Finding it hard to set boundaries
Billy Joel may have sung about going to extremes in relationships, but if you consistently go over the line in real life, serious problems may be brewing. The solution? Setting boundaries. Unfortunately, the term “boundary” can seem like a scary thing for a love addict; it may inspire thoughts of keeping your partner separate from you. However, healthy boundaries actually bring people closer together because it empowers them to show a mutual respect for each other.
Boundaries can be literally anything that you need in your relationship to feel good. For example, you may get irritated if your partner calls you a certain nickname. However, if you have a love addiction, you may irrationally fear that your partner will leave if you explain that you don’t want to be called the irritating nickname. Therefore, you suffer in silence when your partner would probably be more than happy to accommodate your request. For an example that’s a little more serious, experts explain that some love addicts don’t turn down sex even if they don’t want to have it. They instead do whatever their partner wants. That’s ultimately not healthy for the relationship, and it certainly isn’t good for the love addict who repeatedly does things they don’t want to do. Part of overcoming a love addiction may include setting firm, healthy interpersonal boundaries and sticking to them.
Cycling in and out of a relationship
If you have a habit of breaking up with your partner and then getting back together, you may feel like you’re in an episode of your favorite soap. While The Young and the Restless is fun to watch, you probably want a little more stability than Victor and Nikki have enjoyed.
What’s the issue with this one? According to Sharea Farmer, a licensed social worker and the owner of RS Counseling & Wellness Center, someone with a love addiction may be more invested in what they can do for their partner and not who they are with their partner. “This person may be in the cycle of breaking up and getting back together because they see their partner as ‘needing’ them to survive,” she explains. “To some, this may seem like a normal part of relationships, but usually this person is only focused on improving their partner. What this means for the individual struggling with love addiction is that their identity is wrapped up in another person’s flaws or vices.”
When that happens, the love addict feels compelled to help reinforce those flaws, either consciously or subconsciously. “Therefore, breaking up and getting back together is just one method of this unhealthy pattern continuing,” adds Farmer. “This creates a cycle in love addiction that looks an awful lot like codependence.” Here are more red flags that you’re in a co-dependent relationship.
Idealizing love and believing it can overcome anything
You may be in trouble if you are in an unrequited love situation, especially if you just can’t let go because you think things will somehow work out in your favor. “People experiencing love addition generally subscribe to a belief that their love can overcome anything,” says psychotherapist Judi Cinéas, PhD. “They believe in the power of love to a degree that would allow the person to also believe that they can have their desired results with the other person. The person also experiences some joy in the process itself; they get a sense of pleasure in the contemplation of what could be. Thinking about the other person is pleasing, although these emotional highs can lead to negative feelings or actions when they are reminded that the other person is not interested in taking that emotional journey with them.”