Walking Away From Love Addiction

I've been talking about love addiction for quite some time now. Believe it or not, I'm going to wrap up this subject pretty soon. I've talked about it longer than just about any other subject because I'm convinced that love addiction is the #1 addiction people face.

It may be hard to identify, but it's consuming and destructive all the same. A love addict obsessively and compulsively tries to relieve or medicate the deep pain in their life through romantic relationships. Once in a relationship, they feel they can't live without the other person and will do whatever they have to do to keep the relationship going. If that doesn't work, they panic and will do whatever they have to do to get into a new relationship. 

I've been amazed at how many people have commented to me that for the very first time, they understand they are truly in a love addiction. I'm not really all that sure if I'm a love addict or not. From the list of symptoms that you gave I see that I have most of them. I really think I am though. It's tough when you finally realize something like this. It's tough to realize that you're addicted to anything. (Jeannie)

I also received another comment where a blog reader realized they are a love addict. It's like a light goes on in their head and a whole new world opens up to them. I have listened to your show and read the topic for this week for the first time tonight. After all of it I think I have realized that I too am addicted to love. Wow...it has put everything into perspective for me. (Emily)

Walking Away from Love Addiction

Last week, I talked about how we must own our love addiction and the lies that go with it. We must truly admit to ourselves we have believed lies that keep us from being set free from the frantic search of always needing a romantic relationship to feel whole. This is never easy, because it takes a lot of courage to accept that our beliefs have lied to us and played us like a fool.

Three things that are necessary, but hard to accept

  • It is hard to accept that our self-esteem is so low that we often demand our partner be like a god and meet our every need.No one wants to feel helpless and end up all but worshipping someone who in the end will leave us behind. We were designed to worship God, not our boyfriend/girlfriend. Yet time after time, we are deceived into thinking somehow if we meet that next partner, they will be perfect, and all our needs will be met through them.
  • It is hard to accept we're on an emotional treadmill which leads to nowhere but exhaustion. If you are a love addict, you will see your dating relationships tend to have a pattern to them. Stop and think for a while. How has every dating relationship that has failed you started and ended? You will see you have been doing the same thing with the same emotions, ending up with the same sad results, time and time again. But many of us have been running on the treadmill so long we don't even realize we're not going anywhere.
  • It is hard to accept that love addiction leaves us confused about the emotions we carry for the other person. Almost every love addict confuses what is happening in the relationship with love. For example, most love addicted relationships are full of drama. Most love addicts confuse the drama of a relationship with the devotion of the other person. Just because there is a lot of excitement and drama taking place does not necessarily mean your partner is devoted to you. Most love addicted relationships also are very intense. The addict confuses the intensity of the relationship for intimacy. They are not the same, not even close. Other love addicts get heavily involved sexually with their partner. They think the deep emotion stirred by sex is really love. They confuse the sex they are having with their partner with a sense of security. The feelings of sex make them want to be closer and closer to their boyfriend/girlfriend, therefore feeling extremely secure. That of course is a lie. Sex without true commitment leads only to more insecurity, not less. Then one day they wake up and find out their partner is gone, and that sex is not the glue that held the relationship together.

Freedom from Love Addiction

In the end, once we have courageously and with great humility owned the lies that have held us in our addiction, we can come to the freeing reality that we don't need another person to be fulfilled. While looking to God, we can be fulfilled, have meaning, and have purposeful relationships without the confusion of love addiction.

First thing [you] have to realize is that no one can complete you until you are happy with yourself.
There is a fine line between lust and love and a lot of people have a hard time distinguishing the two. It's not easy to break old habits, or to reinvent yourself, but no relationship you ever have will work out if you don't find yourself first... you have to love yourself before you can really love anyone else. (keilah)

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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