In my story you’re the villain. But in my heart, you’re still the reigning King. Coco J. Ginger
When you can stop you don’t want to, and when you want to stop, you can’t… Luke Davies
I am not your victim because you are not a predator any more than a bottle of scotch stalks an alcoholic. Sue William Silverman
One of my most well received posts has been ‘All about toxic relationships and how to let go‘ and this week Happiness Weekly is looking at Love Addiction – one of the fastest growing addictions in the world as people cling to love for their happiness.
It’s important that I note upfront that this blog is not about how to break love addiction. That may come later, but at this stage, I don’t have the answers. All I can recommend is that if you are finding yourself addicted to love, or a person, then to join a support group such as SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) to try to help understand and cope with it.
There are no statistics on love addiction, when I asked one of Sydney’s top psychologists about it, the response was that we are all love addicts to some extent.
However, some take it to a whole new level. Types of love addicts include:
Obsessed love addicts – can’t let go of someone they love, even if that person has moved on, is distant or abusive, or has their own addiction to something unrelated such as drugs or alcohol.
Co-dependant love addicts – have low self-esteem. They are desperately holding onto people they are addicted to through co-dependant behaviour (enabling, rescuing, caretaking, passive-aggressive controlling or accepting neglect or abuse). They will do anything to “take care” of their partners in the hope they will not leave or one day they’ll reciprocate.
Relationship addicts – aren’t in love with their partner but still can’t let go e.g. “I hate you but please don’t leave me!” Sounds twisted, but relationship addicts are so unhappy that their health, spirit and emotional wellbeing are affected. They are afraid of being alone and they don’t like change.
Narcissistic love addicts – use dominance, seduction and withholding to control their partners. They are self-absorbed and won’t put up with anything that interferes with their happiness. These love addicts are only revealed when they are left, often appearing aloof and uncaring, they switch to panic and will use anything to hold onto the relationship – including violence.
Ambivalent love addicts – have a hard time moving forward, although they can let go. They desperately crave love but are terrified of intimacy.
Ambivalent love addicts can come in different forms such as:
* Torch bearers – obsess about someone who is unavailable. Feeds on fantasies and illusions. The ultimate in unrequited love.
* Saboteurs – destroy relationships when they start to get serious. Fear of intimacy.
* Seductive withholders – come onto you when they want sex or companionship but withhold when frightened or feel unsafe. They generally repeat a pattern of being available/unavailable.
* Romance addicts – addicted to multiple partners with multiple bonds, sexual passion and pseudo-intimacy with each. Their goal is to get high off romance and drama and avoid commitment or bonding on a deeper level with any partner.
Some love addicts have a combination of these various types. If you’re thinking “Oh my gosh, I’m all of them!” and are about to lose hope, you’re not alone. The SLAA website brings a comforting tale about the types of love addiction overlapping:
“Robert was a love addict, relationship addict, romance addict and sex addict. He was married but did not want to divorce his wife of twenty years even though he was not in love with her (relationship addiction) His hobby was masturbating to pornography when his wife was not home (sex addiction). He had affairs with several other women simultaneously without his wife finding out. He really cared about each of these women (romance addict). One day he met Jennifer and fell in love with her. It did not take long before he was obsessed with her. She did not want to be with him because he was married, so he began stalking and harassing her (love addict). Robert finally got into recovery, divorced his wife, gave up the pornography and affairs and married the woman he was obsessed with. At first his jealousy was out of control, but after a few years of therapy and 12-Step meetings he began to trust his new wife. Because she was mature, well-grounded and had high self-esteem, the relationship began to normalize. Today, all of Robert’s addictions are in remission.”
It’s nice to see a happy ending is possible in what may feel like a useless situation.
It’s important that we can distinguish between the types of love addicts because the treatment is dependent on the behaviour and addiction – for example co-dependent love addicts need a boost in self-esteem and self-acceptance, narcissistic love addicts need to learn to be selfless towards others, and ambivalent love addicts need to find a healthy relationship and stay engaged in it even when their fears arise.
Stay tuned! Next week Happiness Weekly will tell you how you can break free of your ties to love addiction… In the meantime if you’re looking for any further information about love addiction, please look at anything by Susan Peabody. She is an expert in this field who has helped many, many people. And has recently released a workbook about love addicts and love avoidants that could help you called: Recovering Workbook for Love Addicts and Love Avoidants. Thank you for sharing this with us, Susan.
Give a man to fish and you will feed him for one day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Chinese proverb
The trick to making people feel good about themselves is to understand what people do to you to make you feel good about yourself and the mimic it for your friends. This week Happiness Weekly looks at ten simple ways you can make people feel good about themselves to encourage them to want to hang around you.
1. Ask them to teach you something
Whenever someone says I’m great at something or they really like something that I do and then asks if I will teach them, it not only makes me feel good about myself but it also makes me want to show them how to do it the same way I know how.
2. Go to them for advice
Many of my friends come to me for advice, particularly relationship advice and that makes me feel great. Realising your friends strengths is a very good quality. Take time to see what your friends strengths are and if you see you’re weak in that area, approach them for advice and ask them to assist in strengthening you to become a better person or better at whatever their skill is.
3. Give them a genuine compliment
It’s easy to tell people they look beautiful, and then move on. But it takes time, thought and consideration to give someone a genuine compliment. When someone tells me I have done something well and then gives me a reason, or I look great in what I’m wearing because of whatever reason, it feels a lot more genuine than “You look great!” and therefore makes me feel good.
4. Help people where you can
This is the reverse of the second suggestion – approaching someone for advice. When you see your friends struggling in an area that you are strong, offer them help. Be careful not to come across as conceited or condescending. Let them know that they are on the right path but if they just did this, that and the other it would be perfected. Be very conscious to make your suggestions come across as friendly tips rather than knit-picking pointers.
5. Touch the person
I have a girlfriend who whenever she walks into work in the mornings, she touches me gently on the shoulder when she says good morning. This may sound a little strange, but it always makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and appreciated. Just a gentle touch can really help you connect with someone and make them feel great about themselves.
6. Use the person’s name as you’re leaving
Don’t over use someone’s name as it can come across as aggressive, but if you have met someone for the first time and you’re interested in building a relationship with them – it’s nice to say goodbye or have a great day directly to the person. Using their name as you are leaving will not only help you remember who the person is but will also make them feel as though you’re approachable in the future. If you’re really comfortable with the person, you could even give them a friendly nickname – for example, one of my colleagues was great at his job so I called him “The King” … it wasn’t long before he called me “The Queen”, and of course the rest is history!
7. Listen to the person attentively
If you use active listening when someone is giving you instructions is shows your respect for the person and your diligence in attempting to get the task right. You can also show you’re really listening to someone by following up with them about something they have said (try to remember their spouses name or their interests), or even buy them a small gift that was raised in conversation – this also shows you understand and care about what has been said.
8. Smile at people
This may seem really easy but you would be surprised how many people just don’t smile anymore! A frown won’t get you many friends. You catch a lot more bees with honey! So there’s more to being a sweet, good person that people want to be around – you also have to display it on your exterior. A simple smile makes everyone feel more at ease.
9. Encourage people where ever you can
Whether you like the person or not, encourage them in their pursuits and help them to achieve their goals where you can. Encouraging others not only makes the encouraged person feel good about themselves, but it also shows to other people around you that you are supportive and you care.
10. Show genuine interest
Ask about something that is important to the person you wish to build a relationship with. Comment on a previous discussion you may have had with the person. Volunteer to help if you see they need some assistance in getting a job done. All these simple things make the person feel more valued and appreciated as they see you care for the small details.