This post was updated on Mar 31, 2020
Have you ever felt like you’re in a never-ending cycle for your partner’s love and affection? Like you need them in your life otherwise you wouldn’t survive.
This may be a sign you’re in an addictive relationship. But the truth is… you may not even be aware it is an addictive relationship.
While all romantic relationships may exhibit occasional signs of addiction, the difference with an addictive relationship is a constant pattern of one or more of the signs, leading to increased negative consequences.
If you’re wondering if you or a loved one is in an addictive relationship, here are the five major signs to look for:
1 – Manipulation and Control
An addictive relationship is based on manipulation and trying to control the other person.
You may not always see the sign, but you may feel stifled and uncomfortably restricted.
You may feel like you aren’t independent within your relationship, even though you are independent in other areas of your life. For example, you:
- Feel like you need to participate in activities that don’t interest you or go against your personal values to please your partner
- Give up important interests, beliefs, or friendships to maximize time in the relationship or to please your partner
- Miss out on important family, career, or social experiences to spend more time with your partner
2 – Mistaking Intensity for Intimacy
Addictive relationships happen fast and hard because they are typically based on instant sexual attraction. This leads to mistaking new romantic excitement and intense sexual experiences for real love.
You want to be close to others… emotionally and physically, but the intensity in an addictive relationship is often confused for real intimacy. This occurs if you:
- Find it difficult to maintain an intimate relationship after the excitement has worn off
- Choose partners who are emotionally unavailable and/or verbally or physically abusive
- Use seduction, and manipulation to hold on to a partner
- Use sex to cope with difficult experiences within the relationship
3 – Feeling a Sense of Worthlessness without a Relationship
If you feel alone and empty without a relationship, then you feel the need to jump into relationships too fast and hard.
Being in an addictive relationship occurs when you need to heal a hurt from childhood and /or adolescence. If you didn’t feel loved, secure or worthy as a child, then one way to try to fix this as an adult is to constantly seek relationships.
The problem is the fix doesn’t last. It can’t.
Here are the signs that you seek relationships to fix childhood hurts:
- Constantly crave and search for a romantic relationship
- When you’re in a relationship, you are desperate to please and fearful of the other abandoning you
- When you’re not in a relationship, you feel alone and may use sex and fantasy to fill the loneliness
4 – Co-Dependency
Addictive relationships are like any other addiction. As tolerance increases, more is needed to feel the same “fix.”
This leads to an increased fear of losing the relationship and translates into a dependency on the other person as the “fix.”
Co-dependency may be reflected by:
- Preoccupation and obsession in keeping the relationship
- Constantly seeking approval
- Fantasized attachment to each other
- Being needy, worshipping and striving to please
5 – Denial and Avoidance
A sign that you’re in an addictive relationship is how your partner reacts to a confrontation about their behavior. Typically, they may seem remorseful at first, but they never change.
When it feels like a chore each time you bring up issues that need a robust discussion, then this is a warning signal.
Instead of learning and growing from discussions and feedback, your partner prefers that you deal with the results of their addictive behavior.
Most addictive partners deny or downplay their behavior instead of admitting where they went wrong and trying to change. Worse still, they may turn it on you.
What to do if you’re in an addictive relationship?
The reason you’re in an addictive relationship may be because you have attachment disorder as a result of issues from your past.
The good news is you’re not stuck with this forever. Just because you’re in an addictive relationship now doesn’t mean you can’t heal and create a secure attachment. Recovery starts with being aware and recognizing the addiction. It is about healing yourself and being committed to healing.
The process includes dealing with feelings, grieving and healing from past wounds. Healing allows you to reconnect to yourself with self-compassion and self-love.
We recommend that you seek support from professionals and talk about the relationship and the pain that’s inside of you. Remember you are worthy of happiness and love, and a healthy relationship. You can have relational freedom.
If you are ready to create meaningful connections and overcome addictive relationships, then contact PIVOT. We’re here to help.