But what about addictive relationships? These relationships are amazing when things are going well. They’re intoxicating. And exciting. And addicting. They’re the proverbial Prince or Princess Charming who adores everything about you and you’re swept off your feet with the promises of ‘forever’ and the fairytale ending.
Then, it all goes sideways with a snap of your fingers, and you’re now left questioning how everything could be so wrong when only yesterday it was so right. Instead of being high up on the pedestal, you’re now wondering if you did something to anger them, or why they seem distracted or bored around you. You may be second-guessing yourself or walking on eggshells while replaying the day’s events in your head, or trying harder to make them happy.
Addiction to love is like other addictions. At first, the chase feels amazing and you’re on top of the world. Over time, the highs aren’t as satisfying, and the lows become overwhelming and can be damaging to your emotional, mental and physical health.
Here are 5 signs that you may be in an addictive relationship:
Their Needs Come Before Yours. If you’re in the habit of people-pleasing, it’ll wear you down. Sweeping your emotional, mental or physical needs under the carpet won’t make things better, and can only lead to more pain.
Chasing and Running. One person is chasing, and one is running. What triggers emotional addiction is the intermittent reinforcement of feeling loved or cared for one moment, and then treated like you don’t matter the next.
Constant Apologizing. In an effort to smooth things over and get back in their good graces, you may find yourself constantly apologizing even for things you didn’t do, just to keep the peace. Unfortunately, constantly apologizing puts the weight of accountability on your shoulders while they continue avoiding it.
Feeling Unworthy or Not Good Enough. The hallmark of the addictive relationship is feeling unheard, invalidated, neglected, shamed, or ignored instead of having your basic emotional needs met. This can keep you chasing after an emotionally unavailable person ‘hoping’ they will tend to your emotional needs. The reality is that you’re chasing an emotional letdown.
Need for Constant Reassurance. Because of an uneven balance of power, you may be left questioning your skills, discounting your achievements or constantly seeking their approval that you’re worthy of love or happiness.
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Redcay, A., & Siminetti, C. (2018). Criteria for love and relationship addiction: Distinguishing love addiction from other substance and behavioral addictions. Sexual Addiction & Comulsivity, 25, 1, 80-96.
Wolfe, J. L. (2000). Assessment and treatment of compulsive sex/love behavior. Journal of Relational Emotive & Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 18, 4, 235 – 247.
Zhang, X., Zou, Z., & Fallgatter A. J. (2016). Editorial: Beyond Reward: Insight from love addiction. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1776, 1-2.