Love Addiction: How to Overcome it Once and For All
Love Addiction. You feel trapped in a relationship you just know in your heart of hearts is not good for you, but you simply cannot leave in any final or complete way. It is very similar to being mired in an addiction to smoking, drinking, drugs or eating. You are on a merry-go-round where things feel good for a bit, but then go south in a very big way.
For example, you’re having a loving interaction with your addictive beloved and he says he wants to make it work with you. You have a beautiful sexual encounter and it seems like things are coming together with him, or so you hope. Then the other shoe drops. He disappears. He won’t commit. You discover that he is texting or dating another woman. It feels hellish to stay involved. But it is just so sticky in terms of being able to leave. You wonder, how do I actually break free? It seems totally impossible.
Is This Love Addiction? How Can I Tell?
Love addiction, like any destructive addictive habit, involves behavior that ultimately leads to your having unacceptable suffering in one way or another, whether is it shame, guilt, self-hate, self-loathing, depression or hopelessness.
All relationships involve suffering. But if there is: a) enough need fulfillment in a relationship and, b) it is evolving over time, the relationship is non-addictive. In other words, there is more and more fulfillment and the suffering is lessening over time.
- a positive growing love dynamic is not there;
- the suffering part of the relationship is not lessening,
- the suffering is either staying the same or getting worse,
- AND yet you can’t seem to break away,
Then this is love addiction.
How do we recover from Love Addiction? Lessons from A.A.
Let’s go back to the granddaddy of all 12 step programs, A.A. It has turned around the lives of millions of alcoholics. Here are some key practices that work to break addictive behavior.
- Avoid thoughts, people, places, and things that are associated with or lead to the addictive relationship. This includes avoiding:
- Online or offline places you are likely to see your guy/gal
- Any photo or memento that reminds you of him,
- Songs you associate with the relationship,
- Neighborhoods and hang-out joints that are associated with your ex.
- Avoid friends, whether IRL or on Facebook who are likely to fill your head with your guy/gal’s goings-on.
- If you have cravings or thoughts about the addictive guy/gal, IMMEDIATELY change the channel in your mind by shopping (assuming this is NOT your addiction!), playing a video game, listening to music, or exercising. Put your attention on these other activities.
- In order to overcome love addiction, commit to quitting him/her for only one day at a time. This involves going cold turkey and having no contact with the addictive person for only the next 24 hours! The reassuring thought is, I am not quitting for life. I will just not contact him for the next day!
- And then the next morning recommit to quitting all over again, but only for 24 hours.
Three Other Proven Methods of Overcoming Love Addiction: Collect the Negative Mementos
- Collect the negative mementos! If you have an addiction to a guy or gal, make a collection of any mean, angry, disappointing, or abusive texts, e-mails, or letters they sent you and keep them where you can review them. Once you feel yourself caving in, review that file carefully because there is more of the same ahead if you succumb to your craving.
- If you still feel like caving in, get yourself a coach to get you through this difficult time. It is well worth it! Send copies of the negative mementos to your coach to use as ammunition for times when you are drifting back to obsessing or actually seeing your addictive love. Stay in close touch with your coach as an emotional anchor during your recovery from your addiction.
Recovering from Love Addiction: The BEEN THERE, DONE THAT Exercise
The AA saying is One drink is too many and a thousand is not enough. Here is another super powerful way to break an addiction! We call it the BEEN THERE, DONE THAT exercise. You live the addictive pattern all the way through in your mind, before you start engaging with it! Here is exactly how to do this:
When you are thinking of indulging your addiction—ie texting, calling, seeing or having sex with your addictive love. Or about to take one bite of choc cake, one drink, buying one more thing etc, you pause. Next, in your mind follow the typical scene-by-scene sequence that unfolds afterward all the way through to the suffering point. You live the repetitive pattern through in your mind, as if it is really happening. It is a sequence of craving, indulging, pleasure, followed by suffering. You follow it all the way through to the pain and suffering at the end.
Next you get a sense that the whole sequence has happened already and is in the past! And you will not be compelled to repeat it, because you have been there and done that!
Recovering from Love Addiction and other Addictions; Examples of The BEEN THERE, DONE THAT Exercise
For example, if you have a craving for your problem guy, you simply imagine reaching out to him and then being with him—and it’s ok, maybe even good at first, but then he does his typical oh-so- painful behavior. Maybe he has another woman or won’t commit—or talks down to you—treats you like dirt—or he disappears on you. In this example, you might say to yourself, “I am calling my addictive love now. He is so sweet on the phone. We get together and we have good yummy sex. …. His phone rings and I see it is the name of another woman…I grab the phone, he jerks it back. We scream at each other. I run out of the room devastated and inconsolable. I am in my room lovesick, crying and binge-eating for days.
You would live the whole sequence scene by scene fully in your mind. And end with saying aloud “BEEN THERE DONE THAT! I NEVER need to do that again!”
Recovering from Love Addiction: Turning it Over
The third method is a great exercise in creating faith. And faith, or as a 12-stepper would put it, turning things over to God[dess], is one of the most useful and amazing choices we can make. In fact it is miraculous what can happen. When we are in an addictive state of craving, divine connection can lift us out of ourselves and free us from that powerful pull to the dark side. Divine connection is truly the most powerful way to free yourself forever!.
Here’s an exercise designed to help you turn your addiction over:
Imagine you are in sacred space, in a church, in the heavenly realms of light, or in the presence of angels, or spiritual advisors. or if you are not a believer, imagine that you are in the mind-blowing beauty of nature.
Next read each one of these affirmations and let it wash over you as you breath slowly. You do not have to believe them for them to work!
- I have divine love, protection and guidance regarding my addiction.
- I turn my addiction over to divine love and grace.
- Divine love, protection and healing shower over me now.
- I am filled with God’s love, guidance and light.
- The bliss of God’s love fills me up completely.
- With the power of the Divine, I am present, connected and need nothing else in this moment.
So now you have several ways to overcome love addiction. If you need help, definitely take advantage of a gift session with one of my expert coaches. They have helped thousands recover from love addiction.
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As a relationship expert, I've helped thousands of women get the love they want-even when it seemed impossible. I'm Dr. Diana Kirschner. You might know me from my PBS Special, seen me on Oprah, or have read one of my bestselling books.
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