What Are Relationship Addiction Symptoms
In the beginning, relationship addiction can look like any regular longing. Wanting to be close to your partner or wanting frequent sex are not causes for worry. Things become concerning, though, when you notice the following relationship addiction symptoms:
- Not being able to leave a relationship even after seeing red flags
- Committing to a new relationship quickly
- Having feelings of panic and anxiety upon thinking about ending the relationship
- Being unable to remain relationship-free
- Depending on sex to resolve rough patches in a relationship
- Not having a life outside of your relationship
- Being extra needy and dependent
- Blaming yourself rather than seeing your partner’s flaws
- Feeling unloved, anxious, or depressed
- Being codependent on your partner
- Acting compulsively to keep your partner close and get their affection
Why Do We Romanticize Toxic Relationships
In conclusion, toxic relationships are romanticized because of how it’s portrayed in the media. For instance, they almost always have a happy ending, they give the audience an adrenaline rush, and they make the villains conventionally attractive which gives the audience an automatic bias towards them…. read more
Toxic Relationships Are Addictive
Dopamine, which controls your pleasure center, is ignited when you are in a toxic relationship and the addiction can be similar to the one you would have to drugs. Scary, huh? The frustration-attraction you feel is very real, and each time you have any interaction with this person, it strengthens your connection to them versus wanting you to leave them.
Oxytocin is released each time you physically connect with them which further strengthens your connection to them. Dysfunction looks like dysfunction at the outset, but like anything the more you are exposed to something outside your norm, it becomes your norm. Hence, dysfunction becomes functional.
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Do You Have A Toxic Love Addiction To Abusive Relationships
Having a toxic love addiction to abusive relationships occurs when you crave love from an abusive relationship, and get hooked on the relationship in order to feel the effects. You become addicted to an abuser, like developing an acquired taste for wine or beer. When you have a familiar taste for it, it stands out and you cant stop the craving.
If youve endured abuse and felt unloved in childhood, you can crave love, as a desperate yearning to feel good enough from your abuser.
Like an addiction, it all feels good at the beginning during the love bombing. Relationships can seem distorted through an altered perspective, when youre hanging out for it.
It feels good, until the intoxicating effects of the relationship wears off. After the rush and excitement, it all comes crashing down, until you want more to feel the same high.
You can look to abusive relationships to feel good about yourself, when you feel unworthy of love. You can project them to be everything you ever wanted. So, you end up getting hooked into feeling loved, through the lens that you see them.
You can end up on a high from chasing someone emotionally abusive towards you, in order to capture the intoxicating feeling of romanticized love. The anticipation of seeing them excites you, and overrides ones sense of reality.
Like taking drugs, your perception of reality is distorted when you are in denial of the abusive relationship.
Why Do We Become Addicted To Toxic Relationships
And why do we keep consciously and unconsciously attracting them? Psychology recognises that a history of toxic relationships with our parents leads us to attract men and women with whom we can recreate that familiar toxic cycle. Our destiny is dictated by a subconscious desire to somehow resolve those unresolved issues with them by continuing to fall into relationships that mirror those early experiences.
If a parent wasn’t there for us, for example, the father who fails to protect their child from abuse from the mother and is emotionally distant, the tendency is to attract men in our adult lives that offer a similar experience. The cycle then commences when we are brought to feel those familiar, painful feelings and try to alleviate them by entering another relationship, unaware that it is not too different from the last… the toxic cycle repeats.
image by Averie Claire
Another scenario is when a son has an overbearing mother who doesn’t give him the space or independence to grow autonomously. He will likely repeat the same cycle in his adult life by attracting controlling and needy women. Occasionally, he might rebel in adult life and instead attract the opposite of what we experienced. Although he doesn’t recreate that familiar feeling of suffocation, he has swung to the opposite side of the pendulum and the unresolved issues with his mum remain unduly unresolved.
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Counseling May Be Especially Helpful When:
Halpern, H.M. . How to Break Your Addiction to a Person. New York, NY: MJF Books.
Norwood, R. . Women Who Love Too Much. Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.
Schaefer, B. . Is it Love or Is It Addiction?. U.S.A.: Hazelden.
Dealing With A Toxic Love Addiction In Abusive Relationships
As a relationship therapist, I hear the pain of not wanting to give up the hit of love, when they remain stuck chasing abusive men or women that are toxic for them.
You do not want to acknowledge the actual truth, because you do not want to be alone, so youve created this fantasy that you are loved.
You can project your hopes and fantasies onto them, feeling intense passion. You see them as whatever you want them to be, to fulfil you unmet needs.
