IS IT LOVE OR
by Joanne Tangedahl, LMSW-ACP, LPC, LMFT
You meet someone and Cupid shoots the arrow. Wow! This
is special. It feels dreamy, wonderful and so exciting. It is a truly
mind-altering experience. Your brain has released chemicals, such as, dopamine,
norepinephrine, endorphins, enkephalin, phenethylamine and serotonin, nature's
natural narcotics - chemicals that encourage a sense of comfort and security
and create a mystical experience of oneness. In my book, A New Blueprint
for Marriage, I referred to this stage of a relationship as the "Happiness
author of Getting the Love You Want and Keeping the Love You
Find, calls it "Romantic Love," and in this stage we experience several
1. The Phenomenon
of Recognition - "I feel as if I already know you."
2. The Phenomenon of Timelessness - "It seems as if we've been together always."
3. The Phenomenon of Reunification - "Now, I feel while and complete since
I met you."
4. The Phenomenon of Necessity - "I need you and I feel like I can't live
This is a process
that happens in healthy non-addictive relationships. It is a phase a relationship
goes through as it develops and evolves. But the question for me is: "How
do you tell this from addiction?" This applies whether the addiction is
Co-dependency, Love Addiction, Romance Addiction, Sex Addiction, or Relationship
Addiction. These have a lot in common with other addictions, such as, Eating
Addiction or Spending Addition. You can't just completely avoid food or money
like you can with drugs or alcohol. You still have to be involved with food
and money, and in relationships you still have the rush of "Romantic Love."
So what is the difference between love and addiction?
is that romantic love is a just a passing phase much like eating a meal.
You stop. If not, you stay stuck in this process. Just like what happens
when compulsive overeating captures you with that sense of powerlessness
and you keep eating and keep eating and keep eating. You can't stop. This
is addiction. It is obsessive and it is compulsive.
lasts a few hours, a few days, a few weeks or sometimes, especially if couples
are apart, a few months, but it does pass on to the other natural stages
of a relationship. It is normal, natural and healthy. It is designed to
pass. It gets progressively worse and with a co-addicted couple the dance
of addiction can become very destructive. You stop having a sense of well
being and that wonderful feeling of oneness. You begin to feel desperate,
with a need to be with, to see, to possess the other person. This need is
so powerful, strong and compelling and people often call this "Love." It
is not love; it is addiction. Love cares about the welfare of the other.
There is a quality of being free and expansive, connected to the Oneness
in the universe. With addiction, there is the desperation of needing to have
the other person so you'll be okay (classic co-dependency). The thoughts
are obsessive and the actions are compulsive. "I have to have you. I can't
live without you. I must control you and make you mine." There is no freedom
This other person
has become a god and you have forgotten your Higher Power. I understand that
true recovery is what is referred to as a "Spiritual Recovery," and no longer
is your partner your god. With the addiction, the connection to your Higher
Power has been broken and replaced with this person / relationship.
I truly appreciate
my extensive addiction training with Pia Mellody, and Patrick Carnes. It
has given me a clear understanding of addictions and how to deal with them.
This is coupled with all the theory, techniques and tools I learned from
Harville Hendrix and Pat Love about Imago Therapy. Together they have provided
me with a toolbox that is filled with techniques and skills, and a blended
understanding of both addictions and relationships. It is so helpful to know
the distinction between a relationship problem and an addiction and this
is such a fine line at times. This has been invaluable to me when working
with couples, guiding them toward "getting the love they want!"
By Joanne Tangedahl, LMSW-ACP, LPC, LMFT
Read more about love addiction
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!
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