Is it love or person addiction?
We are aware of substance addictions numerous people face. Some people face person addiction. Substance abusers are addicted to drugs and are aware of the bad effects but find it difficult to give up. Like wise, some people know certain relationship is bad for them but they find it hard to break away from it. Every relationship goes through usual periods of disagreement and disenchantment. It is inevitable as two people from different backgrounds come together. But a bad relationship involves continual frustration; there seems to be a potential in the relationship rather that potential is always out of reach (it can get better if I try little harder, it can get better if he/she give me a little more attention/affection).We feel we are attached to someone who is “unattainable,” maybe, the person is not aware of our affection for them (one sided love), the object of our affection is committed to someone else (love triangle) or is not capable of having a committed relationship with anyone at all (we love the person more than they love us). In such relationships the basic relationship needs of one or both partners are not met. Bad relationships destroy self-esteem and prevent us from moving on in our personal lives. They breed loneliness, rage, and frustrations, as there are not many common grounds of communication and enjoyment.
Staying in a bad relationship not only causes emotional distress, but can also be physically harmful. The continuous stress leads to metabolic (chemical/hormonal) changes in the body that drain energy and lowers our resistance to physical illnesses. This can often lead to unhealthy escape mechanisms, like alcohol or drug abuse, even attempts to commit suicide. We all are aware of people who are in unfulfilling relationships who have fallen sick, are all the time angry, sad or depressed and even some who are abusing alcohol or drugs or have attempted to commit suicide.
In such a relationship you feel unappreciated, worthless, and you lose your their freedom to be your best selves in the relationship. You love the other person, not out of choice, but dependency because you have believed you cannot live or function without them. You feel you lack the freedom to leave this destructive situation even when you want to.
You are not alone, many people struggle with similar choices. Even people with strong personalities find it hard to break free. Your stronger self will advocate breaking the relationship and stop feeling helpless but the vulnerable self will refuse to take action or will become clingier. You’ll feel going in circles with these emotions, it is in this sense this relationship is addictive.
Are You Addicted to a Person/Relationship?
- You are aware this relationship is bad for you even others have told you so but you have taken no steps to end it. In your heart you know it is not working but it is your comfort zone so you do not want to break it.
- Your reasons to stay in the relationship are not strong enough to counteract the harmful effects of the relationship. The cost of staying in the relationship is more than the benefits of the relationship itself. You are mostly sad or unhappy but you do not want to explore any other possibilities beyond this relationship.
- The thought of ending the relationship gives you terrible anxiety, and fear that makes you clingier. “I feel how I will ever live without him/her.”
- When you take steps to end the relationship you experience, painful withdrawal symptoms, including physical discomfort that is only relieved by re-establishing contact. When ever you have decided you’ll not make that phone call you have felt the stronger urge to call. You may even make repeated phone calls to just hear his/her voice. Once you heard the voice you felt a great relief.
If most of these signs apply to you, you are addicted to that person and have lost control to direct your own life. To free your self from this addiction accept it you are in an addictive relationship. Now work on finding the root of this addiction that will help explore if the relationship can be rescued or you need to quit.
The Basis of Addiction
The decision to remain in a bad relationship is influenced by many factors. At the superficial level the practical considerations appear like financial dependence, lack of alternative living arrangements, welfare of children, social disapproval (saving the face, what will people say), and disruption in career or academic progress.
At a deeper level our beliefs about relationships in general and ourselves in particular that hold us back. These beliefs are social messages we have picked from all around us like the hit boolywood songs “janam janam ka saath hai” (love is for ever), “woh tere pyar ka ghum ik bahana tha sanam yeh na hota to koi doosra ghum ho jaata” (life is worthless without love), “tum bin jiya jaye kaise” (what is life without you?), “pyar kiya to nibhana” (fulfill the promises made in love), “it is wrong to break someone’s heart.” Also relevant are beliefs about ourselves like “Tum gagan ke chandrama mein dhara ki dhool hoon” (you are the moon in the sky and I am the dust on the floor), “I am not attractive or smart enough,” or “I should try harder to save this relationship.”
These deep seated feelings and ideals often keep us stuck in bad relationships. Such feelings make home in our mind and soul very early in the childhood and impact our adult lives without our knowledge. Children need love, nurturance and encouragement to become independent. If parents are successful in giving a loving, nurturing and encouraging childhood, the children will feel secure as adults and will be able to negotiate relationships successfully. If the needs of unconditional love, healthy nurturance and encouragement are not met in the childhood, children are left “needy” as adults and thus are more vulnerable to codependent relationships.
Overcoming Relationship Addictions
Following are ten steps are recommended by authors Howard Halpern and Robin Norwood. They have worked extensively on the dynamics of various types of relationships and their works are recognized in the field.
- Accept it is not love but a person addiction.
- Make your “recovery” your first priority.
- Have courage to face your own problems and shortcomings.
- Identify your needs especially those gaps that make you feel undeserving or bad about your self.
- Focus on your needs instead of controlling and managing other people. Once you focus your attention on your needs and feelings you’ll discover you no longer need others to make you feel good or secure.
- Find out what brings you peace and serenity then practice that task. You can practice meditating or some exercises that will connect you to your core and the greater universe.
- Live your life with consciousness. Be aware of relationship games and traps that can get you “hooked” like trying to “rescue” (helper) some one even when they are capable of handing their problems, “prosecutor” (blamer) so and so is a bad person or is a cheater etc., and “victim” (acting helpless even when you can find ways to address your problems).
- Seek support from people/friends who understand what you are trying to change.
- Share this knowledge and what you have experienced reading this page with others.
- Consider getting professional counseling.
Time to Seek Professional Help
- You are unhappy in the relationship but are not sure if you want to work on improving it or leaving it.
- You have made up your mind to break-up but are unable to take steps and feel stuck.
- You suspect you are in the relationship for all the wrong reasons but feelings of guilt and fear of loneliness are paralyzing you from taking an action.
- You recognize that you have a pattern of staying in dysfunctional relationships and you have not been able to change it all by yourself.
For additional help refer:
Halpern, H.M. (1982). How to break your addiction to a person, New York, NY: MJF Books.
Norwood, R. (1985). Women who love too much. Los Angles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.
Scheffer, B. (1987). Is it love or is it addiction? Brenda. USA: hazelden.