You can look to others to feel good about yourself, when you feel not good enough. So, you end up getting hooked into feeling good about yourself, through the lens that you see them
You can ignore the signs of an abusive relationships because you cannot stop yourself from hanging on.
Like an addict, youll do whatever it takes to get that high.
Having a toxic love addiction to abusive men or women means you hold onto those who mistreat you, because it feels better than the pain of getting over them.
It can feel worse to be hung out dry temporally.
Attaching to a one-sided relationship diminishes your self-worth and self-esteem, so you feel worse about yourself. So you become dependent on the abusive relationship to pick yourself up again.
Sometimes, it is hard to break the love addiction and face the feeling of abandonment underneath.
You end up attracting abusive men in a toxic relationship. The only way to recover is to withdraw from the relationship
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Practicing Somatic Exercises Might Help
Overdependence on a partner or relationship can be a maladaptive, or unproductive, strategy for coping with difficult emotions.
Somatic therapy, which helps you tune in to your own physical and emotional responses to stress, could help you reestablish a sense of self and develop emotional regulation skills, according to 2018 research.
While somatic therapy often works best with the support of a trained therapist, you can try these four exercises at home.
Hooked On Messy Loving
We have all witnessed it, and most of us have experienced it. A person treats a person really well, and lovingly, and then boom! They do something extremely abusive to the person.
Healthy people do not tolerate that and they usually move on after it occurs a few times. Unhealthy people usually rationalize the behavior. Yes, he forgets my birthday, but he takes me on great weekend getaways sometimes.
If someone does something nice for you, is he or she entitled to abuse you? The answer is no. Yet, more often than not, that is exactly what happens in many toxic platonic, professional, familial, and romantic relationships. Many of us, with ailing self-esteem, allow people to abuse us because they have been nice to us. Why is that? There are two reasons.
From birth, the human brains mission is to wire itself to best provide the highest quality of life possible. To achieve this end, the developing brain takes cues from our early environment to determine how the world should be and wires itself accordingly to survive in that world. This is why adults who grow up in unstable environments always expect the bottom to fall out when things are going well. When they were kids and things were going well, the bottom always fell out.
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Red Flags What Red Flags
Are you one of those people who sees red flag and who purposely ignores them?
Do you see that your new person is still stuck on their ex or struggling to keep a job or has a temper or tries to control you?
Do all of your friends tell you that those are red flags and that you should run?
Do you ignore everyone, because this person, in spite of their red flags, is exciting?
When I was single and dating, I met a guy who was cute. He made me laugh. The sex was great. But I could see a few red flags right away. He drank too much. Someone who he was engaged to had walked away. He wasnt talking to any of his neighbors. He had jumped from job to job.
I saw those red flags and I ignored them. The sex was great and we had a great time together.
It didnt take long for our relationship to get toxic. We drank a lot together which started out fun but usually ended badly. I noticed that his friends pushed him away and that, when he was with people, he got loud and obnoxious, which made me crabby. He disappeared on Sundays, to this day, I dont know why, which made me not trust him. His job consumed him and the stress of it made him not fun to be with.
We fought and had sex and I hated him and loved him and broke up with him and got back together with him. I was completely addicted to the cycle and couldnt get out.
Unfortunately, that addiction kept me from finding the relationship that I was really looking for. Walking away from him was what I needed to do to find one.
When To Let Go Of A Toxic Relationship
When your relationship has become too damaging to your well-being, it may be time to move on. If your loved ones behavior and/or addiction has become very destructive to themselves and to you, letting go may be the best thing. When leaving a toxic relationship, there are some steps you can take to ensure your emotional and physical well-being. Many times, one partner may manipulate the other to stay through false promises and claims that they will change. This is a behavior seen in people who struggle with both toxic relationships and addiction. However, they do little to actually change their behaviors or address their addiction.
If you are in a relationship where emotional or physical abuse is a factor, the most important thing is to keep yourself safe. This may require coming up with a plan ahead of time. Seek help from trained support services. Whether you are prepared to leave immediately, or just need someone to talk to before figuring out next steps, consider contacting The National Domestic Abuse Hotline, a confidential hotline. They can help you work out a plan for leaving and connect you to social support services. Abuse and control do stop on their own. No one deserves to be victimized or mistreated, including you.
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Sometimes Dysfunction Becomes Functional
Toxic relationships start innocently enough. They push your buttons you push theirs. This dynamic can create some intense physical chemistry. And at first, you may shake off what could be emotionally or psychological abuse. In fact, if the person is good at doing other things in your relationship, which people who are emotionally unavailable or abuse usually are, it can wreak havoc on your mind.
