Sex And Love Addiction Counselling In Woking
Sex and love addiction develops when normal intimate relationships gradually becoming destructive, leading to unhealthy patterns of relating to others. Sex and love are integral parts of what it means to be human, but when normal levels of intimacy malfunction, it can cause a range of emotional and psychological problems. Sex and love addiction is typically characterised by:
- Destructive sexual behaviours such as being unable to resist sexual urges, or having a fixation with certain sexual behaviours and fantasies
- Developing an obsession with a particular individual and the feeling of being in love
Whilst sex and love are normal aspects of relationships, in sex and love addiction, these behaviours and emotions become damaging and dysfunctional, having an adverse impact on your quality of life, performance at work and, not to mention, your relationships with others. The fact that love and sexuality are constantly being portrayed in the media, and we now have access to dating apps and other readily available sexual material through digital channels, means that the culture of love and sex, and the treatment of associated addictions is constantly evolving.
Chemicals And Relationship Addiction
People facing relationship addiction are often dependent on the high of falling in love. Elements like hope and wishful thinking, combined with the thrill of the chase or a release of dopamine, may become addictive for some. Cuddling and touching releases the bonding hormone known as oxytocin, which can keep people connected to relationships.
Both of these chemicals can be released in the brain when someone enters into a relationship, especially one with a strong degree of sexual attraction and chemistry. He or she may appear dependent on the relationship, using it to cope with stress, depression, or to fill a void. Similar to codependency and love addiction, relationships can function to provide someone with self-esteem, relieve abandonment issues, and attain self-love. As a result of this need for love, individuals can stay in toxic relationships, maintain relationships with people who abuse substances , and become emotionally distressed.
How Love Affects The Brain
Despite reservations regarding love addiction as a diagnosable condition, there is parallel research to support the notion that human attachment and the neurobiology of substance abuse entail similar brain regions and neurotransmitters upon activation.5 Though present on a subconscious level, brain mechanisms underlying pair-bonding in socially monogamous species overlap quite substantially with those involved in reward learning and addiction.5 Accordingly, he greatest overlap occurs in neurochemical regions involved in the processing of dopamine, oxytocin, and other neurotransmitters such as serotonin.5 To this extent, there are notable physiological similarities for consideration.
On a cognitive level, when the reward pathway is activated, the brain provides a euphoric sensation leading toward an individual wanting more of it. In this case, Love is the most important thing in life, and I am willing to sacrifice everything else to have it despite how my partner treats me. The belief becomes ingrained, thoughts become focused on love, and the entire process follows an obsessive-compulsive pattern.
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The Side Effects Of A Love Addiction
Love addicts often engage in risky sexual activity and are therefore leaving themselves open to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. They tend to become involved in unhealthy relationships and may be at risk of abuse from a partner both physically and emotionally. Many love addicts will also go on to develop eating disorders as they use food to help control their emotions. Alternatively, they may turn to substances such as drugs or alcohol and could develop addictions to these as well
Love addiction can interfere with a persons ability to do a job as they find it difficult to concentrate on anything but their love interest. Their obsession causes them to lose the ability to focus on other areas of their life. This may lead to them being unable to hold down a job and suffering financial hardship as a result.
Can You Share A Little About Your Experience With Love Addiction Professionally
Sure. Time and time again we see client after client stuck in the cycle of love addiction which finally does enough damage to land them in our therapy room, where they begin to divulge the torturous ramifications separations, divorce, loneliness, depression and suicidality.
It often presents alongside another co-occurring disorder such as drug and alcohol dependence or depression and anxiety.
Its quite common for clients to come to us with drug or alcohol addiction, or depression and anxiety, only to realise that their relationship with substances is being driven by this underlying issue.
I spend a lot of my time in the first phase of the recovery process cultivating awareness of just exactly what’s playing out in the clients lives to identify the patterns and cycles and then uncovering what’s driving that.
In these conversations there are lightbulb moments as you see jaws drop and false realities shatter, as clients become aware of what has been wreaking havoc in their lives for years.
Common childhood themes also regularly emerge like, my mum gave me everything, but my dad was never really there, or my mother was an emotional wreck and my father was aggressive/dismissive. This often occurs alongside early romantic or sexual experiences that gave an endorphin / dopamine hit that took away the underlying pain, and gave validation to a persons fragile sense of self-esteem.
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How To Get Help For A Love Addiction
One may benefit from seeking help for love addiction as soon as possible. Working with a specialist on the addiction, if possible, is also preferred. Because it is not a formally diagnosable condition, specialists and coverage by managed care may be limited. In such cases, one may inquire with addiction specialists to determine if love addiction is a condition they feel comfortable treating.
