use these two terms interchangeably, but there is a difference.
Knowing the difference can help you to find an experienced coach that has the necessary understanding and training to be able to support you in your journey to overcoming either of these issues.
Think about any type of addiction as having a specific focus.
Alcohol addiction is a focus on harmful alcohol consumption, drug addiction is the use of drugs, and love addiction is the need to be in love. It is an addiction to the feeling of being in love, that wildly passionate and highly bonding feeling of consuming togetherness that occurs at the beginning of a relationship.
The love addict strives to constantly have the emotional high.They want to feel loved, and they often respond to inappropriate or poor partners as a way to get that feeling.
Love addiction is not a specific mental health diagnosis at this time.
However, in recent research by Brian D. Earp and others and published in Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology in 2017, the link between the changes in the brain chemicals and the subsequent behavior of those in love is found to be similar to those seen in other types of recognized addictions.
The love addict often assumes much more in a relationship than the other person. They are also more likely to hold onto the relationship, as the fear of being alone or being unloved is very real and traumatic.
Signs of love addiction
- Staying with a person to avoid being alone
- Constantly breaking up and returning to the same person
- The need to feel highly intense emotions with a partner
- Extreme feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction in reconnecting after a breakup that quickly fade
- Willingness to settle for a partner to avoid being on your own
- Constant fantasies about the perfect relationship or the perfect partner
The codependent also fears to being alone, but there is a difference.
A codependent is a person that cannot see themselves except as in a relationship with someone, giving all to the partner.
Codependents tend to form relationships with narcissists, who are more than willing to take everything the other person is giving.
Codependency includes having no boundaries and no ability to find self-worth other than in fixing or pleasing for other people, even if they are not recognized or even treated very badly.
A codependent person will stay in an emotionally damaging relationship and may even stay in a dangerous and physically abusive relationship.
Signs of codependency
- Low-self esteem that is pervasive
- The need to constantly do things to please the partner, even if they are not what you want to do
- The fear of being alone and being unable to find another partner
- Staying In abusive relationships rather than being alone
- Focusing on errors and mistakes and setting impossible standards of perfection for yourself
- Denying your own needs as part of a pattern of behavior
- Never feeling like you are doing enough for the partner
- Experiencing the need to fix or to control people
It is important to realize that anyone can address issues of love addiction or codependency, but it is very difficult to do this on your own. In my coaching practice, I work one on one with clients, helping them to create a positive path to recovery and finding healthy relationships in their lives.