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Is it Love or is it Addiction to Love?

Love or Addiction?

by Laura Russell, Ph.D., MFT

February 9, 2001

When I was 26 years old, I feel madly in `love' with the man I will name Sam. This is not his real name. I have never dated anyone named Sam. 

At the time, I thought him to be the great love of my life. I romanticized about him constantly. Addictive in nature, I indulged in that gooey type of fantasy as I mentally built our future. I wished, hoped and dreamed of us. It seemed like I breathed in his essence. 

I felt lots of emotional torment. I wanted to see him and be with him constantly. Even when there was no outward upset, inside me there was lots of drama and excitement. It felt like being with Sam would make me whole and complete...fill me up emotionally and fix me somehow. 

That's addiction. It is not a real relationship. It does not involve real intimacy. 

addiction to commitment phobia
When we `broke up', I was heartbroken. I mourned and grieved and felt totally devastated for a long time. This was so absolutely painful; my lifetime emotional growth began at that time. The motivation to grow was Sam's priceless gift to me. 

Finally, I began to date others and learn from each experience. Then I met David, the real first love of my life. We were together for 27 years. 

How were these two relationships different? 

Fantasy 

Intimacy 

Honesty 

Realistic Expectations 


The Fantasy 

An addictive fantasy has roses, music, and starry skies sweeping you off your feet. Most addictive relationships begin with a view of romance more like the movies than real life. You will never argue, disagree, or have the human failings of normal people. People do not fart, belch, need showers or have bad breath. They don't cheat on you, spend too much money or have emotional problems. You see one another as an ideal. This is the person of your secret dreams. 

It was a rude shock when I realized many months later that I did not even know what `Sam' actually looked like. On the other hand, I was always aware of David's failings. He was definitely aware of mine! An authentic relationship knows your partner for the person they are. 

Intimacy 

In addictive relationships, you often have mad, passionate sex. Exciting and enticing, the sex makes it seem there is a great amount of intimacy. However, this is only sex. Unfortunately, sex in this real world can only, at best, take up a small portion of your life. 

Genuine intimacy occurs when two people stand slightly apart from one another and connect. 

True intimacy involves communication. This doesn't happen in your hearts and flowers fantasy. You need a valid knowledge of your partner's being to dialogue. 

Honesty 

There is more than one type of honesty in relationships: literal honesty and emotional honesty. With addictive relationships you often have lots of drama with the obvious lack of literal honesty. 

More importantly, emotional honesty is absent. You both want so badly to fulfill your fantasies that you lie to one another. You tell each other whatever you think the object of your desires wants to hear. You both say anything and everything to hold on to the fantasy. 

This leaves out the total possibility of ever knowing who your partner is, how they feel, what they want and their genuine needs. 

When I met `Sam', I didn't hear him when he said to me, I love you as much as I am capable of loving anyone. A few breaths later, he confided, I am not capable being in a relationship. I only heard that in retrospect. All the drama and excitement that followed started with my unwillingness to realize he didn't match my fantasies one iota! That's addiction. 

Realistic Expectations 

In an addictive relationship, you have unrealistic expectations. Many of these are not conscious. People think that the object of their obsession can solve all their emotional problems and fix what is wrong in his or her life. It seems as though they can fill you up and make up for all your life's disappointments and injuries. 

This is not the case. Real love is deep and satisfying. It provides a respite from life's woes and a safe place to cocoon. Real love is rich and worthwhile; but it doesn't fix everything in your life. You both still have all your problems. And now you have all the problems of your partner as well.

So, is it love or are you addicted to love?  

Compliments of Laura Russell, Ph.D., MFT

Read more about love addiction at: Dream Chasers: The CP Addiction (Falling in Love and Dealing with a Commitmentphobic Person). You can be reading this insightful information, written especially for those who are in love with a commitmentphobic person, in less than two minutes!

Article published by Tigress Luv & Glass Slipper publishing, the Breakup Gurus. For more breakup advice and forums please join us at the Lifted Hearts Breakup Support Forums & Community at http://liftedhearts.com.

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