Patterns of Love Addiction and Codependency
A key aspect of healthy relationships is the couple’s ability to understand, repair, love, and reconnect in mutually satisfying ways. Couples who understand each other’s need for emotional connection are likely to build a healthy and enduring relationship.
Healthy attachment allows partners to bond and be vulnerable with each other. A healthy and strong relationship supports your growth, nurtures differentiation, and allows you to be yourself.
What is Love Addiction?
Love addiction is a compulsive pursuit of love. This compulsive behavior pattern, also known as pathological love, involves an excessive and unhealthy interest toward a romantic partner and seeking connection in a harmful way.
Love addiction often results in a lack of control, the abandonment of other interests, a lack of healthy boundaries, and other maladaptive behaviors.
How to Recognize Love Addiction?
A love addict typically confuses love with physical and sexual attraction. They often get involved in one relationship after another or have more than one sexual or emotional relationship at a time.
Love addicts are insecure and desperate for connection and often cling to emotionally unavailable people. They tend to feel uneasy when away from a partner, and they are often unable to end a relationship with a destructive partner.
These individuals tend to get “high” from romance and experience mood states typical for the early stages of intense romantic love. They often engage in relationships to numb life problems. A love addict will and idealize you, but only to blame you afterward for not fulfilling their expectations and fantasies.
Love addicts are likely to use emotional dependence as a substitute for care and support. Therefore, love addiction often presents itself as codependency in relationships. That is, people with love addiction often engage in toxic codependent relationships that lack boundaries with people who are likely to become dependent on them, whether emotionally, financially, or otherwise.
Love Addiction and Codependency
Codependency is a learned behavior that often results from growing up in a dysfunctional family.
Family relationships and dynamics can considerably affect one’s personality, values, behaviors, and beliefs. Codependency is often caused by childhood developmental trauma or a childhood history of neglect, abandonment, and abuse.
Traumatic childhood experiences can cause deep distress in your adult life and relationships. They can wire you in negative thinking patterns and limiting beliefs such as:
- I am not (good, worthy, capable, etc.) enough.
- I am responsible for how others feel.
- If my partner is upset or angry, it is my fault.
- My feelings are not as important as my partner’s feelings.
- I need to be who my partner needs me to be
- I don’t trust my feelings and judgment.
- My partner’s problems are my problems.
- If someone mistreats me, it is my fault.
- I need my partner’s approval to feel valuable.
Codependency stems from internalized self-abandonment, causing a never-ending pursuit of validation and acceptance from others. Moreover, family insecure attachment patterns in early childhood can play a role in developing personality disorders.
People who engage in codependent relationships show an inability to find satisfaction outside relationships. They often neglect their own needs to care for their partner and will do anything to avoid rejection. For this reason, these people usually stay in toxic or abusive relationships.
Secure and Insecure Attachment
Safe attachment patterns in childhood nurture a person’s self through differentiation – the ability to emotionally connect with others and stand in your own identity and not lose yourself emotionally.
People with a higher level of differentiation have reasonable control of their emotions. They are less likely to take things personally or get offended, enabling them to cope with challenges and soothe themselves when stressed out.
In contrast, persons with lower levels of differentiation tend to develop anxiety symptoms or behave destructively when under stress.
They often engage in codependent relationships, depending on others for identity, validation, and support.
In codependent relationships, the bond is not founded on love, respect, and compassion but fear. Insecure attachment in these relationships is typically expressed through mixed emotions such as dependence on a partner for one’s identity and profound fear of rejection.
An insecure attachment that stems from early childhood experiences presents itself through three different forms:
- Disorganized attachment
- Anxious-ambivalent attachment
- Anxious-avoidant attachment
These attachment patterns can wire a person for unhealthy self-perception that affects all aspects of their adult life.
Persons who formed an insecure attachment with emotionally distant parents may develop love addiction and codependent behavior as adults. They may become oversensitive to rejection and continually seek approval and validation.
Does Your Relationship Suffer From Codependency or Insecure Attachment?
Fill out this short quiz to find out if codependency and insecure attachments are negatively affecting your relationship.
How to Recover from Codependency and Love Addiction
Self-compassion is an essential thing to practice and work on to detach and set yourself free from addiction and codependency.
Codependent relationships cause a significant amount of confusion and pain. However, as humans, we can make peace with the past, forgive, and heal.
This process of healing starts with taking responsibility for yourself and learning self-forgiveness. There is a difference between taking responsibility for oneself and blaming oneself, though. Taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors means accepting yourself and accepting that, as humans, we are not perfect.
Self-compassion can help you let go of self-criticizing thoughts, leading to inner peace, inspiring personal growth, and helping you forgive yourself and others and move on.
Boundaries allow us to differentiate ourselves from other people and protect us from being manipulated, abused, or violated.
Codependents often lack boundaries and, therefore, cannot separate themselves from others. They often feel responsible for how other people think, think, or behave while struggling to take responsibility for their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Setting healthy boundaries means that you know who you are and what you want (or don’t want). Therefore, learning how to set boundaries is key in recovering from love addiction and codependency.
Love addiction refers to a pattern of engaging in intense, obsessive, and usually toxic relationships. A love addict seeks another person to gain a sense of security and self-worth. Love addicts engage in codependent relationships in which they have difficulty setting the boundaries between themselves and another person. This affects a person’s ability to have healthy and mutually satisfying relationships.
However, codependency is a learned behavior, and it can, therefore, be changed. Practicing self-compassion and setting boundaries are the first steps in healing.
When you are ready for what’s possible after a codependent relationship, book a time to chat.