One valuable resource to help if you cannot find a provider is the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous website. The website contains various resources and a meeting finder, which includes online, telephone, and local meetings . That link is available at the end of this article.
Remember that fit with the style of treatment and therapist is key. Recovery is a long haul, and ones support system is a critical factor. Finding this fit can make the difference between feeling motivated or simply giving up. Accordingly, do put forth a reasonable effort to explore multiple locations where online or in person and ask questions. Some questions for consideration may entail whether the organization/therapist specializes in love addiction, treatment outcomes for other patients, frequency of meeting, cost, whether managed care covers said addiction, accessibility , et cetera.
What Is Sex Addiction
Sex addiction is described as any sexual activity over which a person has no control. This often includes sexual activity with a partner but can include other sexual activities such as watching pornography, using sex chat lines, masturbating, or visiting prostitutes. Sex addicts often thrive on the thrill of arousal rather than the intimacy that sex brings with it and, therefore, they find it hard to maintain a healthy intimate relationship with another person.
Those with a sex addiction cannot control their urges, even if they are causing obvious harm to their lives. When sexual activities begin to have a negative impact on an individuals life, it has become an issue. One of the biggest problems with sex addiction is the fact that sufferers tend not to get help because they are embarrassed or ashamed. There is a certain stigma surrounding sex addiction, with many believing it to be an excuse for someone to have affairs or encounters with prostitutes. However, left untreated, sex addiction can become worse and can eventually have a devastating impact on the sufferer and those closest to him or her.
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Symptoms Of Love Addiction
Love addiction looks a little different from person to person. The most commonly identifiable symptom of love addiction is an unhealthy fixation with your partner that causes you to carry out obsessive compulsions, such as calling them too frequently or even stalking them.
Love addiction often manifests itself in the following ways:
- Feeling lost or uprooted when you dont have a partner
- Feeling overly dependent on your partner
- Prioritizing the relationship you have with your partner over every other personal relationship in your life, sometimes to the point of completely neglecting other personal relationships you have with family and friends
- Becoming depressed and obsessed with a love interest when your romantic advances arent reciprocated
- Constantly seeking to be in romantic relationships even with partners you recognize arent good for you
- Feeling despondent whenever you dont have a romantic partner or arent in a relationship
- Finding it difficult to leave unhealthy or toxic relationships
- Making poor decisions because of emotions you have towards your partner or love interest
- Obsessively thinking of your partner or love interest so much that it disrupts your life
There are many other symptoms of love addiction that might not be outlined above. This is because symptoms of the condition are wide and varying, and people express emotions uniquely. The way a person chooses to express their feelings will reflect in their symptoms.
What Is Love Addiction
Love addiction is a condition that causes a person to develop an unhealthy and obsessive fixation with a love interest.
Being in love is a beautiful emotion everyone deserves to experience. Having someone to love and be loved by is something almost everyone strives for. However, being in love can manifest in an unhealthy way. It can make some people act in strange and irrational ways to the detriment of themselves and the people they love.
Someone addicted to love will also find it challenging to create and maintain healthy relationships. Although its more common within romantic relationships, love addiction can occur in other forms of relationships. It could happen in friendships and in relationship to children, parents, or even strangers.
People with this kind of addiction often have unrealistic standards and expectations of love. When these arent met, it only serves to worsen their condition further.
People often argue that love addiction shouldnt be classified as a mental health condition. However, others believe people with this condition experience real and debilitating symptoms.
They often have unhealthy fixations with their partners and seek to control them. Like with other forms of addiction, a person who is addicted to love may exhibit behavior and impulses that are out of their control. However, with the proper treatment and care, they can unlearn their unhealthy behaviors and attitudes towards love and learn how to form healthy and loving connections.
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Signs Of A Love Addiction
- Always breaking up and making up with a romantic partner
- Feeling lonely or lost when not in a romantic relationship
- Feeling as though a romantic partner is not good enough
- Unable to feel satisfied unless in a romantic relationship
- Feeling love for a romantic partner that you have known for a very short period
- Being unable to sleep or eat following a break up with a partner
- Becoming obsessed with a partner
- Aiming to please a partner no matter what sacrifices must be made to do so
- Feeling jealous when a romantic partner spends time with other people.
What Types Of Partners Do Love Addicts Choose
When it comes to love addiction, it takes two to tango. A love addict will look for a partner who avoids intimacy. Pia Mellody refers to these partners as Love Avoidants. According to Mellody, Love Avoidants consciously fear intimacy because they believe that they will be drained, engulfed, and controlled by it. Often these people were drained, engulfed or controlled by the emotions and needs of others when they were small children.