Is There Treatment For Relationship Addiction
Recovery from relationship addiction can be difficult. If your behavior is due to unresolved trauma, you may have a hard time stopping it yourself. Therefore, it is sometimes essential to talk to a therapist.
A therapist will identify the underlying problem and address your thought patterns. Then, they will help you develop healthier relationships by setting boundaries. Unfortunately, the “high” of being in a new relationship, which most people with relationship addiction desire, can keep them from having stable long-term relationships.
Therapy will help you manage these “cravings” so that you can get the love you desire without being over-dependent on your partner.
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Summary Of Reasons Its Hard To Leave Toxic Relationships
Toxic relationships are hard to leave for many reasons. While each person has a different experience, its worth exploring yours. You are in a situation that you know is toxic. You know its not healthy, so why are you staying? By considering the possible reasons above, you can learn about yourself. Once we understand the reason behind our actions, were in a better position to make healthier decisions.
Why Does Someone Crave A Toxic Relationship
A toxic relationship may feel safe and secure in the sense that it is familiar territory to certain people. This might be someone who has gone through an abusive or difficult childhood in the hands of primary caregivers, unhealed toxic relationship past, or struggles with self-esteem.
In addition, you might crave toxic relationships if you constantly put the needs of others before your own or consider yourself the fixer who can help fix toxic people.
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What Is Toxic Relationship Addiction
Toxic relationship addiction is the tendency to consciously or subconsciously engage in relationships that do not prioritize your well-being.
Although a toxic relationship drains you emotionally, psychologically, and physically, you feel hooked on to it to the extent that even when you know the relationship is bad for you, you make no effort to break free by finding reasons to stay.
It gets even worse thinking about leaving the relationship fills you with feelings of panic and anxiety.
Any steps you take to end it trigger physical and emotional distress similar to withdrawal symptoms suffered by people addicted to chemical substances, and interestingly, you only find relief by re-establishing contact.
Addiction to toxic relationships can manifest as love addiction, relationship addiction, or trauma bond. However, the addiction pattern is the same.
Love addicts focus on one specific person and love them obsessively while a relationship addict can be preoccupied with hopping from one toxic relationship to another. A trauma bond, on the other hand, forms specifically between a victim of abuse and their abuser.
The Difference Between Toxic Love Addiction And True Love
Only then did Tom really understand the truth of his addiction for the hollow reality it was: the pursuit of fleeting feelings. Hed left his marriage to dance in a mirage of excitement that crumbled to dust in his hands when he reached out for real support. Like Coleridge waking from his fever-dream about a pleasure-dome, Tom finally came to his senses only to find that he was alone in a desert without the True Love of attachment and commitment from Sarah, at least.
And so he went home.
Because thankfully for him, the True Love of his ex-wife and children had endured the years of his obsessive intoxication. Their True Love, the unbreakable bond of a merciful family, was the nourishing, stable connection of support that was there for Tom at the end of his life.
In his final days, Tom was finally healed of his addiction. He found forgiveness and redemption when he came to understand and appreciate what True Love really is: the quiet, unselfish service to the wellbeing of another that endures long after the sparkles of romantic love fade.
True Love is not always fun or exciting. Its not terribly addictive. But it is there at 3am to mop up vomit and to shelter you when you have nowhere else to go. Its the kind of Love that has the courage to walk beside you into death and maybe even meet you again on the other side.
True Love is never an addiction because its not actually a feeling at all but a choice.
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Toxic Relationships Are The Flip
While a healthy relationship contributes to emotional health, self-esteem, and the ability to thrive, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains emotional vitality.
Healthy relationships involve mutual love and caring regard and compassion as well as a sense of safety and freedom to be ourselves.
In healthy relationships, we can feel supported, comfortable, and secure around a relationship partner. In a nutshell, individuals in a healthy relationship genuinely care for and about each others happiness and well-being.
A toxic relationship is quite the opposite of a healthy relationship– as they tend to be characterized by selfishness, control, insecurity, and domination.
Essential relational needs and wants are continuously un-met .
* While a love addict has underlying fears of intimacy, they also tend to have a great capacity for intimacy, that is, IF they have a partner who is securely attached unlike those they commonly choose in relationships- e.g., love avoidant and/or a narcissist.
Often a person can be in a toxic relationship and not even realize it. Because many people have grown up in a toxic family environment it is not surprising that they end up falling into toxic relationships as adults– it feels familiar.
It makes sense since if our relational model in childhood was toxic , we will often enter adulthood and seek out relationships that bring familiarity to that of which we experienced growing up.