Addictions, whether it’s drugs, alcohol or people, is a fix for negative feelings. But the fix doesn’t last. That’s why addictive relationships lead to abuse, drug use, depression, and other negative consequences.
Addictive relationships can be hard to define, and hard to tell if you are in one. Most people mistake the intense feelings they feel in this type of relationship as caring or concern.
For example, it can seem sweet or even flattering to have your partner be insanely jealous… it might show that they really care. However, a healthy relationship involves respect and trust, and not excessive jealousy and controlling behavior.
It is difficult to define these relationships; however, the basis of an addictive relationship involves having power and control over the other person.
Indications that your relationship is addictive
Addictive relationships always start magically. The attraction is instant, and it feels like you are finally understood.
Healthy relationships transition from the initial euphoria to getting to know and love the person as an individual, with all their quirks, gifts and their faults. However, addictive relationships are founded on rigid expectations of each other.
This triggers anxiety as you can’t live up to these rigid versions of each other, which then sets off the cycle of depression and euphoria… in search for the early magic. Tolerating anything for that initial “fix” again.
Lack of trust
There is a lack of trust in addictive relationships. Often anxiety is colored by jealousy and paranoid fears. This leads to constant demands for reassurance to prove that you still love each other… unlimited texts, phone calls and messages when you are not together.
Loss of control
The constant demands for reassurance lead to threats of ending the relationship. This leads to focused efforts to repair, apologize and a willingness to tolerate anything to reconnect again… at the cost of your emotional freedom.
Loss of other relationships
The obsession and dramatic cycles of addictive relationships risk your relationships with family and friends. Either family and friends feel neglected as you isolate yourself from the world and stop spending time together to “work on the relationship.” Or they are witness to the abuse and offer advice, guidance and support, but feel ignored when the cycle starts again. Either way, they can’t watch or feel personally used.
Loss of function
During the obsession cycle of the addictive relationship, if you don’t have “the fix” of the other person, then this leads to a loss of function. Like the symptoms you get when you break up… such as sweating, cramps, anxiety, nausea, sleeplessness and eating difficulties.
Loss of self
One of the most significant consequences of addictive relationships is losing yourself. Being in this type of relationship leads to having a diminished view of yourself, as compared to an idealized version of the other person. This results in higher levels of dependency.
What to do if you believe that your relationship is addictive
The first step starts with recognizing the addiction and being willing to change. This is best done with the help of a professional who specializes in addictive relationships.
Recovery starts with recovering and repairing yourself.
The good news… it doesn’t mean you will always be in an addictive relationship for life. If you are committed to change, then you’re not going to be stuck in a cycle of addictive relationships forever.
Remember you are worthy of happiness and love, and a healthy relationship. You can have relational freedom.
If you are ready to overcome addictive relationships, then contact PIVOT. We’re here to help.