Is ‘happily ever after’ real? Or have we just been so bombarded with ‘love conquers all,’ that we can’t stop the search for our storybook romance? Although many will cultivate unrealistic expectations from romantic partners, those of us who struggle with addiction and codependency may be at a higher risk for developing something called love addiction.
Love addiction is characterized by compulsive or obsessive patterns in romance, sexuality, and relationships that have harmful consequences for the addict and their partners. The love addict pursues romance and the high of new love without ever developing genuine intimacy and connection. Love becomes a source of an emotional rush that distorts reality. The subsequent terror and fear of abandonment that follows are too much to bear.
As with the addict finding relationship with the co-dependent, the love addict is invariably attracted to the love avoidant, who unconsciously fears true intimacy. Those who suffer from the latter have usually childhoods rooted in emotional pain from being neglected or abandoned. Terrified of re-experiencing that trauma again, the love avoidant will take great measures to detach emotionally and are unable to allow themselves the vulnerability required for true intimacy.
The need to love or be loved at all costs is a serious mental condition that has the same devastating impact as chemical dependency and/or process addictions. If you feel plagued by fears of abandonment, unable to function without a romantic partner or conversely find yourself incapable of letting your guard down, you may need the help of a professional therapist.
It is possible to conquer your fear, but you don’t have to do it alone.