Often avoidance does not show itself in the very beginning of a relationship. The Love Avoidant might be the one who initially comes on strong and does the wooing. However, as the relationship progresses, their fear of intimacy becomes heightened and they begin to push their partner away. In her book, Facing Love Addiction, Mellody outlines three ways that Love Avoidants typically avoid intimacy:
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How Does Love Addiction Start
Early childhood relationship patterns are the first place to look when working to break the bonds of love addiction.
Working with clients, I see that issues in adult relationships relate to childhood experiences. Youre drawn to whats familiar, regardless of how good it is for you. It is what you know.
Addiction or attachment disorder becomes a survival pattern. They happen because you are trying to fill the hole of an abandonment wound from childhood.
If youve experienced any of the following and have not taken the time to heal your wounds, then you are likely to be susceptible to love addiction:
- Your parents got divorced
- One or both of your parents were alcoholic
- You were adopted
- You lost a sibling or parent at a young age
- You were abused
- Your parents were emotionally unavailable
- You were neglected
How To Begin Treating Yourself
Write down everything you discover such as:
- How that person makes you feel
- How you feel when they are gone
- What the causes of those feelings are
You can either tear or burn away your letter so that you can symbolically let go of these feelings.
Afraid of being alone? Then join a club or a class to meet new people. Or, give your friends and family some of your attention.
Anything that reminds you of that person like photos or personal belongings you should get rid of. Remove any posts from your social media newsfeed. In fact, unfollow them all together. This way, you dont have constant reminders of that persons existence. You also avoid the pain of seeing them converse with others.
If you feel these thoughts coming on again, you can do something about it. For example, you could wear a rubber band and snap it to snap out of your unhealthy thoughts. That may sound silly but it can work.
Find healthy distractions to avoid thinking of that person like:
- Reading a good book
- Playing video games or musical instruments
- Draw or paint
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Tests Performed By Professionals
It is recommended with any condition to be assessed by a professional. Professionals are trained to conduct such assessments and diagnose. Further, the tools they use are evidence-based through stringent research processes. Although there is no specific assessment for love addiction, there are various tools professionals may use to assess symptoms as well as pathological love.
Some of these tools may include the Adapted Relationship Assessment Scale , the Relationship Assessment Scale , the Love Attitudes Scale , Adult Attachment Types, Beck Depression Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory , Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, et cetera.10
Maintain A Healthy Diet And Relationship With Food
One of the main problems with people addicted to food is the fact that they can never maintain a healthy diet and healthy relationship with food. It is actually very important to ensure that you start maintaining a healthy relationship by averting the inclusion of bad foods from the diet.
It is common for substance abusers to have abstinence from food but given the fact that our body needs its dose of food everyday to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it goes without saying that you need to make healthier and better choices when it comes to picking the food to eat.
Instead of unwanted foods and such, it is always best suggested to first start off with easier ways to return back to a normal eating routine rather than just cutting out the daily requirements of the food and such.
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Building A Sense Of Self
Some people crave a relationship so badly that they will accept problematic behaviors from a prospective mate. This leads some love addicts to engage in addictive behaviors with people who are addicts or abusers. They may experience sexual abuse or repeatedly fall in love with drug addicts. This exposes the love addict to another level of negative consequences. In our love addiction treatment center, you will learn to choose yourself first. Youll discover how to protect yourself from unhealthy or toxic partners. And you will learn to enhance your sense of self so that you can make wiser, more self-loving choices moving forward.
I Educated Myself On Love Addiction To Understand My Own Behaviors
I have always been a reader, a knowledge-seeker, the curious type the one who asks a thousand questions and wants to know the answers for all of it. I started buying every book I could that dealt with love addiction. I wanted to grasp the concept of what love addiction was and what love addiction was not. I began to chase answers and solutions.
I developed an understanding of why I was reacting this way to men and why I was consumed by an unhealthy addiction to love. I also found a therapist who specialized in sex and love addiction and began talking more about my past in an effort to overcome both my chemical addiction and my love addiction. I threw the book at it. I started doing the work that would soon change my entire relationship with myself and others, for the better.
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Characteristics Of Sex And Love Addiction
It can be difficult to admit that you or a loved one are suffering from a sex or love addiction and need help. Sex and love addiction is a growing problem and causes the sufferer to feel worthless, depressed and anxious. Lets looks at the characteristics, that may help you to decide if you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to sex or love that requires professional treatment in order to overcome: