The psychology behind people who are addicted to romantic relationships reveals that though these people have the best of intentions to make these relationships work and be happy in healthy partnerships, there is something else that lies beneath.
In the unconscious mind lurks an incessant need to be loved and to have an intimacy that stems from insecurity. It seems that those who are love or sex addicts lacked a nurturing childhood and subconsciously feel the need to make up for it by creating better relationships and seeking fulfillment of unplayed out desires. These behaviors could have been unintentionally exhumed, not only by parents, but any family member.
One way in which these love addicts fall into this pattern of unhealthy expectations of their partner is falling in love soon after meeting them. One of the best ways for these addicts to really find love and in a healthy way, is by avoiding having sex when getting to know their new partner which could be difficult for anyone, but they must follow this advice. The first feelings a love addict experiences is that this new person can make them happy and places high expectations on them. A common expectation is that this relationship is finally going to give them a sense of fulfillment, but not truly knowing this person is the key catalyst to this reaction.
The feelings of falling in love this way can create chemical highs that cause the addict to continuously seek out these types of relationships soon after the previous one burns out. Healthy relationships will settle over time, while addictive ones will fall apart quickly. Usually, healthy relationships can help partners get through obstacles and navigate through difficulties, but a relationship built off false pretenses finds it extremely challenging to get through the simplest of disagreements.
Addictive relationships usually lack honesty from the beginning because of the addict, creating little white lies to make the other person like them and eventually fall in love with them, or the person they’ve slightly edited. Because of this, it cannot withstand talking about the very dynamics of the relationship or anything beyond the surface such as fears and concerns; true intimacy that comes from knowing a person is lacking. A relationship without honesty and intimacy is destined to implode and a defining characteristic of an addictive relationship is the avoidance or blaming of the other person to dodge such topics. It is difficult for these love addicts to be authentic with others because they learn from an early age not to do so and actually detach themselves from emotion almost completely as a coping mechanism.
Many times love addicts get the chance to have true intimate relationships but have passed up the opportunity by expecting too much and emotionally detaching themselves after the first “high” of falling in love, or mistaking intense sexual experiences or new romantic feelings for love, has faded.
Allowing for individuality is an important hallmark of a healthy relationship, where each person has space to grow, as well as experiencing a healthy togetherness and separation. The relationship should not be marked by a need to control each other or others; there should not be a power struggle. Real intimacy exists in a relationship that can be characterized not by dependence or obsession but by interdependence where each person is able to get through life’s struggles individually and together. The intimacy that continues to be mentioned as being essential stems from the ability to trust and take risks in an environment where individuals can be themselves.
The ability to say “no” when one means “no”, and accepting “no” when one wants to hear “yes” is a sign of a mature relationship. More often than not it is found that in addictive relationships this can be an issue; knowing where one’s boundaries are and when they have been violated can help with the realization of when one is in an addictive relationship and stop these patterns. Finally, living in reality and not fantasy is the finite attribute of any healthy relationship, accepting one’s partner for who he or she is, and not who we want them to be. Being able to meet and tolerate each other’s unique characteristics and appreciate the similarities and differences is one of the most important qualities and milestones in overcoming an addictive relationship or any relationship.